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Tag: politics

Candidates your dog can chew on

fuzzu

As you sit breathlessly riveted to your TV screen for the Republican National Convention (now underway) and the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28) what’s your dog supposed to do for fun?

You could get him or her a presidential candidate to chew on.

A Vermont-based company is offering chew-worthy likenesses of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and, though he’s out of the running, Bernie Sanders.

donaldThe canvas-covered, fiber-filled toys, designed by Sarah-Lee Terrat and Anne Lika of Fuzzu for Pets & You, come in three sizes: nine inches tall for cats, 17 inches for dogs, and a 27-inch jumbo size for cuddling, punching, berating or whatever else you might want a stuffed presidential candidate for.

They run $19.99 each.

And of course they squeak — they’re presidential candidates.

The cat-sized toys contain catnip, aimed at making your feline even more attracted to the candidate.

The Hillary doll wears a red pantsuit and pearls and campaign buttons reading “Pro-whatever” and “Anti-whatever.” On her back is a facsimile of a light switch to turn her smile on and off.

The Trump doll has a sourpuss look on its face, and hair that is swooped back, topped with golden plush. A pamphlet in his pocket is titled “Great Wall Building for Idiots.” On his back is a button that reads, “Push to inflate head.”

The Bernie doll, put on the market before he withdrew, has a button on the back that reads, “Push to activate the revolution.”

hillaryI can’t vouch for how safe any of the chew toys are — both the Trump and Sanders dolls look like they could cause hairballs, as both come equipped with fuzzy shocks of “hair” — but the company does have experience making dog toys.

According to Sevendaysvt.com, the Likas operated a pet toy company called Fat Cat for more than a decade before selling it in 2007.

They launched the new company recently with help from a Kickstarter campaign.

Anne Likas said she missed the dog toy business, and was happy to get back into it. “We love the humor around our toys,” she added, noting that other pet toys “don’t get edgy.”

(Photos: Fuzzutoys.com)

I Think My Dog’s a Democrat

Bryan Lewis is pretty sure his dog is a Democrat — certain enough, at least, to write a country song about it.

He premiered “I Think My Dog’s A Democrat” on radio station WTVN, and the YouTube video of the debut has garnered close to a half million views since early March.

Why Donald Trump prefers dogs to hecklers

You’ve probably seen the hecklers that seem to be dogging Donald Trump at his campaign appearances — the ones who have the audacity to disagree with him, and go so far as to voice that disagreement.

Generally, he orders them to “shut up,” or “sit down,” and when that doesn’t work he calls for security to muzzle them.

Perhaps a better trained, more obedient audience, such as the one in this video, would be more to his liking.

Even though it’s not until the third “sit down” that the dogs heed The Donald’s edict, and even though only three out of four obey, we find it disheartening that dogs would listen to him at all.

We can only guess that these are Republican dogs — or that they haven’t yet figured out that Trump provides treats only to fellow fat cats.

Can dogs rescue Carly Fiorina’s campaign?

In this bizarre new video, Carly Fiorina almost eats a dog biscuit, steals my shtick, and tells a group of dogs that “President Obama ate one of your cousins; vote Republican.”

Fiorina cuddles and converses with a variety of young and mostly uncooperative pups in the video, which was produced for the conservative website Independent Journal Review.

I don’t know if her comments were written advance, if her staff or the website’s came up with them, or if she is just winging it as she goes along. In whichever case, the video succeeds in making an otherwise intelligent woman look like a blathering idiot.

“A dog is happy to see you,” she says. “… A dog is sad when your gone. Fluffy white dogs are always so friendly.”

The video is part of a series from IJ Review depicting presidential candidates in humorous or self-deprecating situations. (In other words, trying to make them seem human.)

Independent Journal Review isn’t really that independent, at least not politically. It’s a two-year-old, highly profitable, social media-savvy website started by a pair of Republican operatives that mixes some hard news with lots of fluffier “shareable” pieces and an unrelenting dose of conservatively slanted articles about politics and policy.

In the video Fiorina notes that dogs, unlike her critics, “never tell me to smile more,” or that she looks like Cruelle de Vil — a comparison she tells one one dog is “totally unfair…although your coat is exceptionally soft.”

(Cruella is the fictional character in “The Hundred and One Dalmatians,” who kidnaps dalmatians to make a coat of their fur.)

Near the end of the video she starts comparing some of the pups to some of the other presidential contenders, which comes pretty close to being a rip off of our post last month, assigning dog breeds to each of the Republican candidates. (Carly, our investigation found, was an Italian greyhound.)

“I think I could use you all for debate prep,” Fiorina says. “You could be Donald Trump … You could be Chris Christie … You could be John Kasich.”

The video is not really a campaign ad, definitely not news and — even with the dogs — barely rates as entertainment.

