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Tag: public

Get off your butt, Butte

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A proposal that would have allowed leashed dogs — leashed dogs! — at all public parks in Butte appears all but dead.

While Butte-Silver Bow County commissioners endorsed the idea of looking at a second dog park, they didn’t budge Wednesday night when it came to a proposal to alter the local law that bans dogs — even those on leashes — in all of the other parks in Butte.

Because, as one commissioner said, “dogs don’t belong in parks.”

Even in a town as stuck in the past as Butte — the “richest hill on earth,” the home of our good friend, the Auditor — that kind of thinking can only be described as medieval.

The council endorsed a measure 7-4 Wednesday night that would open the door for future designated dog park areas, like the one that exists at Skyline Park on Butte’s east side, but the local law that bans all dogs in all other parks appears likely to stay in place for now, the Montana Standard reported today.

Commissioners recently approved an “emergency ordinance” allowing leashed dogs in Skyline.

But it hasn’t acted on a broader proposal to allow leashed dogs in all parks, on public trails and in open spaces.

Commissioner John Sorich moved that the council reject that proposal but leave open the possibility of having other designated dog areas.

“I too love dogs,” Sorich said. “I have a 10-week-old puppy I’m trying to train, but I don’t believe they belong in parks. I don’t have a problem with walking trails.”

Other commissioners backing the ban say many dogs are mean, and leave messes behind them.

“We spent a long time getting dogs out of parks in Butte-Silver Bow County, and a large majority (of people) don’t want to go back,” Commissioner Jim Fisher said. “I’m a messenger for the people, and they are telling me no dogs in parks.”

Ordinances ban dogs from all parks in the county, but not from public trails.

Commissioner Bill Andersen said dogs are an important part of many people’s lives and should be allowed in more parks.

“I like my dog better than most people,” he said.

Kelley Christensen, the county’s special events coordinator, also spoke in favor of the proposal to open parks up to dogs, saying many people have dogs and they should be welcome in more parks.

“We feel this is giving our community a way to walk out in nature with their pets,” she said.

Opening parks in the county to leashed dogs was part of a proposal put forth by Parks Director E. Jay Ellington. He said the ban and large “no dogs allowed” posted at parks signs sent an unwelcome message about Butte.

Ellington recently announced he was leaving Butte to take a parks job in Texas.

(Photo: Walter Hinick / Montana Standard)

Britain’s got talent, and some shysters, too

We won’t call it the scandal of the century, or even of the year, but the dog who won “Britain’s Got Talent” didn’t actually perform the tightrope-walking portion of the skit that so delighted viewers and judges.

“Matisse was replaced for the show-stopping tight-rope trick by another dog, which was not mentioned on the show,” the Daily Mail reported yesterday.

o'dwyerdogsThe revelation that Matisse didn’t do all his own stunts (because he has a fear of heights), and that a lookalike stunt dog named Chase was snuck into the act, was first made by the dog’s owner, Jules O’Dwyer, on Britain’s ITV show, “Lorraine.”

Walking the tightrope was the high point of the act, which was built around a story involving some sausages stolen by Matisse from a three-legged dog named Skippy.

O’Dwyer plays the role of a police officer in the act.

Only Matisse, Skippy and O’Dwyer dog took bows on stage after the act, accepting accolades from the judges, some of who were left near tears by the performance.

Matisse was named the winner of the £250,000 prize.

Some viewers expressed outrage on social media about the switch.

“So it turns out the dog on the tightrope was a double for Matisse on #BGT?! Basically conning the public!!! Shameful!” Fiona Fairbairn wrote on Twitter.

An online poll by The Telegraph showed opinion was split on whether the judges and public had been deceived, with 51 percent considering it a scandal and 49 percent saying they saw no problem.

What the Raven did to the gator and the dog

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Once there was a Raven, an alligator and a dog, and the latter two were allegedly abused and neglected by the former.

Apparently that’s all the information officials think we’re entitled to as the curious case of Terrence Cody continues not to unfold.

Even with news of his indictment — the former Baltimore Raven faces 15 charges — what is alleged to have transpired in the Baltimore County home of Cody isn’t being shared with the public.

