A golden retriever named Bretagne is all over the Internet today — today being 9/11 — looking much grayer around the muzzle than she did in 2001 and being described as the only search and rescue dog at the World Trade Center who is still living.
Whether that’s accurate depends on how you define “living.”
Not to pick nits, but there’s another dog, a German shepherd named Trakr — said by some to have found the last human survivor of the World Trade Center attack — who lives on … in a way.
Trakr was cloned in 2009, after his owner, a police officer turned actor, won an essay contest seeking the world’s most “cloneworthy” dog.
It’s a long story, one you can read about in the book, “DOG, INC.,” which recounts how dog cloning became a commercial enterprise.
Here’s the short version: Trakr was the partner of James Symington, a Halifax, Nova Scotia, police officer. When Trakr was retired, Symington claimed him as his own. On Sept. 11, 2001, after seeing news reports, Symington, without authorization from his department, took Trakr to the World Trade Center.
There, as Symington recounts it, Trakr discovered Genelle Guzman buried in the rubble — the last survivor found.
Others dispute his account.
Symington later moved to California to pursue a career in acting, taking Trakr with him. When an American company called BioArts announced it was holding a “Golden Clone Giveaway,” Symington submitted an essay, and won.
BioArts footed the bill (about $150,000) and sent samples of Trakr’s DNA to South Korean veterinarian Hwang Woo-Suk, who was on the team at Seoul National University that produced the world’s first canine clone, Snuppy. He’d since been fired and opened his own laboratory, Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.
Trakr’s DNA was inserted into five “surrogate” egg cells, each of which was zapped with electricity and implanted into a different female dog.
In June 2009 five clone puppies were born and, a few months later, delivered to Symington. He named them Trustt, Solace, Valor, Prodigy, and Deja Vu, and said he planned to train them all as search as rescue dogs who would carry on Trakr’s legacy.
They seem to have fallen out of the limelight since then, and their Facebook page hasn’t been updated for a couple of years.
Earlier this year, the man who pushed dog cloning and sponsored the “Golden Clone Giveaway,” in an apparent turnaround, said cloning dogs — a service still offered in South Korea — was not a viable, profitable, or humane pursuit, noting that it took up to 80 dogs to clone just one.
Lou Hawthorne headed BioArts, and spearheaded the earliest (unsuccessful) efforts to clone dog at Texas A&M University. That research was funded by University of Phoenix founder John Sperling, who died last month.
While some of the main characters involved in dog cloning seem to be fading from public view, from Trakr’s clones to Sperling, dog cloning is not — Sooam Biotech is still carrying out clonings for customers who want duplicates of their dead or dying pets, at a price that has dropped to about $100,000.
But back to the dog who is in the news — Bretagne. She returned this week to the site of the former World Trade Center complex with her longtime handler and owner, where they were interviewed by Tom Brokaw for NBC’s Today Show.
Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”) is one of eight finalists for the American Humane Association’s annual Hero Dog Awards, and later this month she’ll travel with her owner to Beverly Hills for the awards ceremony.
My hunch, and hope, is that Bretagne is not destined to be cloned, and that her owner realizes what many customers of dog cloning have not — every dog, and every person, is one of a kind. And one of a kind means one of a kind. That special something inside your dog can’t be re-created in a laboratory.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 9-11, 911, animals, bioarts, bretagne, cloned, clones, cloning, death, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, golden clone giveaway, james symington, laboratory, last, life, living, pets, re-creating, rescue, search, search and rescue, September 11, sooam, surviving, trakr, world trade center
Necropsies conducted on some of the victims, and an intensive search of the Arizona boarding kennel where more than 20 dogs died, have revealed no evidence supporting the belief that a chewed-through electrical cord led to the deaths.
That, ever since the dogs died virtually overnight nearly a month ago, has been the claim of kennel owner MaLeisa Hughes, seen defending herself (and attacking the news media) in the raw interview footage above.
Hughes and her husband, Todd Hughes, were out of town when the dogs died, and had left the dogs under the supervision of their daughter, Logan Flake, and her husband, Austin Flake, who is the son of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.
The dogs — some dead, some dying — were discovered early in the morning on June 20, most of them held in the same 9-foot by 12-foot room.
Upon their return, Hughes’ husband told at least some of the owners of the deceased dogs that their pets had run away — another inconsistency MaLeisa Hughes attempts to explain in this June 23 meeting outside the kennel with the news media.
Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff’s detectives searched Green Acre Dog Boarding in Gilbert, seizing parts of an air conditioning system to determine if it failed.
