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Tag: program

Beloved BBC dog Mabel passes away

After 14 years on the world’s longest running children program, Mabel, a border collie mix, has died.

Seen by millions of children on “Blue Peter,” Mabel was the BBC program’s first rescue dog.

“She was dearly loved and that’s a credit to her quirky character. She’ll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike,” said Helen Skelton, one of the program’s co-hosts.

Mabel, who retired last year, was the second-longest serving dog on the show. Another, named Petra, appeared on the show for 15 years.

Her death came barely a month after the death of her canine co-star Lucy, according to the Daily Mail.

Mabel was originally featured on the program in 1996 when then presenter Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. She joined the show a month later. Her name came from the letters MAB1 which were written on her RSPCA kennel.

Mabel, who was thought to be 16, was notable for her different colored eyes – one brown, one blue – and a folded-over ear. She starred alongside 14 different presenters in hundreds of studio shows.

After retirement, she lived with a former member of the show’s production team

The BBC show’s presenters announced the news about the border collie to viewers last night.

Overdue: Yale law library tries therapy dog

At the Yale University Law Library, you can check out ”Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law.” You can check out “The Supreme Court A to Z: A Ready Reference Encyclopedia.”

Or, you can check out Monty, a terrier mix whose mission, in an experimental program started this month, is to de-stress, during final exam time, the litigators of tomorrow.

You’d think a genius farm like Yale University would have figured out sooner — as some smaller and lesser known colleges have — that dogs can, physically and emotionally, help students through troubled or stressful times.

But, for the school whose mascot is an English bulldog named Handsome Dan, it’s better late than never.

In the pilot program, students can check out Monty – a  21-pound “certified library therapy dog” who provides 30-minute sessions of what ABCNews describes as “unconditional, stress-busting puppy love.”

“The interest in available slots has been high,” said Jan Conroy, a spokeswoman for Yale Law School.

In a March 10 memo, law librarian Blair Kauffman said she hoped the free, three-day pilot pet therapy program would be “a positive addition to current services offered by the library … It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being.” The memo directed students to the website of Therapy Dogs International for more information.

The school has yet to decide if the program will be ongoing. Likely, it being Yale Law School, there are liability concerns — the type that are known to paralyze bureaucracies and often limit the good dogs can do, based on mostly baseless fears.

Monty, for example, though he is said to be hypoallergenic, will hold his visits in a “designated non-public space” in the library to eliminate “potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns.”

Concerns have also been expressed about the sign-up list for Monty being in a visible spot. That, the overly fearful fear, results in students having to expose their need for a mental health session — or at least some time with a dog — in public.

Monty — whose full name is General Montgomery – belongs to librarian Julian Aiken. And the pilot program got started after a Yale legal blog jokingly suggested making Monty available for checkout.

Therapy dogs have been introduced at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio and UC San Diego to help students get through the pressures of mid-terms and finals.

BARCS to be part of pit bull project

Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) is one of five shelters that will take part in a pilot program aimed at reducing euthanasia of pit bulls, encouraging responsible ownership and improving the perception of the breed.

A $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities will fund the programs, coordinated by Best Friends Animal Society.

The grant was announced last week in Las Vegas at Best Friends’ annual  No More Homeless Pets Conference.

The “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project” will create partnerships between Best Friends and shelters in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, Calif. and Tampa, Fla.

All will be based on the partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began in July 2009. It resulted in a 10 percent drop in euthanasia of pit bull-type dogs in its first year, and led to twice as many being adopted as the previous year.

The Salt Lake program, which will serve as a model for the new pilot projects, offers community education and free or low-cost training and spaying and neutering — all aimed at keeping pets in the family and reduce the numbers being abandoned.

The program uses volunteers, called the “Pit Crew,” to showcases dogs for adoption through outreach events, photos and descriptions online and also fosters dogs whose time is up in the shelter. There also is emphasis on creating frequent media opportunities to portray pit bull-type dogs in a positive light–to counter the image of the breed often presented in the news.

Funds provided by PetSmart Charities and additional funds from Best Friends will be used to pay for a shelter coordinator in each city, support marketing and public relations in those markets, and pay for a Best Friends program manager to oversee implementation and reporting in the five shelters.

“As with any dog that is spayed or neutered, properly trained, socialized and treated with love and kindness, pit bull-type dogs can be well adjusted, happily balanced, and affectionate members of the family,” says Jamie Healy, Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls manager. “It’s the person on the other end of the leash who decides how their dog interacts with others and who sometimes put these dogs at the wrong side of the law.”