The charges include two counts of aggravated animal cruelty with a dog, five counts of animal abuse or neglect with the same dog, five counts of abuse or neglect in connection with alligator, and one count of illegal possession of an alligator, according to Deputy State’s Attorney John Cox.

But what exactly Cody is accused of doing, or neglecting to do, in connection with both animals is being left to our imaginations.

That, especially given he was in the NFL, leaves us free to picture the worst — as in staging fights between the two species, as in maybe the alligator went unfed until it tried to eat the dog, as in maybe Cody used them both to attack a girlfriend on an elevator, as in who knows what.

That’s a disservice, to the public and to Cody.

“Ban Terrence Cody From the NFL for Allegedly Feeding His Dog to His Pet Alligator!” says a headline on the website Care2. Clicking on a link to a petition, though, readers are informed  ”Terrence Cody did not feed his dog to his alligator as the author of the petition has falsely indicated. New info reveals that his dog passed away as a result of worms, after being severely neglected by the ex-Ravens player.”

When there is an information void, our imaginations, and sometimes our websites, are only to happy to fill it.

Once an indictment is revealed, some details should be released by authorities that go beyond “he did something illegal to this animal and to that animal.”

Imagine if law enforcement and prosecutors had taken that no-details approach in the Michael Vick case. Imagine if they had said, “We seized all these dogs because something bad was going on, but we’re not going to say what until the story unravels in court — if it even goes to court.

News that Cody, 26, was being investigated for animal cruelty came out the same day the Ravens announced he was being released from the team.

The Ravens didn’t go into the allegations, and coach John Harbaugh, in announcing Cody’s termination, said only that the “threshold of tolerance” had changed in the NFL. “It’s a privilege to play in the National Football League. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Ravens. There’s a standard to uphold there, and we expect them to.”

Cody was officially released from the team Monday — the same day the indictment came out.

The indictment says the felony aggravated animal cruelty charges (they carry a maximum three-year sentence) stem from the death of his Presa Canario.

Through the indictment, the public learned there was an alligator involved as well — though not necessarily in connection with the dog’s death. In addition to five counts of abuse or neglect of the alligator, Cody was also charged with one count of possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia and one count of possession of marijuana.

The investigation was started after Cody took his dog to a veterinarian.

Peter Schaffer, Cody’s agent, told the Baltimore Sun that Cody took the dog to a vet for treatment of worms, and that the dog died there. He didn’t share any additional details, either.

“This is all a result of the NFL allowing players to be convicted before they’re tried,” Schaffer said. “If Terrence wasn’t a public figure, they wouldn’t have ever charged him. It’s just ridiculous.”

Cody, having played in only one game last season, wasn’t too major a public figure, and maybe that’s why law enforcement and prosecutors think they can get away with providing virtually no information about what transpired.

He was a nose tackle, not a quarterback, and possibly authorities thought the case could pass quietly under the radar.

The alligator twist probably kept that from happening.

Other than informing us that Cody turned himself in and was released on $10,000 bail, and dutifully reporting the few details officials have released, there hasn’t been much digging, it seems, by the news media.

The NFL has said it would look into the case only if Cody signs with another team, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

Manwhile, the news media, and the animal welfare community, should be demanding some details.

One, because we have a right to know. Two, because animal cruelty cases shouldn’t be swept under rugs. It is through exposure that problems can be addressed and changes can occur.

What, exactly, is Terrence Cody alleged to have done? Why, exactly, aren’t law and order types letting us know? And, while the dog died, and while Cody will be a Raven nevermore, what has become of the alligator?

Does Bentley really have a wish list?

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As America’s first quarantined dog of an Ebola patient, Bentley’s fame may be spreading as fast as the deadly virus he may or may not have.

So much so that we suspect the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is receiving more attention, donations and expressions of support — at least online — than his sick human, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the disease while caring for the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in America.

This being America, a dog-crazy land, that wouldn’t be too surprising.

That funds are being raised in his name isn’t too surprising either.

That he already has a “wish list” set up on Amazon? That’s a little surprising.

bentleyxAs soon as Bentley was moved Monday to the undisclosed (at least initially) location he’s being quarantined and monitored in, the campaigns to raise money in his name began — ostensibly to help pay for his care, in reality for much more.

“Poor Bentley the Dog Needs You to Buy 67 Items From His Amazon Wish List,” reads the headline on a Dallas Observer blog post.

