Allegations of wide-scale voter fraud may not effect the presidential race, but they have kept a one-eyed Chihuahua from appearing on the tail of Frontier Airlines jets.
The Denver-based airline announced Monday that it has suspended its “Mascot on the Tail” contest because it had been “compromised” by fraudulent voting.
“We have determined that the contest has been compromised by fraudulent activity and ineligible voting that has created an unfair environment for all participants,” the airline said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience.”
The contest, launched in March, invited universities, high schools and other organizations to campaign and vote for their mascot to appear on the tail of some Frontier planes.
Given that getting themselves free publicity (and gathering as many email addresses as possible) were the real reasons for Frontier to hold the contest, and given online contests aren’t exactly the epitome of the one-person-one-vote ideal, the airline’s explanation came across as a little hollow, and a little suspect.
Especially to those supporting Harley, a one-eyed Chihuahua who was the mascot of National Mill Dog Rescue.
Harley, a puppy mill survivor and the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog for 2015, was among the top vote-getters in the contest (voting was scheduled to end April 30) when it was abruptly called off.
“Once entered, Harley quickly gained tremendous support thanks to you – his fans – and he also gained the support of several news stations, animal welfare organizations and even celebrities,” a statement on on Harley’s Facebook page says.
“Over the course of a week Harley reached over 37,000 votes and was in first place. He was well ahead of all other contestants…It soon became clear that Harley had an excellent chance of winning the contest. Then, suddenly, Frontier Airlines suspended the contest. Their explanation was that there was voter fraud and they blamed international voters.”
Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner said the airline did not suspend the voting due to the possibility of Harley winning, the Denver Post reported.
Instead, the contest was halted due to “several” instances of fraud, including cases of ineligible, non-U.S. residents voting, he said.
Faulkner did not pinpoint any particular contestant that was benefiting from “fraudulent” voting.
The airline plans to send $20 travel vouchers to everyone who voted in the online contest as “a token of good will,” he added.
Harley’s supporters freely admit to campaigning heavily for their candidate. They saw it as a way to educate the public about the horrors of puppy mills and honor the memory of Harley, who passed away last month at the age of 15.
Creating a social media buzz, and spreading the word about the contest served them well, and served Frontier Airlines well.
We’d hate to think politics were involved, or that some airline big wig thought the image of a one-eyed dog might besmirch their shiny jets.
Other mascots competing in the contest included Colorado State University’s Cam the Ram; University of Colorado’s Ralphie the bison; University of Florida’s Albert and Alberta Gator; and the University of California Santa Cruz mascot, Sammy the Slug.
Harley, a little dog who came to represent perseverance and resiliency, was the only contestant with a message — and maybe that frightened the airline. Maybe they were afraid of losing any unethical breeders they had as passengers.
Michele Burchfield, marketing director for the National Mill Dog Rescue, said Harley’s high number of votes were the result of his message and an active social media and e-mail campaign that caught on with puppy mill opponents across the country.
“If Frontier opens up the contest again, we would be thrilled to enter him again and honored to have him on the tail of a plane knowing that our voting is legitimate and honest,” Burchfield said. “We did everything we could to bring this honor to him.”
“This little guy could get a million votes in a month if he needed it,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 7th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: airplane, american humane association, animals, breeders, breeding, cancel, cancels, chihuahua, contest, dog, dogs, frontier, frontier airlines, harley, image, jets, likeness, mascot, national mill dog rescue, one eye, one-eyed, online, pets, photo, public, puppy mill, rescue, survivor, tail, vote
Bruce Francis wrote a check to his dog walker this month the same way he always does — online.
He logged on to his Chase account from his home in the San Francisco area, filled out the payment form, and in the memo field he typed the name of his dog, Dash.
Later, though, the dog walker reported to him that she never got the money.
Francis logged back into his account and saw he had a message that his transaction had been “flagged,” and the money had not been sent to the intended recipient.
The message said his payment was “under compliance department review for a possible OFAC or JPM risk policy issue.” It asked him to provide an explanation of what DASH was, and, if it was a company, where it was based.
(OFAC — though I’d guess maybe only one of out of every 50 Americans knows this — stands for Office of Foreign Assets Control. It’s part of the Treasury Department.)
Bruce called OFAC, and was informed that the transaction was flagged because his dog’s name is similar to the word DAESH, a term for ISIS in the Islamic world.
