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Tag: new jersey

The cull is on in Sochi: Stray dogs are being exterminated by city hosting the Olympics

sochistrays

It’s hardly the first time a city trying to put its best face forward has shown instead how ugly it can be.

Even as the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is choreographed — with its heartwarming message of peace, love and brotherhood — the city is trying to purge its streets of stray dogs, poisoning, capturing and killing them so it can project a clean, safe and pleasant image.

Despite publicly backing off from plans to do so last year, the city of Sochi has hired a private company to kill as many of its stray dogs as possible before the games, according to an ABC News report, based on an interview with the owner of the company hired to kill the dogs

Alexei Sorokin, while declining to comment on how many strays have been exterminated so far, was more than willing to talk about the dangers they pose:

“Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog,” he said.

Yes, the odds for that happening — landing upon a dog upon completion of a ski jump — have got to be pretty high.

It’s not the first time a city has tried to purge its streets of all things unsightly and embarassing before international attention comes its way.

Stray dogs have been rounded up at previous Olympics, and soccer championships. In America, cities hosting political conventions have corraled their homeless to keep them out of the sight of visitors. And before yesterday’s hardly-worth-the-wait Super Bowl, officials in New York and New Jersey sought to crack down on packs of prostitutes they said were streaming into the area for the big event.

All those things cost money, often taxpayer money, so residents end up footing the bill for a city’s superficial makeover — all so a city can deceive the rest of the world for  a week or two.

That’s what it really is, deception — covering up its real face, putting on enough make-up so we can’t see its pimples, disguising, erasing, incarcerating or restricting the movements of those who might embarass it. Instead of addressing real problems, the city spends money on temporarily covering them up.

Then, to justify it all, they have to spin some more, often turning to fear tactics to do so.

The strays in Sochi might bite people, or might have rabies, or might bump into ski jumpers falling from the sky, officials say. So they’re being “culled,” which means killed, but sounds better. The dogs have broken no laws – other than being unwanted and unloved –  but they’re getting the death penalty anyway.

“I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs … Dogs must be taken off the streets even if that means putting them to sleep,” said Sorokin, who says he is performing a needed public service. He described his company, which generally uses poisons and traps to rid the streets of dogs, as  the largest of its kind in Russia.

What’s really behind such purgings – whether it’s killing stray dogs, rounding up hookers, or cordoning off the homeless – isn’t civic pride. If it were civic pride, we’d be working on fixing the problem. When we’re working only on the appearance, it’s civic vanity.

Just as stray dogs haven’t suddenly become a bigger problem in Sochi, there’s no proof — despite the pronouncements of city and state officials — that prostitution surges to dangerous proportions during Super Bowls.  There might be more arrests during Super Bowls, but there generally are when law enforcement cracks down.

Even an advocate for victims of trafficking noted last week that New York and New Jersey, by cracking down on prostitution during the Super Bowl, weren’t solving any problems — and maybe were even doing a disservice.

“The annual oversimplification of the issue, in which we conflate all prostitution with trafficking, and then imply that arrest equals solution, does a disservice to year-round efforts to genuinely assist survivors of trafficking — with emergency housing, medical care and other crucial services,” Kate Mogulescu, founder and supervising attorney of the Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society, wrote in last week’s New York Times.

“When the discussion is dominated by fear-mongering, we fail to meaningfully address the actual causes of human trafficking. Remove the guise of ‘preventing’ human trafficking, and we are left with a cautionary tale of how efforts to clean up the town for a media event rely on criminalizing people, with long-lasting implications for those who are then trapped in the criminal justice system.”

There are better ways to fight crime, conquer homelessness and combat stray dog problems — none of which are quick fixes, none of which are simply cosmetic, all of which involve, as a first step, getting past the mindset expressed by Sorokin in Soshi.

“Let’s call things by their real name,” he said. “These dogs are biological trash.”

(Photo: A stray dog and its puppy outside Sochi; by Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press)

When your dog tells you you have cancer

taffyFour years ago, Nancy Granato was sitting at home in Pitman, N.J., with her granddaughter’s dog on her lap.

Suddenly the shih tzu began going in circles, nudged her in the left breast, then got down on the floor and howled.