We’re sure Bentley — being a dog, as opposed to a human — isn’t as selfish and greedy as his alleged wish list makes it appear.

We’re sure he doesn’t truly need a $239 Lawn Boy lawnmower; or a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Can Opener, in black and chrome; or a thermal label printer; or a $299 microchip reader; or a Bluetooth portable GPS navigator.

But between the news media delighting in tugging our heartstrings, and some savvy sorts at Dallas Animal Services who know a fundraising opportunity when they see one, that’s the way the story is coming across.

It started where all things start, or at least end up — on Facebook.

bentleyphamDallas Animal Services posted a picture (left)) wih a list of ways people could help support Bentley while he is in quarantine. The post pointed out that any extra donations — of paper towels, pee pads, toys and rawhide chews — would go to other dogs awaiting adoption.

It’s a pretty common practice among animal shelters — seizing upon the case of one sympathy-inducing dog to raise funds for more than just that one dog. It’s not an evil practice. It’s well-intentioned. While it may be a tad deceptive, it’s effective.

And given the total lack of foresight, knowledge and protocol when it comes to Ebola victims and their pets (we’ll talk more about this Monday), such fundraising techniques could prove highly necessary in the months and years ahead.

Bentley has served as a wake-up call — as, in a way, did Excalibur, the dog of Spain’s first Ebola patient. Excalibur was quickly destroyed, even though there’s no proof dogs can get Ebola or pass it on to humans.

While Dallas Animal Services is overseeing the care of Bentley — now sequestered at a decommissioned Naval air base nearby — the Dallas Fire Department’s Hazmat Response Team is doing the hands-on (and gloves on, and hazmat suits on) work, feeding and cleaning up after the dog.

Dallas Animal Services is continuing to keep the public posted on Bentley, mostly through its Facebook page, but its campaign to seek donations in his name apparently was toned down, if not halted, at least temporarily.

CBS in Dallas, which reported on the campaign, later reported that Dallas Animal Services has suspended its request for donations and pulled the Facebook post. Whether that’s because someone deemed it deceptive or exploitative isn’t known. No reason is given.

As for that Amazon “wish list,” it’s still up, but, just to be clear, those are items Dallas Animal Services need — not exclusively for the care of Bentley.

At the end of last week, a more formal funnel for donations helping the dogs of Ebola victims was set up. The city teamed up with Dallas Companion Animal Project, a nonprofit organization, which has created the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services fund to help pay for the care of pets affected by emergency events, including Ebola exposure.

(Photos: Dallas Animal Services)

CEO caught kicking dog on surveillance cam

It’s not every day that you find Fortune magazine covering a dog abuse story.

But when the apparent abuser is CEO of a prominent sports catering company, and the abuse is captured on an elevator surveillance camera, it raises some questions — including, in this case at least, whether he should remain in that position.

Many a dog lover is calling for the immediate firing of Des Hague, CEO of  Centerplate, a food service company that runs the concessions at several sports arenas nationwide, including those that are home to the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers.

Many are suggesting a boycott of the food served by Centerplate at the stadiums it has contracts with.

So, in a way, it is a business story — Hague’s atrocious behavior, public as it has gone, could play a role in the future of the company.

But it’s also a dog story, so you should know that the pup was not seriously injured (at least in a physical way) and has been removed from the care of Hague.

While some reports say Hague was watching the dog for a friend, a spokesperson for the BC SPCA  said Hague appears to be the owner of the year-old Doberman Pinscher named Sade.

The BC SPCA is keeping the dog in an undisclosed location, either a shelter or foster arrangement.

deshagueThis week, Hague released a statement of apology, through his attorney, calling the incident “completely and utterly out of character … I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”

Centerplate, based in Connecticut, says it “does not condone the mistreatment of animals by any of its employees” — that’s good to know — and that  it was conducting an internal review of the matter.

“Mr. Hague has agreed to attend counseling to address his anger management issues and has publicly expressed he is deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behavior,” the statement continued. “He has apologized to everyone directly involved as well as to the company’s clients and employees, and has pledged a significant, personal, multiyear financial commitment to help support the protection and safety of animals.”

