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Tag: new york

Do we really need a “war” against dog poop?

In the annals of Gotham’s crimefighting superheroes, Abby Weissman might not go down as one of the all-time greatest.

But at least he will be noted for capturing a dog pooping on camera and, far more important, that doggie’s caretaker not picking it up.

Faster than a speeding bullet, he posted it on Facebook:

 

In the post, Weissman fires a first blow in his quest for justice, and calls upon others to join in fighting the scourge of canine caretakers who don’t pick up after their charges — by submitting photos and videos of scofflaws caught in the act to his block association’s Facebook page.

Weissman is president of the South Oxford Street Block Association in New York’s Fort Greene neighborhood.

The association started a “Dog Walkers Hall of Shame” campaign July 30, after his home security camera captured a dog walker, busy with her cell phone, walking away from the mess the dog had just deposited on the sidewalk in front of his house.

Weissman hopes a little public humiliation will be more effective than the seldom enforced “pooper scooper” law, and its $250 fines.

Since 2013, 63 “pooper scooper” violations have been issued in Brooklyn, DNAInfo reports. An officer must witness the incident to issue a summons, according to the Department of Sanitation.

Weissman, like any good superhero, seemed to take a great deal of pride in catching the scofflaw, at least on video. “We always wanted a photo or video or someone actually letting their dog shit and purposefully leaving it there. Here it is, thanks to Dropcam.”

I’m all for owners taking responsibility for what their dogs drop, and all for laws enforcing that. And I’m fine with fines.

I’m just not so sure we have to view it all in terms of a “war,” and I question whether all the high tech weapons being seized upon — like hidden cameras, and sending dog poop to laboratories to see if its DNA can be matched to a particular dog — are a bit of an over-reaction, better used on terrorists than people who don’t pick up dog poop.

I have a problem with public “shaming,” too — whether it’s being used on deadbeat dads, the customers of prostitutes, or those who fail to pick up dog waste. It reminds me of those stocks and pillories we used to punish wrongdoers in colonial times. I’d like to think we’ve become a little more civilized since then. And I’d like to think we’re smart enough to realize people who engage in shameful behavior often don’t have a huge sense of shame in the first place.

Most of all I’m puzzled about how we let something with such a simple solution become so huge, and gobble up so much time, money and technology. How much is being wasted sending dog waste through the mail for analysis in laboratories? How many hours did Weissman spend watching video to pinpoint the culprit who pooped in front of his house?

Sometimes I think our species is prone to escalating anything that can possibly escalated.

Perhaps a psychologist could explain that to me.

In the meantime, can’t we all just pick it up?

Dog who raced NYC train gets adopted

tie

You might think a collective groan would have been the reaction when a conductor informed passengers on New York’s Metro that the trip from the South Bronx to Manhattan was going to take a little longer than usual.

But when he told them the reason — that a dog was running in front of the train — they began to cheer the engineer’s decision to slow down.

The dog started racing alongside the train as it moved out of Mott Haven Junction on the North Hudson line, en route to Grand Central shortly before 11 a.m. last Tuesday.

Engineer Joseph Delia told the New York Post he slowed the train down to a crawl to avoid hitting the dog, who at one point got ahead of the lead car and twice fell between the track ties.

“She’s not a very big dog. I was worried she wouldn’t make it and get electrocuted,” Delia, a dog lover, added.

The pup made it safely to the 125th Street station in Harlem, where she ran into the arms of two waiting MTA police officers and a station worker.

Passengers cheered again as officers put her into a patrol car, the Post said.

Once in custody, the dog was named Tie by MTA workers — for all the railroad ties she ran across. Tie had a limp and was nursing her right front paw, but was wagging her tail and seemed in good spirits, said one of the MTA police officers who helped rescue her.

After five days at Animal Care & Control, she was adopted by a new family Sunday, NBC 4 in New York reported.