“I thought to myself, ‘Great, they’re stopping the world’s stupidest terrorist,'” Francis told KTVU.
What happened to Francis isn’t that unusual, said Edward Hasbrouck, who represents a civil liberties group called the Identity Project.
Banks are required to scan all the financial transactions of their customers and turn over anything suspicious to the Treasury Department.
“What happens is that the government requires the banks to become in effect, outsourced spies for the government,” Hasbrouck said.
A Chase spokesperson issued this statement to KTVU: “If a name on the OFAC list appears on a payment, we are required to review it. This is an important part of ensuring that crime does not filter through the us banking system. In this instance, the payment was flagged, reviewed and eventually released.”
Francis didn’t seem too bothered by it all. If it’s an intrusion, it’s a necessary one, he said.
“I think anything we can do to stop the terrorists and the funding of terrorists, let’s do it. And if it means an inconvenience to me and my dog walker then that’s a price I’m totally willing to pay.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 30th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: account, animals, banking, bruce francis, chase, check, daesh, dash, dog, dogs, identity project, isis, online, pets, pit bull, pitbull, privacy, terrorism, terrorists
It wasn’t the first time someone has fallen in love online.
It wasn’t the first time someone dropped everything to travel across the country to meet and claim the object of his affection.
But it may be the first time that someone has been able to get members of the public to help finance such a trip.
That’s probably because the girl of Joel Carpenter’s dreams was a dog — a husky-shepherd-collie mix named Sadie that he spotted on Petfinder and was so smitten with that he bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis to adopt her, knowing full well he didn’t have the money to get back home to Maine.
“For whatever reason, Sadie just struck me,” the 23-year-old told the Detroit Free Press. “I felt like I need to fly out to rescue her; at the core, there was just this intense feeling that I was doing the right thing.”
“You could say I’m winging it a little bit,” he added in an interview conducted while he and the dog were stuck in Michigan. “I was just kind of following my heart.”
Joel Carpenter flew from his home in Portland, Maine to Minneapolis on Sept. 22 and adopted Sadie from a local shelter.
While there, what little money he had — what with taxi fares, motels and adoption fees — ran out.
It could be Carpenter is just young and brash and a poor planner, but, more likely, he saw the whole thing as an adventure.
He knew he might have to rely on ride-sharing and couch-surfing on the trip home — and things started out well enough when he got a ride from Minnesota to Grand Rapids in a kindly gentleman’s RV.
There, he found a couple that invited Sadie and him to stay in their home. But when he ran into trouble finding another ride he decided to call a local news station to see if they could help “spread the word that I needed a ride back to Maine.”
Here we have to question whether Carpenter was so gullible as to think a news station would gladly broadcast his ride needs, or so savvy as to know he was sitting in the middle of a pretty good story.
After the news report, Carpenter’s phone started ringing.
“News papers and News stations all curious about my story. What was most encouraging was the positive support for me and Sadie. Many people became invested in our adventure, and wanted to help out any way they could. Many people have told me we should try Go Fund Me … So here we are!” Carpenter wrote on the Gofundme page he established.
Between it and a Facebook page started by his girlfriend, donations and offers of help poured in — food, toys, motel rooms and, finally enough money to buy an airplane ticket.
On Wednesday Joel and Sadie hitched a ride from Grand Rapids to Detroit, where another good Samaritan bought Carpenter and Sadie a hotel room for the night. On Thursday, he and Sadie flew home.
The saga of Carpenter and Sadie raises more than a few questions — including just how loose a screening process that shelter must have had to hand a dog over to someone who lived 1,500 miles away, with no money, and no clear way home. Was that irresponsible, or did they just fall for the romanticism of it all?
I kind of did, and I’m a cynical sort. But then again I uprooted my dog from his stable home to spend a year on the road, traveling across America in a car but on a shoestring, including doing a little couch-surfing and a little relying on the kindness of strangers.
Is the saga of Carpenter and Sadie proof that love conquers all? Is it the epitome of irresponsibility? An excellent adventure? Or is it just the kind of thing dog-crazy people do?
I ‘d love to hear your opinions on all this (and unlike most websites that ask you for that I really mean it) because — other than being happy they are safely back home — I’m not sure what exactly mine is.