The company’s board of directors says it has ordered Hague to donate $100,000 toward the establishment of the Sade Foundation, named after the dog he mistreated in the elevator, Fox 12 in Oregon reported.

In addition, the board is requiring him to serve 1000 hours of community service at an animal welfare organization.

While those steps might be an attempt to cut off any criminal prosecution, they don’t preclude charges being filed. They do show that the company’s board members — by appointing themselves judge and jury — are aware how serious the public is taking his misdeeds.

Whether the financial donation and community service are voluntary or company-ordered, they still seem a little like Michael Vick’s “redemption” song, which not too many people bought as sincere.

Sorry, rich guys. But forgiveness can’t be achieved by writing a check. Nice as it would be to see Hague pay, and pay, and pay, money doesn’t erase misdeeds. And, as Vick’s dogfighting case showed, dog lovers have a very long and unforgiving memory.

Do we really need a “war” against dog poop?

In the annals of Gotham’s crimefighting superheroes, Abby Weissman might not go down as one of the all-time greatest.

But at least he will be noted for capturing a dog pooping on camera and, far more important, that doggie’s caretaker not picking it up.

Faster than a speeding bullet, he posted it on Facebook:

 

In the post, Weissman fires a first blow in his quest for justice, and calls upon others to join in fighting the scourge of canine caretakers who don’t pick up after their charges — by submitting photos and videos of scofflaws caught in the act to his block association’s Facebook page.

Weissman is president of the South Oxford Street Block Association in New York’s Fort Greene neighborhood.

The association started a “Dog Walkers Hall of Shame” campaign July 30, after his home security camera captured a dog walker, busy with her cell phone, walking away from the mess the dog had just deposited on the sidewalk in front of his house.

Weissman hopes a little public humiliation will be more effective than the seldom enforced “pooper scooper” law, and its $250 fines.

Since 2013, 63 “pooper scooper” violations have been issued in Brooklyn, DNAInfo reports. An officer must witness the incident to issue a summons, according to the Department of Sanitation.

Weissman, like any good superhero, seemed to take a great deal of pride in catching the scofflaw, at least on video. “We always wanted a photo or video or someone actually letting their dog shit and purposefully leaving it there. Here it is, thanks to Dropcam.”

I’m all for owners taking responsibility for what their dogs drop, and all for laws enforcing that. And I’m fine with fines.

I’m just not so sure we have to view it all in terms of a “war,” and I question whether all the high tech weapons being seized upon — like hidden cameras, and sending dog poop to laboratories to see if its DNA can be matched to a particular dog — are a bit of an over-reaction, better used on terrorists than people who don’t pick up dog poop.

I have a problem with public “shaming,” too — whether it’s being used on deadbeat dads, the customers of prostitutes, or those who fail to pick up dog waste. It reminds me of those stocks and pillories we used to punish wrongdoers in colonial times. I’d like to think we’ve become a little more civilized since then. And I’d like to think we’re smart enough to realize people who engage in shameful behavior often don’t have a huge sense of shame in the first place.

Most of all I’m puzzled about how we let something with such a simple solution become so huge, and gobble up so much time, money and technology. How much is being wasted sending dog waste through the mail for analysis in laboratories? How many hours did Weissman spend watching video to pinpoint the culprit who pooped in front of his house?

Sometimes I think our species is prone to escalating anything that can possibly escalated.

Perhaps a psychologist could explain that to me.

In the meantime, can’t we all just pick it up?

Exhibit depicts Houston’s homeless dogs

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Houston’s homeless dogs are the subject of a photo exhibit opening this weekend.

The two-week exhibition, entitled, “No One’s Dog,” is aimed at bringing attention to the animal overpopulation crisis in Houston, where shelters generally operate at capacity and an estimated 1 million dogs and cats are living as strays.

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Three non-profit agencies are supporting the project – DiverseWorks, Barrio Dogs and Box 13.

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The public was invited — and supplied with disposable cameras — to capture images of homeless dogs. The images were uploaded to Flickr (you can see them all here) and the best were chosen for the exhibit, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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The exhibit runs from July 26 to Aug. 9 at DiverseWorks, 4102 Fannin Street in Houston.

(Credits: Top photo by Emily Crossley; second photo by Page Moore; third and fourth photos by Gina Damian)

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