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Tag: sharpei

Baltimore police officer who cut dog’s throat is found not guilty of all charges


There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.

Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.

That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”

Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.

She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.

Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.

Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.

“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.

An incision???

bolgerApparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.

Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.

The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.

The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.

Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.

Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.

Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.

Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.

Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.

In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.

“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”

After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.

Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.

State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.

Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.

“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”

A new wrinkle in case of Scottish shar-pei


Whether it’s his worried and wrinkly-faced appearance or his sad situation, a shar-pei mix found abandoned at a train station in Scotland, a suitcase at his side, is garnering support, donations and love from around the world — even as his story still unravels.

Now, according to the latest reports, it seems the dog was the subject of an online transaction gone bad.

A woman has stepped forward to say she found the dog for sale online, and made arrangements to pick him up in Ayr, but then went home without him after the dog’s seller slipped away before the deal was done.

After making the train trip from her home in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, to Ayr, and seeing the dog, she had doubts about whether he was the one advertised, and began wondering if the man selling him had stolen him.

“We had been messaging back and forward for a couple of days about the dog. He was supposed to be a one-year-old and his name was Pluto,” Fin Rayner is quoted as saying in a BBC report.

After meeting the dog in the train station, she asked the seller if she could take the dog for a short walk, so she could see him in the daylight.

The man insisted on a deposit first — of £150. As she walked away, so did he.

“Before I got to the door, I looked back and he was gone — he had disappeared in his car,” she said.

She tried calling him on the phone, she said, and he agreed to come back for the dog. But, after 15 minutes, he still hadn’t showed up.

“I got into the station and the dog wasn’t settling. He was pulling on the lead and peeing everywhere,” she said. ”I thought that it wasn’t my dog — I didn’t want him.”

Rayner said her panic disorder kicked in, and she began worrying that she might get caught with a stolen dog.

Needing to get a train, she informed train station officials the dog didn’t belong to her and that she was leaving him there. She said a station official suggested she tie the dog.

He was picked up  and is now in the care of the Scottish SPCA, which hopes to arrange an adoption in the days ahead.

Already, he has received surgery to correct a problem, common to shar-pei’s, in which his eyelashes dig into his eyeballs — all funded by donations from the public, according to the Daily Record.

And he has been featured in a new PETA ad encouraging potential pet owners to be responsible and adopt animals rather than buy them online.

The dog had been advertised on the website Gumtree.

The ad uses the photo of the dog in the train station, and reads, “I’m Kai. I was bought and sold on Gumtree and ended up homeless.”

“When people buy a dog off the Internet, they’re not only funding breeding but also robbing a homeless animal of his or her chance at adoption,” PETA director Mimi Bekhech told the Scotsman. “Unlike animal shelters, breeders don’t screen their buyers or perform home checks, so there’s no way to ensure that the animals are going to good homes or that the new guardians receive an animal companion who’s suitable to their household.”Kai is now the star of a new  advertisement, the Scotsman reports.

The man trying to sell the dog has not been identified. The suitcase contained the dog’s pillow, a toy, food bowl and food.

The Scottish SPCA traced a previous owner through the dog’s microchip but were told it was sold in 2013 to someone else.

Since taking the dog in, the SPCA has received offers to adopt him from across the globe. Donations to the Scottish SPCA — which plans to use any excess Kai donations to help rescue other abused, abandoned and injured animals, you can visit this page.

(Photo: Scottish SPCA)

Baltimore cop who slit dog’s throat was being heroic, his attorneys say


Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.

Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.

The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.

“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.

He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.

His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.

“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”

What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.

The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.

Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.

“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”

In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.

Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.

When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.

She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”

A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.

Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.

(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)

“I’m going to gut this thing,” Baltimore cop allegedly said before slitting dog’s throat

A Baltimore City police officer has been charged with slitting the throat of a dog that had been running loose — even though the dog had already been restrained.

“We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at this allegation is an understatement,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.

bolgerOfficer Jeffrey Bolger has been charged with felony animal cruelty, police officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

Police were called Saturday morning to Grundy Street in southeast Baltimore for a report of a stray dog that had bitten someone trying to rescue it.

Police had secured the dog using a catch pole, but after that Bolger, an officer assigned to the emergency services division, used a knife to cut the dog’s throat, police said.

“Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and unacceptable breach of our protocol,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.

WJZ in Baltimore reported that charging documents quote Bolger as saying, “I’m going to gut this thing.”

The dog later died.

Police officials said they knew of no reason for the officer to use such force on a dog that was already under control.

The dog had run off from her home nearby. She was a 7-year-old shar-pei named Nala, whose owner was searching for her and had posted her pictures on a community Facebook page.

“She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone,” Sarah Gossard told 11 News. “She was just scared that day and through all of those events — scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK,” the dog’s owner,

Bolger been suspended without pay.

“I don’t want him to have his job, I don’t want him to be able to go out on calls and react like that to a person, to a dog, to anything. That’s not OK, that’s not OK,” Gossard said.

An investigation into the incident will also look at other officers who, though aware of what happened, had not reported it,.

