A former Marine sniper’s support dog was shot by police in Dacono, Colo., after escaping from his yard and acting in what police say was an aggressive manner.
Mongo, a 3-year-old pit bull, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
His owner, James Vester, is seeking an explanation and an apology from police, whose behavior, he noted, seemed more like something you’d see on the streets of Iraq.
“I didn’t think I would see that again. You see it in Iraq — and then you see your best friend here get shot,” said Vester, who got Mongo, a certified emotional support dog, to alleviate stress after returning from combat.
Vester said he was doing yard work when Mongo got loose. A neighbor called police because Mongo began barking at her dogs from across a fence. When two officers arrived, Mongo barked and growled and lunged at one of them, according to police reports.
Some neighbors disputed the police account, according to Fox 31 News in Denver.
“There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” said Heather Viera, who was told by police to go back inside her home when she stepped outside.
Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens, says she was a few hundred feet down the road, walking her dogs, when she heard the shot. She said she didn’t hear any barking or growling before it was fired. “It was dead silent. There was not a bark, there wasn’t a growl. The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn’t yell anything.”
Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs said an investigation was being conducted.
“I think it is important to remember these things develop very quickly,” the chief said. “If you look in the report, the officer did say specifically that the dog got within six feet of him and at that point he felt like it was his only option.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, barks, behavior, colorado, dacono, emotional, growls, investigation, iraq, james vester, law enforcement, marine, mongo, pets, pit bull, police, police shoot dog, service, shoot, shot, sniper, support dog, veteran
A pit bull mix, she served as an unofficial helper to her owner, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. But when he moved to a new apartment, Layla, lacking documentation as a service dog, wasn’t allowed to live there.
Tim McGill began working to get Layla certified, and in the meantime asked some friends to look after his 3-year-old dog.
Now McGill has gotten the certification, but he can’t get his dog back.
McGill served in the Army in South Korea and Iraq and left the service with a brain injury, anxiety and flashbacks, KDKA in Pittsburgh reports.
A doctor recommended a dog, and — though Layla wasn’t a certified service dog — having her by his side helped, said McGill, a tattoo artist.
McGill says he moved to a Lawrenceville apartment to go to the Art Institute, but that, without any documentation that Layla was a service dog, she wasn’t permitted to live there.
So he asked a friend, Laura Stratemier, to watch over Layla until he could get her certified. In exchange, he offered to repay her with free tattoos for both her and her husband.
Stratemier admits she was only supposed to have Layla for two weeks, but said that as time went by — six months worth of it — she realized the dog was better off with her.
By the time the certification papers for the dog came through McGill, Stratemier was unwilling to give Layla back.
KDKA reports that local animal control officials are looking into the dispute.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apartment, certification, certified, custody, dispute, dog, dogs, Laura Stratemier, layla, mix, move, ownership, pets, pit bull, pittsburgh, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service, tattoo artist, tattoos, therapy, tim mcgill
A family in northern Maine says it is “overwhelmed” by the generosity they saw from friends and strangers who donated enough money for them to get a service dog for their 5-year-old daughter, Faith.
Faith has spina bifida and experiences seizures. The new dog — a black Lab named Dandy — has been trained to detect when they might be coming.
Bruce and Beverly McNally, of Island Falls, took Faith in as a foster child, then as their adopted daughter. They quickly realized they needed help monitoring her for the seizures, which could be deadly if not addressed.
“The family became very worried, which is why they wanted to get the dog,” Michele King, Faith’s aunt, told the Bangor Daily News.
King is also the chief administrative officer for Brave Hearts, a nonprofit Christian home for young men in Island Falls, and that organization sponsored a fundraiser last month to try and raise the $2,500 that was needed.
King said that donations came from the more than 100 people who attended a benefit supper, and from people as far away as North Carolina.
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Beverly McNally said. “We eventually had enough money and we had to gently turn people away. We had to tell them that we had enough for the dog, but that we wanted them to donate the money to a charity of their own choosing.”
Dandy came from CARES — Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services — a nonprofit organization in Concordia, Kansas, that trains and matches assistance dogs with owners.
“Dandy has just been wonderful for Faith,” McNally said on Friday. “She picks up on a chemical change in the body when a seizure occurs. One day when we got back, Faith was very lethargic. She was in the chair with me and needed to be snuggled a lot more. And the dog got up in the chair and started whining. And I didn’t realize what was going on. And 45 minutes later, Faith had a seizure. Then I realized what the dog was trying to tell me.”
(Photo: Michele King)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: assistance, benefit, black, brave hearts, canine, cares, dandy, detecting, dog, dogs, donations, education, faith, fundraiser, fundraising, island falls, lab, labrador retriever, maine, rehabilitation, seizures, service, services, spina bifida
Another disabled veteran and service dog have been kicked out of a business establishment — this time in Virginia, where Pat Horan and his dog Wilson were asked to leave a restaurant in Centreville.