Necropsies performed on seven of the 21 dogs also found no evidence to validate the kennel-owners’ statement that a dog had chewed through an electrical wire and cut the power to an air conditioning unit.
“On the dogs that were necropsied, there was no evidence found to support or suggesting electrocution,” concluded Dr. Bernard Mangone, the veterinarian who performed the necropsies at Palm Glen Animal Hospital. He said results indicate the dogs suffocated, but that more testing is required to pinpoint a cause of death.
Tissue samples were sent to the University of Arizona for further testing and to the University of Michigan to determine if the dogs were drugged, according to Arizona Republic.
Mangone wrote that it is possible the dogs died of heat stroke or lack of oxygen.
“The dogs begin to pant and become agitated which increases both their oxygen need and the amount of (carbon dioxide) they are producing,” Mangone wrote.
The search warrant indicates that investigators confiscated computers, cell phones and records associated with the operation of the facility, CBS 5 reported. Detectives also took samples of insulation and wiring from the small room where the dogs were found dead.
As of today, no arrests have been made and no criminal charges have been filed.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air conditioning, animals, arizona, austin flake, charges, chewed, deaths, dog, dog boarding, dogs, evidence, gilbert, green acre, heat, investigation, jeff flake, kennel, maleisa hughes, maricopa county, necropsies, neglect, pets, search, search warrant, senator, wire
Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies have finally conducted a search at the Gilbert boarding facility where 22 dogs died last month, seizing computers, cell phones, business documents, wiring, drywall and the body of yet another dead dog.
The remains of one dog buried on the property at Green Acre Dog Boarding were exhumed during the search, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
The sheriff’s office brought along two electrical experts who concluded that, even if the air conditioning was working in the room where the dogs died, the air flow may not have been sufficient to keep them alive, according to the East Valley Tribune.
The business owners claim one of the dogs chewed through a wire which shorted out the air conditioning to the 9 by 12 foot room where 28 dogs were being kept.
Arpaio said Wednesday that the experts “suspect that even if the air conditioning system to that small room was functioning the day these dogs died, the air flow in that size room with so many large dogs inside it may not have been sufficient to keep those dogs alive.”
Arpaio said the owner of the boarding kennel, MaLeisa Hughes, was “somewhat hostile and uncooperative” during the search.
Sheriff’s detectives still haven’t re-interviewed the couple that was taking care of the animals while the business owners were out of town — Logan Flake, who is the owner’s daughter, and Austin Flake, her husband, who is the son of Sen. Jeff Flake.
Arpaio said Logan and Austin Flake left the state. When they were found and contacted in Provo, Utah they refused to answer any questions, Arpaio said.
Arpaio said he believes detectives will be able to make a determination soon about whether there’s enough evidence to file criminal charges against the owners and caretakers.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air conditioning, arizona, austin flake, boarding, dead, died, dog, dogs, gilbert, green acre, green acre dog boarding, heat, investigation, jeff flake, joe arpaio, kennel, logan flake, maleisa hughes, maricopa county, search, search warrant, sheriff
A lost three-year-old North Dakota boy was found after hundreds of volunteers searched for seven hours.
He was found under his dog, who had disappeared from the family farm with him, and who officials say kept him warm until he was found.
Carson Urness and his golden retriever-German shepherd mix, Cooper, went missing from the Cooperstown, North Dakota, family farm Monday night, Valley News Live reported.
About 200 people showed up from surrounding areas to help with the search.
“ATVs, horses, and more footwalkers showed up,” Sheriff Robert Hook said. “Even the neighbors, business owners and bankers. They just came out and thought they needed to help.”
Aircraft also searched for the boy, but with no success, and early Tuesday, authorities were ready to send some searchers home, due to heavy rains.
Those searching on ATVs continued, and one spotted Cooper in his headlight.
The boy and dog were about a mile from home, and, even once rescuers arrived, Cooper refused to leave his side.
An ATV picked Carson up and Cooper followed the vehicle back to the house.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aircraft, animals, atvs, carson urness, cooper, cooperstown, disappeared, dogs, found, lost, north dakota, pets, rescue, saved, saves, searc, search, three year old
Boh, the German shepherd who comforted visitors at a cemetery next door to his home, has been found — one week after his disappearance.
The dog was found Thursday night, safe and unharmed, about 25 miles away from his home in Lincolnton, according to the Bring Boh Home Facebook page.
His owners say it was a post on the Facebook page that led them to the dog, according to WCNC.
Boh was last seen at Forest Lawn Cemetery on E. Hwy 150 in Lincolnton, N.C., on Feb. 28, when a worker saw a woman wearing scrubs put the dog in her car and drive off.
