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Tag: petition

Garmin takes heat for dog-zapping device

Garmin, a company that makes devices that tell us how to get from here to there, has unveiled its latest gadget aimed at “teaching” your dog good behavior — by shocking him when he misbehaves.

The Delta Smart is a small, smartphone-compatible gadget that fits over a dog’s collar, enabling an owner, through an app, to keep track of their dog’s activity levels, and how much barking they are doing while we’re away.

It’s not the first Garmin product for dogs, and not the first to include a shock feature — but it is the first to spark such widespread protest and an online petition asking the company to remove the feature.

The product promises to “reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors” and make your dog a “more enjoyable member of the family.”

It gives dogs warnings by beeping, vibrating or by applying what the company likes to call “static” or “stimulation” — which is a nice way of saying a jolt of electricity.

deltasmartThere are 10 levels at which a dog can be zapped, either by an owner who is present, or remotely.

As the petition points out, it’s not the right way to train a dog:

“For example, a woman wants her dog Bowser to learn to not jump on the couch. Bowser trots into the family room, jumps up on the couch, and climbs into her daughter’s lap — at which point the electric shock hits him. She has now put her child in serious danger.

“Bowser will not associate the act of jumping up on the couch with the pain; he will associate her child with the pain and could very well become aggressive toward her.”

Like all the makers of shock collars, Garmin says the jolt does not hurt the dog.

“What is missing from this argument is the fact that aversive methods only work if they scare and/or hurt the dog. If the zap doesn’t bother the dog, then the dog will not learn. Electric shock collars do hurt and scare dogs. If they didn’t, no one would use them,” says the author of the petition, dog trainer and freelance writer Tracy Krulik.

barklimiter

Garmin’s Bark Limiter

We haven’t seen the CEO of the company try one out (but then again maybe he or she hasn’t misbehaved). To the company’s credit the new device has put some cushioning over the two metal probes that, in earlier versions, stuck into the dog’s neck.

The Delta Smart is basically a combination of a FitBit-like device and the company’s “Bark Limiter,” which has been on the market for a while.

In the ad above, various dogs are shown, each labeled for the kind of bad behavior they engaged in — barking too much at the mailman, shredding the blinds, stealing food off the kitchen counter, knocking over the trash can, chewing up the slippers.

The “dog activity trainer and remote monitor” can correct all those problems — even when you’re not home, the ad says.

It can monitor barking and activity levels while you’re away, and it comes with tags that can be placed on items and in areas you don’t want the dog near that activate warning tones when the dog approaches.

In other words, it is a control freak’s dream — and it’s only $150.

After the video was posted on Facebook, it had nearly 2,800 comments, most of them condemning the product as cruel, and the wrong way to train a dog, according to the Washington Post

On YouTube, the company has disabled public comments on the video — and if you try to leave one, you receive an electrical shock. (OK, we made that last part up.)

You’ve got to wonder, though, technology being what it is, if the day will come when we get shocked for making wrong turns or for not taking enough steps during the day, for failing to do our sit ups or eat our vegetables — and if someday, by a family vote, we can equip a bratty nephew or an annoying uncle with such a device.

For his own good, of course, and just to make him a “more enjoyable member of the family.”

How to erase a smile: Michigan dog whose photo went viral is now an outlaw

smileydogA dog whose smile went viral this month on the Internet has been deemed an outlaw — based entirely on his looks.

Diggy was adopted by Michigan musician Dan Tillery, and a heartwarming photo of the two of them with big smiles on their faces (left) has been shared widely on social media.

But once Tillery brought the dog home to Waterford Township, they were met with a frown.

The township bans pit bulls, and when police received “several complaints” about Diggy — not based on any bad behavior, just based on his looks — police officers visited Tillery’s home.

“Based on their observations, it was determined the dog was part pit bull/pit bull terrier,” Police Lt. Todd Hasselbach said.

Listen more closely to his remarks and you can hear they are oozing something very close to what, in the human community, we’d call racism.

He confirms that Diggy is being judged based on looks alone. He says any percentage of pit bull in Diggy — no matter how small — makes him a pit bull. And he says Diggy can’t be permitted to live in Waterford Township because of the “zero tolerance” ordinance, which has been “in effect for many years.” As if that makes it right.

Sounding like a lawman from the old west, or maybe more like a 1960’s sheriff from the deep south, went on to say Diggy has three days to get out of town.

diggyAll that would be a pretty troubling series of events, in my view, whether Diggy is a pit bull or not.

And he may not be.

Diggy was picked up as a stray earlier this year by Detroit Animal Care and Control, which classified him as an American bulldog.

