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Tag: reports

The dog that ate Osama Bin Laden

Details are few, and there’s been no government confirmation, but that’s not stopping most major media outlets from reporting that a dog was a member of the assault team that killed Osama Bin Laden Sunday — and even prematurely pronouncing the dog a hero.

“Hero Dog Helped Snare Bin Laden,” read the headline of a story in yesterday’s Sun that called the dog “a fearless four legged hero.”

The Sun, in a report the New York Times seemed to confirm,  said an explosive-sniffing dog was strapped to one of the 79 assault team members lowered down ropes from three Black Hawk helicopters into Bin Laden’s hideout in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“Little is known about what may be the nation’s most courageous dog,” said the New York Times article. “Even its breed is the subject of intense interest, although it was likely a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, according to military sources.”

The rest of the Times story recounts the military’s increasing use of, and growing dependence on, dogs — primarily because of their skill in finding improvised explosive devices. But it sheds no light on the alleged dog’s involvement in the raid.

Slate, meanwhile, in a similarly speculative article, reports that a dog was along on the raid, then notes there has been no confirmation that a dog was involved in the raid:

“The special operations forces do have their own canine training program, but it’s very hush-hush. Furthermore, neither the Pentagon nor the White House is talking about the role the dog played in Sunday’s operation, and they haven’t even confirmed that a dog was involved at all.”

The news media loves a good hero dog story — and I do too, when it’s true — but before we start calling this anonymous military dog a hero we might want to have some facts, like what the dog did, and whether he (or she) was even there.

The truth about the tsunami dog duo

Truth, always elusive, is even tougher to get a handle on in the chaotic aftermath of a tsunami — and that’s one reason the fate of the two dogs pictured in the now famous video of one stranded dog loyally watching over another remains obscure.

Despite reports from CNN, UK Telegraph, NPR, PETA and others that the dogs were rescued — all based solely on Facebook posts by Kenn Sakurai, the owner of a dog food supply company in Japan — their fates remain unclear and uncomfirmed.

The best account we can find is one prepared by Global Animal, an online animal magazine that, unlike most major media,  interviewed Sakurai, who is being described, without documentation, as both a savior or a charlatan in Internet posts 

Global Animal reports that Sakurai told them the two dogs were rescued by friends of his who are off-road bikers and that the dogs are being treated by an undisclosed veterinarian.

Sakurai posted on Facebook last week that the dogs had been saved — and on that page he also sought donations to continue what he described as his work rescuing animals left homeless by the tsunami.

Sakurai lists his occupation as president of Butch Japan, Inc., a dog food company. Oddly, for a self described animal lover, his Facebook page lists Michael Vick among his “favorite athletes.”

Sakurai has reportedly deleted all negative comments from the page — as well as those that questioned his involvement in rescuing the dogs.

Sakurai’s page says he was born in Tokyo, raised in Tokyo and the UK and went to school in Tokyo and New York City. He says he was involved with the development of Tokyo Disneyland and that he now is the importer of ”the safest dog and cat food on the planet.”

After the tsunami, he set up a paypal account so that people could donate to his effort, but, in his later posts on his Facebook page, he says he plans to donate that money to established shelters.

Still, many remain troubled that he has presented no photographic evidence that the two dogs are safe.

Global Animal reports: “Mr. Sakurai says he promised the bikers that he wouldn’t reveal the location of the veterinarian because they don’t want animal rescue organizations to take the dogs for their own fundraising purposes. This is why no pictures are being made available, claims Mr. Sakurai.”

In an editorial written by Arthur Jeon, co-founder of the online magazine, Sakurai is quoted as saying he would try and send the organization photos. But, the magazine said, “we are not hopeful that credible evidence will materialize.”

“Our best guess is that some difficult truth may be hidden here, and that either one or both dogs have died, possibly on the trip or shortly after. Or, that this is a story that got out of hand, perhaps being used to raise money by Mr. Sakurai himself, though he is not associated with any animal rescue organization that’s mobilized in the devastated areas.”

Global Animal provided readers interested in donating money to the animal rescue effort in Japan with a list of legitimate and long-standing animal rescue organizations.

The editorial concludes: “It’s human nature to yearn for a happy ending, to be able to move these dogs’ misery off our mental list of anguish and to find heroes in a horrible reality. It also makes for ‘good copy’ by mainstream news organizations who hit it for its feel-good elements, then move on. However, the web and Facebook are not good places to collect facts for substantiated reporting; these reputable news organizations know better.

“Ultimately, the two dogs … deserve the truth. As do we. If Mr. Sakurai responds with verifiable truth that the dogs are alive and well, nobody will be happier than the hardcore animal lovers and readers of Global Animal.”

Were pups thrown in river saved downstream?

A grandmother in Bosnia is claiming she saved the six newborn puppies that a young woman tossed into a fast flowing river — an act that was captured on video and has outraged dog lovers internationally.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Ruza Pavlovic, a 75-year-old woman who lives in Bugojno, Bosnia, says she saw the pups struggling in the river and fished them out.

The Mail article points out that it hasn’t been confirmed that the puppies are the same ones that a woman in a red hooded sweatshirt was videotaped throwing one by one into the river.

The “saved” puppies seem to have a brownish coloring not seen on those in the video. And the “savior” is making it known that she is too poor to provide them with food. “They are healthy and happy,” they quote her as saying. “My problem is that they need at least three litres of milk a day and I live only on my small pension, but I do not have the heart to abandon them.”

Police, the Mail article reports, have tracked down the girl they believe threw the animals into the river and are set to interview her. The name of the girl, also from Bugojno, has not been published to protect her safety.

The video was posted on Facebook, and appeared on YouTube and LiveLeaks, enraging animal lovers at least as much as last year’s video of a man in Lithuania throwing a dog off a bridge.

Another animal rights group – SOS, which is based in Sarajevo – also claimed to have information confirming the location of the girl, who was reportedly filmed by her brother.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the young woman.

Meanwhile, several Facebook groups have formed, seeking to bring her to justice as well.

Dog saves dog update: One died, one vanished

Officials in Santiago, Chile say they have lost hope of finding a dog whose attempted rescue of an injured animal on the highway inspired worldwide admiration — though more than eight months after it happened.

Jorge Rivas, operations manager for Vespucio Norte Highway in Santiago, said police and highway workers had searched for the dog several times to no avail, according to the Associated Press.

He said too much time has passed since the video was recorded on March 23, when a surveillance camera captured images of the apparently homeless dog pulling the body of an injured dog through busy traffic to the relative safety of a freeway median strip. The injured dog, which had been hit by vehicles, died.

Rivas said earlier reports that the incident happened on Dec. 4 were based on confusion with the date the image was first shown on local television, then picked up on numerous websites.

Broadcast of the images came on the heels of an animal welfare scandal in the Chilean capital, where officials raided an Animal Protection Society accused of mistreating and killing dogs and cats in its care. Four employees of the society face charges of animal abuse.