(Photo of Joel and Sadie from WZZM)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animal, animals, bond, couchsurfing, dog, dogs, facebook, gofundme, joel carpenter, love, maine, minnesota, news media, online, online love, petfinder, pets, relationships, ridesharing, sadie, shelter, shelters, social media, trip
Go Daddy previewed its Super Bowl ad today, but hours later decided to drop it amid a flood of criticism from dog lovers who said it was tasteless, mean-hearted and irresponsible.
The video of the ad was taken off YouTube, where hundreds of commenters had blasted it, including top officials of animal protection groups.
A back-up ad will be used during the 2015 Super Bowl, the company said.
The ad was intended to poke some fun at Budweiser’s puppy ads — both the highly acclaimed one that aired during last year’s Super Bowl, “Puppy Love,” and a follow-up ad that the beer company will during Sunday’s Super Bowl, called “Lost Dog.”
The 30-second Go Daddy ad featured a retriever puppy finding its way home after falling out of a truck, only to find its owner has used Go Daddy to set up a website that lets her promptly sell the dog to a new owner.
Many in the animal welfare community responded, pointing out that dogs purchased online often come from puppy mills. (For a sampling of their anger, check out hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy, or read the comments left on the YouTube page where the video itself has been deactivated.
The ad was made by Barton F. Graf 9000, but heads of the agency declined to comment.
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving responded to the ad’s critics on Twitter this afternoon, vowing “we will not air it.”
Earlier in the day, though, Irving had defended the ad, according to AdWeek, saying, “Buddy was purchased from a reputable, loving breeder, just as the ad suggests. Sell or adopt, both need an online presence.”
Around 6:30 p.m., Irving posted a statement confirming the ad won’t run, and that another ad will be substituted.
“You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh,” he wrote.
The YouTube video was removed around the same time.
A petition launched on the website Change.org by animal rights advocate Helena Yurcho demanding the ad be pulled had more than 42,000 signatures by afternoon.
“Essentially, GoDaddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse—to be euthanized,” she wrote. “They are also encouraging purchasing an animal online; the animal could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or to someone who cannot adequately care for the animal. Animal rights are no laughing matter and to portray them as such is cruel and irresponsible.”
On YouTube, the clip received more than 800 comments, many of them negative. Dog breeders and animal rescuers alike were critical of the spot for sending a negative message.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 2015, advertisement, animals, bad taste, budweiser, complaints, criticism, dogs, go daddy, humor, irresponsibility, lost puppy, online, petition, pets, pulled, puppy, puppy mills, satire, selling, super bowl, super bowl ad, websites
That infamous door mat — the one that, due to a typo, read “In Dog We Trust” instead of “In God We Trust” — has sold for $9,650 in an online auction, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida says.
The money will be donated to Canine Estates, Inc., a dog rescue shelter in Palm Harbor.
The rug with the county seal was one of several the sheriff’s office ordered, but the only one with the mistaken (though we think it’s right on target) wording.
After it was placed on the floor, a deputy noticed the boo-boo and, to avoid embarassment, it was rolled up and stored.
But after photos of it were published by news organizations Sheriff Bob Gualtieri decided to make the most of it and put the rug up for auction online, with the proceeds going to the rescue organization from which he adopted his dog.
As we predicted, it brought in some big bucks.
When the auction closed Wednesday at 4 p.m., the final bid was $9,650. The rug initially cost the department about $500.
The identity of the winning bidder, who lives in Florida, hasn’t been made public.
“I knew that the sheriff’s office paid $500 for it,” Canine Estates founder Jane Sidwell told Bay News 9. “So I thought well, that’s great. We’ll get $500. But we had no idea it would escalate into what it has.”
Sidwell says the money will be used primarily to pay medical expenses for dogs in its care. The organization placed 186 dogs in permanent homes last year.
The online action attracted nearly 31,000 hits and 83 bids from across the country.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: auction, canine estates, dog, dogs, door mat, error, gualtieri, in dog we trust, in god we trust, mistake, online, pinellas county, printing, rescue, rug, shelte, sheriff, typo
Whether it’s his worried and wrinkly-faced appearance or his sad situation, a shar-pei mix found abandoned at a train station in Scotland, a suitcase at his side, is garnering support, donations and love from around the world — even as his story still unravels.
Now, according to the latest reports, it seems the dog was the subject of an online transaction gone bad.
A woman has stepped forward to say she found the dog for sale online, and made arrangements to pick him up in Ayr, but then went home without him after the dog’s seller slipped away before the deal was done.
