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Tag: seizure

Half of Kentucky’s county animal shelters called substandard — and nobody’s watching

Trixie Foundation dogsleashes1

One day after basking in the nationwide attention the Kentucky Derby brings, Kentuckians woke up to the reality of how another species of animal is being treated by the state.

The Lexington Herald-Leader presented a package of stories addressing the often poor conditions in the state’s rarely monitored animal shelters.

In a state most famous for racing horses — and doing so in manner that almost appears civilized, what with the all the elegant outfits, mint juleps and whimsical hats — many dogs are living far less regal lives, stuck in county-run shelters that, under state law, receive almost no scrutiny from state agencies.

Unlike most states, Kentucky’s animal-shelter law does not include any inspection or enforcement provisions, which means any actions taken against them such shelters must from citizens.

Not until 2004 did state laws even get written to lay down minimum standards for county-run shelters. Those new measures required each county to have access to a shelter and animal-control officer, and set out standards that include protection from the weather; basic veterinary care or humane euthanasia for ill or injured animals; adequate heat in winter; clean and dry pens with adequate room for animal comfort; construction with materials that can be properly cleaned and disinfected; available clean water; uncontaminated food provided daily; and public access to the facility.

Those laws didn’t outline how, or specify who, was responsible for enforcing those standards.

A measure in the 2017 legislative session called for a study of ways to better fund animal shelters and cited the need for a “government entity” to enforce the state’s shelter rules, but it died without consideration.

That lack of enforcement is a large part of the reason the Animal Legal Defense Fund has ranked the state last in animal protection laws for 11 years in a row.

A study by the University of Kentucky, done in 2016, found that of 92 shelters covering Kentucky’s 120 counties – some of them regional facilities – conditions at 57 percent violated three or more provisions of Kentucky’s animal-shelter laws.

More than a fourth were considered “very substandard,” and only 12 percent were meeting all the rules the legislature put in place in 2004.

“Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky,” said the study.

skaggsWhile county-run shelters operate with relative immunity, independent nonprofit sanctuaries and shelters get no such free ride, as was the case last week when the state Department of Agriculture seized 14 dogs from a no-kill sanctuary called Eden.

Randy J. Skaggs, who operates the sanctuary in Elliot County through his Trixie Foundation, faces 179 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in connection with poor health and living conditions.

Skaggs defenders say he has devoted his life to caring for animals because so many public shelters in the region were substandard.

Skaggs says he is housing animals no one else wants, and that shelters would end up euthanizing. He refuses to let anyone adopt dogs because believes their best chance to live a healthy and happy life is at his sanctuary.

Skaggs believes the criminal charges against him are retaliation over his efforts to bring attention to Kentucky’s failure to adopt adequate animal protection laws, his criticisms of county shelters and his efforts to push for improvements.

(Photos: Will Wright / Lexington Herald-Leader)

Gang members arrested in China for selling poison darts used to kill dogs for meat

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Thousands of poisoned syringes that were sold to dog meat vendors to instantly kill dogs on the streets have been seized by police in China.

The police investigation led to the discovery of a ton of dead dogs at a storage facility in the eastern province of Anhui, and the arrest of eight gang members who were selling the weapon in 20 provinces and regions across the China, the news agency Xinhua said.

Police believe the gang sold more than 200,000 poisoned syringes to vendors who hunted pets on the street and traded their meat with restaurants.

The syringes contained a large enough dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium to kill the dogs instantly — and enough to be toxic to any human later consuming the dog’s meat.

Police said the needles were modified with a spring and a tailfin at the rear so they could be shot like a dart.

The Telegraph reported that the investigation into the gang began in September when police were tipped off by a postal worker who came across a suspicious package leaking a pungent smelling fluid.

syringesThey discovered 200 syringes in the package, and arrested the man who it was being delivered to in Huainan city, in Anhui.

Police then arrested two accomplices who shot the dogs in local streets, before finding a ton of frozen dogs at a nearby cold storage.

The men had frozen the meat and had planned to sell it in the winter.

Police also raided the gang’s workshop in central China’s Hubei Province, where they arrested another five men who were making the syringes.

At that site they discovered four kilograms of the chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan, or more than $15,000, Xinhua said.

The poisoned darts have been in use for years. Two years ago, in Hunan province, a man who ran a dog meat-selling operation shot himself with one while demonstrating how to fire one with a crossbow. He died on his way to the hospital.

The other members of the operation were later arrested, and confessed to freezing the canine carcasses with the intention of selling the meat to restaurants.

“The dog meat trade in China is organized, large scale and facilitated by crime, with as many as 20 million dogs and four million cats killed every year,” said Wendy Higgins, from the Humane Society International. “Stopping the gangs involved is a major step in the right direction.”

She added: “The use of poison to catch dogs for the meat trade is a cruelty that very often sees people’s beloved pets targeted, and the animals involved can suffer enormously.”

