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Tag: photos

How much is the dead doggy in the window?

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Everyone should know by now that there are certain things you just don’t procure online — not that oceanfront condo that looks so good in the pictures, not that Russian wife who looks so good in the pictures, and definitely not that adorable puppy whose photos you keep clicking on.

As effort-free as the online purchase has become — to the point that Amazon can now make items magically appear in the trunk of your car (try that, David Copperfield) — we may forget that we are living in the golden age of scamming, and that what’s too good to be true usually is, or may not even exist at all.

Perhaps nowhere is the scamming more rampant than in pet sales.

ABC7 (aka KGO-TV) in northern California took a look at some of those scams in a recent two-part report, interviewing both directly impacted victims and those on the periphery, such as the woman who saw her dead Corgi being offered for sale on two different websites.

(Find part one here, and part two here.)

“Tens of thousands of consumers, at least in the United States, have lost money to these online pet scams,” Rebecca Harpster of the Better Business Bureau told the station.

A BBB report says the scams are on the rise, and the FTC counted 37,000 reports of bogus online pet sellers over five years. The FTC estimates only about 10 percent of victims reported the crime, so the actual number of victims could be in the hundreds of thousands.

Not only do the scammers accept money for dogs that don’t exist, they then often string along the buyer with additional charges they claim are popping up in getting the dog delivered.

They’ll say they need to insure the dog for transport, or that a special crate needs to be purchased, ask for more money and say the dog can’t be delivered until they receive it.

The BBB recommends never buying a dog based on pictures or videos. Scammers use stock photos and videos, or obtain pictures of their own, and post them on the phony websites, claiming the dogs are for sale.

Wendy Hicks is one of many who say photos of her dog have gone on to be used as fake ads in seedy websites.

Her prized Corgi Abby appeared on Corgi Precious Puppies and Elegant Corgi Puppies — both of which have since been shut down. She suspects there might be more.

“It’s like whack-a-mole. You get them taken down here and they’re going to pop up somewhere else,” Hicks said.

PetScams.com has been tracking this kind of scheme for different dog websites around the world.

ABC7 interviewed the site’s administrator, Paul Brady, who says he gets complaints from people around the world who say they’ve lost money trying to buy all kinds of breeds from different online sites.

Pet Scams forwards any reports it receives about fraudulent pet websites to the company that registered the domain name.

(Image: A screenshot of the website Elegant Corgi puppies, which no longer exists)

Are there too many dogs on the Internet?

image001Depictions of dogs, as any one who has ever read the wall of a prehistoric cave knows, date back to well before ancient times.

Pharaohs commissioned artworks of their favorite pets. Portrayals of hunting and images of medieval banquets often featured dogs in the background or foreground. In the Victorian-era, aristocrats hired painters to make portraits of themselves and their pooches.

As the 20th Century dawned, as humans came to live ever closer to the species, artists seized upon the idea of depicting dogs dressed in human attire and doing human things, bringing us such classes artworks as the inimitable (but often imitated) work, Dogs Playing Poker.

Well before photography went digital, before somebody flicked that World Wide Web switch on, dog depictions were being shared — if not as instantly, often, ridiculously and (often) demaningly as they are today on the Internet, and social media in particular.

Even in my earliest days in journalism, back in the 1970’s, I remember some newspapers had a pet writer — someone who penned a pet column, usually weekly. He or she was commonly an older person who performed mostly clerical duties, maybe a secretary for some top editor, who, due to his or her love for dogs, had volunteered for the task, likely at no increase in pay.

He or she would probably feature a dog in need of adoption every week, or write about pet care and training, or simply ask readers to submit photos of their pets for publication — an opportunity many readers seized, sending actual photos through actual mail.

One of the differences between then and now — a time when many a website is telling you how much they would like to see photos of your dog — is that the old clerk/pet writer’s request for photos was more than likely at least partly sincere.

pokerThose folks who want to see your dog’s photo now? Almost always, they are after something else. You can trust them about as much as the bulldog sneaking an ace to his friend in that painting to the left there.

