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Tag: news

Flo notes: Hurricanes can bring out the best and worst in TV news reporters


Used to be the way for a local TV reporter to win the hearts of viewers was to show him or herself struggling against the elements during a violent weather event.

Or so they seemed to think.

Most assuredly, that mindset is still at work, or at least it was with the newsman below, whose on air performance to stay on his feet during Florence — while regular folks in the background walk casually by — has gone viral.

What most reporters have come to realize, though, is that the way to viewers’ hearts — especially during hurricanes — is to show dogs and cats, preferably being rescued.

Better yet, if you’re a TV reporter, help rescue a dog yourself.

A reporter for WTVD in Raleigh dispatched to New Bern, N.C. interrupted a Facebook Live video to “help” rescue a dog in knee-deep floodwaters.

Julie Wilson saw a woman trying to save her Rottweiler — her daughter’s therapy dog — from the water and offered to help.

Wilson didn’t enter the house with the woman, waiting outside instead, but she can be seen on the video assisting, helping to carry the dog to safety while assuring her “You are OK baby girl.”

Later, she says, “Nobody is leaving the dog in this mess. That’s what we are doing out here.” You can see the full live stream here.

Unlike the wobbly reporter higher up in this post, Wilson isn’t being criticized online, only praised as a hero.

Comments on the story online suggest that she be given everything from a raise to the blessing of God. Read one retweet: “Saw this today.. and i was so moved.. her co workers said how she was a animal lover and didn’t even drink coffee… . just gave from her heart….a true everyday hero…

Mike Seidel, the Weather Channel reporter, meanwhile, is being lambasted, but the Weather Channel defended him in a statement: “It’s important to note that the two individuals in the background are walking on concrete, and Mike Seidel is trying to maintain his footing on wet grass, after reporting on-air until 1:00 a.m. ET this morning and is undoubtedly exhausted.”

What’s clear is that simply braving the elements doesn’t cut it anymore. A TV reporter who wants to feel the love needs to be shown with a soggy dog, or a drenched cat — preferably one he or she helped rescue, optimally with the cameras rolling.

None of this is to say Julie Wilson didn’t do a fine reporting job, or that her intentions weren’t pure, or that she didn’t do the right thing in helping out the woman and the dog.

Only that I could do without TV reporters — even though they are doing a brave and noble job — trying to hammer home how brave and noble they are during a crisis.

The tragedy is bad enough without blatant heartstring-tugging, which, like blatant price-gouging, always tends to come after a hurricane like Florence passes through.

Freelance journalist Marcus DiPaolo got into the heroics as well, tweeting this rescue of kenneled dogs he said he took part in:

We assume that is DiPaolo holding the camera, and it’s not clear what more he did beyond grab the collar of one of the freed dogs and say “C’mon, puppy,” but from the tweet and his use of the word “we” he apparently wants some credit for the rescue as well.

Amid all the social media promotion of their own heroics, it’s important to remember that — honorable as those might be — it’s rescue workers and homeowners, not journalists, who are doing most of the rescuing out there, which brings us to the kitty at the top of this post.

It is of Robert Simmons Jr. and his kitten being evacuated in New Bern on a rowboat Saturday.

It was taken by a newspaper reporter, Andrew Carter, with the Raleigh News & Observer.

No, Carter didn’t pluck the cat out of raging floodwaters himself. No he wasn’t rowing the boat. But he did do his job.

Because, yes, covering a hurricane is vital, noble, heroic and all that stuff, too — just on its own.

If a reporter can help save a life — human or animal — by all means do it, but do it out of compassion, as opposed to reasons such as going “viral,” self-promotion, or over-sized ego.

Dogs like running, therapy dogs make people feel good, and other “oh duh” studies

In my daily perusal of what in the world is going on with dogs, I am constantly amazed at how many studies are done on things we already know — and how quick news organizations are to pounce on those studies and present them as something new.

Take last week’s Washington Post, which tells us in a headline, “Dogs can get a runner’s high, too.”

Pfffft. Dogs invented the runner’s high. We didn’t need a headline to know, least of all one based on a 2012 study.

The article goes on to tell us that running is healthy for dogs and humans, that running “gives dogs an activity and burns energy,” and, of course, that dogs and humans should check with their vets and doctors before beginning an exercise program.

I don’t know how much of this stating of the painfully obvious that goes on today is because we have run out of new things to say, study and report on; or how much is the result of so-called news websites providing dumbed-down “content,” instead of news.

But it seems like everybody — from scientist to journalist — is in repeat mode. Or maybe I’m just old.

SONY DSCAlso making news last week was the “recent finding” that dogs respond best to high-pitched voices.

This, at least, stems from a new study in which scientists at the University of York have shown that using high-pitched baby-talk voices can help us bond with their dogs.