Animal Care & Control said it received more than 100 queries, and about 36 applications, from people wanting to adopt her.

(Photo: Meredith Daniels / New York MTA)

Dog ink: Are tattoos animal cruelty?

This is a photo reportedly posted to instagram by tattoo artist Mistah Metro, aka Orangatan Joe, showing the tattoo he gave his dog. Mistah Metro, who works at the Brooklyn parlor called Red Legged Devil, featured on the TLC show NY Ink, allegedly tattooed his dog while it was under anesthia for a medical procedure.

A New York tattoo artist known as Mistah Metro posted a photo of his dog’s new tattoo on his Instagram page, and bragged that having the decoration makes his dog “cooler than yours.”

Mistah Metro wrote in the post that his veterinarian allowed him to administer the tattoo — a heart with an arrow through and the names Alex and Mel — while the dog was under anesthesia to have her spleen removed.

We don’t think that makes his dog cool. We think it makes his dog a victim of animal abuse, his veterinarian an accomplice, and Mistah Metro — if he wasn’t one already — a moron.

mistahmetroMistah Metro, shown at left in a reflective moment, works at Red Legged Devil in Prospect Heights, but the owner of the tattoo shop, Chris Torres, wrote in an online post that neither he nor his shop had anything to do with the canine inking, and that it was not done on the premises, according to Gothamist.

Critics have blasted the inking online, while others have come to the tattoo artist’s defense.

The ASPCA is against tattooing dogs, even though it puts small tattoos on dogs it has spayed or neutered, under the thinking that it can prevent unnecessary surgeries for altered dogs.

In a statement, the ASPCA said, “Tattooing an animal for the vain sake of joy and entertainment of the owner — without any regard for the well-being of the animal — is not at all comparable to the incident in question and is not something the ASPCA supports.”

 (Photos: Mistah Metro’s tattooed dog / Instagram; Mistah Metro / Afropunk.com)

Three nuns and a pit bull

remy

When three elderly nuns who live together in New York lost their dog, they mourned for a week before heading to an animal shelter, determined to pick a dog that needed them as much as they needed her.

They adopted one that fit the bill —  a 9-year-old pit bull who’d been at the shelter for three months.

“As soon as I saw the sign that said ’9 years,’ I said, ‘This is the one,’” said Sister Veronica Mendez, 71. “No one is going to want this one.”

Being old, and being a pit bull, Remy hadn’t been getting much attention from potential adopters during her stay at the Hi Tor Animal Care Center in Pomona, N.Y.

That all changed when the sisters — Mendez, Virginia Johnson and Alice Goldsmith, all of whom live together in Nyack, N.Y — walked in.

A grey and docile old girl, Remy made an immediate connection, leaning her head into Sister Virginia’s chest and sighing.

“She just got right up there,” said Sister Virginia, 79. “She said, ‘This must be my new family.’”

As reported by Today.com, the nuns had spent the previous week grieving the loss of their beloved Kate, a 7-year-old mutt who died suddenly from apparent lymphoma.

“I was furious. I was so angry. I cried!” Sister Veronica said. “Oh, how we loved that creature.”

At the end of last month they drove to the shelter and told the director they were seeking a dog that nobody else wanted.

He introduced the sisters — who between them have served 179 years as nuns — to Remy.

“It just worked out so well,” shelter director West Artope said. “We did a follow-up with them and went to the house, and the dog is so comfortable in that environment, you wouldn’t believe it. It was like a match made in heaven.”

“Our feelings were that she was in danger of being euthanized, and we wanted to give her the best three of four years she has left,” Sister Veronica said.

“Here we are, three senior sisters, so we adopted a senior pet!”

(Photo: Remy with Sister Virginia Johnson; by Pauline Jarney / Hi Tor Animal Care Center via Facebook)

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)

Really, really, really, really stupid pet tricks: Raja “takes care” of the baby

Believe it or not, the poster of this video is a dog trainer — though, if you’ve got an infant in the house, you might not want him to teach your dog this particular trick.

