One of the latest sensations sweeping the Internet is a YouTube video that most everybody is reporting shows two dogs Skyping with each other.
“Watch these dogs have a heated Skype convo,” reads the headline on Mashable, accompanied by a video of two wirehaired fox terriers seeming to converse on Skype.
Mashable reports that the dogs have learned to “use technology to stay connected and maintain their long distance relationship.”
“Two Dogs Skype Each Other,” says the Huffpost headline in a piece that also features the video.
Even organizations that often report original news have seized on the alleged Skyping dogs video and presented it as fact.
“Emotional dog friends Skype across the miles” WAFB reports in a story that, like most of the others, first assumes that the dogs are actually Skyping, then goes on to venture guesses on what they might be talking about.
Says KITV: “Skype helps reconnect anyone with distant friends, even dog friends hoping to catch up with each other.”
We’re quite sure dogs do, with help from their owners, Skype each other. And maybe it’s even newsworthy. But the point is these two — despite how numerous media sources are portraying it — aren’t.
We all know the Internet is not a place that lets facts get in the way, but we’d hope that news outlets, at least, would slow down enough to check things out — whether its Skyping dogs, conspiracy theories or celebrity couplings.
What the video actually shows is not two dogs Skyping, but one dog watching a video of another dog.
What makes the snowballing mischaracterization even more amazing is that the owner of Gaytor, in posting the video on YouTube, admits as much. Under the headline “My Dog Can Skype,” she explains that Gaytor enjoys Skyping with other dogs, but admits that, in this particular video, he’s merely watching another dog on a YouTube video.
The video Gaytor is watching and responding to features a wire haired terrier named Basil, also from the UK. Basil’s howls are in reaction to ringtone alerts on his owner’s Blackberry.
As fate, and the Internet, would have it, Basil’s owner saw the video of Gaytor reacting to Basil, and showed it to Basil, who reacted to Gaytor reacting to him.
“Thanks for featuring my Basil video, glad your dog likes to watch it. Basil would love to meet Gaytor someday. I played your movie to him this morning and he sung along to it,” Basil’s owner said in a comment posted to the Gaytor video.
All of which is fun — and perhaps worthy of another video showing Gaytor’s reaction to Basil’s reaction to Gaytor’s reaction to him – but it’s not Skyping.
Here’s the original Basil video:
Posted by jwoestendiek January 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, basil, behavior, computers, conversation, convo, dogs, gaytor, huffington post, huffpost, internet, mashable, media, news, pets, skype, skyping, skyping dogs, terriers, truth, video, wire haired fox terriers, youtube
Ten thousand dollars worth of supplies were stolen from a California rescue organization that helps homeless and low-income people care for their pets.
Mohave Desert Animal Rescue, based in the Victorville area, said their warehouse in Apple Valley was broken into twice over the weekend.
The organization’s founder, Annie Lancaster, said the stolen supplies would have lasted for a year, and if there aren’t enough new donations, the non-profit organization may have to close.
The rescue provides food, leashes and care so the homeless, sick and recently unemployed can keep their pets. It also dispenses clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and tents to the homeless, according to KABC in Los Angeles, which last year featured the organization in its “Pay It Forward” campaign.
“How low on the food chain do you have to go to find somebody who will steal from homeless people and their animals?” Lancaster said. “It makes me sick.”
“One thing people don’t seem to realize about homeless people is they take incredible care of their animals,” Lancaster added. “They’ll go hungry to feed their own animals. That pet is their everything, it’s their heart, it’s their best friend, it’s their confidante.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, annie lancaster, burglary, california, food, homeless, kabc, leashes, mojave desert animal rescue, news, non-profit, nonprofit, organization, pay it forward, pets, poor, rescue, sleeping bags, supplies, tents, theft, victorville, warehouse
To hear Fox 2 in St. Louis tell it, a massive round up of pit bulls was underway last week in the small town of Sikeston, Missouri.
According to the Fox report (above), animal control officers were seizing pit bulls from homes around town — so many that the Sikeston shelter had to send 20 dogs to St. Louis to make room for all the pit bulls they were rounding up.
Other TV news operations, and the Standard Democrat in Sikeston, were quick to report that the Fox News account was a little off the mark.
Sikeston, which does have pit bull restrictions, picked up three dogs it said were not in compliance with the rules — but no roundup took place.