It was unusual in several ways. For one thing, Taffy never barked.

Granato, as the dog continued yapping, reached for the spot Taffy had nudged and found a lump.

She visited doctors, had some tests done, and was told she had nothing to be concerned about. To be safe though, she underwent a biopsy. It confirmed what she suspected Taffy was trying to tell her — she had breast cancer.

“I did listen to the dog, but I also listened to me,” she told the South Jersey Times.

The ability of dogs to detect cancer is well documented, if not completely understood. But it’s unusual for one who hasn’t been trained to do so to make what seems to be a diagnosis.

 Researchers believe what dogs are smellling are the chemical changes that occur when normal cells are altered by cancerous ones.

Granato found out she was in the first stage of breast cancer. Doctors removed the lump and she underwent chemotherapy. During her treatments, Taffy provided some emotional support, she said.

Granato said she has been in remission for four years. Doctors detected another lump last September, but she says she wasn’t too worried.

“I kept saying, ‘The dog didn’t bark,’ ” Granato said. “It can’t be.”

Results showed the lump was benign.

(Photo: Nancy Granato and granddaughter’s dog, Taffy; by Lori M. Nichols / South Jersey Times)

Did the scent of sizzling bacon draw missing pit bull puppy back to her foster home?

A pit bull puppy, still recovering from being abused by dogfighters, ran off from her foster home in New Jersey, but she was apparently drawn back by the smell of bacon.

Or it could have been the love.

Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.

She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.

Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.

But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.

“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.

When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.

She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.

(Photo: Facebook)

A close call for Sparky


A lost dog, stuck in train tracks.

An oncoming N.J. Transit train, in a hurry to make Hoboken.

Not the ingredients for a happy ending.

But there was one, anyway.

The engineer and conductors spotted Sparky, an American Eskimo dog, on the tracks Tuesday morning, on the Bergen county Line in Garfield. He was stuck between the rails and a bridge joint.

They brought the train to a halt, disengaged him, and brought him aboard.

Passengers, despite the six-minute delay, approved and brok into applause when the crew and dog reboarded.

“When we came in, they all came, their camera phones out, taking pictures, they were all in good spirits,” train conductor Paul Bowen told CBS in New York.

In another fortunate twist of fate, Sparky’s owner called police in Garfield to report her dog missing about the time NJ Transit reported the one they’d found.

“I was so scared, because I didn’t know where he was,” owner Yvette Osorio said. “I’m very happy and I’m thankful to all of them for saving my dog.”

Calling all “Freegles”: Beagles rescued from N.J. lab will celebrate one year free

It’s the one-year anniversary for 120 beagles who, around this time last year, learned the true meaning of independence.

Up until then, even here in the land of the free, they weren’t.

Instead, like thousands of other beagles bred and born for the sole purpose of laboratory use, they’d never experienced what most dogs take for granted — things like grass and dirt and running — and were destined, once their use in testing was complete, for something quite contrary to a loving home.

The beagles had been left locked in a research facility operated by Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J. after its parent pharmaceutical company went bankrupt. When their situation came to light, a judge order the dogs turned over to rescue groups.

One year ago, a group of them were welcomed to Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in New York, where work began on socializing them so they could be adopted out as family pets.

This coming Sunday, some of them will gather for a reunion.

About 35 of the adopters stay in touch on Facebook, offering support and following each others progress through photos and stories.

They — and any of the others who adopted a “freegle,” as they are prone to calling the dogs rescued from the laboratory — are gathering July 10, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., at Kennedy Dells Park, 355 North Main Street in New City, New York.

Among those attending will be a beagle named Grace, who has her own Facebook page, called Saving Grace. Grace’s owner said that while word of the reunion has gotten out among those who stay in touch, other beagles adopted from the group are also invited, as well as everyone else who participated in rescuing them.

Shelters, sanctuaries, volunteers and staff are “most welcome to attend and meet the families and hear the stories of how the Freegles have been adjusting to the good life.”

(For questions or to RSVP, send an email to labfreegles@yahoo.com.)

Unlike some boisterous beagles you may know from the dog park, laboratory beagles are generally calm and passive, having never tasted of freedom.

