It’s easy to ignore statistics. They’re cold and dry and lack soulful eyes. And when the numbers are overwhelming — like the 5,500 unwanted dogs who are put to death daily in U.S. shelters — we tend, as a rule, to find life is more comfortable and less depressing when we don’t do the math.
Louisville artist Mark Barone is an exception to that rule. Rather than ignore the problem, he decided to put a face on it — 5,500 of them, in fact.
For two years now, he has been painting portraits of dogs who have been put down at shelters across the country, and he’s more than halfway to his goal: 5,500 portraits that he hopes will someday — unlike their subjects — find a forever home.
Their hope is the works will someday be displayed in a permanent memorial museum, which — between its emotional impact and the funds it would help raise for no-kill rescues and shelters – could help lead to their larger goal, a no-kill nation.
Mark, a well-established artist, had moved to Santa Fe when, about three years ago, he lost his dog of 21 years, Santina.
“It was kind of a sad time, and I thought it would be therapeutic for Mark to go to the dog park,” Marina recalled. “I thought it would be helpful for him to get some dog love, and it was. It was really great. It got me in the mood to think about adopting another dog. Mark wasn’t at that stage, but it didn’t stop me from looking.”
Looking for adoptable dogs online and at local shelters, she quickly learned the sad reality that she says neither she nor Mark, up to then, were aware of — that millions of dogs in need of homes are put down at shelters every year.
“Instead of finding a dog, I found out all these horrifying statistics,” she said. She shared them with Mark, along with images and videos of dogs who had been, or were on the verge of, being put down.
He asked her to stop sharing, but she kept up.
“If we don’t look at it, nothing will change,” she said. “So he looked at it, as painful as it was, and day or two later, we were standing in the kitchen and he asked me the number of dogs killed everyday in the country … I gave him the number 5,500, based on statistics from Best Friends.”
It was then that the idea of honoring shelter dogs by painting 5,500 portraits of those who had been killed was born, and along with it, the longer term plan of a memorial museum, along the lines of the Vietnam Memorial and the Holocaust Museum.
Santa Fe wasn’t interested. Louisville was among about 30 places that were.
That’s where the couple lives now, and where Mark has completed about 3,200 of the portraits — some of them life- sized, some of them larger.
“It’s the big ones, 8 feet by 8 feet, that slow things down,” Mark said.
Only one of the 8×8-foot paintings depicts a dog who died a natural death — Mark’s dog, Santina. According to Marina, Santina will serve as the gatekeeper of the exhibit. Other large portraits feature Batman, a 10-year-old pit bull who was left outside in 21 degree weather, and was found dead at a shelter the next morning, and Grant, who was deemed unadoptable due food bowl aggression and put down.
The large paintings — there will be 10 of them — will include the individual stories of those dogs, representing the most common reasons shelters give to put animals down.
Mark and Marina are still looking for a permanent place to house the works, and for sponsors and benefactors for the museum, and they have some promising leads, both in Louisville and around the country. In addition to being an educational center, the museum would also be an outlet for selling merchandise that features the images – shirts, cards, and other products. An Act of Dog, which is a nonprofit organization, would pass on all profits to no-kill facilities and rescue groups.
The dogs in the paintings come from shelters all around the country. Their photos are submitted by rescue groups, volunteers and shelter employees. They have all been put down.
Mark and Marina object to the use of the term “euthanized” when it’s applied to healthy animals. “Deliberately ending the life of a healthy and treatable pet is killing. Deliberately ending the life of a medically hopeless and suffering pet is euthanasia,” Marina said. They don’t much like “put to sleep,” either.
“Semantics are a powerful way to keep people from the truth and our mission is to show reality without the candy wrapping,” she added.
Mark paints everyday, from sunrise to sunset. At night, he and Marina work on the An Act of Dog website. They’re both foregoing salaries at this point.
