In December 2008, Robert Kennedy spotted a blue towel in the weeds of Murphey Candler Park in DeKalb County, outside of Atlanta.
Upon closer inspection, he found a dog underneath it, one whose head had been badly beaten. An investigation would later determine the dog, named Austin at the time, had been bashed in the head twice with a sledgehammer. His owner, Joe Waters would later be arrested.
The case led to international headlines, and an outpouring of support.
Today, Murphy, as he was renamed — after the park — belongs officially to Kennedy. The 9-year-old Australian shepherd mix has only one eye, and a dented head, but he’s managed to teach Kennedy volumes.
As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution put it, “Murphy is far more focused on what lies ahead, not what is behind him.”
“I hope if I ever have any challenges, I can recover like him,” Kennedy said. “I take my cues from Murphy, and he has forgotten all about it.”
Kennedy, who found Murphy on his 60th birthday, took him to the closest veterinarian he could find. Stephen Pope, the medical director at VCA Pets Are People Too in Dunwoody, performed surgery to repair the skull and jaw fractures and to remove the damaged left eye. Eight days and $10,000 worth of care later, Murphy was released into Kennedy’s custody.
The dog suffered no long-term neurological damage and behaves much like any other dog, compensating only with the occasional cocked head to use his good eye. Under Kennedy’s care, Murphy’s weight has gone from 38 to 53 pounds.
Kennedy set up a trust fund for the dog’s care after offers to help poured in from 30 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. He raised $38,000 — money that will last throughout Murphy’s life and then go to nonprofit pet rescue groups.
The dog’s previous owner was convicted of a felony and two misdemeanors. He says he thought his pet had been poisoned and was attempting to mercifully kill it. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
Immediately after the ruling, a prosecutor presented Kennedy with notarized papers, declaring Murphy was his.
“He couldn’t be happier with life,” Kennedy said. “My wish for everybody is to have room in their heart to take a dog into their home and know that kind of happiness.”
(Photo: Vino Wong /Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, attack, austin, australian shepherd, dekalb county, donations, fracture, fractured, georgia, jaw, joe waters, mix, murphey candler park, murphy, news, one eye, one eyed dog, owner, robert kennedy, skull, sledgehammer, surgery, survivor
Koozie, an 8-year-old mix-breed was rescued — and then re-rescued — from icy Lake Erie in New York. Monday.
After wandering away from her owner’s home outside Buffalo, she was spotted Monday night about 30 miles away, trapped on the ice off Westfield.
An Erie County Sheriff’s Department helicopter was summoned, but the rescue effort was put off until yesterday, when a crew member was lowered in a basket and plucked Koozie from the ice.
After being brought to shore, the dog immediately trotted back out onto the ice and had to be rescued a second time by the helicopter crew, according to the Associated Press.
She was checked out by a veterinarian and returned to her owner.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 17th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air one, buffalo, erie county, helicopter, ice, icy, koozie, lake, lake erie, mixed, mutt, new york, news, owner, rescue, rescued, returned, sheriff, sheriff's department, twice, video, westfield
Here’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.
Breed: Scottish Terrier
AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)
Age: 4 years
Residence: Rialto, California
Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.
Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.
Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.
Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill
Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.
Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.
Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.
Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.
Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, beauty, best in show, california, dog show, dogs, exercise, family, fetish, grooming, habits, mercedes of maryscot, owner, pets, purebred, rialto, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, shoes, statistics, trainer, treats, vital, westminster, westminster dog show
If conclusion-jumping was a Winter Olympics event, both the police and the press would be deserving medals for their handling this week of an incident in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, that saw a dead woman’s Rottweiler locked up as her suspected killer.
The facts of the case are these: Carolyn Baker, 63, was found dead at her back steps, wearing only a thin polyester nightgown and boots, with bite marks on her arms and shoulder.
Here are just a few of the headlines (online versions) that followed over the next two days:
Of course, headlines are never the whole story; and sometimes the whole story isn’t the whole story, as was the case with these.
Instead, as it turns out, the police and, in turn, news media, may have jumped the gun — perhaps a little too eager to place blame on a dog because of his breed, which is, of course, nothing new.
While pit bulls have taken their place as Public Enemy No. 1, Rottweilers have long been victim to the same kind of negative stereotyping. Zeus, maybe, is just the latest.
Subsequent reports, like this one in the Cleveland Plain Dealer eventually gave the family’s suspicions given some ink — namely that 9-year-old Zeus, rather than being the stone cold killer police and the news media were portraying him as, may have merely been trying to rescue his owner after she collapsed in the yard.
The Cuyahoga County coroner’s office has yet to rule on the cause of Baker’s death, but her family believes she had another stroke or heart attack when she went into her yard to bring her dog inside late Saturday, and that Zeus tried to pull her to safety after she collapsed.
