Whether it’s art, propaganda, or a combination of the two, a memorial to victims of fatal dog attacks is creating controversy as one of dozens of entries in a public art display in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The work is called ”Out of the Blue,” a reference to how dog attacks — and particularly pit bull attacks, the artist repeatedly points out — usually happen.
The display, created by a woman identifying herself as Joan Marie Kowal, consists of more than 30 decorated crosses, representing the number of people killed in dog attacks this year, and images of the victims, many of them children.
The artwork is rubbing some dog lovers, and particularly pit bull lovers, the wrong way, which has led to some demonstrations and the kind of heated, everybody’s an expert debate that follows pit bulls around wherever they go.
Joan Marie Kowal, we suspect, has more experience in badmouthing pit bulls than she does in creating art, but then again artists don’t need credentials in this competition.
Every year, for 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids is opened up to artists in ArtPrize, a competition that awards $200,000 to the grand prize winner.
Downtown becomes “an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters,” according to the ArtPrize website. ”Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown … It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”
This year, “Out of the Blue” has proved among the most disruptive.
A week ago, perturbed pit bull owners brought their dogs to Calder Plaza, where the entry is displayed, in hopes of presenting their views and showing that pit bulls — the breed most often mentioned in the memorial — aren’t vicious killing machines.
When they sat down in front of the memorial, Kowal complained they were obstructing the public’s view.
Kowal told MLIVE.com in an email that “visitors can’t even see the art and many have told me the bully breed owners, sitting on the ledges blocking the view of the victims’ biographies and refusing to move, makes them unable to enjoy the piece.”
Grand Rapids Police Lt. Pat Dean said Kowal filed a complaint in late September about people sitting with pit bulls on the stone wall in front of her ArtPrize entry. Police found nothing illegal at that time, he said, and members of the group, while on public property, moved at the request of officers.
Kowal describes the work as “an opportunity to Pay it Forward, and show the good side of humanity. Visitors are encouraged to express their sympathy, respect, and support for the victims and their families by leaving teddy bears, flowers, or memorial decorations in the designated heart-shaped memorial space.”
According to a brief biography listed on the ArtPrize website, Kowal is an animal lover, who has feral cats and pet squirrels. She attended Grand Valley State University.
Not a whole lot can be learned about her through searching her name on the Internet, and there’s no mention of any previous artistic pursuits.
There was a 2011 MLIVE.com article that mentioned her name, and quoted her as being a supporter of a proposed pit bull ban in Wyoming, Michigan.
Perhaps she became an artist “out of the blue.” Perhaps her anti-pit bull passion needed an outlet.
We support the right for just about anyone to call themselves an artist, assuming they are making some form of art. We don’t have a problem with Kowal expressing herself — either vocally or through her “art” — on the streets of Grand Rapids. By the same token, we have no problem with pit bull owners and their dogs sitting down squarely in front of it, as long as it’s public property. They have the right to express themselves in public, too, whether they’re ArtPrize contestants or not.
So do we. And our opinion is Kowal is pushing her personal agenda under the guise of a non-profit organization’s art competition, and that it’s likely part of a well-plotted effort by those forces intent on painting all members of the breed with the same brush, reinforcing negative stereotypes while playing fast and loose with the facts.
Kowal says she plans to add three more crosses this weekend in remembrance of three other people who died from injuries she says were caused by pit bull attacks.
“That is not my fault that they were all killed by pit bulls,” she said. “I’m just showing the facts.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 6th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, artist, artprize, artworks, attacks, breed, breeds, contest, discrimination, dog, dogs, downtown, fatal, grand rapids, joan marie kowal, memorial, out of the blue, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, victims
A dog with the “F” word branded into her side isn’t too likely to get adopted — at least not by anyone who would make for a good doggie parent — so a Kentucky shelter took steps to obscure the profanity with cosmetic surgery.
The young female pit bull mix was found tied to a fence in August, and taken in by the Lexington Humane Society, which named her Felicity.
Cosmetic surgery was performed last week by a staff veterinarian to try to hide the four-letter word.