I met several lab beagles while researching my book — including some flourescent beagle clones in South Korea. In Texas, I interviewed the woman who cared for the beagles used in attempting to clone a dog at Texas A&M University.

Jessica Harrison, a graduate student at the time, was in charge of socializing the beagles and finding adoptive homes for them — not usually the case or fate of laboratory beagles — after their services in the lab were no longer required.

“What they teach them is to be still,” she told me. “As puppies, they teach them to just freeze when a person messes with them. We had to kindo of undo that and say, ‘No,we want you to move around and be excited.’

“We slowly exposed them to all the things they’d be exposed to in a family home — like TVs, mirrors, grass, trees, flowers, birds and bees. These dogs had never seen any of that. You put them down on the grass, and they’re like, ‘What’s this?’ It was kind of overwheliming. You get used to it, but at first it’s like, these are dogs, how can they not know these things?”

The use of dogs in laboratory research was declining, but it has jumped up in recent years, with much of the increase due to advancements in, and the promise of, gene therapy.

(Photos: Top photo from the Facebook page of Freegles Justice and Skipper; bottom photo by John Woestendiek)

Patrick’s gets surgery; hair mass removed

Patrick, the dog found starved nearly to death after he was dumped down a high-rise apartment building’s trash chute in Newark, now weighs in at more than 35 pounds. 

And that’s without the petrified hairball that was surgically removed from his stomach this week. 

Dr. Jason Pintar, an internist at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, removed the long flat hair mass from Patrick’s stomach using a video endoscopic procedure while Patrick was under anesthesia. 

Hair mass removed from Patrick

 After the hair mass was removed, Patrick was transferred to another surgery suite for neutering, Associated Humane Societies in New Jersey reportsAfter surgery, he’ll still need treatment for mange, and physical therapy for weak rear legs, AHS says. 

The non-profit organization says it’s receiving thousands of emails a day — and that it has been contacted by several people who say Patrick was their dog. Some say he ran away, some say he was stolen, and one told AHS they’d contacted an attorney. 

Also casting a cloud over Patrick’s story is the emergence of people hoping to profit off his name and image. 

The number of Internet sites related to him — some well-intentioned, some not — has steadily grown, and some are selling ”Patrick” items such as t-shirts, keychains and posters, and using his story to ”solicit funds for their own use,” AHS says. 

(Photos: Courtesy of Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Zoo)

In Patrick’s name: Newark mayor calls for new shelter in honor of starved pit bull

 

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is asking the public for a birthday present — a new animal shelter to be built in honor of Patrick, the pit bull dumped down a high rise apartment building’s trash chute and left to starve.

Booker called the act “one of the most heinous incients of animal cruelty that I’ve seen since I’ve been mayor” and he noted that it has led to outrage across the country.

But, he added, “This is a time that, instead of blame, we all take more responsibility for what’s going on to animals in Newark, New Jersey and around the world.

“For my birthday wish … we would like you to join our cause” — a state of art animal shelter that can be No. 1 in honor of Patrick but also in honor of those many other animals in our larger Newark community that face severe problems and challenges. We must be there for them, too.”

The mayor’s YouTube video refers viewers to a website where donations be made.

The campaign seeks to raise $50,000 towards construction of a facility that would serve Essex and Hudson Counties. Already, Booker said, a site has been identified and architects are working on the design.

“By working to build a modern, state-of-the-art shelter through public and private funding, and by employing innovative policies to improve responsible pet care, decrease birthrates, increase adoptions, and help keep animals with their responsible caretakers, we believe that Newark’s animal shelter operations can become a model for the rest of the nation.”

Patrick is now in the custody of Associated Humane Societies and is receiving treatment at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, both of which say they’ve received enough public donations to cover his care.

Kisha Curtis, with whom Patrick lived, has entered a not guilty plea to charges of abuse and abandonment.

Patrick: A video update

Here’s a video update posted by the Newark Star-Ledger yesterday on Patrick — the starved, abused and discarded pit bull who has captured America’s heart.

Two weeks have passed since Patrick was rescued — minutes before the bin he was in was headed to the trash compactor — after being tossed down a garbage chute in a high-rise Newark apartment building.

Caregivers at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls say Patrick continues to improve, but an ultrasound shows that he has an object lodged in his stomach.