Pet food websites, pet toy websites, even (we hate to admit it) pet news websites will commonly beg you for a photo of your pooch — not because anyone actually wants to see it, but because they want to get you on their email lists, get you “registered,” introduce you to their products and enlist your loyalty.

They want, more than anything, your money, and like many other businesses that want your money, they will gladly deceive you and try to capitalize on your love for/pride in your pet:

“We’d love to see a photo of your dog!”

Yeah, right.

I’m not here today to say that there are too many dogs on the Internet — even if never before in the history of man have we been so saturated with dog photos and images. The more the merrier, I say.

But I would argue there is too much dog exploitation and too much dog ridicule on the Internet, much of it carried out via those “adorable” photos of your “fur baby” — sometimes by profit-making concerns, sometimes by dog owners themselves.

Compare and contrast, if you will, our old, likely unpaid, pet columnist with someone like Matt Nelson, who is making a six figure annual salary by posting photos sent in by readers, along with a comment and a numerical rating (based on the dog, not the photo) at @dog_rates.

He is not taking any photos. He is not buying any photos. He’s really not doing much work at all, other than accumulating followers. He is merely sharing other people’s photos on Twitter — and managing to make a handsome living from it.

Nelson — profiled by Money magazine recently — dropped out of college once he saw how popular his dog photo sharing Twitter page had become:

There, WeRateDogs’ operations are relatively simple. Nelson estimates he runs 95 percent of things from his iPhone (which, yes, he confirms, does require a massive data plan to handle all the dog photos). He has two remote employees: Ricci, who culls submissions down to about 20 each day, and Tyler Macke, who manages the WeRateDogs online store. His dad, an executive director of a law firm, advises him on finances.

Nelson says he brings in “a low five figures” every month. At minimum, that puts him over $100,000 a year.

Thanks, Money magazine, for doing the math for us.

While Nelson may not be doing much original or creative work, at least his pursuit is mostly cute and kind and well meaning.

20151016_181413-e1522168748576Other dog photo sharing websites are more distasteful to me — dogshaming.com, in particular.

It features photos of dogs who have misbehaved, along with hand-made signs — all submitted by readers.

But perhaps most troubling of all are the photos and videos that individuals post to their Facebook page showing their dogs doing distinctly human things.

Alexandra Horowitz, the author and researcher who has spent her career seriously studying and trying to understand dogs — despite what seems to be society’s preference to see them as dress-up dolls, movie characters with human voices, or (apologies to those who use the term) “fur babies” — made note of the phenomena in last week’s New York Times Opinion section.

In it, she asked the question:

“Why can’t I stand to look at one more photo of a ‘funny dog?'”

She continued, “In a typical image, the dog is posed in a distinctly person-like way, as if on the phone, seated at a table or wearing headphones and dressed up in human attire — glasses, a dog-size suit and tie, even pantyhose.”

” … These dogs are but furry emoji: stand ins for emotions and sentiment. Each representation diminishes this complex, impressive creature to an object of our most banal imagination,” Horowitz wrote. “Such treatment may not be mortifying to the dog, perhaps … but it is degrading to the species.”

Only the most extreme examples of making our dogs look ridiculous receive any sort of backlash — primarily from people who see the pet as being abused. Like this one on Twitter. Go to the link and read all the comments and you almost think, maybe people are coming to their senses.

It bugs me that society is this way — that it took a species, molded it to its liking, and continually foists its own likeness and peculiarities upon it. It bugs me what people will put their dog through to achieve a Facebook post or Halloween costume that makes their friends laugh. It bothers me that some people are getting rich off it.

It’s like we were blessed with an original Mona Lisa, and 85 percent of us want to draw a mustache on it slap it on their own personal billboard.

Somebody needs to grow up, and it’s not the dogs.

(Photos: At top, The Feast of Dives, about 1510–20, Master of James IV of Scotland, the J. Paul Getty Museum); lower, one of the many reproductions of Dogs Playing Poker, by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, other photos via Twitter)

Dogs and bookstores … perfect together

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Bookstores and dogs have always struck me as a perfect combination.