Police commanders said they “caught wind of it Monday” — two days after Nala was killed.

Rescue group calls shooting unwarranted

A D.C. police officer shot and killed what law enforcement authorities described as a pit bull during a festival in Adams Morgan on Sunday afternoon — an action the dog’s caretaker said was uncalled for.

Aaron Block, 25, of Dupont Circle, said he was walking 2-year-old “Parrot,” who he described as a Shar-Pei mix, up 18th Street when the dog suddenly turned around and bit a poodle that was passing by.

Block said he managed to separate the two dogs, and was subduing Parrot when police arrived. A police officer took over, putting his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while the dog was on the ground.

According to Block, the officer then grabbed Parrot by his neck and threw him over a banister at the Brass Knob antique store. Block said the dog was getting up when the officer shot him.

“The officer drew his gun in an unnecessary act of cowboy gunslinging law enforcement and shot my dog amidst a crowd of thousands,” said Block, who was fostering Parrot while he was waiting to be adopted through Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “The problems here are almost too numerous to count,” he told the Washington Post.

The Post, which ran this photograph of the incident, by Dylan Singleton, also published the full police report, which was obtained by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

The officer, 25-year-veteran Scott Fike, fired one shot, fatally wounding the dog.

Jacob Kishter, commander of the 3rd Police District, said that the dog was running at the officer, and called the shooting justified.

Tony De Pass, 67, a former D.C. police officer who lives in Northwest, said that the dog was charging directly at him when Fike drew his gun and fired and that “if the officer hadn’t shot the dog, the dog would have got one of us, either me or the officer…What he did, I would have done the same damn thing.”

Block said Parrot was a “very people-friendly dog, with absolutely no bite history.”

On it’s website, the rescue organization called Parrot’s death tragic and unwarranted: “We have received numerous questions about the incident, and, because news outlets have varied significantly in recounting what happened, we have spoken to as many eye witnesses as possible, and have requested and obtained the official police report.”

“According to multiple eye witnesses, Parrot had already been subdued and was being held securely by his foster, Aaron Block, when the police arrived on the scene.  Parrot was not ‘out of control.’

Lucky Dog also disputes that the dog was charging at the officer. “A witness who was standing on the Brass Doorknob’s porch saw what transpired in the stairwell.  He told us that Parrot was stunned from the fall and had only just gotten to his feet when the officer drew his gun and opened fire without provocation.”

Residents mourn two deaths on West 86th St.


There was a gem of a story in the New York Times last week — about  two elderly but popular neighborhood dogs who died within a day of each other.

Both lived in an apartment building on West 86th Street. Harry died Friday evening, his friend Bix died on Saturday.

“The fact that they were not human, but were instead a pair of 14-year-old dogs, seems only to have magnified the bereavement in their building, where they had lived longer than most tenants; on their block, where Harry held court at sidewalk cafes and was known as the Mayor of 86th Street; and deep into Central Park, where Bix had been the ringleader of a 9 a.m. play group since 1997,” the article reported.

Harry was a purebred Shar-Pei. Bix, named for the jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke,was a mix of Akita, Saint Bernard and German shepherd.

His 84-year-old owner, the documentary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, said he never knew any of his neighbors until Bix moved in, serving as an icebreaker and conversation-starter.

“Over the years, because of him, my circle of friends changed, I met people I never would have met; I came to see my whole life depending on this dog I hadn’t wanted at all,” said Pennebaker. “I’d expected having to walk him in the rain in the middle of the night. But I never expected to lose him. If ever you put a dog down, some of you goes with him.”

Rafael Curbelo, the building’s doorman, who kept a stash of treats behind his desk in the lobby, cried upon hearing the  news. “Harry was my best friend here,” he said.

As has become the tradition in the dog-friendly building, two dog death announcements were posted in the elevator. Within hours, both had been inscribed with expressions of sympathy from tenants.

How the sharpei got its wrinkles


How did the sharpei get its wrinkles?

Scientists who have analyzed the genetics of 10 dog breeds say they’ve found the answer — and a path to many more.

While five genes have already been pinpointed as being responsible for dogs’ coats, leg size and more, the new research identifies 155 distinct locations in the animals’ genetic code that could play a role in giving breeds their distinctive appearances.

In the sharpei, the team found differences in a gene known as HAS2 which makes an enzyme known to be important in the production of skin.

“There was probably a mutation that arose in that gene that led to a really wrinkly puppy and a breeder said, ‘hey, that looks interesting, I’m going to try to selectively breed this trait and make more of these dogs’,” explained Joshua Akey from the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, told the BBC.

Akey and colleagues studied 32 wrinkled and 18 smooth-coated sharpeis and compared a specific stretch of their DNA with that of other breeds.

The team found four small, but significant, differences in the genetics of the two skin types of the sharpei versus the other breeds. These single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), as they are called, were located in the HAS2 gene.

The research has also identified other locations in the dog genome that can now be investigated further to understand better why pedigree animals look the way they do.

Akey and his colleagues reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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