She has been called “America’s deadliest DA,” “the queen of death” and “one tough cookie.”
But Lynne Abraham, the former Philadelphia district attorney who sent hundreds of humans to death row, has a soft spot for animals.
And one supporter thinks that’s worth highlighting as Abraham runs for mayor of the City of Brotherly Love — so much so that he produced a campaign ad for her, at his own expense.
It all goes back to 2007, when the ad’s producer, Bill Whiting had to deal with a horrific situation: Some neighborhood kids took his dog, Edna. They held her for ransom, tortured her as Whiting listened over the phone, and killed her.
Abraham went after the suspects with her trademark bulldog-like tenacity, and earned Whiting’s undying respect.
“I could never have realized justice without the help of Lynne Abraham who was Philadelphia’s District Attorney at the time,” Whiting said in the video.
A 15-year-old was arrested, tried and punished in the case.
Whiting produced the video himself with the help of some friends who donated their time, according to a Newsworks report.
“The ad cost $14 in dog treats,” Whiting said. “That’s all there was.”
The video highlights her stance on animal cruelty, but also describes Abraham, a Democrat, as “a sharp, fair-minded elder stateswoman” who has the skills and experience to become Philadelphia’s first female mayor.
Whiting said he made the ad out of gratitude, and says he hopes it will “humanize” a woman the New York Times called “America’s deadliest D.A.” because of how often she sought the death penalty. That same 1995 article made note of Abraham’s practice of carrying cans of Little Friskies in the trunk of her official car, doling out portions to street cats in need of nourishment.
She’s hardly the only “hard on crime” public official that goes gooey when it comes to animals. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has been called the country’s “toughest sheriff” has a well-known soft spot when it comes to dogs — and it has served to help humanize him a bit.
As for Abraham — it was none other than Frank Rizzo (no softy himself) who first called her “one tough cookie” — she’s seen as a “very no-nonsense, straightforward district attorney,” Whiting said. “But I also wanted people to know that she has an extremely kind heart.”
The case of Edna, was “one of many that is emblematic of Lynne’s strong commitment against cruelty to animals,” Abraham’s campaign spokeswoman, Cathie Abookire, wrote in an email promoting the video.
Abookire said Abraham, as district attorney, appointed Philadelphia’s first prosecutor devoted to animal cruelty cases.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 29th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ad, animal welfare, bill whiting, campaign, da, deadliest, district attorney, lynne abraham, mayor, mayoral, philadelphia, politics, race, supporter, tough cookie
A story of brotherly love — canine style — has spread from Philadelphia across the world after a shelter volunteer posted a photo of two snuggling pit bulls, one of whom helps his blind brother get around.
The photos of Jermaine and his blind brother Jeffrey have received more than 3.2 million views.
Kimberly Cary, a volunteer with the Chester County SPCA posted pictures on Facebook late last week of the 8-month-old puppies, their legs wrapped around each other as they slept at the shelter.
“It has just touched the hearts of people all around the world,” Tom Hickey, a board member with the Chester County SPCA, said Sunday
Jeffrey is completely blind in one eye and probably sees only shadows in the other. He leans on Jermaine and follows him around when they are in unfamiliar territory. The pair is considered inseparable.
“These guys are bonded, and Jeffrey really is dependent on Jermaine at this point,” said Ray Little, lifesaving director of Philadelphia’s Operation Ava animal shelter. “When they are separated, they get really insecure.”
As of Sunday afternoon, no one had completed an application to adopt the brothers, but people from as far away as the U.K. were expressing a desire to take them in.
“I wish people realized that just because you’ve seen them doesn’t mean they’ve been adopted,” said Cary, 28, who posted the Facebook photos Thursday and Friday on the request of Operation Ava. “They still need somebody to come rescue them.”
Jermaine and Jeffrey both had mange when they were rescued, but they are “happy” and in “very good health now,” Little said.