Of course, the study found basically the same thing as others in recent years, including this one from more than a year ago.

Now any scientist will tell you that’s there is value in these studies that tell us what we already know — whether we already know them from common sense, or because of similar earlier studies that found the same thing. It is always good to confirm things

News organizations, on the other hand, will take the findings of any study, hype them up and present them as the most important breaking news of the day — even if they did the same thing last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.

They know, even with Google, our collective memory is short, so they trot out the same old pieces regularly — should you let your dog sleep with you, should you let your dog lick you, why do dogs eat grass? — and they either find experts or studies to legitimize them.

Just last week, with the news that Barbra Streisand has two cloned dogs, the topic of dog cloning became instantly hot, and many a news outlet presented the story in a you’re-not-going-to-believe-this, dogs-are-being-CLONED!!! kind of way.

Having written a book on the very topic seven years ago, I was amused how the news was suddenly a revelation again.

I’m sure scientists somewhere are studying how short our memories and attention spans are becoming, and that I’ll be reading about it soon.

Until then, there will be plenty of other scientific “revelations” to keep me busy, like this one — unearthed by hardworking researchers at the University of British Columbia:

Therapy dogs make people feel good.

acetWell, that’s kind of why they have been popping up everywhere in the past 20 years — to do just that.

And what led to those initial revelations, years ago? Studies.

This new one, published in the journal Stress and Health, shows that exposure to therapy dogs helps boost students’ well-being. Researchers interviewed 246 students before and after cuddle and petting sessions with therapy dogs.

Students felt significantly less stressed and more energized after interacting with the dogs, though the happy feelings weren’t necessarily lasting, InsideHigherEd.com reported.

In other words, the feel-good vibe a dog gives you — like a news report, like a scientific study, like many a book — will soon be forgotten.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

A little reminder from Jinjja and me

A friend came across this ABC News video from a year and a half ago, depicting more than 30 dogs rescued from a meat farm in Korea on their way to shelters in North Carolina to be put up for adoption.

As she guessed, the second dog to last dog shown in the video, is — though Jindos can look pretty similar — the one that now belongs to me, I think.

jindolJinjja is his name.

He has come a long way since this news footage (which I’d never seen) was shot — turning from a virtually wild dog scared of everything to a trusting and loyal companion.

I thought, with the 2018 Winter Olympics concluding, with the controversial dog meat trade having diverted only a little focus from the games, this would be a good time to remember that a small minority of Koreans eat dog.

Despite government efforts to suspend or at least better hide the practice, dog meat was still being served in restaurants in PyeongChang, and numerous dog farms are located within just miles of Olympic venues.

With all those inspiring moments of athletic achievement we watched, all those examples of humans trying to be their best, it was easy to ignore that harsh reality — that one to two million farm dogs are butchered each year in South Korea.

Some news media used the Olympics as an opportunity to remind us of it. Others, like NBC, barely touched on it — apparently not wanting to turns its spotlight from those inspiring moments of athletic achievement. Instead, it presented South Korea’s best side, and that best side is a truly great side.

But South Korea has a worst side, too, and yes, we just reminded you of it.

Some would say eating dog meat is part of Korean culture, and thus deserves to be free from criticism, but it doesn’t — not anymore than the tradition of slavery in America deserves to be excused, forgotten or forgiven.

gus-kenworthy-matt-wilkas-dogBefore the Olympics was a good time to let South Korea know, as many did, what the rest of the world thinks about the practice. During the Olympics was a good time too, and some Olympians even did.

In addition to the other Olympians who were planning to help a Korean farm dog get to the U.S., one, Gus Kenworthy, a member of the US. Olympic ski team, also took action.

Kenworthy, who brought home a rescue dog after the Sochi Olympics, visited a dog farm near PyeongChang in the process of being closed by Humane Society International and left with a puppy named Beemo, according to PEOPLE magazine.

He didn’t single-handedly rescue 90 dogs from the farm, as a Fox News headline shouted: “US Olympian Gus Gus Kenworthy rescues 90 dogs from Korean dog meat farm.” But he did assist Humane Society International in gathering up the dogs and arranged to adopt one of them.

Hyped as reports like that might be, photo ops that they might be, its good so see some attention on the issue.

If it’s one you feel strongly about, express that somehow. Comment here, or elsewhere, or sign a petition. Contribute to Humane Society International’s program that cuts deals with the dog farmers to close their farms, and brings the dogs to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. Provide a home to one of those who end up here.

You won’t get a gold medal for it. But you might keep one dog from ending up on a dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And for that you can feel proud.

(Bottom photo: Gus Kenworthy /Instagram)

Western Kentucky weather dog passes away

Radar the Weather Dog — voted Bowling Green’s best television personality for nine years in a row — passed away Christmas morning at age 16.