After making the train trip from her home in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, to Ayr, and seeing the dog, she had doubts about whether he was the one advertised, and began wondering if the man selling him had stolen him.
“We had been messaging back and forward for a couple of days about the dog. He was supposed to be a one-year-old and his name was Pluto,” Fin Rayner is quoted as saying in a BBC report.
After meeting the dog in the train station, she asked the seller if she could take the dog for a short walk, so she could see him in the daylight.
The man insisted on a deposit first — of £150. As she walked away, so did he.
“Before I got to the door, I looked back and he was gone — he had disappeared in his car,” she said.
She tried calling him on the phone, she said, and he agreed to come back for the dog. But, after 15 minutes, he still hadn’t showed up.
“I got into the station and the dog wasn’t settling. He was pulling on the lead and peeing everywhere,” she said. “I thought that it wasn’t my dog — I didn’t want him.”
Rayner said her panic disorder kicked in, and she began worrying that she might get caught with a stolen dog.
Needing to get a train, she informed train station officials the dog didn’t belong to her and that she was leaving him there. She said a station official suggested she tie the dog.
He was picked up and is now in the care of the Scottish SPCA, which hopes to arrange an adoption in the days ahead.
Already, he has received surgery to correct a problem, common to shar-pei’s, in which his eyelashes dig into his eyeballs — all funded by donations from the public, according to the Daily Record.
And he has been featured in a new PETA ad encouraging potential pet owners to be responsible and adopt animals rather than buy them online.
The dog had been advertised on the website Gumtree.
The ad uses the photo of the dog in the train station, and reads, “I’m Kai. I was bought and sold on Gumtree and ended up homeless.”
“When people buy a dog off the Internet, they’re not only funding breeding but also robbing a homeless animal of his or her chance at adoption,” PETA director Mimi Bekhech told the Scotsman. “Unlike animal shelters, breeders don’t screen their buyers or perform home checks, so there’s no way to ensure that the animals are going to good homes or that the new guardians receive an animal companion who’s suitable to their household.”Kai is now the star of a new advertisement, the Scotsman reports.
The man trying to sell the dog has not been identified. The suitcase contained the dog’s pillow, a toy, food bowl and food.
The Scottish SPCA traced a previous owner through the dog’s microchip but were told it was sold in 2013 to someone else.
Since taking the dog in, the SPCA has received offers to adopt him from across the globe. Donations to the Scottish SPCA — which plans to use any excess Kai donations to help rescue other abused, abandoned and injured animals, you can visit this page.
(Photo: Scottish SPCA)
A smug and smiling Sarah Palin continued to defend photos she posted online of her son standing on his service dog to reach the kitchen sink, appearing on Today to lash out at PETA and what she called its hypocrisy.
The animal rights group has criticized the former vice presidential candidate for posting photos over the weekend of her six-year-old son Trig, who has Downs syndrome, climbing up on his prone service dog, Jill, and standing atop her to reach the sink.
Palin posted the photos on her Facebook page Saturday — along with a message to PETA that read, in part:
“Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.
“Hey, by the way, remember your “Woman of the Year”, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture?
“Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?
“Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets ‘thrive’ in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day?
Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called fish’? (I do.)”
Palin told Today that, in the case of her son, there was nothing wrong with standing on a dog.
“In this case yes, because Trig’s service dog is a strong, trained dog who does really, really love his best buddy Trig, and they put up with each other, and there was no harm at all to this dog.”
In her post, Palin wrote, “May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for ‘up!’, found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone.”
She questioned why her photos are drawing criticism when a similar photo, posted on Facebook by Ellen DeGeneres, who has been honored by PETA, led to little uproar, and hundreds of thousands of ‘likes.’
“I thought, absolutely hypocritical double standard, as usual, applied to, I don’t know, perhaps a constitutional conservative,” Palin told the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie.
“PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.
“It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” the group said.
We’d have to side with PETA on this one. I doubt you could find a veterinarian (outside of Alaska) that thinks children standing on dogs is acceptable — even among those who, like Palin, think animals were put on earth solely for mankind’s use.
That she chose to run for the camera rather than rectify the situation speaks volumes.
Jill is a service dog, not a piece of furniture. Invest in a step stool, Palin family.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 6th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alaska, animals, degeneres, dogs, ellen, facebook, hypocrisy, internet, jill, online, peta, pets, photo, photos, politics, posts, sarah palin, sink, social media, son, standing, standing on dog, trig