The dogs will be held at Operation Ava until they are adopted as a pair.
“They obviously have some sort of innate bond,” said Emily Simmons, executive director of the Chester County SPCA, “and it will be wonderful to see them adopted together.”
To learn more about adopting the pair, contact Operation Ava at 215-240-1240.
(Photos: Chester County SPCA)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, blind, brotherly love, brothers, chester county spca, dogs, facebook, jeffrey, jermaine, loyalty, operation ava, pets, philadelphia, photos, pit bulls, pitbulls, posts, rescues, shelters, snuggling, viral
Folklore, as is often the case, has it wrong.
Pep apparently was guilty of nothing more than chewing up sofa cushions, and, once it was decided he lacked the proper decorum to live at the governor’s mansion, he was sent to the prison in Philadelphia by Gov. Gifford Pinchot.
That was done not so much as punishment, but to provide him a home and see if he could aid in the rehabilitation of inmates, according to the governor’s papers.
Apparently a newspaper reporter came up with the tall tale of the dog sentenced to prison for cat murder, and a mugshot taken of Pep at the prison supplied some credence to the story.
Despite attempts to set the record straight, the myth lingers to this day.
According to EasternState.org, a non-profit group that now runs a haunted house at the abandoned prison, Pep “The Cat-Murdering Dog” was admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924.
“Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to life without parole for killing his wife’s cherished cat,” the website says, adding that prison records, including Pep being assigned his own inmate number (C-2559), support the story.
It notes that the governor had a different version of what happened — namely that he sent Pep to Eastern to act as a mascot for the prisoners. The governor, it says, was a friend of the warden, Herbert “Hard-Boiled” Smith.
A more thorough account of how Pep landed in prison can be found on the website Suite101.com.
Pep, that story explains, was a gift to Gov. Pinchot during his first gubernatorial term (1923–1927), from the nephew of his wife, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot. The nephew bred Labrador retrievers. But the gift turned out to be a destructive one. Pep developed a habit of chewing on the cushions of the front porch sofa.
“… Pinchot decided that Pep had to go, but for the sake of family harmony he did not want to end the dog’s life,” the Suite101 account says. “Fortunately, an official trip gave him the idea for a convenient way of getting the dog out of his home. On a visit to Maine, Pinchot had seen dogs that were used as therapy to help inmates. So when the governor got back to Pennsylvania he decided to give the troublesome Pep to Eastern State Penitentiary as a pet.”
At the time, some inmates kept pigeons and mice as pets, but not dogs. The only dogs at the prison were guard dogs, there to ensure prisoners stayed inside and in line.
But the inmates quickly developed a fondness for Pep, and apparently vice versa. Pep lived among the inmates at Eastern State for about a decade until he was transferred to newly constructed state prison called Graterford.
Two years after he was sent to Eastern, in 1926, Cornelia Bryce-Pinchot issued a statement to the New York Times in an attempt to clear Pep’s name.
Governor Pinchot’s son also maintained that there was no murder involved.
“A newspaper reporter with a sense of humor and disregard for the truth wrote that Pep had been sentenced to prison for life for killing Mrs. Pinchot’s favorite cat,” the Suite 101 article says.
The son said his father got “absolutely thousands of letters” about Pep and this sentence, according to papers at Grey Towers National Historic Site, Governor Pinchot’s home in Milford. The made-up account, along with the mugshot, was frequently reprinted in tabloids at the time.
As some have noted, Pep — innocent as he might have been — looks pretty guilty in the mugshot.
But then again, don’t we all?
(Image: Artist rendering of Pep, based on an archival photo / Easternstate.org)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black, cat, dog, dogs, eastern state penitentiary, folklore, gifford pinchot, governor, haunted house, inmates, killed, lab, labrador retriever, legend, mascot, media, murder, myth, news, pennsylvania, pep, pets, philadelphia, prisoner, prisons, reporter, sentenced, therapy dogs
Two raids in as many days led to the seizure of about 20 dogs and the arrests of what Philadelphia police and the Pennsylvania SPCA say were some of the the leaders of one of the city’s largest dog-fighting rings.