It wasn’t until 3 a.m. Sunday that a next-door neighbor called the family to tell them Zeus was in the Baker’s front yard barking. The dog had gone through a hole in the back fence. After letting the dog in, Baker’s husband found his wife at the bottom of the back steps.
Cleveland Heights police said Baker had severe arm and shoulder injuries and bite marks. While police intitially suspected Baker was “mauled” by her own dog, Baker’s family insists the bite marks aren’t from an attack, but from Zeus’ attempts to rescue his master.
“[Zeus] only locked onto her shoulder trying to bring her in,” said Baker’s son, Rinaldo. “My mom weighed about 200 pounds. The dog just grabbed her and tried to help her out. She had no clothes on or he could have grabbed that. There were no marks on her face, nowhere else.”
“That was her dog,” Rinaldo Baker said. “If we were to go upstairs that dog would run past us and go upstairs to be with us. But if my mom were to go upstairs, knowing how she can barely walk, Zeus would sit and wait for her to go up first and then he would go up. That’s a good dog.”
Zeus is being held at Pepperidge Kennels in Bedford pending the results of the autopsy. The Baker family wants him back.
“If Zeus wasn’t out there we wouldn’t have known till later on that something was wrong because he was the one who alerted somebody,” Carter said. “If he had ways of getting somebody to notice earlier, things may have been different than what they are now, but he did the best he could as a dog.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bite, carolyn baker, cleveland heights, conclusion, coroner, county, cuyahoga, dead, died, dog, dogs, journalism, jumping to conclusions, law enforcement, libel, marks, master, maul, mauled, mauling, media, news, owner, pets, police, press, rescue, rottweiler, slander, stereotypes, zeus
OK, so maybe it was slightly more dramatic than my rescue of Miley, the cat living under a nail-filled stairway next to a south Baltimore bar, who — unlike the dog who floated at least 75 miles on an ice floe out to sea — is, by the way, still looking for a good home.
Baltic, the dog who floated down Poland’s Vistula River and into the Baltic Sea, has a new owner — the seaman who rescued him.
Wojciech Pelczarski of the Sea Fisheries Institute in Gdynia said the decision was made after the dog rejected six people who had claimed to be his original owner, NPR reported.
He suspected the would-be owners were merely trying to be part of the media attention surrounding the dog’s rescue.
Pelczarski, whose institute co-owns the research ship “Baltica” that rescued the dog, says Baltic — as he has been nicknamed — is sociable, affectionate and was getting his first bath since his icy ordeal because his fur was still salty.
The dog’s new master is Adam Buczynski, who pulled him to safety from an ice sheet in the Baltic Sea last week.
Buczynski and other crew members spotted the dog Jan. 25 floating at least 15 miles from land, shivering and precariously perched on an ice floe. The crew lowered a pontoon to the water and Buczynski, the ship mechanic, managed to grab the dog and pull him to safety.
“He was very lucky,” Pelczarski said. “If the vessel had passed him at night, no one would have spotted him.”
Baltic was first seen two days earlier on the Vistula River, 60 miles inland, drifting on ice past the city of Grudziadz, where local firefighters tried but failed to save him.
(Photos: Top, Baltic on ice, by Ryszard Moroz/Associated Press /IMGW; bottom, Baltic with Buczynski, by Krzysztof Mystkowski /Associated Press
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adam buczynski, animals, baltic, baltica, cat, crew, dog, floating, gdynia, ice floe, media, miley, owner, owners, pets, polish, rescue, sea, sea fisheries institute, seaman, ship, vistula river, wojciech pelczarski
Jiffy — an obese border collie mix found frozen to the sidewalk a year ago in Wisconsin — is 40 pounds lighter, a good deal warmer and living with a new family.
Adopted last spring by Patty and Peter Geise, the elderly dog didn’t suffer any lasting injuries from the incident, but it did lead to his previous owner relinquishing her ownership of the dog, the Sheboygan Press reports.
“He’s moving like a regular dog again,” said Patty Geise. Jiffy weighed 116 pounds then, about three times what he should. He’s now down to 76 pounds.
He’s still overweight, but nothing like he was in December 2008, when he arrived at the Sheboygan County Human Society shelter, where Patty Geise volunteers.
He had been found frozen to a sidewalk after being left outside overnight in single-digit temperatures after his owner couldn’t get him back inside the house. His girth turned out to be friend and foe. It contributed to him getting stuck to ground, but his layers of fat also are believed to have kept him warm enough to survive.
His former owner was charged with intentionally mistreating animals following the incident, but the charge was later dismissed. The owner had tried to bring the dog inside, called 911 seeking help, put a blanket over Jiffy, and checked him periodically through the night.
After reports about the incident, the humane society was contacted by hundreds of people from as far away as Spain, all wanting to adopt Jiffy.