Alex Garcia, a dog trainer based in Brooklyn, jokingly says he posted this video on YouTube “in part to discourage friends from asking me to baby-sit.”

According to his website, CivilPet.com, he works with dogs, cats, and companion parrots, providing dog training, dog walking, and pet sitting services.

The website contains videos of several “useless dog tricks” he has taught his dog, Raja.

He also writes a blog, and did an entire entry that features step-by-step directions on how to teach your dog to put a baby (or at least a baby doll) into the oven:

“Step 2: Use shaping to get her to put the (toy) baby in the oven. Hold the baby in the position you want it to land, click your dog for investigating it, then grabbing it. When she grabs it, click and shove food in her face so she’ll drop it in the same position. She should hold the baby, you click, she drops it, then gets fed, then withhold the click until she drops it, then click. Gradually, start with the baby further away from the point in which you want the dog to drop it, then you’ll eventually be able to put the baby on the floor …”

In a disclaimer at the end, he writes: “This is not an actual How-To guide; I’m just going over what I went through to train this for anyone who is curious. If you attempt to train this to your dog, you’re doing so at your own risk. I am not responsible if: your dog opens or closes the oven while you’re cooking; your dog puts an actual baby in the oven; you get bit trying this with your resource guarding pet; your oven breaks somehow; anything bad happens.”

We’re guessing Garcia isn’t so quick to shirk responsibility when he’s on the job; otherwise his repeat customers would be few. As he sees it, he’s just making training a little more fun through his useless pet tricks.

“Training provides great mental stimulation, even when the behaviors themselves have no practical application in the real world,” he says.

Other videos on his website are somewhat cuter and not quite so worrisome, including this one entitled “The Police are Coming.”

Learning to love your lover’s dog

katz

What do you do when the woman you’re falling in love with has a dog that, seemingly, can’t stand you?

Beef jerky, trust and patience are key, but it also helps to be Jon Katz.

The author of numerous dog books recounted in Parade last week how he came to marry Maria – an artist who was using one of his barns as a studio – and how that required much woooing of her Rottweiler-shepherd mix, Frieda.

Katz was still married when he met Maria and cut a deal with her allowing her to use a barn as a studio in exchange for helping with his animals (a herd of sheep, four donkeys, four chickens, three dogs, and two cats) at his farm in upstate New York. Both later saw their marriages end, and they began developing a friendship — or at least to the extent Frieda would permit.

Frieda was fiercely protective of Maria and, Katz writes, ”whenever I approached the barn, Frieda would fling herself against the door in a frenzy, barking ferociously.”

Frieda had been dumped, pregnant, along the New York State Thruway by a man who had been using her as a guard dog. She lived in the wild before she was captured and brought to a shelter. That’s where Maria met her and adopted her, Katz says:

“They were the perfect pair, the human-canine version of Thelma and Louise, united in their devotion to each other and in their great distrust of men.”

As Katz and Maria made the transition from friends to something more, Frieda continued to act out in the presence of Katz and his dogs. At night, Frieda stayed in the  barn. Even though it was heated, it was not a desirable arrangement.

“I was falling in love with Maria,” Katz writes, “and I hoped she would agree to marry me one day, but I knew I had to work things out with Frieda first.

Katz says he bought $500 worth of beef jerky, and began a morning ritual, tossing a piece to Frieda every day. He started getting a little closer to the dog on each visit and, after months, Frieda let him put a leash on her and walk her. “My goal was to get her into the house by Christmas, as a surprise for Maria, evidence of my commitment and good faith.”

Katz and Maria and their animals are one big happy family now, and you can read all about it when The Second-Chance Dog: A Love Story, comes out next month.

To learn more about Katz and his other books, visit his website, bedlamfarm.com.

(Top photo: Maria and Frieda and author Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm; by George Forss)


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