In this morning’s raid, in the 2800 block of Boundinot Street in Kensington, at least a dozen dogs were rescued, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
In a raid last night in South Philadelphia, about 20 people were arrested when authorities broke up a dog fight in progress, according to Fox News.
“When we entered the property, the dogs were actually engaged in a fight in a ring in the front bedroom of this property,” said the PSPCA’s head of investigations, George Bengal. “This was a fairly large operation. These gentlemen have been on our radar for quite some time for dog fighting. This is literally months and months of investigation work that resulted in this arrest tonight.”
“Some of the biggest fighters in the city are here,” Bengal, said.
PSPCA officals called the home in the 2600 block of Garrett Street, in the city’s Gray’s Ferry section, a “house of horrors.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, arrests, cruelty, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, george bengal, investigation, pennsylvania, pets, philadelphia, police, preventioin, pspca, raid, raids, ring, society
Neighbors in South Philadelphia found a bruised, battered and hungry dog, took him in, and have raised enough money for him to have surgery tomorrow.
Apparently, the 6-month-old shepherd mix, who they’ve named Sailor — given he was a bit of a shipwreck when they found him at 15th and Federal Streets in South Philadelphia — had been abandoned, and hit by a car. Three of his legs were injured and he was barely able to walk, CBS in Philadelphia reported.
When his rescuers brought him home, Sailor was so emaciated some weren’t sure he would make it, but he has gained 10 pounds since then, and he’s scheduled for surgery this week, at a cost of about $5,000.
“A lot of vets told me to put him down right away,” said Clair Sauer. “The surgeons were ready to operate on him yesterday, but I had to tell them ‘I don’t have the money.’” Sailor’s foster family set up a Sailor website to help raise the money. In little more than 24 hours, they reached their goal.
According to the website, the surgery will be performed at CARES in Langhorne, Pa., by Dr. Brentz. Sailor will have his rear femur cut and “put back into place with lots of metal…”
“Recovery will be long and will take patience, but we will be there for him! He will need lots more x-rays to monitor how his bones are healing. And, when he is ready, physical therapy. These will incur more costs, but we will stay optimistic!”
Once Sailor recovers from his surgery, he will be put up for adoption.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, animals, broken legs, car, cares, chip in, dog, dogs, funds, help, hit, injured, internet, langhorne, mix, neglected, outpouring, pets, philadelphia, raised, rescue, rescued, sailor, shepherd, south philadelphia, stray, surgery, video
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick told students at Juniata Park Academy in Philadelphia that it’s important to take care of pets “with all your heart,” but that, were it not for his arrest, he would probably still be dog fighting.
“Honestly … Yeah, I’d probably still be doing it,” he said in answer to one student’s question.
“I got caught and went through what I went through so that none of … you kids like you guys will have to go through what I went through.”
The NBC 10 sportscaster reporting on Vick’s appearance — one of many he’s made under the auspices of the Humane Society of the United States — concludes his report by saying, “You gotta say that what he did was heinous, but certainly no one is doing more to come back from his situation than Michael Vick is.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, anti-dog fighting, appearance, coverage, cruelty to animals, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, eagles, football, media, michael vick, news, nfl, pets, philadelphia, quarterback, torture, vick
Pardon my haste, and the typos I’m sure will follow, but sitting here in the tranquility of the Grover Cleveland Service Area of the New Jersey Turnpike, hoping to pop off a quick post, I notice my computer’s battery is quickly draining.
Not mine, though. It has been recharged by my time in Baltimore and Philadelphia, reuniting with old friends and, I’ll admit it, hoisting a few, by which I mean beers, not friends.
During our Philadelphia visit, Ace and I stayed with my longtime friend and colleague Margaret, and her husband Will, and their three cats, Tammo, Cali and Papi.