Julie Milam, general manager at WNKY, broke the news to staff at the end of the station’s morning news program Tuesday, the Bowling Green Daily News reported.

“It’s a very sad and somber day at our station,” she said. “It is a great loss at our station for every employee and the community as a whole.”

A shelter pet, Radar was rescued from the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society in 2005. He was introduced as the station’s weather dog, appeared in forecasts with the meteorologist and lived at the station full time up until two years ago.

radarThe purebred border collie was a friendly dog who would roam about the station and greet visitors. When the time came for the weather report though, “he knew to be in that chair (and) be still,” Milam said. “He would bark on command.”

Radar gained additional fame at various community events, including his appearances at the annual Fur Ball that benefits the humane society.

Radar would go home with various members of the staff on weekends, and there were often arguments about who would get to take him home.

Eventually, he moved in full time with Marilyn Gardner, her two dogs and her foster kittens.

“He was a very loyal and sweet and funny character,” she said.

From 2008 to 2017, Radar was voted Bowling Green’s best television personality by Daily News and Amplifier readers as part of the annual Best of Bowling Green poll.

Radar’s adopted sister, SOKY, has taken over some of his station duties. She was also adopted from Logan County through the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society.

Lorri Hare, the shelter director, said Radar’s celebrity did wonders for promoting animal adoption.

“You can find great dogs here at the shelter every day,” she said. “He’ll be missed by a lot of us for sure. He lived a great life. A lot of people loved him.”

A public memorial is planned for February, according to WNKY.

BBC anchor can’t get too excited (at all) about dog surfing contest in California

Remember when you were a kid and your mother asked you to do something, like clean your room or take the trash out … and then she asked you nine more times … and then, while having far more important things to do, you finally, begrudgingly, did it?

You did it with with a bit of surliness, with total disdain for the task and for the person who assigned it, and while heaving lots of sighs.

That apparently is how BBC news anchor Simon McCoy felt about introducing this “news” report about a dog surfing competition in Northern California.

Pausing often, and emitting frequent sighs, McCoy prefaces his remarks by noting August is always a slow news month. Then he barely gets through reading the words, which clearly were written by someone else — someone who thought the event was cute.

McCoy apparently didn’t think that it was cute, or that it was news, and his performance behind the news desk was so lackluster that it has gone viral and made it on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The Colbert bit shows the real McCoy, then features a faux BBC newscaster who has introduced one too many animal stories.

The real McCoy ends his narration saying, “That’s a shame, we’ve run out of pictures,” before turning things over to the weatherman.

McCoy’s demeanor suggests he thought presenting such fluff was beneath him, and not where he expected his career, which included covering the war in Iraq and the royal family, to turn.

(Buck up, Simon, there are still wars being waged and there’s a good chance more are ahead, possibly quite soon.)

We all need a little fluff now and then, and what is more delightful than watching dogs surf or, for that matter, watching dogs do anything?

It’s when we get a steady diet of it — and that seems to be the direction the news media continues to head — that it becomes unhealthy.

McCoy’s lackluster reading is being praised as “heroic” by some on Twitter, who maintain he gave the report exactly the enthusiasm it deserved.

Perhaps McCoy, through his demeanor, was providing commentary on the state of the worldwide news media, or simply exhibiting that stereotypical British nose-in-the-air disdain for trivial, silly (generally American) things. Perhaps it was a little of both, or even just a little on-camera shtick.

In any case, we’d suggest — without being too judgmental, too serious, or too fluffy — that he needs a vacation.

And a dog.

COzpDmAW8AA_RXS(Late breaking news: Simon McCoy informs us he will be taking a vacation next week — with his two border terriers.

Surfing is not on the itinerary.

See his full comment below.)

(Photo: Posted by McCoy on Twitter)

Bali governor calls for crackdown on vendors and others selling dog meat

(Warning: This video contains graphic images)

The governor of Bali has called upon government agencies to stop the sale of dog meat after a news report showed that street vendors were selling cooked dog on a stick to unsuspecting tourists.

The report that shocked visitors to the island, and much of the rest of the world, was produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation program 7.30 and aired in June.

The program showed, often in graphic detail, the brutal methods used by dog meat traders, and how street vendors often lied to tourists, sometimes telling them the meat they were selling was chicken satay.

Drawing on a four-month undercover investigation by Animals Australia, the report showed how dogs were stolen, strangled, poisoned, shot, and bludgeoned to death before being butchered, barbecued and served on a stick to tourists enjoying themselves on the tropical island’s shores.

ABC.net reported this week that Governor Made Mangku Pastika — acknowledging the trade for the first time — has sent a letter to Indonesian ministers, police officials, veterinary and agriculture departments, calling for an end to the practice.