Lexington Humane Society officials say they have an adoptive home lined up for Felicity, but wanted to do surgery before releasing her.
Thanks to donations from the public, a $3,500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the dog’s abuser or abusers, according to an Associated Press article.
Wouldn’t it be nice — felicitous, even — if there were a stiff mandatory sentence for disfiguring or mutilating dogs, say 15 years in prison, with no possibility of parole.
That might dissuade some from using dogs for graffiti.
If nothing else, it would forestall those who got caught and convicted from entering their likely future careers as serial murderers.
(Photo: Lexington Humane Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, branded, burned, chemical, cosmetic surgery, dog, dogs, felicity, graffiti, hide, lexington humane society, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, profanity, skin
A pit bull being shown at an adoption event at a PetSmart outside Atlanta on Sunday got loose from her handler, attacked a smaller dog and was repeatedly stabbed by the smaller dog’s owner.
Clara, a pit bull who was being fostered and who was taken to the event in hopes of finding an adoptive home, was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, the local humane society said.
The smaller dog, a West Highland terrier, spent a night in an emergency vet’s office and was released to her owner Monday.
As reported in the Times-Herald, Clara, who has been living in a foster home, had been brought to the event by the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in hopes of finding her a permanent home. The Westie belonged to a customer in the store — one who, according to witnesses, had a low opinion of pit bulls.
Witnesses say the smaller dog growled at the larger one when they walked past each other inside the store. Shortly after that, Clara pulled free from her handler and ran at the smaller dog.
The Westie’s owner tried to pull the pit bull off his dog, kicked her and stabbed her several times with a pocket knife. While doing so, some witnesses said, he was repeatedly screaming, “F—ing pit bulls!”
Clara was holding the smaller dog by the scruff of her neck or ear, and both dogs were still, Reeves said. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog. Mike was able to put his hands in her mouth,” she said. “…They were just standing there. It could have easily been broken up.”
After the man started stabbing the pit bull, his son screamed for him to stop. Clara is believed to have been stabbed up to six times.
PetSmart staff also attempted to break the dogs up using air horns and spray bottles.
Sandy Hiser, with the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society, said that once the dogs were separated, Clara’s wounds turned out to be worse than originally thought. She sat back and was wagging her tail when it was noticed she was bleeding, and making a gurgling noise when she breathed.
Hiser said Clara’s injuries were “so extensive that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”
Police responded but no charges have been filed. Hiser said an officer told her that the man “had a right to defend his dog.”
The case is still being investigated by Newnan’s animal warden.
One witness said she heard the Westie’s owner complaining about pit bulls even before the attack.
Clara was being returned to the store from a trip outside when the man said, “If you bring that f***ing pit bull near me I’m going to stab it,” said Erin Burr, who was attending the adoption event.
According to a Facebook page set up in hopes of getting Clara adopted, she’d lived over half her life in a boarding kennel. It also notes she had problems being “dog tolerant.” Posts note that the page was started after she was banned from an earlier adoption event.
(Photos from the “Clicks for Clara” Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 3rd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, clara, coweta, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, foster, georgia, humane society, newnan, pets, petsmart, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, shelter, west highland terrier, westie
For some reason, Pigalina was rejected by her mother, but she’s found a substitute in a member of another species — Levi, a four-year-old pit bull.
The piglet, three-weeks-old when this video was made, lives at PIGS Animal Sanctuary in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Levi, a rescued dog, was living there when she arrived — and obviously is used to being crawled upon by piglets.
The sanctuary, founded in 1992, specializes in the care of potbellied pigs and farm pigs, and it shelters other farm animals and pets as well. About 400 animals — pigs, dogs, cats, horses and goats among them — are living there.
You can learn more about out what’s going on at PIGS Animal Sanctuary by visiting its Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal sanctuaries, animals, dog, dogs, haven, inter-species, interspecies, levi, pets, pig, pig and dog, pigalina, pigalina and levi, piglet and dog, piglet and pit bull, pigs, pigs animal sanctuary, pit bulls, pitbulls, potbellied pigs, relationships, rescue, rescued, sanctuary, shelter, sheperdstown, unlikely friends, video, west virginia
Not every white van is driven by a child predator.
