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Tag: police

A modest proposal: Let’s lose “control”

I have a simple and modest proposal — one that would involve only a name change, a slightly new way of thinking, and maybe some new stationery.

It has long been in the back of my head, but was brought to the forefront by recent cellphone videos gone viral — one (above) of a dog being dragged through the halls of an animal control department in California; one (below) of a police officer slapping and otherwise berating a homeless man in Florida.

Both are examples of what can go wrong — and often does — when you give one group power over others. Both are about control.

Seeking, seizing and holding “control,” necessary as it sometimes seem in a so-called civilized society, almost always leads to bad things, including most of the dog abuse that occurs in our country. We get a little too caught up in the whole idea of having control — over our fellow man, over other species, over other nations, over nature itself.

Those put in control, as today’s videos show, tend to lose control when they see their control being threatened.

Hence, I propose that we do away with the term “animal control” and rename all those county animal control offices “animal protection” departments — protection being what they are mostly about, or should be mostly about, in the first place.

I’m not suggesting doing away with regulating and enforcing in the dog world — only that those doing it go under a different moniker, which, just maybe, would allow them to be seen by the public, and see themselves, less as heavy-handed dictators, more as noble do-gooders.

And animal control offices do do good. They operate shelters, find dogs new homes, rescue strays from the streets and abusive situations. The new name would put an emphasis on that, and take it away from “control.”

The term “animal control” is archaic — not much better than the even more outdated “dog warden” — yet most counties continue to use it. Employees see it on the sign when they pull into the parking lot, when they walk through the front door, on their memos and their paychecks. It’s a constant reminder, even though most of their duties are aimed at helping dogs, that they are, above all, strict enforcers and inflexible bureaucrats.

A simple name change could help fix that.

I, for instance, would love working as an animal protection officer; I’m not sure I’d want to be an animal control officer — even though most of what they do is about protecting animals. The name change could attract job applicants who see the mission as helping dogs, and possibly help weed out those who see all dogs as nuisances, and control as paramount.

In addition to improving employee self-esteem, it could help change the negative public perceptions that come with being the agency that tickets dog owners for leash-less or unlicensed dogs, euthanizes dogs when their facilities get too crowded, and sends the “dog catcher” out on his daily rounds.

There’s no reason — assuming a stray dog is being captured humanely, and treated humanely in a shelter, and put up for adoption — that the “dog catcher,” traditionally portrayed as a villain, can’t become a dog savior in the public view.

Having “Animal Protection Department” written on the side of the truck, instead of “Animal Control Department,” would go a long way toward that.

A simple shift in emphasis, and in how some agencies present themselves to the public, is all I’m talking about. It wouldn’t be only a matter of spin, though. Being an animal protection department would require actually protecting animals — and seeing that as a primary mission.

It wouldn’t make the world a kinder place overnight, and it wouldn’t keep cranky police officers from slapping homeless people — like I said it’s a modest proposal — but it could be a start, at least in the dog world, to a new way of thinking both about and among the government employees we entrust those duties to (and pay the salaries of).

They would be more about helping and educating, less about controlling.

A handful of agencies have at least worked “animal protection,” or “animal care” into their names, but most can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the term “control.”

Thus you have, for instance, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control.

Maybe they think losing “control” would be a sign they are losing control.

The term “control” might be appropriate when it comes to those agencies dealing with things like disease and traffic.

But not for those dealing with our family members.

Police dog fired after biting doughnut man

renzo

A police dog in Florida has been fired after he escaped from his handler and bit a Dunkin Donuts employee in the store’s parking lot.

According to Margate police, Coconut Creek Officer Carl DiBlasi had gone to the doughnut shop with his police dog Renzo to meet Coconut Creek Police Sgt. Brandi Delvecchio.

Renzo lunged at the sergeant when she tried to pet him through a half open patrol car window, The dog then jumped from the vehicle, ran across the parking lot and attacked a shop employee as he reached into his car for an apron, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The incident occurred Feb. 11 in the parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts in Margate.

Renzo, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been with the department about a year and a half, and already had one strike against him: In November, he bit a Coconut Creek officer while tracking a suspect.

Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael J. Mann said the dog is now off the force.

“I have made the decision to retire K9 Renzo,” he said. Renzo will go live with DiBlasi.

According to Margate police, Officer DiBlasi was in the car when Renzo lunged at the sergeant and jumped out the window. DiBlasi grabbed hold of the dog’s harness, but couldn’t hang on. The dog ignored his commands to stop and charged toward doughnut shop employee Robert Doherty, 37, Coral Springs, who saw him coming and jumped into his car.

Renzo bit his leg before he could close the door. Doherty suffered four bites, according to Margate police, who said they had to “pry” Renzo from his victim.

(Photo: Renzo, from Coconut Creek Police Department)

Woman used — and abused — her dog to score painkillers for herself, police say

pereiraA Kentucky woman has admitted to police that she injured her dog repeatedly to feed her own addiction to painkillers.

Police arrested Heather Pereira, of Elizabethtown, during a visit to her veterinarian’s office and charged her with three counts of animal torture and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. She was being held this week at the Hardin County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.

It was the veterinarian’s office that contacted authorities after Pereira brought her dog in three times in three months for treatment of lacerations. Each time, Pereira asked for the powerful pain medication Tramadol for the dog, a golden retriever.

“Typically, as veterinarians, we see the best of people, people rescuing unwanted pets, people rescuing pets that have been hit on the street,” veterinarian Dr. Chad Bailey with Elizabethtown Animal Hospital said in an interview with WLKY. “Something like this is definitely uncharted territory,” Bailey said.