Once he gains a little more weight, vets will perform an endoscopy to remove whatever might be lodged inside him.

The Associated Humane Society of Newark, which has official custody of Patrick, will determine who adopts Patrick once he is completely healed. Thousands across the country have expressed interest.

Kisha Curtis, who has been identified as the dog’s owner, has been charged with two counts of abandonment and two counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, according New Jersey SPCA officials. The charges — two criminal counts and two civil counts — carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine and community service.

Curtis told police that she couldn’t take care of Patrick anymore, but she denies responsibility for tossing the 1 year-old dog down the apartment garbage chute.

Owner of dog that was dumped down trash chute charged with neglect, abandonment

A 28-year-old Newark woman has been charged with four counts of animal cruelty in the case of Patrick, a 1-year-old pit bull who was found almost starved to death after he was dumped down a garbage chute in a high-rise apartment building.

Kisha Curtis was charged Friday with two counts of abandonment and two counts of failure to provide proper sustenance, New Jersey SPCA officials said.

The dog was discovered by maintenance workers March 16 inside a garbage bin at Garden Spires, a 550-unit apartment building. Staff at the Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park called it one of the worst cases of cruelty they’ve ever seen.

Matthew Stanton, a spokesman for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals told FoxNews.com that Curtis, the alleged owner, faces two criminal counts and two civil counts, which he said could result in up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine and community service if convicted.

Stanton said Curtis told authorities she was unable to take care of the dog anymore, but she denied throwing the dog into the chute at the 22-story apartment building. The New Jersey SPCA is investigating whether anyone else was involved in the abuse and disposal of the animal.

Patrick, meanwhile, is slowly recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. Staff there say he is now standing and eating small amounts of food several times a day, though he remains pathetically thin.

AHS, which is paying for Patrick’s continuing care, is continuing to post daily updates on his condition. Most recently, they’ve reported that an ultrasound test found a foreign body lodged found inside the dog, and they speculated he may have swallowed something to quell the hunger that he was experiencing. 

AHS also arranged to have Patrick interviewed by an animal communicator, who reported he told her, among other things, ”I am broken, I don’t know why.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Associated Humane Societies and Popcorn Park Zoo)

Dumped down trash chute, Patrick survives

Patrick the pit bull — a dog who was starved, placed in a garbage bag and tossed down the trash chute of a 22-floor apartment building in Newark — continues to slowly recover.

And considering the condition he was found in — by a maintenance worker who noticed a soon-to be-compacted plastic bag moving — that’s pretty close to miraculous.

According to Associated Humane Societies, Patrick, as he was later named, was living — and just barely — somewhere in the Garden Spires apartment building, which is equipped with garbage chutes on each floor.

“Someone had no more use for this dog. They had starved it to near death, put it in a garbage bag and threw it down the garbage chute,” AHS reports on its website.

Normally, the contents of the bin at the bottom of the building are sent directly into a trash compacter, but on Wednesday, March 16th, a maintenance worker noticed a bag moving, opened it and found the dog inside – about one year old, pathetically thin and on death’s doorstep.

“His eyelids were moving a little. But he was just lifeless — his body hung there when we picked him up,” Monmouth County animal control officer Arthur Skinner said.

Skinner took the dog to Associated Humane Societies Newark Animal Care Center, and he was sent from there Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls,  veterinarians and technicians have been giving him transfusions of blood, feeding him intravenously and warming him with heated blankets.

By Monday, Patrick, who was named by hospital staff on St. Patrick’s Day, was able to sit up and walk. He’s now off IV fluids and eating canned dog food.

Patrick — and we’ll warn you now that the picture below, taken shortly after he was discovered, is highly disturbing — is slowly becoming more than skin and bones. He spends most of his time in his cage, napping next to stuffed animals donated by the hospital’s staff. He doesn’t bark or wag his tail, but lifts his head whenever someone passes by, accordingn to the Star-Ledger in Newark.

Officials from the Monmouth County Humane Society have offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the dog’s abuser.

The Associated Humane Societies reported this week that Patrick is now able to stand, eats little bits of food several times a day and is having normal bowel movements. The organization is accepting donations towards his continued care. You can find AHS updates on Patrick here.