Wednesday’s Fox News report by Chris Hayes that Sikeston held a “pit bull round up day” led to dozens of calls to the newspaper, and a flurry of online alerts and notifications.
Hayes reported that he “found out about the program after learning about a sudden influx of dogs coming to the St. Louis area” and that it was “to make room for seized pit bulls.”
Sikeston City Manager Doug Friend said allegations that the city held a “pit bull round up day” weren’t true.
There are 32 pit bulls registered in Sikeston, according to Friend, and the city audits those on an annual basis.
“It’s not a big process,” he said. “We just basically drive by, verify that somebody that had a registered pit bull still lives at a registered address. Our plan was to just do our annual look.”
During that recent audit, three pit bulls were taken into custody for non-compliance with the city code. It requires that the owners of pit bulls and some other breeds register those pets with the city, carry liability insurance, and keep their dogs in a fully enclosed pen if they are outside.
KFVS also reported that the Fox report was misleading.
According to KFVS, about 30 dogs were shipped from the Sikeston shelter to no-kill shelters across the country, including one near St. Louis.
Friend told KFVS that the transfers, the seizures, and the TV report added up to fear quickly spreading among pit bull advocates, in Sikeston and around the country.
“To suggest and sensationalize the way that the news reporter did is … I’m at a loss for words” Friend said. “I mean, we’re a rural town of 18,000. We try to serve the public to the best of our ability. Everything we do is tailored to the health and safety of our citizens after extensive public comment.”
Of course, none of that is to suggest pit bull bans and restrictions make sense. They don’t.
But for a news organization to suggest, based on a couple of unconnected facts, that a round-up of all pit bulls is underway is a similar sort of fear-mongering — and one that’s neither fair nor balanced.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, bans, breed, breed-specific, dogs, fox 2, fox news, laws, media, missouri, news, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, restrictions, sikeston, st. louis, towns
A fact of life — or should we say death? — in this country is that whether or not you, as a human, get executed for a crime can depend largely on where your trial is held.
The same is kind of true of impounded dogs — one big difference being they get no trial, there’s usually no crime involved, and, having been surrendered or abandoned, they’re more often victims than criminals.
With dogs, most executions are not a matter of justice, but population control; and the likelihood of that fate varies not just from state to state, but from county to county. By and large, a dog’s chance of getting out of a county-run shelter alive depends primarily on what county they happen to be held in.
Just how much of a toss of the dice it can be was shown in a story Sunday by the Columbus Dispatch. It analyzed data from 85 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and found that, in 2011, they had kill rates varying from 1 percent to 81 percent.
Dogs who enter the shelter in Lawrence County, in southeastern Ohio, have less than a two in ten chance of getting out alive. Meanwhile, in Carroll County, in northeastern Ohio, only 1 percent of dogs were destroyed, the lowest rate in the state.
The story included a county-by-county interactive map, showing kill and adoption rates.
It’s some exceptional reporting — the kind newspapers should be doing more of — and it clearly shows that, even when they’re right next door, some places value dogs’ lives more than others, and work harder to place and save them.
Statewide, more than 100,000 dogs are impounded annually in Ohio’s county-run animal shelters, and roughly 30 percent, or 30,000, were euthanized in 2011. (Nationally, it’s estimated that 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized a year.)
“It looks bad. That’s awful,” Lawrence County Dog Warden Bill Click said of the data showing his shelter had the highest kill rate in the state. He added that the county is working to improve those numbers. Lawrence County, like many others, often euthanizes dogs when the shelter gets too crowded.
The best dog wardens, the story points out, are more than wardens. (Is it time to change that outdated term?) They publicize their county shelters, welcome volunteers and visitors, post photos and profiles of their adoptable online and work with rescue groups.
But while some fight daily to keep euthanasia rates low, it seems a lower priority in many counties: 13 have kill rates higher than 50 percent.
Some dog wardens question whether it’s fair to compare the rates of urban and rural dog shelters, saying urban areas generally take in more aggressive animals that have been trained to guard property or fight other dogs, as well as more dogs that have been injured by cars.
But even among urban areas, some county shelters do a far better job than others.
Of Ohio’s urban areas, Hamilton County had the lowest kill rate, at 30 percent. The county contracts with the Cincinnati SPCA, which has worked to reduce adoption prices, extend foster care and bring animals with heartworm and other medical problems back to health, rather than putting them down.