Mark has served as a consultant to cities interested in using the arts to revitalize blighted areas, among them Paducah, Kentucky, and its Paducah Artist Re-locaton Program. Marina worked 20 years coaching corporate executives.
“We could turn away and pretend like we didn’t see what we saw, or we could do something about it,” she added. “If that means we have to live poor, we’re OK with that, because we know we did something.”
They’re working now in studio space provided by the Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, where they did end up adopting a new dog, named Gigi, from a local shelter.
What drives the couple, though, are all the dogs who don’t get out alive — the thousands put down each day.
“The no-kill movement is making strides, but not fast enough,” said Mark who, on those days he doesn’t feel like painting, reminds himself of the bleak numbers, and the 5,500 reasons — every day — he must continue.
(Photos and video courtesy of An Act of Dog: At top, a collage of Mark’s paintings; Mark and Marina in their studio; some of the larger paintings, with Mark’s former dog, Santina, at left; and three shelter dogs dogs Breeze, Freckles and Sky)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act of dog, an act of dog, animal welfare, animals, art, artist, death, dogs, euthanasia, faces, holocaust museum, kentucky, killed, killing, louisville, marina dervan, mark barone, mellwood art center, memorial, museum, no kill nation, no-kill, painting, paintings, pets, portraits, project, put down, put to sleep, rescues, santa fe, shelter, shelter dogs, shelters, statistics, vietnam memorial
These days, it seems to be an idea that rarely fails: Take something that proves popular with humans — be it memory foam bedding, anti-depressants, designer clothing, or day care — and market it to the dog world.
Food trucks for dogs? It was just a matter of time.
The big dog food and treat companies have had them for years — multi-wheeled behemoths, slathered in their own advertising, that pull up at doggie events and sell or offer free samples of their products.
Now, though, you can find doggie food trucks at strictly human events — like the increasingly popular food truck “rodeos” that allow folks to wait in long lines to sample multiple cuisines, then hope their stomachs don’t start bucking like a bronco.
Go to one in North Carolina and you might find — in addition to those trucks dispensing fish tacos, monster burritos or Korean barbecue – there’s one catering to your dog.
“… When you attend the nearest food truck rodeo with your pet, you don’t have to feel bad about not giving Fido a bite of your duck fat-fried tater tots or gourmet grilled cheese,” WUNC reports. “Fido now has her own food truck.”
The Waggin’ Wagon serves up treats not just to good dogs, but for a good cause as well.
It hit the road last summer, operated by the animal rescue group Paws4Ever and established with some pro-bono help from the Durham-based advertising firm McKinney.
All proceeds help Paws4ever’s homeless animals find forever homes.
Waggin’ Wagon’s doggie menu includes bacon fire hydrants, peanut butter bones, chicken parmesan teddy bears, pizza bones and doggie ice cream. The volunteer-run wagon serves goodies from Gourmutt’s Bakery, a Raleigh-based dog treat bakery that opened in 2004.
The Waggin’ Wagon isn’t limiting itself to dog events. It will, for instance, be among the human food trucks gathering for a food truck rodeo June 16 in Durham Central Park, according to its website.
Paws4ever began advocating for animal welfare in 1962, when it was known as the Animal Protection Society of Chapel Hill and, later, the Animal Protection Society of Orange County. The nonprofit organization also administered the county government contract to operate county animal control services and its shelter.
In 2004, the county government ended its contract with the APS of Orange County and the society opened an adoption center of its own, also developing the Felicite Latane Animal Sanctuary on 50 acres near Mebane. In 2008, it changed its name to Paws4ever. In addition to its shelters, the organization also runs a learning center for dog training and a 3-acre dog park.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animal protection society, animals, chapel hill, cuisine, dog, dogs, durham, food truck rodeos, food trucks, gormutts bakery, humans, Mckinney, mebane, north carolina, orange county, paws4ever, pets, rescue, rodeo, shelter, waggin wagon
David Gizzarelli took in more than $17,000 in donations from big-hearted dog lovers in what he described as an attempt to save his dog Charlie, who was deemed dangerous after attacking a National Park Service horse.
