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Tag: program

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.

Reality show will focus on animal hoarders

hoardersThe company that brought you the Emmy Award winning A&E show “Intervention” is starting production of a new “documentary-reality” show to be called “Animal Hoarders.”

GRB Entertainment says the new series will be “an unflinchingly honest look at animal hoarders, the people and pets affected by them, and the challenges of confronting their unusual condition.”

Each episode, we will “delve into the hearts and minds” of two animal hoarders, according to the show’s website.

“We will witness the torment friends and family experience as they see their loved ones spinning out of control. We will take a gritty and often heartbreaking look at the pets trying to survive in an unsuitable environment. And in the end, we will be there as friends and family confront the hoarders, forcing them to get help, and let go of their animal hoard in the interest of a healthier life for the animals and themselves.”

The show is now seeking subjects, and has issued the following “casting call:” Read more »

Three convicted in England dogfighting case

Three people have been convicted for their roles in one of Europe’s largest dog-fighting syndicates — offenses brought to light by a BBC program called “Panorama.”

Claire Parker, 44, from Lincolnshire, Mohammed Farooq, 33, from Birmingham, and a 17-year-old boy were convicted at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, the BBC reported.

The RSPCA said it was one of the biggest cases of dog-fighting it had prosecuted. Read more »

WWII hero works to bring service dogs to vets

irwin_old_smA World War II veteran who was held for a year in a Nazi prisoner camp has made it his mission to help supply wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with service dogs.

Irwin Stovroff, the subject of a recent Fox News report, has raised nearly $2 million dollars to help train and match up service canines with wounded combat vets.

The 85-year-old resident of Boca Raton, Fla., is also pushing lawmakers for federal funding to finance the program.

“It is a shame.” Stovroff says about the lack of an official federal program that pairs up battle-injured veterans with guide and therapy animals that can greatly improve their rehabilitation. “I wanted to do something about it.”

irwin_young_smallStovroff, the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross, was shot down behind enemy German lines on his 35th bombing flight. He threw his dogs tags away before his plane crashed to hide his Jewish faith from his captors.

Stovroff says dogs can help the injured soldiers in a number of ways.

“The dog can become his eyes. He can become his legs. He can bring him anything he needs.” Stovroff said.  “A dog is probably the best thing that can happen to these soldiers … They need a guide (but) they need the help and love of a dog as well.”

(Photos courtesy of Intimesofwar.us)