Pit bulls have been most often destined for euthanasia — at least until Ohio dropped its ban and put a new law in place in May of this year that no longer automatically brands them vicious.
Animal welfare advocates have also succeeded in pressuring two counties, Athens and Fairfield, to stop using the gas chamber to euthanize dogs.
They were less successful in Hocking County, where, despite demonstrations and a call to switch to lethal injection, county commissioners decided to continue using gas.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption rates, animal control, animal welfare, animals, carroll county, chances, columbus, control, counties, county, death, death penalty, dispatch, dog wardens, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, execution, gas chambers, interactive, justice, kill rates, lawrence county, lethal injection, life, location, map, news, newspaper, ohio, pets, population, rescues, shelters, survival, wardens
Here’s an in-depth report out of Canada on the rising concerns about chicken jerky treats from China.
CBC television’s Tom Harrington looks at the lack of pet food regulations in this Marketplace segment, called “Fighting For Fido.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: america, animals, canada, cbc, chicken, china, chinese, dead, dogs, dying, fda, government, health, jerky, marketplace, news, pet food, pets, regulations, regulatory, report, safety, sick, tom harrington, treats
I know from experience that, for a writer of news, the jaws of a cliche can be a difficult thing to escape.
You’re in a hurry, you need an image people can relate to, you need to somehow make the political convention you’re writing about seem exciting, as opposed to just a multi-day display of balloons and bluster, pomp and propaganda.
The cliche, often, is the first term that pops into your head, and once it latches on — legend has it they exert a force beyond any other words, something like a million pounds per square inch — you just can’t shake them off.
So, unless you find something you can describe as a “game-changer” — it having quickly risen up the cliche ladder — you pepper your reports with terms like “attack dog.”
This being convention season, “attack dogs” are everywhere.
Just in the first few days of this week — as the Democratic National Convention got underway in Charlotte – Vice President Joe Biden, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to name a few, have been described in the news media as attack dogs.
Rest assured, the pack will grow as the convention progresses, as will the use of the misnomer.
They are not attack dogs; they are attack humans. And it’s unfair to identify them by lumping them into a whole different species — a species that’s smart enough to eschew the back-biting world of politics.
I have no problem with the political parties designating certain politicians to be the tough guys, to say the things that — be they borderline truths, senseless vitriol or other comments deemed too indecorous — the presidential candidate himself probably shouldn’t utter.
But let’s leave dogs out of it.
Let’s come up with another descriptive term, like Clint Eastwoods.
A true attack dog, of the canine variety, is a dog that humans have done all they could, through breeding, through training, through constantly reinforcing aggression, to instill that behavior. It’s not, at least since dog was domesticated, their natural way.
With politicians, I’m not so sure.
Those creatures you see at the political conventions are growling, smarmy, snarling humans, doing what their masters tell them to do. That’s not a behavior learned from dogs; it’s a behavior learned from politics.
(Photo: West Highland terriers Ricky and Reba, who, like most dogs, aren’t attack dogs at all)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack dogs, biden, castro, cliches, conventions, coverage, democrats, dogs, eastwood, networks, news, news media, news writing, o'malley, pets, political, politics, president, quinn, reid, republicans, terminology, vice president, writing
It was one of those heartwarming dog-reunited-with-family stories: Rogue, a missing Peruvian herding dog whose owner was killed in a car accident, had been found and was to be returned to the owner’s family.
As Sara Quinn — the girlfriend of the accident victim’s cousin — hugged the big black dog, news media recorded the event, having been invited by the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Quinn, 27, said the family had been searching for the dog, and that she planned to bring him back to their ranch in Friant.
But Rogue, the allegedly missing dog was a she, and the dog Quinn was hugging was a he — and he wasn’t the Erickson family’s dog at all.
In fact, the Erickson’s dog was never even missing.
After the Monday reunion, the story — told by the Fresno Bee and others — began unraveling.
Joe Erickson, 61 — father of Richard Erickson, who died after the car crash – saw news reports about the reunion on TV. He called The Bee to say his family’s dog, Rogue, was safe at home and she never had been missing.
He said he had no idea why Quinn manufactured the story.
Tuesday night, Quinn said she wasn’t trying to trick anyone, and that she thought she was doing a good deed by orchestrating a reunion of the dog with its owner’s family, the Bee reported.