(Photo: Geise walks with Jiffy; by Gary C. Klein/The Sheboygan Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, border collie, charged, cruelty, dog, dogs, frozen, health, jiffy, lost, misdemeanor, mistreating, new home, obese, overweight, owner, patty geise, peter geise, pets, pounds, rescue, sheboygan, sheboygan county humane society, sidewalk, weather, weight, winter, wisconsin
Shylo, a 5-year-old husky, spent more than an hour bobbing in the icy waters of the Rock River in Illinois before firefighters tossed him a rope.
Shylo grabbed the rope in his mouth and held on, getting tugged partly to shore before a firefighter slid across the ice to pull him the rest of the way out.
Even then, back on land and in the arms of his rescuers, he kept the rope gripped in his mouth, not releasing it until after he was back home with his owner, the Rockford Register Star reported.
This week the dog’s owner Peggy Yarber, brought Shylo to the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department to thank the firefighters who hauled him out of the river.
“This dog is my whole life,” Yarber said. “I can’t thank you enough. I really can’t. If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t be here.”
Yarber was visiting a friend when Shylo wandered off. He was found about a mile away, having fallen through the ice in the river. A nearby homeowner called authorities.
A Winnebago County animal control officer, tossed Shylo the rope that he latched onto to amid the ice chunks to help keep his head above water. As he neared shore, firefighter Christi Wilson crawled across the ice to grab him and slide him to shore.
On Tuesday, Yarber took her dog with her to thank the firefighters. Wilson greeted the dog with a bag of treats.
“Just him being here is enough thanks for me,” she said.
(Photo: Scott Morgan/Rockford Register Star)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 21st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, christi wilson, dog, dogs, firefighters, grip, huskie, ice, icy, lifeline, mouth, owner, peggy yarber, pets, rescue, river, rock river, rope, shylo, thanks, winnebago county
Houston firefighters rescued three dogs from a burning apartment complex, including one pup that was resuscitated by its owner with mouth-to-snout resuscitation.
Authorities say two puppies and their mother were saved.
The cause of the fire, which left several units damaged, is under investigation. All of the residents were able to get out safely.
A hunting dog on a walk with her owner in Minnesota led him to a 94-year-old neighbor who was unconscious and frozen to his driveway.
Brett Grinde and his German shorthair, Effie, were on a late afternoon walk Monday when the old hunting dog suddenly began pulling to the right, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Grinde, a Pine County sheriff’s investigator, let Effie off the leash and she ran to a driveway 40 yards away, stopping at the body of Grinde’s neighbor, William Lepsch, who apparently had fallen while retrieving his mail.
Lepsch’s wife, Marjorie, who uses a wheelchair, had looked outside and seen her husband on the ground. She tried dialing 911, she said, but had repeatedly misdialed out of panic.
“Nobody’s around and I’m out there hollering ‘Somebody please help me!’ but there was no one,” she said. “In the meantime this dog ran up and began licking his face.”
Grinde called 911, then started CPR. Lepsch initially regained consciousness and was taken to North Memorial Medical Center.
Update: A North Memorial nursing supervisor says Lepsch passed away Wednesday morning.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 911, animals, brett grinde, died, dog, dogs, driveway, effie, frozen, german shorthair, hunting dog, leads, minnesota, neighbor, news, owner, pets, pine county, rescue, rescues, saves, sheriff, unconscious, walking, wiliam lepsch
E! Online is reporting that Casey Johnson’s family says they don’t plan to put down the deceased heiress’ ailing dog so that it can be buried with her.
But the dog still may be put down, and buried with her.
As we told you yesterday, celebrities Nicky Hilton and Bijou Phillips collected celebrity Casey Johnson’s dogs, Zoe and Elvis, from Johnson’s celebrity fiancee, Tila Tequila.
Tequila made a big to do over what she said were plans for Zoe — elderly and ailing — to be put down so she can be be cremated and her ashes buried with Johnson, which was apparently Johnson’s wish.
Such wishes are carried out all the time — but generally not so publicly, and not with a dog who’s alive at the time of its owner’s death.
E! Online’s Mark Malkin reports the dog may be blind and have liver problems. “She is something like 20 years old,” he quotes an unnamed family source as saying. “Sadly, she probably should have been put down a while ago. She’s suffering.”
Casey had said on numerous occasions that she would keep Zoe’s remains in an urn and have the urn buried with her, Malkin reported.
Before any decision is made, Malkin reports, Zoe will first be examined by a vet and then by the Johnson family’s animal doctor on the East Coast.
“No one is going to ceremoniously kill the dog just so she can be with Casey,” the family source insisted. “That is not what Casey would have wanted to happen.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bijou phillips, buried, casey johnson, celebrities, celebrity, dog, dogs, euthanized, examined, funeral, heiress, johnson & johnson, nicky hilton, owner, pets, tila tequila, zoe, zoey