Detroit Dog Rescue, the only no-kill shelter in the city, later pulled Diggy from the facility and put him up for adoption, according to ABC News’ local affiliate WXYZ.

Tillery and his girlfriend adopted Diggy after seeing a photo posted on the nonprofit rescue group’s Facebook page. In that post, Diggy — then named Sir Wiggleton — was described as a “2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix that loves the water and is just a big goofball.”

In the week after his adoption, Diggy became an internet sensation after Tillery posted a photo of him smiling with his new dog.

Owning a pit bull in Waterford is an ordinance violation that can carry a $500 fine. Police didn’t cite Tillery but told him he had until today to relocate the dog to another town.

diggy2Waterford police said if a veterinarian deems Diggy to be an American bulldog or another permitted breed, with no pit bull in him, then he can stay — but they say it has to be a vet of the police department’s choosing.

Kristina Millman-Rinaldi, executive director of Detroit Dog Rescue, said the organization already had a vet deem Diggy an American bulldog, and called the Waterford Township city clerk’s office beforehand to make sure there were no restrictions on that breed.

Waterford Township defines pit bulls as dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers.

And the ordinance allows police officers to make that call — based on the dog’s looks and their previous experience with pit bulls.

An online petition to lift the dangerous dog ban in Waterford has garnered nearly 40,000 signatures.

Homeless man in Paris gets his dog back

Amid a police investigation and a public outcry, animal rights activists have returned the puppy they seized from a homeless man in Paris last month, according to news reports.

Activists from Cause Animale Nord, an animal rights group based in Lille in northern France, snatched the puppy in September from a homeless man on a street in central Paris. Members later said the homeless man had drugged the dog and was using it to assist him in begging.

The incident was caught on camera and, since being posted on Facebook and elsewhere, it has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.

parisA petition on the website Change.org calling for an investigation into Cause Animale Nord’s actions has been signed by nearly 250,000 people.

A police inquiry was launched a on September 25, according to The Telegraph.

The president of Cause Animale Nord — seen taking the dog on the video — was brought in for questioning, but released after promising to return the dog to its owner.

The group had placed the dog in foster care, and was offering it for adoption for a fee of €175.

Getting the monkeys off their backs

The popular Banana Derby race at the Lake County Fair in Illinois — in which monkeys ride on the backs of dogs — will go on this year, but at least one member of the county board hopes to have it banned in the future.

Board member Sandra Hart, among others, is concerned over the welfare of the monkeys involved in the race, the Daily Herald reports.

In a letter to Lake County Fair officials, Hart said the derby “does not speak to the values of our county.”

Hart is also supporting a petition to stop the event.

Chicago-area zoos and other animal advocacy groups also favor banning the event, which has been a popular attraction at the Lake County Fair for more than five years.

Harmless and funny as it all seems, it’s another example of exploiting animals — both the dogs and the monkeys — for cheap laughs, all under the assumption that, since the animals aren’t balking, they must be enjoying it.

We humans have no right to make that assumption — much less cash in on it.

County Fair President Jon Brodzik Jr. doesn’t see it that way.

“While we recognize and appreciate there is a wide range of opinions on the role of working animals in entertainment, the board of directors of the Lake County Fair Association sees no compelling reason to cancel the Banana Derby attraction at this time,” Brodzik wrote in response to Hart.

“The humane care and handling of performing and exhibition animals is a responsibility we take seriously, which is why animal performance vendors at the Lake County Fair are vetted very carefully.”

The show is put on by Gilligan T. Monkey LLC, which is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The promoter of the show, Philip Dolci, told CBS that he treats the animals with nothing but love and that the people of Lake County would be devastated if it wasn’t part of the fair.”

“… I mean, how would you abuse that animal, you know what I’m saying? We cook for them, we clean for them, my mom and wife make clothes for them. If I was doing something wrong, the people of Lake County wouldn’t have brought their kids back for six years to see us. They say, ‘We see the monkey every year.’ They know the monkey’s name. It’s insanity, really.”

Dolci says the performers are rescued animals who travel and perform about six months of the year, then live with his family as pets.

The Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association also opposed to the event.

The Lake County Fair will be held July 29 through Aug. 2.

Johnny Depp pirates his dogs into Australia; officials say they must “bugger off” or die

depp

Clearly, Johnny Depp broke the law when he smuggled his two Yorkies, Boo and Pistol, into Australia, where he’s filming yet another “Pirates of the Carribbean” sequel.

But must government officials, in enforcing Australia’s strict quarantine laws, be so heavy-handed and snarky about it?