I’m not sure why.

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Maybe it’s the way a dog will find a comfortable nook and settle right down. Maybe, with those that don’t, it’s the way they, like us, sniff around inside for something good. Maybe it’s the way both books and dogs take our minds and souls to new places.

In any event, a Chroniclebooks.com blog, presented a collection of photos of the former enjoying time in the latter — and even on ladders in the latter.

Some of them are fixtures at the bookstores they are pictured in; some of them just visitors.

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If, after viewing these three photos, you are hungry for more, if, like me you can’t enough of either dogs or books, visit the blog for the full collection.

Dogs as artists, dogs as art

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The idea, or so it seems, was to have dogs serve as artists — covering the canines with pet-safe paint and having them shake it off, creating Jackson Pollock type canvases in the process.

Pawsitive Ohio, a non-profit group whose mission is to end the euthanasia of dogs in Northeast Ohio shelters, was behind the effort to raise funds by auctioning off the resulting artworks at an event to be held in April.

But, at least from what has been revealed so far, it looks like the dogs — all seniors and all rescues — might have become the art, moreso than they became the artists.

Photographs of the dogs during their creative process turned out to be art in themselves, and they were recently posted on the Pawsitive Ohio website. None of the paintings the dogs created were.

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According to Cleveland.com, both the photos and the artworks will be on display at three upcoming events.

The dogs created their works in the photography studio of David Baio.

“David is a dog lover who graciously and patiently allowed our artists to create their art in his studio,” said Jennifer Harrington, director of Pawsitive Ohio. “We originally thought the canvases would be the stars of the show, but David’s photographs are incredible … the photographs alongside the canvases truly complete the collection.”

The photos show dogs dripping paint, shaking off paint and licking paint — made of corn starch and food coloring — from their snouts.

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Both the paintings and photos will be on display March 9-23 at the Massillon Museum, 121 Lincoln Way, Massillon. Then the artwork will be on display April 10-20 at the Canton Museum Of Art, 1001 Market Ave., Canton.

After that, the canvases and photography will be auctioned at the “SHAKE! Shades Of Gray” fundraising event on April 21 at the Canton Cultural Center For The Arts, 1001 Market Ave., Canton.

All funds raised will go towards Pawsitive Ohio’s mission of ending needless death of homeless dogs in Northeast Ohio. The organization raises funds for adoptions, spay and neuter programs and educational materials.

Frankel seeks aide to help promote her dogs

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Bethenny Frankel — entrepreneur, “Real Housewife of New York” and attention who … whoa, don’t say that — is looking to hire an assistant to manage her dogs’ schedules, take photos of them and further propel their fame (and her’s) on social media.

Page Six reports that Frankel placed an online ad seeking an assistant with “thick skin” who would be able to work full time on tasks that would include managing the schedules of her dogs and taking pictures of Frankel and her pets “to provide content for social media.”

It’s not clear from the ad whether all of the duties would be related to her canines.

With some of the described duties for instance — such as “maintain upcoming wardrobe queue,” “coordinate daily looks” and work “onsite with CEOs for glam” — it’s a little fuzzy whether she’s talking about herself or her dogs.

In any case, though, she’s apparently seeking some help to shape up her image. (And what real, limelight-craving person doesn’t need a little of that?) Apparently her 1.6 million Instagram followers — and that doesn’t include her dogs’ accounts — aren’t enough.

Frankel is involved with dog rescue causes, and she had at least three dogs of her own up until October when one died.

frankelCookie, 17, had a seizure, and Frankel made a video of the dog and herself during the crisis and posted it on social media.

That drew some criticism — mostly from people wondering why she was making a video instead of taking the dog to a vet.

The following day, she did, but Cookie died that weekend.

Cookie had her own Instagram account, as do two of her newer dogs, Biggy and Smallz.

Frankel has written several books and launched her own line of “Skinny Girl” meals and beverages. She has also appeared on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” “Skating with the Stars,” and was the subject of the reality television series “Bethenny Ever After.” Her talk show, “Bethenny,” premiered in 2013 and was canceled in 2014.