As often isn’t the case, Horan’s ejection got some news coverage, thanks to his Facebook friends and the fact that his sister-in-law is a TV reporter.
After a visit with his dentist earlier this week, Pat and his wife, Patty, stepped into a restaurant next door, the Village Café , for lunch.
Upon seeing the dog, the restaurant owner’s wife ordered them to leave the premises.
“I tried to explain to her that this isn’t just a regular pet, this is a service dog,” Patty Horan said. “My husband is disabled. She really didn’t want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant.”
They were offered the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, she added.
The Horan’s posted what happened on Facebook, leading to angry comments from their friends, and the involvement of WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, who’d done a series of stories on her brother-in-law’s recovery. He was shot in the head in Baghdad, resulting in brain injury, seizures and instability.
Fox went to the Village Café and interviewed Mo Aminfar, the owner.
Aminfar said his wife, Mary, didn’t understand that Wilson was a service dog.
“She doesn’t speak very well in English,” he said.
Aminfar said it was a regrettable misunderstanding: “Pat, we apologize and are really sorry for what happened.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aminfar, animals, apology, brain injury, centreville, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, head, iraq, media, news, pat horan, peggy fox, pets, service, shot, vet, veteran, village cafe, virginia, war, wilson, wusa
A Pomeranian in a tuxedo, taking the train back home from an SPCA fundraiser in San Francisco, was stolen after his owner fell asleep.
Kerrin Lanahan was riding a BART train back to her San Bruno home Wednesday night when she dozed off — her purse on one side of her, her Pomeranian, Archie, in a travel bag on the other.
When Lanahan, 31, woke up, she found someone had snatched the bag containing Archie, who is trained to help her cope with anxiety.
“If only they had taken the purse,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Lanahan says she has struggled with extreme anxiety, especially while traveling. She survived a plane crash as a child.
She said Archie was trained to be ”really calm in public in general. When we’re out, it’s all about me and him. He goes everywhere with me. When my anxiety level spikes, he knows to jump into my lap.”
Lanahan said she and Archie left the San Francisco SPCA Bark and Whine Ball fundraiser at Fort Mason late Wednesday, taking a cab to Montgomery BART station and getting on a train at about 11:15 p.m.
UPDATE: Archie is back with his owner, ABC 7 reports. After receiving an anonymous text message, Lanahan passed the address on to BART detectives, who found the dog at a home near the Balboa BART station. They were able to confirm it was Archie through his microchip. Police were questioning a person at the house and said charges were pending.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anxiety, archie, ball, bark and whine, bart, dog, dogs, event, fundraiser, kerrin lanahan, owner, pets, pomeranian, san francisco, search, service, sleeping, spca, stolen, taken, theft, train, travel bag, tuxedo
The foundation would help people with diabetes buy trained dogs that can alert them when their blood-sugar levels rise too high.
She sees the Ron and Vick Santo Diabetes-Alert Dog Foundation as a way to continue Santo’s legacy, she said last week, on the second anniversary of his death.
Before Ron Santo’s death, Vicki Santo says she’d never heard of such dogs, but she says they saw evidence of that power in their own pet, Joker, near the end of the Hall of Famer’s life.
“I was in the basement, and Joker came and got me,” she told the Daily Herald. She followed him to the bedroom and found Ron unable to get off the bed because his blood sugar was so low.
While dogs can be trained to detect changes in blood sugar and alert their owner – often faster than a glucometer can — Joker had not been.
Still, Vicki Santo thinks he must have had some abilities.
Children with diabetes, especially, could benefit from alert dogs. Sometimes they are hesitant to participate in sports and other activities because they worry about how their blood-sugar levels might change, she said.
While Ron Santo was dedicated to helping researchers find a cure, Vicki Santo thinks that helping others cope with diabetes through the foundation’s work would make him happy.
“He loved dogs,” she said. “I think he would have been so proud to share the knowledge of what these dogs can do.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, alert dogs, animals, assistance, chicago cubs, diabetes, diabetic alert dogs, diabetics, dogs, foundation, health, pets, ron santo, service, vicki santo
Two and a half years after the manager of a sled dog tour company shot and slashed the throats of scores of no-longer-needed huskies, he’s scheduled for sentencing in court.
Bob Fawcett — who claims the owners of Howling Dog Tours ordered him to cull the herd, and that doing so gave him post-traumatic stress disorder — is to be sentenced tomorrow in British Columbia’s Provincial Court in North Vancouver.