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bulls through its national campaign, Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, which helps dogs who are battling everything from a sensationalized reputation to legislation designed to bring about their extinction.

Program pairs trainers with problem dogs

Behavior problems are the main reason dogs end up in shelters, the main reason they get returned, and the main reason that some of them never get out.

So it only makes sense that helping dogs and the families that adopt them resolve those issues would lead to far more happier endings and far fewer dogs being put down.

Realizing that, Best Friends Animal Society in Utah has developed a new program in conjunction with the Monmouth County SPCA that matches dog trainers with shelters and families whose dogs have behavioral issues.

Sam Wike, the first trainer accepted into the program, is shown in this video working with Rufus, one of the first dogs referred by Best Friends’ Community Training Partner program. Wike is the lead trainer at Purr’n Pooch, a pet boarding/training/grooming facility in New Jersey.

Rufus, who was in the Monmouth County SPCA, needed a “finishing school” environment in order to be ready to be adopted, Best Friends says. Now he’s completed the training and is ready for adoption.

The main goal of the program is to lower the number of dogs returned to shelters and to counsel people considering relinquishing their dogs because of behavior issues.

When a family comes into the shelter to turn in their dog, a staff counselor sits down with them, and talks through the reasons the family is considering giving up their pet. Owners then are offered the option of training and behavior modification for their dogs, which is funded through the Best Friends program.

“We started this January working with the staff and we’ve also initiated doggy play groups with the shelter dogs,” Wike said. “The play groups help the dogs to learn how to interact appropriately with other dogs. The dogs burn off excess energy romping with each other and it’s a great showcase for their personalities when potential adopters come by the shelter,” Wike said.

From death row to Broadway stage

macyThe sun will come out tomorrow — at least it did for Macy.

Macy was a scruffy little mutt, picked up as a stray and taken to Pontotoc County Animal Welfare Society in Ada, Oklahoma — a facility that generally holds dogs for three days before “deciding their future.”

(Meaning, especially in times of shelter overcrowding, whether they are going to have one.)

Macy, though unadopted and unclaimed, managed to stay there for several months, but as time passed her chances were growing dimmer.

She caught a break when she was chosen for a prison dog program called New Leash on Life at the CCA-Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville, Okla. But it turned out to be a temporary reprieve.

“Unfortunately, despite being a model student, Macy was the only dog at the end of the program scheduled to return to a kill shelter instead of an adoptive home or no-kill rescue,” according to RockySpot Rescue in Newcastle.

Macy’s future was looking pretty bleak again when, after her time in the prison program, RockySpot rescue took her in. RockySpot put a photo of Macy on its website, in hopes of finding her a home.

Another three months had passed when her picture was spotted by Bill Berloni, who trains animals for Broadway shows.

Berloni flew in from New York to look at her, and he liked what he saw.

Macy will be performing on Broadway, playing the role of Sandy in the musical “Annie.”

The moral of the story? Every time an orphaned dog is “euthanized,” a potential happy ending bites the dust.

(Photo: RockySpot Rescue)

Former Vick dog meets third graders

hectorStill bearing scars on his chest and front legs, Hector, a pit bull that was part of Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation, mingled with third-graders Tuesday at the Barack and Michelle Obama Learning Elementary School in St. Paul.

Hector, one of 52 dogs rescued from the NFL quarterback’s dogfighting operation, is now a registered therapy dog. His school visit was part of an educational program sponsored by A Rotta Love Plus, a pit bull and Rottweiler rescue group.

The 4-year-old dog was placed with a family in Rochester, Minn.

“He’s the sweetest dog in the world,” said Kellie Dillner, of the rescue organization. “It’s hard to imagine him having to act any other way.”

The 55-pound dog received several hugs and lots of attention from the students, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Vick, a former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback, served 18 months in prison for his role in dogfighting, in which several dogs were killed and dozens more injured. He was reinstated to the NFL and joined the Philadelphia Eagles in September.

(Photo: Hector with owner Clara Yori of Rochester. By Kyndell Harkness, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Dog assists prosecutors in Marin County

Vivian, a 2-year-old retriever, has joined the district attorney’s office in Marin County, working as a service aide for traumatized crime victims and witnesses, especially children.

According to Marin prosecutors, Vivian is the first service dog to work for a California district attorney’s office.

Vivian is present while the victims are being interviewed, and she recently made her courtroom debut by sitting in  the witness box with a 4-year-old alleged domestic violence victim from Novato, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

“When he left, he gave Vivian a big hug and said he wanted to come back and visit her,” said Deputy District Attorney Andrea Buccine, who is the dog’s guardian and spearheaded the effort to bring her into the office.