But his attorney says Gizzarelli is unable to help out with the $9,000-plus tab for veterinary care, feeding and shelter that Charlie, an American Staffordshire terrier, has received since last August, when he was taken into the custody of animal control in San Francisco.
Apparently the $17,000 that was donated was spent on attorney fees, paying for the horse’s vet bills and “other living expenses.” That’s what Gizzarelli’s new attorney says, adding that his client can’t afford to help pay the bill and is currently sleeping in his car.
On Monday, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins ordered Gizzarelli to pay anyway — specifically, half of the costs for boarding and treating Charlie since the incident.
Gizzarelli is still raising money to “help save Charlie” — via a Facebook page and his Help Save Charlie website — even though he has relinquished ownership of the dog, who is now in foster care and will likely end up in an adoptive home or sanctuary.
Until his court appearance, he had not provided any accounting of where the donated money went, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Charlie has been in the custody of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco since August, when he was deemed “vicious and dangerous” by the police department. The cost for housing him and providing veterinary care for an earlier injury totaled $9,808 as of Monday’s hearing.
Gizzarelli, in an earlier settlement, agreed to give up custody of Charlie and attend a hearing to discuss payment for Charlie’s care.
But he kept selling “Help Save Charlie” merchandise and collecting donations even after that. And while Charlie could probably still use help — he hasn’t been deemed adoptable yet — it appears little if any of the donated money has gone for the dog.
Questions during Monday’s hearing revolved around the amount of legal fees Gizzarelli paid to two attorneys, and $3,000 his attorney said was spent on ”food, transportation and housing” — apparently for the human, not the dog.
Gizzarelli’s attorney, Orestes Cross, said his client has no money. “My client is on social welfare, living on $422 a month and sleeping out of his car,” told the judge during the hearing. “He fought the fight because he cares about his dog.”
Rebecca Katz, director of Animal Care and Control, says some donors to Charlie are likely upset. “I don’t believe those who contributed expected that money to go toward personal expenses,” she said. Since the settlement, Charlie has been in foster care. According to Katz, he needs several more months of training before he can be considered for adoption or placed in a sanctuary.
Gizzarelli faced federal assault charges after the attack on the police horse, but according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office those have been dropped.
(Photo: Help Save Charlie Facebook page)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accountability, accounting, american staffordshire terrier, animal control, attacked, avid gizzarelli, bills, care, charlie, court, donations, donatoins, donors, expenses, facebook, feeding, help save charlie, horse, magistrate, money, national park service, park service, san francisco, shelter, veterinary, website
Raven, a Lab-shepherd mix who still has some issues of her own to overcome, is in training to become a service dog for Katie Bales, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It is a great feeling to take a dog that was in a shelter and know that it will change the life of someone who needs it,” Natalie Tayman, the founder and executive director of the rescue group Willow’s Second Chances, told the Jacksonville Daily News.
Raven was only 3 months old when she was labeled aggressive and scheduled to be put down in Duplin County, said Tayman. After hearing about the dog, she gave her a temperament test just a few hours before her scheduled euthanization, removed her from the shelter and placed her in a foster home.
“I know that Raven will do whatever (Katie) needs her to do,” Tayman said. “(Raven) will assist Katie in her daily life and help her do things she can’t do herself. (Raven) will prove to be very valuable to Katie and can potentially save her life.”
Raven, now 7 months old, is still fearful of crowds. She’ll continue to be trained well after she is a year old, Tayman says.
“It meant the world to me getting that phone call from Natalie saying she found me a dog,” Bales said. “It means I get a friend for life, someone to help me on my difficult days.”
“I know in my heart that Raven will bring me happiness and give me a way to focus my energy especially when I’m lost thinking about what’s happened to me. She’ll give me a normal life again,” said Bales, who plans to leave the Marines in June and attend the University of Tampa.