They were but the latest of many cats Ace and I have stayed with as we continue to freeload, as much as possible, our way across the country. But Ace, who’s enamored with felines, hadn’t been amid three at a time before.
Each one had a slightly different personality, and a different reaction to Ace. Cali, the oldest at 15, was the most mellow, hissing once in a while if Ace got too close, but otherwise acting as if it were no big deal to suddenly have a 130-pound dog in a cat-specific house.
Tammo kept his distance, sometimes approaching Ace, then running off.
Papi was the most curious, not, I wouldn’t say, antagonistic — but definitely confrontational. On second though, maybe I would say antagonistic. He’d cautiously stalk up behind Ace and come up next to him and, during the first approach, gave him a good right jab, which Ace responded to by standing up and issuing one bark.
After that Ace, though still curious, kept a respectable distance, for the most part.
Seeing they had reached something close to detente, I left Ace and visited my old newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, which happens to be on the auction block today, if you’ve got a few million and are looking for a good investment.
Given all the insecurity, it amazed me that my former colleagues weren’t babbling idiots by now. Somehow, in that limbo, they manage to do their jobs and produce a pretty decent newspaper.
As in Baltimore, I was struck in Philadelphia by how much I’ve missed people with whom I’ve done a terrible job of staying in touch.
With 10 years having passed since I worked there, I was surprised to see so many familiar faces (and sorry I didn’t have more time), surprised as well when a colleague showed me a dictionary that still had my name written on it.
We’re headed now to Long Island, where we will hop three ferry boats tomorrow as we begin duplicating, at least for the time being, the route John Steinbeck and his poodle covered in “Travels with Charley.”
By tonight, we’ll be in North Merrick, have dinner with a Steinbeck afficianado and librarian and try to find someplace to stay before heading to Sag Harbor in the morning.
My hour-long Internet search for affordable (by my definition) and dog-friendly lodging was a huge waste of time, with little to be found for under $100 a night — a price we feel so strongly about not paying that we will sleep in the car for the first time if we have to.
Today, on my way north, I took a quick tour of Yardley, Pennsylvania, my hometown for about 15 years and noticed, despite continued upscaling — fancier restaurants, even more Realtors, a Starbucks and lots of hair salons — it was still pretty much the same quaint, one-stoplight boro.
Somewhere today, I think, we also crossed the Continental Polite Divide. In my experiences the southern half of America — whatever else you might say about it — is far more friendly. Baltimore is still mostly friendly. Philadelphia is kind of friendly. But somehwere along the way — possibly Princeton, New Jersey — we crossed the zig-zagging imaginary line across America into a place where people are more insular, where doors aren’t often held open, where conversations aren’t as likely to start up, unless maybe you have a dog and they want to know what kind of dog it is.
In Philadelphia, I felt among friends — old and new. My friend Margaret’s close-knit block, in the shadow of the old Eastern Penitentiary, was a wonderful slice of the city to hang out in, and an example of one of many neighborhoods — once mostly all ethnic enclaves — that have become little melting pots. This one boiled over with kindness.
Except maybe for Papi, who continued to most surreptitiously — and I’m sure I spelled that wrong — try to provoke Ace.
Deep down though, I think she was as enthralled with him as he was with her.
I think — gross generalization that it is — all these impolite northerners would, if they gave it a chance, be more enthralled with each other as well, if they took the time. More often, they are in a hurry, wrapped up in themselves, not seeing the world around them — like the one who cut me off with his car, or the one who let the door close on my cheeseburger and fries, or the three (out of five) men in the restroom that were talking on their cell phones while they urinated.
C’mon fellas. Even with hands free technology, it’s still bad manners.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, behavior, block, cats, continental divide, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, eastern penitentiary, friends, human, inquirer, john steinbeck, manners, neighborhoods, pets, philadelphia, polite, politeness, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley