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Last month’s feel-good story takes bad turn

Luke the K9 solo (Courtesy of Joel Fields)

A suburban police officer who made national headlines for rescuing a doomed shelter dog and training him for police work has been fired from his job — and his whole story is now being questioned.

On top of that, the Bel-Ridge Police Department, outside St. Louis, is asking that officer Joel Fields return the dog that taxpayers, at least in part, paid to have trained, at least in part, as a police K9.

The total truth about the story is still unraveling, but the untruths unearthed so far indicate the heartwarming account Fields gave the news media wasn’t entirely accurate — including the claim that the dog, named Luke, came from a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized.

As a result, and as has happened before, all across the Internet, thousands of hearts were falsely warmed.

As usual, we can blame lazy news media, and even lazier bloggers, for the misinformation — as well as the officer whose account of saving the dog from death’s doorstep was initially accepted on its face as truthful.

fieldsFields was praised by PEOPLE and pictured as a savior by numerous dog websites after the story broke in April.

(Fortunately, ohmidog! wasn’t one of them. We’d like to say it’s because it didn’t pass our special sniff test, or get approved by our crack team of fact checkers, but it was probably more dumb luck.)

Still, there were clues — like how hard Fields seemed to be seeking publicity, the professionally made photos he supplied of him and Luke, and the boasting about all the drug busts Luke nearly immediately made as a rookie on the job.

“He made seven drug busts in less than a month and a half of working the road with me,” Fields told Fox2 News.

How true that is — as well as the rest of the story Fields gave about the retriever — are now under suspicion.

News4 in St. Louis is now reporting that Brad Croft, the owner of Universal K9, the company that helped train Luke, is saying the account Fields gave the news media was mostly lies.

“I was a little upset, because Joel was told from the day I handed him the leash of the dog that this was not a shelter dog,” said Croft.

Croft told News4 he suspects Fields was lying about the dog’s background in an effort to gain fame and “get people to back him and give him money.”

Officials are also now investigating whether Luke was fully trained and certified as a police dog.

City prosecutor Sam Alton says Fields initially told them the dog was certified as a K9, but he says they have learned that is not true. That fact could complicate any criminal court cases Luke played a role in.

Alton says Fields is now refusing to give up the dog, whose training was funded at least in part by taxpayers.

“We would like to see the taxpayers not lose money, we would like the dog to live a happy and productive life and we would like to see the dog in service as it was meant to be,” Alton said.

“Everything legally from our point of view shows that the dog belongs to the city of Bel-Ridge,” he added. “It’s unfortunate for the city, it’s unfortunate for the residents, it’s unfortunate for the dog and it’s unfortunate for him (Fields).”

Fields told News4 over the phone this week that he quit and wasn’t fired, and wouldn’t comment anymore until talking to his attorney.

KMOV.com

The 12 days of Jinjja

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On the first day of Jinjja, he came home in a crate with me, from the Watauga Humane Society.

On the second day of Jinjja, he peed twice in the house, still was very fearful, but otherwise he acted quite friendly.

On the third day of Jinjja, I left him home alone, only for an hour, he didn’t cower, and he didn’t destroy anything.

dsc05557On the fourth day of Jinjja, I gave him his new name. Jinjja’s Korean. It seemed to fit him. That’s where he came from. Translated, it means “Really!”

On the fifth day of Jinjja, he was still shaking his past: Raised on a dog farm, tied up or crated, little human contact, headed for slaughter, and destined to end up as meat.

On the sixth day of Jinjja, he started coming to me, not when I called him, of his own volition, just for affection, maybe a butt scratch, gave me some face licks, and not only when I dangled yummy treats.

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On the seventh day of Jinjja, he faced another test. It was Thanksgiving, I left him for two hours, stuffed myself with turkey, made off with leftovers, came home and found him, despite all my worries, behaving absolutely perfectly.

On the eighth day of Jinjja, I tried once again, to get him in my car. He can’t be lifted, try and he’ll nip ya, bribed him with turkey, made a little headway, he put his front paws there, didn’t make the leap though, still apparently not quite ready.

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On the ninth day of Jinjja, he spent the night in my room. First time he’s done it, not in my bed though, won’t jump there either, or up on sofas, I know he can do it, seen him in in my courtyard, when he thinks I’m not looking, gets up pretty high too, every time he sees or hears a squirrel.

On the tenth day of Jinjja, this Jindo dog of mine, continues to impress me, no inside peeing, tearing up nothing, stopped fearing TV, eating much more neatly, barking somewhat less-ly, mellow for the most part, friendly to strangers, be they dogs or humans, or anything other than squirrels.

On the eleventh day of Jinjja, he’s much better on the leash, much much less tugging, stops when I tell him, still trips me up some, but fewer collisions, and he finally got into my Jeep, with help from a stepstool, and lots more turkey, enjoyed a short ride. It’s a very, very major victory!

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On the twelfth day of Jinjja, as I composed this piece, I realized it goes on … just a little too long … sure the song’s beloved … but the beats a little humdrum … keeps on repeating … makes me quite sleepy … Jinjja, too, I thinky … He’s dozing at my feet, see … Still, there’s a meaning … in this song that I’m singing … about a dog who would’ve been eaten … My point is every day with him’s a gift.

