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Tag: philadelphia

From “throwaway” dog to police canine

kayos

The wife of a Philadelphia police officer is proving that police dogs don’t have to be expensive European imports.

Carol Skaziak, after seeing too many dogs languishing in shelters, started an organization called Throw Away Dogs.

Established two years ago and based outside Philadelphia, the program rescues neglected shelter dogs and works to rehabilitate and train them for police work like narcotics detection and patrolling.

Since beginning her work, nine out of 12 dogs she has rescued have been placed with police departments across the country.

“I pour my heart and soul into it and all I ask for these departments is to just give my dogs a chance,” she told NBC News.

Unlike most police dogs, who commonly are expensive purebreds purchased from Europe, these home-grown mutts are donated to departments in need.

billtarsandkayos“This is a huge amount of money that we are saving,” she said. “It will save (a police department) anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000, $10,000.”

Assisting her in the effort are K-9 handlers from area police departments.

The program puts the dogs through a three-month training period, and while not all will earn spots on police forces, Skaziak says all dogs that go through the program find a home — something they didn’t have before.

“I will follow through with every dog from start to finish. Not all dogs will make it through K-9 school and I am OK with that outcome. I will then find a perfect loving family for that dog that will love and treat them like part of their family. It’s just a different kind of badge they will be wearing,” she notes on the organization’s website.

While she doesn’t believe every dog can be trained to be a police dog, there are many in shelters who have the high play drive it takes for the job.

After a graduation ceremony this year, two “throwaway” dogs were placed with the Roanoke Police Department, and a third with the police department in Roanoke, Va.

Skaziak, who is married to a Philadelphia police traffic officer, came up with the idea for Throw Away Dogs in 2013, while doing public relations work for a shelter in Philadelphia.

“I was upset about it, because people were throwing these dogs away like trash,” Skaziak told the Roanoke Times.

(Photos: Officer Bill Tars and Throw Away Dog Kayos in Roanoke, by Heather Rosseau / The Roanoke Times)

She’s one tough cookie (but with soft spots)

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.

abrahamadWhiting appears in the ad with his new dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Winnie, praising Abraham’s commitment to fighting animal cruelty. Abraham, and other owners and their dogs, are featured.

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.

Some brotherly love goes viral

jeffreyandjermaine

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

jandj2The 35-pound strays were rescued from the streets of West Philadelphia Oct. 5 and placed in Operation Ava’s no-kill shelter on North Third Street, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

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)

Clearing the name of Pep the prison dog

pepFolklore has it that Pep, a black Lab that belonged to a Pennsylvania governor, was sent to Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1920s to serve a life sentence for killing the governor’s wife’s cat.

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)

Dogfighters raided in Philadelphia

20 Arrests In Dog-Fighting Ring Bust: MyFoxPHILLY.com

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.”

Sailor finds some friends in South Philly

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.

Vick says, were it not for his arrest, he’d probably still be dogfighting

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/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.”