That dog meat is being sold, by vendors and in restaurants, is common knowledge to most locals — but it is kept low-key, and tourists are often not aware they are purchasing dog.

To protect “the image of Bali tourism”, the Governor’s letter called for a crackdown “against the sale of dog meat because it is not inspected and guaranteed to be healthy and can potentially spread zoonotic diseases, especially rabies and other fatal dangers.”

sateThe governor’s letter also ordered information be collected on where and by whom dog meat is being sold and a community education program to teach “that dog meat is not a food for consumption, especially for foreign tourists.”

After the report aired, Animals Australia launched a petition calling on Bali’s governor to immediately ban the dog meat trade and pass laws to outlaw extreme cruelty to all animals.

The governor’s letter may be more about protecting the tourist industry than safeguarding animal welfare. There have been calls for boycotts, and bad publicity threatens to tarnish public perceptions about the tropical island paradise.

“It is important to end the trade in Bali, especially to protect our culture and tourism industry, as well as to apply the national animal welfare law,” said Dr. Nata Kesuma, the head of Bali’s Livestock and Animal Health Services.

“I am sure we will be able to stop the dog meat trade if all relevant stakeholders are willing to cooperate and have the same vision, although it may take some time,” he added.

Others noted that much more could have been done.

“[It’s] a good first step but there’s a long way to go … the consumption of dog meat must be stopped,” said Janice Girardi, founder of Bali’s Animal Welfare Association, which estimates more than 70,000 animals are killed a year for food in Bali.

“This is not actually a ban on dog meat,” she added. “What is allowed and what is not allowed needs to be defined by government …”

Animals Australia’s Lyn White applauded the governor’s steps.

“While fueled by a small section of the community, the dog meat trade has been increasing rapidly in Bali, so the Government’s decision comes at a critical time,” she said.

“It’s a more than appropriate response to a trade that involves significant animal cruelty, presents a serious human health risk, and undermines rabies eradication programs.”

(Video showing highlights of the investigation and photo of a street vendor supplied by Animals Australia)

Last month’s feel-good story takes bad turn

Luke the K9 solo (Courtesy of Joel Fields)

A suburban police officer who made national headlines for rescuing a doomed shelter dog and training him for police work has been fired from his job — and his whole story is now being questioned.

On top of that, the Bel-Ridge Police Department, outside St. Louis, is asking that officer Joel Fields return the dog that taxpayers, at least in part, paid to have trained, at least in part, as a police K9.

The total truth about the story is still unraveling, but the untruths unearthed so far indicate the heartwarming account Fields gave the news media wasn’t entirely accurate — including the claim that the dog, named Luke, came from a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized.

As a result, and as has happened before, all across the Internet, thousands of hearts were falsely warmed.

As usual, we can blame lazy news media, and even lazier bloggers, for the misinformation — as well as the officer whose account of saving the dog from death’s doorstep was initially accepted on its face as truthful.

fieldsFields was praised by PEOPLE and pictured as a savior by numerous dog websites after the story broke in April.

(Fortunately, ohmidog! wasn’t one of them. We’d like to say it’s because it didn’t pass our special sniff test, or get approved by our crack team of fact checkers, but it was probably more dumb luck.)

Still, there were clues — like how hard Fields seemed to be seeking publicity, the professionally made photos he supplied of him and Luke, and the boasting about all the drug busts Luke nearly immediately made as a rookie on the job.

“He made seven drug busts in less than a month and a half of working the road with me,” Fields told Fox2 News.

How true that is — as well as the rest of the story Fields gave about the retriever — are now under suspicion.

News4 in St. Louis is now reporting that Brad Croft, the owner of Universal K9, the company that helped train Luke, is saying the account Fields gave the news media was mostly lies.

“I was a little upset, because Joel was told from the day I handed him the leash of the dog that this was not a shelter dog,” said Croft.

Croft told News4 he suspects Fields was lying about the dog’s background in an effort to gain fame and “get people to back him and give him money.”

Officials are also now investigating whether Luke was fully trained and certified as a police dog.

City prosecutor Sam Alton says Fields initially told them the dog was certified as a K9, but he says they have learned that is not true. That fact could complicate any criminal court cases Luke played a role in.

Alton says Fields is now refusing to give up the dog, whose training was funded at least in part by taxpayers.

“We would like to see the taxpayers not lose money, we would like the dog to live a happy and productive life and we would like to see the dog in service as it was meant to be,” Alton said.

“Everything legally from our point of view shows that the dog belongs to the city of Bel-Ridge,” he added. “It’s unfortunate for the city, it’s unfortunate for the residents, it’s unfortunate for the dog and it’s unfortunate for him (Fields).”

Fields told News4 over the phone this week that he quit and wasn’t fired, and wouldn’t comment anymore until talking to his attorney.

KMOV.com