“Because of her I’ll get my life back.”
(Photo from the Jacksonville Daily News; by Chuck Beckley)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, death row, dog, dogs, duplin county, euthanasia, jacksonville, katie bales, lab, marine, marines, mix, north carolina, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, raven, rescue, shelter, shepherd, willows second chances
A dogfighting suspect awaiting trial was ordered Friday to help pay for the care of more than two dozen pit bulls seized from his property in Charlotte.
Lefonze Williams, 42, was ordered Friday to pay more than $13,000 to help feed and house 26 dogs and eight puppies, five of which are still being weaned by their mother, the Charlotte Observer reported.
If Williams doesn’t pay for the care of the animals — now being kept at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg animal shelter — his ownership will be forfeited, and the dogs, if unable to be adopted, will be euthanized.
During Friday’s hearing, Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Nathan Brooks told the judge that at least 11 of Williams’ dogs had injuries consistent with dogfighting, adding, “He has no business owning that many dogs… He’s not properly caring for them.”
Defense attorney Kevin Barnett said Williams could not afford to pay the fee, and asked the judge to allow the pit bulls to be returned to their owner.
“He loves his dogs,” Barnett told Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis. Barnett said Williams is a not a dogfighter, just a dog breeder, and that some of his dogs were bought from Russia and Europe.
Judge Lewis noted the fee for the dogs’s care “seems large,” but said anyone who can pay to bring dogs to North Carolina from Russia should be able to afford it.
Prosecutors had asked permission to move the dogs out of the shelter and into a private kennel, and argued that Williams should be held responsible for paying for the care they would receive there.
Animal advocates have voiced concerns that the dogs seized from Williams — and 14 other pit bulls being held at the shelter in connection with another dogfighting bust — could lead to increased euthanization of the shelter’s other residents because of limited space.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeder, care, charlotte, courts, dog fighter, dog fighting, dogfighter, dogfighting, dogs, food, judge, lefonze williams, mecklenburg, order, pay, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, seized, shelter, trial
A hearing on the request to move the dogs out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control’s shelter is scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors want to place the dogs in a private kennel, which they say would be better equipped to provide long term care until the court case is resolved.
The dogs were seized two months ago in what local authorities described at the time as one of the largest dog-fighting operations they’d ever encountered.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they found 27 pit bulls, tethers and a fighting arena in east Mecklenburg County, and they arrrested two men.
Lefonze Williams, 42, was indicted on 36 counts of dog fighting, and Melvin Smith, 46, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit dog fighting, according to the Charlotte Observer. Both were identified in court documents as the dogs’ owners.
Police said the property, near J.H. Gunn Elementary School, was used for training and fighting dogs.
Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole says the city’s shelter “is not meant for long-term placement of animals, and seized canines may suffer behavioral and physical harm if maintained in this space.”
A court hearing on what to do with the pit bulls is set for Friday.
Prosecutors are also asking the judge to order Williams and Smith to pay for the cost of shelter, food and care, according to court documents.
If Williams and Smith decline to assume responsibility for the animals, prosecutors have asked that the dogs be forfeited. In that event, it would be up to the animal shelter to determine whether the dogs are suitable for adoption or will be euthanized.
(Photo: John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, care, charlotte, dog fighting, dogfighting, euthanasia, expense, forfeit, health, investigation, judge, kennel, mecklenburg county, moving, operation, ownership, permission, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, private, raid, responsibility, seized, shelter, well being
We’re all getting a little tired of the “win-win.” For one thing, it’s a cliche. For another, with so many “win-wins” being pointed out these days, two wins just no longer seem enough.
So how about a win-win-win-win?
Last Friday, the PreVet Association at Illinois State University brought a dozen dogs to campus, accomplishing, by my count, four wins:
First, students, stressed out by exams, had an additional – and far healthier than some other alternatives – way to unwind.