She and District Attorney Ed Berberian started the program after learning of a similar one in the Seattle area.

The Seattle dogs were provided by a  nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence, located in Santa Rosa, California. The organization breeds, raises and trains therapy dogs to help the disabled, and to work in hospitals, courthouses, schools and other venues.

“It just makes a very nice approach with these young kids,” Berberian said. “It puts them at ease, and helps these interviews go a little easier. It’s just a way to make very undesirable and unnatural situations more bearable for some of these victims.”

At least one defense attorney has problems with the program. Bonnie Marmor, a deputy public defender for the county, said the use of dogs by prosecutors could, like offering them candy or toys, sway their testimony.

Fidos for Freedom walk is tomorrow

Fidos for Freedom, a non-profit organization that trains and provides service and hearing dogs  is having its annual fund-raising walk on Saturday.

The Fall Stroll ‘n Roll starts Saturday at 9 a.m., and runs until noon, at Centennial Park in Ellicott City.

The event includes vendors, games, prizes, a bake sale, demonstrations, dog contests and the walk around the lake.

Fidos for Freedom, in addition to working with service and therapy dogs, also operates the DEAR (Dogs Educating and Assisting Readers) program.

Michael Vick gets his own television series

MichaelVick-Eagles-1You might want to sit down for this one: Michael Vick is going to star in his own television series.

Two weeks after his first regular season appearance as an NFL quarterback since completing his prison sentence for dog fighting, Vick has announced he has the starring and title role in an eight-part docu-series on BET, tentatively titled “The Michael Vick Project.”

Call it amrak (the opposite of karma). Call it unjust desserts. Call it absolutely outrageous. But the convicted animal abuser is on the verge of getting another heaping helping of good fortune.

“I just want people to really get to know me as an individual,” Vick said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.  “What I want to do is change the perception of me. I am a human being. I’ve made some mistakes in the past, and I wish it had never happened. But it’s not about how you fall, but about how you pick yourself up.”

The program will spotlight his controversial comeback with the Philadelphia Eagles and examine his tumultuous past — including his troubled childhood and his 2007 arrest for running a dogfighting ring, with visits to both the Virginia estate where he fought dogs and federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he served his sentence.

Officials with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed skepticism about the project. “People who abuse animals don’t deserve to be rewarded,” said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “They shouldn’t be given multimillion-dollar contracts . . . or given the privilege of being a role model.”

The project has the support of the Eagles, the NFL and the Humane Society of the United States, which has enlisted Vick in its battle to end the widespread abuse of dogs in the inner city.

The project is being produced by DuBose Entertainment; Vick’s production company, MV7 Productions; and Category 5 Entertainment. No one associated with the production would comment on Vick’s compensation for the series, the Times reported. Vick has filed a six-year plan to repay creditors an estimated $20 million to get out of bankruptcy.

Producers of the Vick series said the program would not a typical reality show like VH-1′s “The T.O. Show,” which revels in the excesses of its flamboyant star, wide receiver Terrell Owens. The tone of Vick’s show, say producers, will be serious and somber as it focuses on his personal struggles since his release.

“This show can be a blueprint for so many kids,” Vick said. “I want to show them that things are going to happen, that they’re not going to get through life without dealing with some kind of adversity. I want to show that if they have a fall from grace, this is how they can turn it around. We want this to be a story of hope.”

The Crate Escape: 10 more years for inmate

manardyoungJohn Manard, who escaped from a Kansas prison by hiding inside a dog crate, was sentenced yesterday to another 10 years in federal prison on weapons charges, according to the Kansas City Star.

Manard was sprung from the Lansing Correctional Facility in 2006 by a prison volunteer, who used her dog van to drive him to freedom. Manard was hidden inside a cardboard box placed inside a dog crate.

The volunteer, Toby Young, was the founder of Safe Harbor, a program that rescued dogs from animal shelters and worked with inmates to train the pets and make them suitable for adoption. Married and a mother of two, she became romantically involved with the prisoner while working inside the Lansing Correctional Facility. You can read more about that saga — a Lifetime movie waiting to happen — here.

After leaving the Lansing prison, the two went to Young’s house where they took her husband’s two pistols.

Young, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for giving a firearm to a felon. Manard’s new conviction on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm comes on top of his escape conviction and a previous murder conviction, for which he was serving a life sentence.

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