There’s a long tradition of politicians turning to dogs to help them out, with Richard Nixon’s exploitation of Checkers probably standing out as the most blatant. Even it, sappy as it was, proved successful.

You can bet your biscuit this one won’t.

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.

Palin: “At least Trig didn’t eat the dog”

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A smug and smiling Sarah Palin continued to defend photos she posted online of her son standing on his service dog to reach the kitchen sink, appearing on Today to lash out at PETA and what she called its hypocrisy.

The animal rights group has criticized the former vice presidential candidate for posting photos over the weekend of her six-year-old son Trig, who has Downs syndrome, climbing up on his prone service dog, Jill, and standing atop her to reach the sink.

palin

Palin posted the photos on her Facebook page Saturday — along with a message to PETA that read, in part:

“Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.

“Hey, by the way, remember your “Woman of the Year”, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture

ellendog“Hypocritical, much?

“Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

“Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets ‘thrive’ in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day?

Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called fish’? (I do.)”

Palin told Today that, in the case of her son, there was nothing wrong with standing on a dog.

“In this case yes, because Trig’s service dog is a strong, trained dog who does really, really love his best buddy Trig, and they put up with each other, and there was no harm at all to this dog.”

In her post, Palin wrote, “May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for ‘up!’, found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone.”

She questioned why her photos are drawing criticism when a similar photo, posted on Facebook by Ellen DeGeneres, who has been honored by PETA, led to little uproar, and hundreds of thousands of ‘likes.’

“I thought, absolutely hypocritical double standard, as usual, applied to, I don’t know, perhaps a constitutional conservative,” Palin told the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie.

“PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

“It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” the group said.

We’d have to side with PETA on this one. I doubt you could find a veterinarian (outside of Alaska) that thinks children standing on dogs is acceptable — even among those who, like Palin, think animals were put on earth solely for mankind’s use.

That she chose to run for the camera rather than rectify the situation speaks volumes.

Jill is a service dog, not a piece of furniture. Invest in a step stool, Palin family.

(Photos: Facebook)

Directive bans use of gas chambers in N.C.

franklincounty

A simple directive has accomplished what North Carolina’s legislature, despite repeated efforts, couldn’t — and, as of the middle of February 2015, animal shelters in the state will be all but banned from killing unwanted dogs and cats in gas chambers.

For those who waged battles to do way with gas chambers in their home counties, and those who worked to pass statewide legislation ending their use, it’s a cause for celebration.

But it’s also a little confusing. If all it took to change things was a directive from the state Department of Agriculture — basically, a memo — why all the years of bickering, grandstanding and politics (both clean and dirty)?

If only the stroke of an administrator’s pen was needed to end such a cruel and callous process, why did it take so long?

The memo issued this month by the N.C. Department of Agriculture’s veterinary division gives shelters until Feb. 15 to switch to lethal injections. Gas chambers, which kill animals with carbon monoxide — sometimes one at a time, sometimes in groups — will only be permitted for “unusual and rare circumstances, such as natural disasters and large-scale disease outbreaks.”

Patricia Norris, the Agriculture Department’s new animal welfare director, said the directive was based on guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which in 2013 finally recommended against the use of gas chambers for “routine euthanasia.”

(We’d disagree with both of the words in that phrase. Ending the life of a dog simply because he’s unwanted or because a facility is overcrowded isn’t a mercy killing; it’s a money-saving killing. And common as the practice is, we hate seeing it called “routine” — which it certainly isn’t for the dog.)

While animal welfare organizations, including the ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States, have been saying the practice is inhumane for years, it wasn’t until the AVMA adjusted its stance that the state decided to take action.

The Humane Society of the United States hailed the change. “It’s going to lift that stigma that was associated with North Carolina animal shelters,” said Kim Alboum, the HSUS’s state director is quoted as saying in the Raleigh News & Observer. “The pound is gone, and I think that’s something to celebrate.”

Only four of North Carolina’s 197 approved shelters still use gas chambers.

According to the HSUS, North Carolina becomes the 25th state with a formal ban in place. (Many states yet to ban gas chambers are no longer using them.)

chambersmap

“To put an animal inside a gas chamber, their final moments are alone in a dark box,” Alboum said. “Sometimes they don’t die right away. If we have to euthanize animals, at least the animal is touched, at least the animal has some dignity and some human contact.”

Among those to recently cease the practice are Johnston County, which earlier this turned its gassing equipment into a work of art, designed to look like the tree of life. In Cleveland County, a fundraiser was held that allowed donors to “whack the chamber” with a sledgehammer.

Shutting down the gas chambers is a long overdue step in the right direction. Then again, lethal injection isn’t really something to celebrate. What is? The day we stop killing dogs. Period.

(Photo of the gas chamber in Franklin County, NC, by Takaaki Iwabu, from the Raleigh News & Observer; graphic courtesy of Humane Society of the United States)