Second — with students paying $1 to walk, pet and play with rescue dogs — the event raised a little money for Wish Bone Canine Rescue, which brought the dogs to school.
Third, dogs in need of homes got a chance to show off, increasing the chances of getting adopted or fostered.
And fourth, the dogs got gobs of attention and a chance to socialize during what organizers call “Dog Days on the Quad.”
“This is a good chance for stress relief,” said Erin Mortimer, ISU Student PreVet Association vice president. “A lot of students miss their dogs from home and enjoy taking these dogs for a walk.”
The dogs benefit at least as much as the young humans do. On top of getting some attention and learning socialization skills, it’s an opportunity for them to find a future forever home, or a temporary foster one.
“We try to let students know that they are also able to foster for Wish Bone,” said Kim Bill, volunteer coordinator for Wish Bone. “It is a great way for them to have a dog on their own schedule. On top of that, everything is provided by Wish Bone — food, toys, medical care, and support.”
You can see a slideshow of it all at Stateside, the school’s alumni magazine.
Half the proceeds from the event went to Wish Bone for food, shelter, and medical treatment. The other half went to the ISU Student PreVet Association to allow students to participate in symposiums and special lectures.
Adding up, actually, to five wins.
(Photo: Stateside magazine, Illinois State University)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 25th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, attention, campus, college, dogs, exams, foster, fundraiser, fundraising, illinois state university, mental health, pets, play, pre vet, pre vet association, rescue, shelter, socialization, stress, unwind, veterinary, walk, wish bone canine rescue
They say love is blind. I’m not sure, with humans, that’s always the case. But it does seem to be with dogs.
That could help explain the apparent affection these dachshund pups are showing to a creature that, at least in the eyes of this beholder, is not one of God’s, or evolution’s, most eye-pleasing creations.
Then again, in the eyes of Cheesecake, a capybara who lives at Rocky Ridge Refuge, maybe these dachshunds aren’t the cutest things on the planet, either.
That hasn’t stopped the giant rodent from serving as mom, babysitter and guardian for the pups, who were among a litter of eight, left in a Tupperware container outside a church erlier this month.
The photos were posted to Facebook by the Arkansas-based animal rescue group that took in all eight puppies, four of which were quickly adopted.
The remaining four stayed at the refuge under the care of founder Janice Wolf, who turned to Cheescake for some assistance.
“Saturday was warm and sunny here, so I put Cheesecake in charge of the Doxie pups for the day,” she wrote on the rescue’s Facebook page.
Ever since then the pups have been snuggling with the capybara, either unaware she is a rodent (the largest type of rodent in the world), or thinking that doesn’t much matter.
(Photos: Rocky Ridge Refuge)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arkansas, blind, capybara, cheesecake, dachshunds, dogs, interspecies, janice wolf, love, ocky ridge refuge, pets, puppies, pups, rescue, rodent, shelter, snuggling
Fabio, a Maltese in Florida whose back paws were cut off to stop him from jumping over a fence, is headed to New Orleans for evaluation, prosthetics and rehab.
The four-year-old dog, who hasn’t let being hobbled slow him down too much, was being flown to see a team of specialists who will determine what sort of prosthetic devices might help him get around, said Joani Ellis of Florida Poodle Rescue.
“Fabio does not need us. Fabio’s making it on his own,” Dr. Allison Barca, the vet who’s heading the team of specialists, told Action News. “We’re just going to try to make it better for him.”
“I just think he needs something to help the stumps to feel comfortable … You just can’t order a set of boots that are going to strap to his legs. They’re going to have to be altered to fit this little dog individually,” she said.
Dr. Barca was part of a group that outfitted Molly the Shetland pony with a prosthetic leg after Hurricane Katrina.
Fabio was dropped off at a shelter in Miami and taken in by Florida Poodle Rescue, Action News reported earlier this year. His legs had been cut off just above the paw joint.