The animals, owned by the Whistler-based tour company, were killed in April 2010, but were exhumed more than a year later after an SPCA investigation. They were reburied earlier this month in a memorial ceremony.
Fawcett entered a guilty plea in August to charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and faces maximum sentence of five years in prison and $75,000 in fines.
The mass slaying came to light after Fawcett filed a workman’s compensation claim, stating that shooting, slashing and dumping the bodies of about 100 dogs over a two-day period had left him with post traumatic stress disorder.
He said the cull was ordered by company owners after the demand for sled dog tours dropped after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Since the slaughter, the province has revised its anti-cruelty laws to provide new protection for sled dogs, and established more severe penalties for cruelty.
After being dug up and examined, the bodies of 56 of the sled dogs were reburied at a pet cemetery near Penticton, British Columbia, earlier this month at a memorial ceremony.
Fifty-six separate stones were placed individually on a memorial stone which read, “In loving memory of the Whistler sled dogs,” according to the Penticton Herald. Mourners attending the ceremony brought their own dogs, and some wore T-shirts that read, “Justice for the Whistler sled dogs.”
“You (dogs) will never be forgotten, and we pledge that in your memories that we will fight any form of animal cruelty and abuse,” Marylee Davies, president of the BC-SPCA, said during the service.
As Fawcett’s sentencing neared, a former volunteer BC-SPCA investigator has come forward to question whether the organization — based on what she saw on a 2000 visit to Howling Dog Tours — could have prevented the tragedy.
Eleanor Matthews visited Howling Dog Tours in January of 2000, when 73 dogs were under Fawcett’s car, and, described inhumane conditions in a report submitted to the SPCA, according to the Edmonton Journal.
She took photos of dogs, some emaciated, cramped in cages, and crammed into crates on two trailers — including this one:
Matthews says she joined the SPCA as a voluntary investigator about 14 years ago. She quit when the SPCA failed to act on her report, declining to take it to prosecutors so charges could be brought.
BC-SPCA officials, however, said earlier investigations at Howling Dog showed no evidence of abuse, cruelty or neglect, and that while they did order improvements in conditions for the sled dogs there, the company had complied with those orders.
(Top photo by Jeff Bassett / The Canadian Press; bottom photo by Eleanor Matthews)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bcspca, bob fawcett, bodies, british columbia, charges, claim, cull, culled, culling, death, dogs, dumped, howling dog, howling dog tours, investigation, killings, memorial, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, reburied, sentence, sentencing, service, shot, slashed, sled, sled dogs, spca, stabbed, whistler, whistler sled dogs, work
After enrolling fewer than two dozen of a planned 230 dogs in the study — all paired with vets with PTSD — the VA has announced that the study has been suspended, and that, from now on, service dogs will only be paired with veterans with visible disabilities.
The new policy goes into effect today.
For the 400,000 veterans diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder, that means dogs — despite all the positive effects that have been reported — will no longer be part of their treatment and recovery.
Among those blasting the decision is the American Humane Association.
Just days before its second annual celebration of hero dogs, the organization took time to put together a petition, calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse the new policy.
“Our focus on animal-assisted therapy dates back to 1945 when we promoted therapy dogs as a means to help World War II veterans recover from the effects of war,” the AHA said. ”We know from years of experience that the human-animal bond is a source of powerful healing, whether they are children suffering from cancer or military men and women who have suffered the stress of battle.
“Service dogs, in particular, are an amazing, positive resource for assisting our nation’s best and bravest though their physical pain and mental anguish. We call on the VA and the United States Congress to stand up for our veterans…”
Specifically, the new VA policy ends the program that reimbursed veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder for their use of service dogs while in recovery.
“It’s of the utmost importance that we provide our vets with every option available to treat service related ailments,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who was also shocked to learn of the new policy.
“Especially as the wars are winding down, and more and more soldiers are returning home with mental trauma, the VA must continue to allow their doctors and mental health professionals to provide benefits to veterans who need mental health service dogs,” he said.
Congress mandated that additional scientific study be conducted on the impact of service dogs paired with PTSD vets several years ago. But apparently that study never got off the ground — at least not as ambitiously as planned.
Launched in June 2011, the study planned to follow 230 PTSD vets and their service dogs, tracking them and their families through 2014. Only about a tenth of that number were registered for the study, though.
The study was halted, according to reports, because of concerns about dogs biting children, dirty and cramped living conditions, and faulty record-keeping.
According to the VA, there are about 400,000 veterans currently in treatment for PTSD, and that group has higher than normal rates of divorce, substance abuse, unemployment and suicide. There are 32 to 39 suicide attempts daily among vets with PTSD, about half of which result in death, according to a column by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Dale.