The false Rogue, after Quinn adopted him from the shelter, was returned to the SPCA, where he awaits his rightful owner, or adoption.
CCSPCA spokeswoman Beth Caffrey said Tuesday, “we do the best we can to give animals the right opportunity. Unfortunately, we were all misled by this adoption” The CCSPCA is “grateful to have the dog back in our possession,” she said.
The CCSPCA had sent a news release out on Monday, recounting Quinn’s story of having found the family’s missing dog at the shelter. At Monday’s news conference, Caffrey said police had found the dog on the streets on Aug. 13. He was taken in by the shelter and put up for adoption on Aug. 21. Quinn called on Aug. 23 to claim him.
At the press conference, Quinn said she planned to surprise Richard Erickson’s mother by taking the dog to the ranch that evening. She wept and hugged the dog when he was brought out to her.
Tuesday night, Quinn admitted she had “created a big mess.”
(Photo: Fresno Bee)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, adoption, animals, central california spca, deception, dog, dogs, fake, family, fresno bee, heartwarming, news, news media, peruvian hunting dog, pets, reunion, reunited, richard erickson, rogue, sara quinn, shelters, spca, staged, victim
Queen Elizabeth’s six corgis — those little bundles of sweetness you might have seen in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics — got into a ruckus with Prince Andrew’s three Norfolk terriers, British tabloids are reporting.
If they are to be believed, one of the terriers “nearly lost an ear.”
Eleven-year-old Max, given by Prince Andrew to his daughter Beatrice, suffered numerous bites and was treated by a veterinarian,” according to the Sunday Express
Both the Queen and Andrew were elsewhere in the castle when the fight broke out at Balmoral, the Scottish estate where the Queen spends the summer.
“It was really nasty,” the Express quoted a “royal insider” as saying:
“The Queen’s dog boy was taking the corgis for a walk and they were joined by the Norfolk terriers which came with Prince Andrew.
“They were being taken along the long corridor leading to the Tower Door before being let into the grounds for a walk, and they all became over-excited.
“They began fighting among themselves and unfortunately the dog boy lost control. The next thing we knew there were horrific yelps and screams and it seems the corgis picked on Max. He was very badly injured and had to be taken to the local vet. There was blood everywhere.”
Not to capitalize on the royal family’s misfortune, or to say the fight was as ”savage” as the tabloids have depicted it, or to imply it was the “dog boy’s” fault … but if the Queen is looking for a new “dog boy,” I would be up for the job.
For that matter, I’d also be happy to assume the duties of the “royal insider,” in the event his or her remarks to the news media have left him or her a royal outsider.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, balmoral, beatrice, bites, corgis, dog boy, dog fight, dogs, ear, elizabeth, england, family, fight, news, norfolk terriers, pets, prince andrew, queen, reports, royal, tabloids, uk
At least 38 dogs entrusted to a Texas pit bull refuge whose mission was to provide them with care and find them new homes never came out, perishing instead from heat stroke, and being buried in a mass grave on the ranch.
Not too much news has been coming out of Spindletop Refuge in Willis, either.
Since authorities last week seized nearly 300 dogs, mostly pit bulls, and removed them from conditions generally described as cramped and unhealthy, there have been a lot more questions than answers.
On Friday, after hours of private negotiations, Spindletop owner Leah Purcell agreed to relinquish ownership of the 287 dogs, and through her attorney, she agreed to terms prohibiting her from future rescue and boarding in the county.
That court action was related strictly to the custody of the dogs. No charges have yet been filed against Purcell, and there has been no clear word that they will be.
Instead, there are a heap of questions unanswered — most of them from rescue groups around the country that sent animals to Spindletop, and now want to find out if they’re still alive, and reclaim them if they are.
On top of that, there’s another all-important one — what led what was once such a highly respected refuge to end up keeping dogs in conditions more like those you’d find at a puppy mill or the home of a hoarder?
Members of at least 50 rescue groups attended a Friday custody hearing in Conroe, but it was behind closed doors that an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Purcell. Except for 11 dogs that belonged to her mother, she surrendered the rest, and custody was awarded to the Humane Society of the United States and Montgomery County.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a grand jury, also meeting behind closed doors, will decide whether Purcell will face criminal charges.
According to the Houston Press, several rescuers learned Friday then that the dogs they had surrendered to Spindletop — and were told had been adopted — died of heat stroke last summer.