Dog meat has long been consumed by humans in China and other Asian countries. It is eaten by a small minority of Chinese, and the practice is fading as dogs become a popular pet.

Boy with Vitiligo meets the dog that has inspired him from afar — Rowdy the Lab

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An 8-year-old Arkansas boy got to meet the dog who has inspired him from afar for the past year.

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Carter Blanchard, who has Vitiligo, an auto-immune disease that causes skin to lose its pigmentation, flew to Oregon over the weekend to meet Rowdy, a 14-year-old black lab with the same condition.

Rowdy is an ambassador for the American Vitiligo Research Association. He developed Vitiligo more than two years ago, giving the 14-year-old dog’s face the appearance of a panda in reverse.

With his owners, he works to further understanding of the condition, and help children — often embarrassed over and teased about the condition — to learn to be comfortable in the skin they’re in.

Carter, for example, began struggling with his self worth after his appearance changed when he was in kindergarten, his mother, Stephanie Adcock, said.

“He would go from room to room in my home looking at every mirror. I remember the day I picked him up from school when he said, ‘Mom, I hate my face,'” Adcock wrote in a letter to Ellen DeGeneres. “As his mother, it broke my heart that I could not change this situation for him.”

Earlier this year, Carter’s mother saw pictures online of Rowdy. She shared them with her son and contacted Rowdy’s owners, who included Carter in a video about Rowdy that went viral last fall.

When Carter saw the video, “He broke out in the biggest smile, according to his mother, and he said, “Me and Rowdy are famous.”

Carter started looking at his condition differently.

“For the first time in 2 years, Carter was proud of himself and his Vitiligo,” Adcock said in the letter. “He even said, ‘Mom, your skin is boring because you don’t have Vitiligo.’ Rowdy changed my son’s childhood. He changed our home and our lives.”

With Rowdy’s health declining rapidly, his owners decided they wanted Rowdy and Carter to meet, and one of his owners, Niki Umbenhower, started a GoFundMe campaign to allow Carter and his mother to make the trip from Searcy, Arkansas to Canby, Oregon.

carterrowdy2Last week, an anonymous donor from Salem donated $5,000, making the trip possible.

Carter and his mom flew to Oregon Saturday and Carter and Rowdy met for the first time Sunday, KGW in Portland reported.

“The meeting was (and has been) one of the most gratifying, rewarding things I’ve personally ever experienced,” Umbenhower said.

Carter and his mother will return to Arkansas tomorrow.

Rowdy, meanwhile, wasn’t doing so well. On Sunday, he had a seizure.

His owner updated the situation Monday on Instagram:

“Rowdy saw a neurologist in the ER today. They are not sure if it was a seizure or a stroke or something else. They did a lot of tests and without a “much needed” (expensive) MRI and CT Scan, we may never know. He could have a tumor or a mass causing a lot of his issues.

“We left with them prescribing a new medication for seizures as well as some codeine for his pain. This could be age related, an isolated event, or he may have more episodes like today. . I want to thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU for the prayers, well wishes, and support!”

(Photos: By Niki Umbenhower / Instagram)

Shelter gave away boy’s service dog

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When the Humane Society of Tampa Bay sent a Weimaraner home with a new adoptive family, it didn’t realize it was giving away somebody’s service dog.

And now that Delilah has been rehomed, the agency says, it’s too late for an autistic boy’s family — who relied on the dog for six years to help detect eight-year-old Zack’s oncoming seizures — to get him back.

“He lost his best friend,” Zack’s mother, Michele Carlisle, told WTSP. “He doesn’t understand and he asks me for her all the time.”

Carlisle and her three sons moved from Alabama to Brandon, Florida, last August — and within days of the move Delilah ran off.

The family posted flyers, searched the streets, and checked the shelter closest to them every weekend, but found no signs of Delilah — not until November when they spotted her on the Humane Society’s adoption page.

Carlisle called the agency — only to learn the dog she recognized as Delilah had been adopted back in August, apparently within a week of her arrival at the shelter.

According to the Humane Society, Delilah was turned into the shelter (she had no tags nor a microchip) on Aug. 11 by someone who found her on the street; and she was placed with a new family on Aug. 15.

delilah1That’s four days — one day more than the amount of time shelter’s are legally required to hold unidentified strays before allowing them to be adopted.

“If a dog has no identification then it’s not legally their property after three days. That’s what the county has put into play,” said Dr. Nicole Cornett, the veterinarian for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “We ideally want them to go to the home that they came from, but if we can’t find that home we’re lucky enough to find another home, someone who will love them and take care of them.”

The Humane Society says it contacted Delilah’s new owners and explained the situation, but they did not want to give the dog back.

Carlisle wants to plead her case to them, but the Humane Society won’t share details about the new owner.

She said Delilah was trained to detect Zack’s oncoming seizures.