(Top photo: Frankel with Biggie and Smallz / Bravo TV; bottom photo, Frankel with Cookie / PEOPLE)

Gift idea: Your dog’s face on your own socks

PUPSOCKS-WHITE-3With a scant 10 days left until Christmas, we present item No. 3 on our abbreviated list of gifts only a dog lover could love.

Pupsocks are socks for your feet (not your dog’s) that are emblazoned with a photo of your dog.

They are being offered, at $30 a pair, by an Atlanta company that says a portion of their profits (unspecified) goes to helping animals.

“Our products help you share love for your pet, and behind the scenes we spread that love with others! As such, every pair sold feeds a dog or cat in need. In only six months, we’ve been able to support thousands of meals.”

The company, according to its website, supports Ahimsa House which is dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence in Georgia, and the Humane Society of the United States.

To order the socks, you can go to the website, upload a photo of your dog, or cat, or human, and specify the size and color you want.

As with our previous wacky dog-related gifts — those pit bull leggings and matching dog and human pajamas — this is in no way a recommendation for the product; rather it’s an idea flung out there for your cautious perusal.

The company will also put your dog’s photo on a tie.

Of course, there are few things you can’t get your dog’s picture on these days. From coffee mugs to blankets, from tote bags to Christmas tree ornaments, you can find a company to pepper almost any wearable or usable item with your dog’s image.

I had Ace’s photo put on a sweatshirt and a blanket, both of which were gifts to my father, and both of which I got back after my father’s death.

I break out the blanket regularly, and I still wear the Ace sweatshirt — sent to me by the nursing home my dad spent his last days in, complete with his name marked on to the collar.

Socks are about the last thing, clothing-wise, I would think of putting my dog’s photo on.

But rest assured there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there who will keep coming up with ways to make a buck off of our love for dogs, and particularly our love for our own dog.

And more often than not, we will lap it up.

Here are a few more websites that offer to put your pet’s photo on stuff:

Print Your Pet

Personalization Mall

Snapfish

Vista Print

(Photos: From the Pupsocks website)

Former racing greyhounds to find adoptive homes after Texas blood bank shuts down

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That Texas operation that held retired racing greyhounds in captivity to regularly harvest and sell their blood is shutting down.

PETA exposed neglectful conditions at the blood farm this fall and has been campaigning hard for its closure — going so far as to put up billboards, engage in protests and even buy a share of stock in the company it sold blood to.

The Pet Blood Bank, located northwest of Austin, is one of several commercial blood banks in the United States with an in-house “colony” of dogs used to supply blood for veterinary treatments, according to the Washington Post blog Animalia.

An attorney for the blood bank said in a statement Thursday that the closing was a “business decision” made because the PETA campaign had “caused our long-standing customer relationships to be terminated.”

The National Greyhound Association and other dog-racing advocacy organizations said they were working with regional greyhound adoption groups and the Pet Blood Bank to place all of the 150 greyhounds now housed there up for adoption.

“We’re confident that every greyhound at the blood bank will be on its way to a loving new home within the next few days,” said Jim Gartland, the association’s executive director.”

Last month, PETA obtained photos and videos from a former company employee showing dogs confined in squalid quarters and, in some cases, left to suffer from painful injuries and dental disease.

The blood bank’s owner, Shane Altizer, denied the allegations.

PETA aimed its campaign primarily at Patterson Veterinary, the Minnesota-based company that the blood bank was a provider for. It held protests at the company headquarters and the home of the CEO of its parent group. It bought billboards, and one share of stock in Patterson Companies “to put pressure on the billion-dollar enterprise.”

Operations like the Pet Blood Bank sell their products to veterinary clinics or supply companies, and greyhounds — because members of the breed often have a universal blood type — are commonly used as donors.

The banks are not regulated by the federal government, and California is the only state that regulates them.

In a statement on Thursday, President Ingrid Newkirk said PETA would “work hard to get regulations passed to ensure all blood for emergency transfusions comes from real donors and not from imprisoned, miserable dogs.”

(Photo: PETA)