“It was definitely not a sanctuary. Definitely not. Those dogs were left in a living hell,” said former Spindletop employee Brandon Louth, who says he’s the one who contacted authorities about conditions at the refuge.
Of the mass death he said, ”The dogs had suffocated, because the building was not ventilated. The electricity had gone off in the building, and basically I had to bury the dogs, put the dogs in sacks and dig a mass grave for them.”
Officials are still working to catalog all the rescued dogs, and were putting together a website where they’ll be posting photos of all of the dogs. The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping coordinate the effort, said this week on its Facebook page that approximately 40 dogs have been claimed and returned to owners or places of origin, or will be in the next few days.
They advise those seeking dogs that were in Spindletop’s care to:
“If you have not already done so, please send extremely detailed information about dogs you wish to reclaim to email@example.com and to Constable Tim Holifield at firstname.lastname@example.org . Include a phone number and an email address. Put the word SPINDLETOP in the subject line. Animal Farm Foundation is coordinating the communication with owners and places of origin and schedules appointments for reclaiming dogs.”
At Friday’s court hearing, Montgomery County Constable Tim Holifield assured the crowd that the animals were being well cared for and that the Humane Society of the United States, which assisted in the Spindletop seizure, is committed to not euthanizing any of the dogs.
“It’s especially painful to see people and places that purport to help animals do precisely the opposite,” HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote yesterday on his blog, A Humane Nation.
“We tell people shopping for a dog from a breeder to go see the parents of the dog, to make sure the place is not a puppy mill. With so many of these cases of neglect by those who say they are helping animals cropping up, it’s also wise to do background work or a site visit to any self-described rescue or sanctuary. There are so many good rescue groups and sanctuaries doing important work for animals every day, and every one of them would agree with me on that point … Calling yourself a sanctuary or a Samaritan isn’t enough. You have to act like one.”
It’s also important, we’d point out, to get to the bottom of what happened — what made such good intentions go astray — and for that information to be public. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Spindletop, which only increases the chances that, sometime soon, somewhere else, we’ll be hearing the same story again.
(Photo: One of the rescued pit bulls in Texas; by Scott Dalton, via A Humane Nation)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, catalog, custody, deaths, dogs, hsus, leah purcell, location, mass grave, montgomery county, news, ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, private, public, refuge, rescue, sanctuary, seized, spindletop, surrender, texas, wayne pacelle, willis
The dog whose only crime was resembling a pit bull was euthanized today, after a deadline for legal appeals expired.
His execution – despite 200,000 signatures supporting a reprieve — brings an end to an international effort to save him.
The BBC reports that the city council issued a statement that read:
“Whilst there is an exemption scheme to which dogs of this type (pit-bull terrier type) may be admitted as an alternative to destruction, there were no such measures that could be applied in this case that would address the concerns relating to public safety.”
“The council’s expert described the dog as one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across.”
In June, after two lower courts had already ruled that the dog should be put down, Northern Ireland’s highest court rejected Caroline Barnes’ legal bid to overturn an order calling for the destruction of her pet.
Ms. Barnes insisted that Lennox was not dangerous, and her battle to save Lennox snowballed into an often-heated international campaign to save his life.
One Belfast councillor has received a death threat over Lennox’s proposed destruction, the BBC reported, and workers in Belfast City Council have become the target of a fresh series of intimidating messages.
Lennox was impounded by Belfast City Council’s dog wardens in May of 2010, when a new breed specific law went into effect, banning pit bull types in the UK.
Among those calling for Lennox to be spared were boxer Lennox Lewis, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, and television dog training expert Victoria Stillwell, who had offered to have Lennox re-homed in America where he would not be in contact with the public.
Stillwell said she was “absolutely devastated” that Lennox had been put down. “I hoped Belfast City Council would realize that there were alternatives that provided a sanctuary for Lennox in the USA where he would be safe but they did not listen,” she said.
Stillwell said requests that the family be allowed to visit the dog one last time before he was put down were declined — as were requests to allow the family see the dog after he was euthanized.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: belfast, belfast city council, breed bans, breed-specific, breeds, campaign, dangerous, denied, dog, dogs, euthanized, executed, global, international, ireland, killed, laws, lennox, news, pit bull, pit bull type, put down, put to sleep, resemblance, uk, victoria stillwell, visits