“If we start letting movie stars — even though they’ve been the ‘sexiest man alive’ twice — to come into our nation, then why don’t we just break the laws for everybody?” said Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States.”

Is it just me, or is there a little bit of pirate envy bubbling up in those remarks?

joyceJoyce, that’s him to the left, has ordered Depp to get the dogs out of the country by Saturday. If they are still in the country after that, he says, they will be put down.

Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, are accused of not declaring Yorkshire Terriers Boo and Pistol to customs officials when they flew into Queensland by private jet last month, the BBC reported.

Joyce says the country’s animal quarantine laws — aimed at keeping rabies out of the country — applied to everyone.

“Mr. Depp has to either take his dogs back to California or we’re going to have to euthanize them,” Joyce told reporters on Thursday.

“He’s now got about 50 hours left to remove the dogs. He can put them on the same charter jet he flew out on and fly back out of our nation.”

There has been no immediate comment from Depp or Heard, but plenty of online reaction from animal lovers and Depp lovers.

An online petition to save the “cute dogs” had received nearly 5,000 signatures by late Thursday.

“Have a heart Barnaby! Don’t kill these cute puppies,” it appealed.

deppdogsThe dogs illegal entry into the country was uncovered after a grooming salon on the Gold Coast posted pictures of them on its Facebook page.

“The dogs have been ordered into quarantine and the owners have been advised the dogs must be exported within 72 hours,” said a statement on the agricultural ministry website.

“Just because he’s Johnny Depp doesn’t make him exempt from Australian laws,” Joyce said.

“The way this works is if we are going to make an excuse for Johnny Depp because he’s got a private jet and brought in his dogs then I suppose you have to start making exemptions and excuses for everybody.”

When Joyce was asked if his tough stance might affect Depp’s view of him, he replied: “I don’t think Mr. Depp will be inviting me to the grand opening of the Pirates of the Caribbean.”

deppanddogOther government officials backed Joyce’s tough stand, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who said Depp could face large fines for breaching quarantine procedures.

“As people know when they come in on a commercial flight … you need to make declarations,” he said. ” … People will sometimes make false declarations, if they get caught out, there’s a big fine attached to it, and no different to the same cards that people would need to fill out if they’re coming in on private jets.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the agriculture minister could have been a little more tactful with his message.

“Barnaby’s right but I would put it to him this way – diplomacy is key,” Tate is quoted as saying on ABC.net.

“I want to see Johnny Depp coming back to the Gold Coast, enjoy his experience here … so that he’ll have good words to say and make sure our film and television industry thrives here,” the mayor said.

The puppy ad Go Daddy pulled off the air

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.

Authorities in Spain destroy dog that belonged to Ebola-infected nurse

excalibur

Excalibur, a 12-year-old dog who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse in Madrid, was destroyed Wednesday, despite uncertainties over whether he had the virus, and whether dogs can transmit it.

The nurse’s husband pleaded with authorities to spare the dog, and protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the couple’s home in opposition to the decision to put the dog down.

Some chanted, “Assassins!” and scuffled with police.

Madrid’s regional health agency said in a statement that  Excalibur’s corpse was “put into a sealed biosecurity device and transferred for incineration at an authorized disposal facility.”

In the United States, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected.

But there have been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people, he added.

Spokesman Thomas Skinner told the New York Times that the centers were recommending that Ebola patients with dogs or cats at home “evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure” — how likely it is that the animal has ingested bodily fluids like blood, vomit and feces from the patient.

Skinner said the CDC was working with the American Veterinary Medical Association to develop guidelines for the pets of Ebola victims in the United States.

ramosThe nurse’s husband had pleaded publicly with officials in Madrid to spare the dog. He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that there was no indication that Excalibur had been infected with Ebola. The nurse, identified as María Teresa Romero Ramo, was the first person to become infected outside West Africa.

She was diagnosed on Monday with the virus, believed to have been contracted when she treated a victim who came from Sierra Leone.

More than 390,000 people signed an online petition to save the dog’s life — more than twice the number of people who have signed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track research on a potential vaccine and treatment for Ebola.

Nearly 4,000 people in West Africa have died during the current Ebola epidemic. The only case diagnosed in the United States has been that of a Liberian man who had traveled to Dallas. He died Wednesday.

In a 2005 study of dogs in Gabon after an Ebola outbreak in 2001-02, researchers found that dogs can be infected with the virus, but that they show no symptoms.

(Top photo by  Andres Kudacki / AP; photo of Ramos and Excalibur from Reuters)