“The story was that his feet were cut off because he was trying to be an escape artist and climb a chain link fence,” Ellis said. ”And if that’s the worst he ever did, I think the punishment was certainly more than his crime.”
Officials say, based on the amount of callous on the stumps, that probably happened within the last year.
In New Orleans, Fabio will also spend time at Dag’s House, a rehab center for dogs with physical challenges. Ellis said some Dag’s House dogs have gone on to walk in parades in New Orleans.
“I would love to be waving a handkerchief and following Fabio in a second-line parade,” Ellis said. “That would be my dream.”
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: allison barca, animals, cruelty to animals, cut, dag's house, dog, dogs, fabio, fence, florida poodle rescue, joani ellis, jumping, maltese, miami, off, paws, pets, prosthetics, punishment, rehab, rehabilitation, rescue, shelter, veterinary
As often as we bring you stories of police officers shooting dogs, it’s only right that we pass along news of cops who go out of their way to help one.
Seattle police officer Eric Michl went pretty far out of his way – helping to find a temporary home for the dog of a man he arrested, and driving on his day off from Seattle to Vancouver to place the dog with a foster family.
Last month, Michl pulled over a van that had changed lanes without signaling and arrested the driver, Juan Crespo, on a charge of driving under the influence. Crespo, the officer learned, also had a warrant from San Diego, where he was wanted for burglary. Also in the van was Crespo’s dog — a German shepherd named Liana — who had commited no offense.
Michl loaded her into the back of his police car and, as Crespo was being booked, drove her to the Seattle Animal Shelter.
On the way, Liana stuck her nose through the partition and licked his ear.
San Diego, it turned out, wanted Crespo extradited, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Between that attempt, which Crespo is fighting, and the local charges, it looked like it would be a while before his court cases came to a conclusion — far longer than the amount of time the Seattle Animal Shelter keeps unclaimed dogs.
That weighed on Michl. He checked with the shelter to see if it could hold Liana for the duration of Crespo’s court case. It couldn’t. That’s when Michl contacted Crespo’s defense attorney. Highly irregular. And highly cool.
“I just felt really bad that this dog and her owner would have to be separated,” Michl said. ” … Separating her from her owner would be an injustice. It wouldn’t be fair for the dog and for him.”
Working with the defense attorney, Megan Giske, Michl tried to locate someone from Crespo’s family to foster Liana, but they couldn’t find an appropriate home.
That’s when Michl turned to Facebook.
“She deserves a chance to live a full and happy life,” he wrote in a post. “If you know of anyone interested, please get a hold of me. I can provide details of her evaluation by the kennel manager.”
This past weekend, a friend of the suspect’s sister agreed to take Liana until Crespo is released.
The Seattle Animal Shelter gave Liana vaccinations and installed a microchip, waiving any fees.
He met the new foster parents at the Vancouver police station, and he reports that the friend, her two children and Liana all appeared happy with the new arrangement.
What got into Michl? And why can’t more police officers show canines that kind of compassion? We can’t answer the second question, but the Post-Intelligencer article provides some insight into the first.
In an interview, Michl spoke of his dog, Tommy, who died last last April. When Michl had to leave his son alone for nighttime patrols, Tommy, a black Lab, would sleep on his bed. Tommy died at age 8 of cancer, but the memory of him is still strong.
“Your dogs never leave you, no matter what,” Michl said.
Maybe it was that memory, or the lick from Liana while she was in the backseat. Perhaps even Crespo entered into the equation as well. Maybe, while Michl went far beyond the call of duty, it was just smart police work.
“I’m hoping once he’s out of jail he’ll remember that someone cared enough to do this for him and his dog.”
(Photos: Courtesy of Eric Michl, via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 6th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelter, animals, arrest, attorney, beyond, burglary, call of duty, compassion, courts, dog, dogs, drunk driving, duty, eric michl, extradition, facebook, family, foster, german shepherd, good cop, juan crespo, law enforcement, liana, officer, pets, police, seattle, shelter, suspect, vancouver