“She would pace and would go crazy and start making noises and circling him and I knew that Zack was in trouble. They had this bond almost like she was his mom,” she said.

“I just want them to be reunited, even one time,” she added. “I think if (the new owner) saw the bond between Delilah and Zack she would change her mind.”

(UPDATE: That owner did change her mind. Details here.)

(Photos courtesy of Michelle Carlisle)

The dog so fat he had to fly first class

hankthetankA 165-pound mastiff perched atop a cushion was wheeled on to an American Airlines flight in Los Angeles this week, startling passengers when he took a seat in first class.

The dog, named Hank, was photographed by a fellow passenger, tweeted, and widely retweeted.

“It was huge. I have never in my life seen a dog that fat – it was massive,” said Madeleine Sweet, who took the photo.

The passenger said it appeared that Whitman had bought two first class tickets on the LA flight – one for her and one for Hank.

“Everyone, both while boarding the plane and on the plane before takeoff, was speculating as to how the dog got so fat,” she said. “You could legitimately hear hushed whispers of ‘He’s riding first class.'”

Hank sat in the front row of first class on the flight bound for Denver.

Hank belongs to Kari Whitman, an interior designer who founded Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue in Beverly Hills. He is a service dog who detects her seizures., according to NBC in Los Angeles.

As for Hank’s weight issues, they are the result of an illness, and have left him unable to get around much without the aid of a cart.

It appears that this wasn’t Hank’s first flight, or his first first class one, judging from an Instagram for @hankthetank.

Fellow travelers say Hank sat on the floor and that he stayed quiet for the entire flight.

More than probably can be said for some passengers.

(Photo: Madeleine Sweet, via Twitter)

Judge shuts down “seizure dog” business

Jon C. Sabin, ordered by a judge last week to stop training and selling service dogs to families of sick children, says any instances of his dogs not performing properly were the fault of the families.

“The dogs are trained when I’m there, but after I leave everything goes to hell in a handbasket,” said Sabin, who was accused by the New York Attorney General’s Office of duping more than a dozen families into believing the dogs he sold them — for as much as $20,000 each — were trained.

Sabin, who ran Seizure Alert Dogs For Life, was ordered by a judge last week to never again train or sell service dogs.

He has promised to fight the ruling, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Sabin said families who have complained about their dogs have only themselves to blame — for not following through with the training plans that he made for them and for treating the service dogs like pets even though he advised them not to, according to Syracuse.com

“You don’t put these dogs in your bed. You don’t give them meatballs from the kitchen table,” Sabin said.

Sabin was sued by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for selling more than a dozen families untrained dogs he said could detect and control seizures in their ill children.

Court papers described how the families paid thousands of dollars for the dogs only to find they couldn’t detect seizures, much less do anything about them.

Sabin says he suffers from epileptic seizures, and that he developed his program after his medication failed to control them. Sabin estimated that, since 2009, he has sold and trained about 50 dogs

Not all of his customers are unhappy. The Stevens family in Washington D.C. bought a dog from Sabin three years ago for their son, Andrew, who has a severe form of epilepsy. The dog has detected hundreds of seizures and swiped the magnet on her collar over Andrew’s chest, activating a device in the child’s chest that stimulates his vagus nerve and stops the seizure, according to the family.

The state says Sabin “deceptively promoted dogs as ‘highly trained service dogs,’ when in fact he undertook no steps to select appropriate dogs for service work, nor did he undertake any relevant training of these animals prior to selling them.”

A judge last Tuesday issued permanent injunctions prohibiting Sabin and his company from advertising or selling dogs trained to assist people suffering from epilepsy or other medical conditions.

Fifty-one dogs seized from Maryland home

Fifty-one dogs were seized Monday from a home in Pasadena, Maryland, by Anne Arundel County animal control officers.

The owners of the home described themselves as dog breeders, but admitted their operation “got out of hand,” The Capital in Annapolis reported.

Animal Control officers visited the home in the Green Gables neighborhood after receiving an anonymous tip.

Because homeowners Chuck Richard and his wife, Pam, didn’t have a dog fancier license, laws required they have no more than four dogs. The county plans to give the couple a citation and a $50 fine, police said.

Officers seized dozens of poodles, Yorkshire terriers and other dogs from the two-story home in the 1800 block of Choptank Road. The animals are being housed at the animals at the county shelter in Millersville.

Other than being dirty, the dogs seemed in good shape, and all but one appeared to be well-fed, animal control officials said.

The Richards were visited in 2006 by animal control officials who counted 24 dogs, but didn’t give the couple a citation.

Richard told The Capital that when the recession hit, it became harder to sell dogs.

“It just got harder and harder to find homes,” he said. “You hear about people hoarding, but it wasn’t like that. This just got out of hand.”

“I’m sad to see them go,” he added, “but in a strange way, it’s a relief.”

County Executive John R. Leopold is urging residents to visit the county shelter and adopt the animals. The animal shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.