Not every large dog is a pit bull.
Why police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wanted to check out a white van parked near a coffee shop Wednesday morning is understandable: It fit the description of one being used by a child predator, and the coffee shop owners had called to report someone inside it was watching young children from a nearby parking lot.
Why the officer shot the van’s only occupant — a dog – is a little less understandable.
And why investigators called the dog a “vicious pit bull” makes even less sense.
Arfee was a black lab, according to his owner, Craig Jones, who was eating breakfast at a nearby restaurant — not scoping out children — when the officer approached his van from behind with his gun drawn.
When the dog lunged toward him out of the partially open driver’s side window the officer fired one round, through the window, hitting Arfee in the chest. He later died.
Jones said Arfee, who was two years old, did not have a mean bone in his body. “This still isn’t even real to me,” Jones told KREM 2 News.
“If my dog is barking and wondering who’s peering through the windows he doesn’t care if you’re a cop, an attorney, or President Bush,” said Jones. “He doesn’t know any difference.”
Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark said the department is reviewing the shooting, and said initial police reports describing the dog as a pit bull were erroneous.
“Animal control officers originally identified the dog as a pit bull,” he said. “The Police Department had a veterinarian examine the dog and it has been identified as a lab mix.”
“We understand the grief the family is dealing with due to the loss of their pet. We also understand the distress this has caused for citizens,” Clark said. “The officer who shot the dog is also distraught over this incident.”
Arfee’s owner, who formerly lived in Coeur d’Alene, was visiting for the 4th of July weekend, according to the Spokesman-Review.
“Best 4th of July weekend in cda eva,” Jones, who now lives in Colorado, posted on his Facebook page earlier in the week.
On Wednesday, he posted this: “Cda cops just shot my dog while I ate lunch at Java?”
Yesterday, he thanked his Facebook friends for their support. “Today is definitely harder than yesterday. Just seeing his ball in my rig tears me apart,” he wrote. “This cop left a hole in both of (us) that can’t be fixed.”
(Photo: Craig Jones’ Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arfee, arfie, black lab, child, coeur dalene, craig jones, dog, dogs, idaho, investigation, killed, lab, labrador, labrador retriever, law enforcement, parked, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, predator, profiling, shot, stereotypes, van
Here’s Zeke, a recently rescued pit bull, and his new friend.
Zeke’s owner said the deer approached their backyard fence one day.
After the animals checked each other out, the dance began.
She was able to capture the scene on her cell phone.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, deer, deer and pitbull, deer and pitbull video, dogs, friends, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, play, unlikely friends, video, wildlife
A pit bull received a diploma at Idaho State University’s graduation ceremony last Saturday, walking on stage in place of his master, who died in February.
Cletus, a black and white pit bull, belonged to Joshua Kelly, and was the geology student’s service dog.
Kelly, who had epilepsy, was finishing his final two classes when he was hospitalized and died on Feb. 13.
Cletus accompanied Kelly to school daily, walking two miles to catch a 6:30 a.m. bus from Idaho Falls to ISU.
When Kelly suffered a seizure and fell, as he did a few times, Cletus would stand over him until the seizure ended.
On Saturday, Cletus, accompanied by Kelly’s father, Terrell, walked on stage to claim Joshua’s diploma. Joshua received a bachelor of science degree in geology posthumously, KIDK reported.
Terrell Kelly said he’d never been a fan of pit bulls, until Cletus.
“I’ll be honest. I was one of them that was giving them (pit bulls) a bad rep until I met Cletus. And he allows our little grandchildren to climb on him, pull his ears, pull his tail. He’s just great.”
After accepting the diploma, with Cletus at his side, Terrell held the folder in the air and said, “This is for Josh.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cletus, dog, dogs, epilepsy, epileptic, graduation, idaho state university, joshua kelly, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, seizures, service dogs, student