Dale’s column looks at the benefits of programs such as those provided by Paws for Purple Hearts – an improved quality of life, fewer flashbacks and nightmares. Vets paired with dogs are said to be more likely to find jobs; less likely to become recluses.
“One hallmark of PTSD is avoidance (of going outdoors and socializing with others),” says Robert Porter, executive director 0f Paws for Purple Hearts. “That’s hard to do with a 60-pound dog who just wants to go out and play.”
The study was a chance to prove, beyond the anecdotal, just how much therapy dogs could help vets with PTSD. But, for reasons that make little sense, both the study and the concept were canned.
Most of the dogs in the study were from Guardian Angel Medical Services of Williston, Fla., and its founder and director, Carol Borden, says there were no biting incidents reported.
Borden says that in the organization’s history, veterans with PTSD nearly always benefit from having a dog. Some patients have been able to cut their medication in half, or stop taking it altogether, she said.
That has raised questions among some about whether pharmaceutical companies lobbied for the new VA policy. That’s conjecture, of course — conjecture being something that tends to occur when no logical explanation is given.
The VA owes vets, not to mention Congress, an explanation.
And we all owe veterans afflicted with PSTD a chance to get past it, or at least cope with it. Ruling out dogs and dropping the study is an oath broken, a promising avenue bypassed, and a slap in the face to veterans.
“We’ve not experienced a single suicide attempt as far as we know,” Borden said of vets paired with dogs under the Guardian Angels program. “I have letters from wives thanking us because the husband has returned, and it all happens because of a dog who provides unconditional love.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aha, american humane association, animals, benefits, ceased, charles schumer, congress, department, disabilities, divorce, dog, dogs, dropped, drug abuse, employment, funding, guardian angel medical services, halted, paws for purple hearts, petition, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, programs, promised, ptsd, ptsd dogs, reimburse, reimbursement, senator, service, study, suicide, terminated, therapy, va, vet, veterans, veterans affairs
Patrick Stark says he and his dog Copenhagen, a Queensland heeler, were asked to leave a Wawa store in June.
He’d gone to the convenience store in Millville with his dog — who helps him cope with recurrent seizures – to pick up some sandwiches, but an assistant manager argued that his dog wasn’t allowed.
Other customers reportedly joined in. Copenhagen reportedly sat quietly and watched.
Stark said even when he pointed to the special tags on Copenhagen the assistant manager would not listen to him and called police.
“The police were great when they got there,” Stark said. “They were so nice to me.”
New Jersey state officials announced the settlement Wednesday. Despite the payoff, Stark said he plans to avoid Wawas, or at least that Wawa, in the future. Wawa Food Markets operates almost 600 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
The Pennsylvania-based chain has agreed to post signs in its New Jersey stores saying service dogs are welcome and to train employees about state laws regarding service animals. The company didn’t admit any liability as part of the settlement, according to NJ.com.
“Service dogs are permitted in all Wawa stores,” said company spokesperson Lori Bruce. “It is always our effort and intent to fully comply with the law and treat all customers with sensitivity and respect. If for some reason we find out that there was an individual experience that did not reflect that, we will always do our best to look into the situation and address it immediately.”
Stark served in the Army from 1998 to 2000, and began having problems with recurrent seizures three years ago when he was hit in the head during a mugging in Seattle.
“He’s my lifeline,” Stark said of Copenhagen. “Without him I can’t function. Without him I can’t go anywhere and have an independent life.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, artist, complaint, convenience store, copenhagen, denied, dog, dogs, heeler, millville, new jersey, patrick stark, pets, seizures, service, service dogs, wawa
Sak, a former Chicago police officer, had sued the city, saying his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated when the town ordered his dog — because it was part pit bull — out of town.
Aurelia’s town council voted 3-2 to accept the settlement, the Des Moines Register reported.
As part of the settlement, the city will pay the couple $30,000 and abide by an injunction issued by a federal judge in December that allows Sak to keep the dog in the city.
Sak and his wife, Peggy Leifer, must keep Snickers inside a fence when he’s home and on a leash when he leaves the property.
The couple moved to Aurelia in November to care for his 87-year-old mother, unaware that the town ban pit bulls.
Snickers has served as Sak’s service dog since a stroke in 2008 that left him without use of the right side of his body.
Snickers was taken from the home after 36 residents of Aurelia signed a petition to remove the dog. When a federal judge granted an injunction, the dog was returned.
Aurelia Mayor Jim Tell said the city agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid further bad publicity.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, aurelia, breed bans, chicago, disabilities, discrimination, dog, dogs, exception, iowa, james sak, keeps, lawsuit, negative, pets, pit bull, pit bull ban, pit bull mix, police. officer, publicity, retired, service, service dog, settlement, snickers, stay, stroke, victim