Woman and dog rescued as car goes under

A woman and her dog were pulled from their car Saturday, seconds after it disappeared under rising floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The car was about two-thirds submerged when some men on a boat pulled up, with video camera rolling.

She can be heard asking for help as the convertible sinks beneath the water.

“Oh my God, I’m drowning,” she says.

The men tried first to break a window as the Miata sank, then managed to pierce the convertible top and rip it open enough to pull the woman out just after the car submerged, according to the video that aired on WAFB

Immediately upon surfacing, the woman told the man who pulled her out to get her dog.

“Get my dog. Get my dog. Get my (expletive) dog.”

When he hesitated, she dove under the water.

“I’ll go down,” the woman said before diving and bobbing quickly back up, empty handed.

“I can’t get your dog,” the man in the water says after reaching under the water and into the car several times.

As he dives under one more time, one of the men on the boat says, “Maybe she’s gone.”

“No, she better not be,” says the woman.

Just then, the man in the water pops back up, with the dog in his arms.

“I got your dog.”

All three swam to the safety of the boat.

KHOU reported that the boat was being used to give a reporter a tour of the areas affected by the flooding, and that it was shot by WAFB reporter Robbie Reynold.

The man who jumped into the water and pulled the woman and dog from the car was identified as David Phung.

Dangling dog rescued from 13th story window in Bogota — the hard way

A man’s daring rescue of a dog hanging out the balcony window of a 13th floor apartment in Bogota, Colombia, was caught on video.

The video was posted earlier this week on the Facebook page of Love for the Animals, an animal rights group in Bogota.

The dog, named Luna, had apparently gotten stuck between the rails that covered the window, with most of her body hanging out the window.

Luna’s owner wasn’t home so the only way to get to reach her was from the outside.

Diego Andrés Dávila Jimenez first tried to use a broom to push the dog back inside, while leaning out the window of an apartment one floor below. When that didn’t work he climbed one story up the face of the building as a crowd below watched and shouted encouragement to him.

“People on the ground were screaming. They had a mattress out just in case,” said Jimenez, according to The Dodo. “The truth is, I did not think about the dire consequences. I did not look down.”

Jiminez climbed up the building, over the rails and into the apartment, then pulled the dog to safety.

“When I had Luna in my hands and looked down, a thousand thoughts flew through my mind,” Jimenez said. “My girlfriend was a little upset, yelling at me ‘You stay there! Do not climb back down!'”

When Luna’s owner came home and found out what happed, “she was in tears,” Jiminez said. “She is very grateful, because she just adores that dog.”

Three pit bulls freed from storm sewer

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Not every time a police officer encounters three barking pit bulls does the story end on a positive note, but I promise this one won’t haunt you.

Three pit bulls trapped in a storm drain on the side of a Florida highway were rescued earlier this week, thanks to the efforts of police, animal control officers and a fire department rescue team.

A Cocoa police officer found the dogs Tuesday morning after hearing them barking, WFTV reported

Officer Matt Rush called Brevard County Animal Services officers, who then called Cocoa Fire Rescue to help remove the heavy grate they were trapped under.

Firefighters were able to pry open the grate and the dogs were safely removed and turned over to Brevard County Animal Services. According to a Facebook post, the dogs, who had no tags or other identification, have been returned to their owner.

“My first thought was, ‘How in the world did they get in there, and how did I manage to hear them?'” Rush said.

Authorities say the dog may have gone into an open drain nearby that leads into the storm sewer system.

Mystery rescuer of dog was a firefighter

WSMV Channel 4

A man rushed into a burning home in Tennessee to save a dog, then disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as he arrived.

The only clue to his identity was a remark he uttered before going into the house — “I do this for a living,” he told a neighbor.

The man arrived before firefighters did at the home in White House, about 20 miles north of Nashville, and was gone before they got there.

“This guy in a gray Mustang pulls up, says ‘I do this for a living,’ and he runs in and he comes out about two minutes later with this beautiful dog in his arms, and it was incredible to see,” Jimmy Nichols, who shot the video on his cell phone, told WSMV in Nashville.

“He got in his car and he left; it was so weird, he just took off,” said Nichols. “Literally 30 seconds after that guy got out, that roof collapsed.”

“He’s got the love and respect of this whole community,” Nichols said.

Not until later was it learned that the man was a Nashville firefighter who lived nearby and noticed the smoke and flames.

Tim Tawater, a 20-year veteran of the Nashville Fire Department, said he was concerned someone might be in the house. He entered the home and found no people, but when he heard barking he looked again and found the dog.

Tawater threw a blanket over the head of Sampson, Brandon and April Gourley’s one-year-old Bouvier, and carried him outside.

“Around here dogs are family,” Tawater told News Channel 5 in Nashville.

Tawater said, even though he was out of his jurisdiction, he was just doing his job.

“To me the heroes are the volunteers who show up to put the fire out and don’t get paid to do it,” he said.

Tawater said the family, on vacation when the fire broke out, has thanked him for his actions.

The Gourley family’s three cats were also inside the home. Two were found alive, but one is still unaccounted for.

The rescued dog was being cared for by neighbors until the family returned from vacation.

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down

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Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to MyFoxAtlanta.com.

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)