His owners, Tina Kennedy and Brad Beal, had been looking for him ever since, and they turned to Facebook for help. While, at first, no definitive tips came in on the dog’s whereabouts, the couple learned, through responses to their posts, just how much Boh had come to mean to cemetery visitors.
“I can’t tell you how much he comforted me when I have been alone over there,” read one. “I remember him just sitting by me…I thought that was so cute. I will say a prayer he is returned.”
Another post called Boh “God’s shepherd watching over loved ones gone, but not forgotten.”
Many others shared personal stories on how Boh comforted them in their time of need.
After his disappearance, and through Facebook, his owners learned that Boh would escort cemetery staff members arriving for work to their offices. He’d greet those who arrived to visit departed loved ones, sometimes accompanying them to the graves.
“He just started going over to the graveyard and hanging out with the guys as they were working on the graves out here and he just kind of became a part,” Beal told WCNC in Charlotte. “He would walk the ladies from their cars to the office every morning. He’d console the families.”
“It is heartwarming to know what we knew was special to us has turned out to be, or maybe to be, more special to some other people because he’s helping them through a hard time,” said Kennedy.
It was also through Facebook that they managed to track Boh down.
The dog was reunited with his owners last night.
Police have questioned one suspect, WCNC reported today. She told officers she picked up the dog to take him to a shelter in Greensboro, but that the dog jumped out of the car in Cornelius. No charges have been filed.
Now that he’s back home, Boh might not be visiting the cemetery anymore, Beal said. He said he’s reluctant to let Boh go back there on his own, but added that Boh’s frequent visitors are welcome to come visit him.
(Photo: Boh reunites with owner, from the Bring Boh Home Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, boh, boh found, cemetery, charlotte, comfort, disappeared, dog, dogs, escort, facebook, forest lawn cemetery, found, god's shepherd, graves, graveyard, lincolnton, missing, north carolina, pets, reunion, reunited, search, shepherd, staff, stolen, visitors
Michael Peeler, the deputy for administration in the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, was walking his dog Josie along the beach at Pine Knoll Shores on Sunday evening when the dog ran out into the surf. He called her back, put her on the leash and they continued walking. On the way back, Josie went into the water again at the same spot.
That’s when Peeler saw the body of Braxton Horton, 19, who rescuers had been looking for since Saturday when he was dragged out into the ocean by rip currents while swimming with friends.
“It was less than knee-deep” Peeler told the Raleigh News & Observer. He waded in, pulled the body ashore and called 911. Even after Horton’s body was taken away, Josie remained upset and was pulling at her leash, said Peeler’s wife, Karen.
“She was very agitated the remainder of the evening and kept pulling to go back toward the beach, even after they were already home,” she said.
Horton, a 2012 graduate of Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, had been working at Camp Seagull, a summer camp for boys in Arapahoe, when he and others from the camp went to Atlantic Beach on Saturday.
After he went missing, rescue and recovery crews from Pine Knoll Shores, Indian Beach and Atlantic Beach police departments conducted a four-hour search in the water before suspending the operation due to nightfall.
Horton had just finished his first year at ECU, where he was majoring in biology. His family said he wanted to be a physician’s assistant.
(Photo by Michael Keeler; from the Raleigh News & Observer)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beach, braxton horton, camp seagull, dog, dogs, drowning, east carolina university, golden retriever, josie, michael peeler, missing, north carolina, pets, pine knoll shores, raleigh, rescue, riptides, search, student, swimmer
An Iraq War veteran says police were raiding the wrong apartment when they shot and killed his pit bull, Cindy.
Adam Arroyo was at work Monday when his apartment in Buffalo was searched by police, who shot and killed the dog he says he left tied up in the kitchen.
Arroyo rushed home when his landlord called to tell him police were searching his apartment.
“I got here as fast as I could and I saw the carnage. I saw what happened. My house was flipped upside down, my dog was gone,” he told News 4 (WIVB). He said he always tied Cindy up in the kitchen when he left for work because she tended to chew on his clothes and shoes.
Buffalo Police said officers were searching for drugs when they encountered the dog, who they said was aggressive and unchained. They believe they had the correct address, though no drugs were found in the search.
Arroyo says there are two upper apartments at his address. He showed the search warrant to News 4, and it described the suspect as black. Arroyo is Hispanic.
“They had no right, no evidence, because if that was the case they would have found stuff here and I would be in jail,” he said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said an investigation will be conducted by the Internal Affairs Division.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adam, arroyo, buffalo, cindy, dog, dogs, internal, investigation, iraq war, kill, law enforcment, officers, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, raid, search, shoot, veteran