Pereira, 23, brought her dog to the hospital twice in October for treatment of mulitiple lacerations. On Dec. 4, the dog returned with more cuts and vets suspected, based on “the cleanliness of the cuts,” that they were inflicted with a razor, possibly intentionally.

Police were called and began an investigation, during which Pereira confessed she was injuring the dog to obtain pain medications.

“It was determined she was actually taking them and using those medications for herself instead of for the dog,” said Elizabethtown Police Sgt. Timothy Cleary.

At one point, police said, Pereira told vets she needed more painkillers for the dog because her child had flushed them down the toilet.

Pereira doesn’t have any children.

The dog has been removed from her home and placed in foster care. She’s going by a new name — Alice.

“She’s a great dog, wagging her tail, and, you know, I’m sure the dog has already forgiven, that’s just what dogs do. They love us unconditionally, and she’s a great dog and doing fine,” Bailey said.

Baltimore cop who slit dog’s throat was being heroic, his attorneys say

bolger

Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.

Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.

The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.

“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.

He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.

His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.

“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”

What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.

The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.

Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.

“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”

In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.

Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.

When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.

She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”

A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.

Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.

(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)

Idaho officer violated policy when he shot dog through van window, review says

arfee2Two investigations have concluded that an Idaho police officer used unnecessary force when he shot a dog who lunged at him as he snuck up to a van’s partially open window.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said an internal review found that the shooting of Arfee by officer Dave Kelly — the bullet went through the window glass —was unjustified.

A separate Use of Deadly Force Review Board unanimously concluded that Kelley’s actions “were in violation of the department policies reviewed.”

Officer Kelly remains on duty, though, and city officials aren’t saying what disciplinary action, if any, he might face, according to the  Associated Press

“An argument can be made that Officer Kelley’s decision to shoot was reasonable when the dog lunged through the partially open window mere inches away from his face and throat,” White said. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, the use-of-force reviews found Officer Kelley’s use of force to be out of policy in this incident.”

The department initially reported that an officer shot and killed a “vicious pit bull” that lunged at him from inside a van on July 9 — but later corrected the breed. Arfee was a lab mix. Kelly was not identified by name by the department until last week.

The dog’s owner, Craig Jones, had left Arfee parked in the shade with the windows partly open while he went to a coffee shop.

City Attorney Mike Gridley declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action would be taken against Kelley, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, the last seven with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Officer Kelley, in an incident report filed immediately after the incident, said the van was being checked due previous reports in the area of a person in a similar van trying to entice children. He said he drew his weapon as he approached the driver’s side door of the van.

“I was at the driver’s side door/window, when suddenly I saw a black dog’s head and neck lunge through the open window,” Kelley wrote. “The dog was aggressively barking and growling, and its mouth was within inches of my face. I had the split second thought that this dog is going to bite me, and bite me immediately.”

The use-of-force investigation said that, even if Arfee’s head was outside the window, Kelley’s response — firing a bullet, that went through the window glass — was not reasonable.

“Officer Kelley, a seasoned officer of over 15 years of experience, was in an open parking lot with an open business, in the middle of the day, with citizens around and (another) officer … on the other side of the van. This was a case where Officer Kelley did not have anything behind him to prevent him from gaining distance,”  police Lt. Robert Turner wrote in the report.

Police Chief White said the shooting has shaken the community’s confidence in the police department, but added, “… The relationship between our community and our department will ultimately be strengthened as a direct result of how we respond to the situation and how we improve our agency to prevent similar situations from occurring.”

Three lowly cowards rob blind man after knocking out his guide dog

Three men in Hartford knocked a blind man’s guide dog unconscious before robbing him of his wallet.

Francis Shannon, of Sigourney Street in Hartford, was walking his guide dog, Lady, near his home around midnight Aug. 2 when three men attacked and robbed him, according to NBC Connecticut.

“They hit the dog, knocked her out. I thought she was dead,” Shannon said. “She’s my everything. I can’t go anywhere without her,” Shannon said.

Shannon suffered minor injuries, and delayed in reporting the robbery to police because the attackers threatened to hurt him if he did.

They said, ‘If you call the cops, we’ll kill you,’” Shannon explained. “And they took my money – which I had my rent money, cards my ID – everything was in my wallet.”

He said he didn’t leave his house for days after the attack, but finally decided to call police.

Police say Shannon identified the voices of the attackers as those of three young men he has heard hanging out at a neighborhood grocery store.

Police are seeking the public’s help in finding the assailants. Anyone with information about the robbery and assault is urged to call Hartford police Sgt. O’Brien at 860-757-4089.

Houston mayor apologizes for death of dog left on side of highway by police officer

gueroThe mayor of Houston has apologized to a family whose nearly blind Chihuahua was killed after a police officer arrested his owner and left the dog on the side of a busy highway.

“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I don’t know what airhead – there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it – would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”

The airheaded officer has not been identified.

But police say an internal investigation of the incident is underway, and that it could take six months to complete.

As reported by KTRK, the complaint stems from a July 14 traffic stop. Josie Garcia says her husband and a friend were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. Police say they found drugs in the vehicle — a prescription medicine called phencyclidine — and arrested both men. (The charges against Garcia’s husband were later dropped.)

According to Garcia, the arresting officer wouldn’t let her husband call anyone to pick up Guero, the family’s 14-year-old Chihuahua who was along for the ride.

Guero had bad vision due to cataracts, she says. He was left on the side of the highway when the vehicle was towed, and the officer took no steps to contact animal control, Garcia said.

“My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero … but he said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine,” Garcia said.

Three days later, Garcia, who had posted “lost” signs in the area, received a call from someone who had spotted Guero. She found him dead on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway, about half a mile from where he had been left.

Guero wrapped the dog’s body in a towel, took him home and buried him.

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