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Tag: shooting

Maniacs, monkeys and the Motel 6

 

In a way, this might not be the best time to sing the praises of Motel 6 – it being in the news now for leaving the light on for one Jared Lee Loughner.

Authorities say the Tucson man rented a room from America’s most affordable motel chain to plot the final steps of the horrific shooting spree that left six dead and 14 wounded, including U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords.

In another way, though, there’s probably no better time to stand up for a dependable, if imperfect, friend than when that friend is being tarnished with the broad brush of guilt by association.

A recent Washington Post story started out this way: “Room 411, a king-bed single in a dark and grimy Motel 6 near the railroad tracks on the western edge of Tucson, served as the staging ground for Jared Loughner’s series of pre-dawn errands before last Saturday’s shooting spree outside a suburban supermarket here.”

Pretty good writing, and — assuming it was really “dark and grimy” — nothing wrong with it, unless you’re Motel 6, in which case you find yourself, through no fault of your own, in the thick of a dark and grimy story you’d rather have no part of.

So I’m here — even though it has always been Tom Bodett’s job — to speak up for Motel 6, a topic on which I consider myself an authority. What makes me such an expert?

In the last eight months, my dog and I have stayed in Motel 6′s in Biloxi, Mississippi; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana;  Flagstaff, Holbrook, Yuma and Tucson, Arizona; Tucumcari and Albuquerque, New Mexico;  Oklahoma City and Midwest City, Oklahoma; Lewisville, Dallas, Hunstville and Houston, Texas; Greensboro, Statesville and Raleigh, North Carolina; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia.; New Cumberland, Pennsylvania; Niantic, Connecticut; Portland and Bangor, Maine; Syracuse, New York; Brattleboro, Vermont; Fargo, North Dakota; Billings and Butte, Montana; Spokane and Kirkland, Washington; Coos Bay, Oregon; Ukiah, Monterey, San Bernadino and Bakersfield, California; and Russellville, Arkansas.

Seventy nights in all.

Crime struck only twice, and only in the most minor of ways, both times in Texas when ohmidog! door magnets were removed from my Jeep — one in Lewisville, one in Huntsville. Then again, with a 130-pound dog at your side, folks tend to not mess with you.

During our 22,000 miles of travels, I poked a lot of fun at the chain, with its bare bones ambience, and near total lack of amentities. They’re not always in the greatest of neighborhoods. Their pools aren’t always pristine, or even open, or even there anymore. There are no ”continental” breakfasts, or in-room coffee makers at the Motel 6. You can walk to the lobby and serve yourself some, but it’s in tiny Sytrofoam cups that are empty by the time you get back to your room.

The quality varies widely from motel to motel, and the only consistency, chain-wide, is in the spartan furnishings and the tacky polyester bedspread. You get a small bar of Motel 6 soap, a couple of plastic disposable cups and, if you’re lucky, an ice bucket. I’ve gotten rooms without chairs, without hot water and, several times, with remote controls from which the batteries had been removed.

If there is a step that can be taken to conserve costs, Motel 6 has taken it.

And yet, as basic and humdrum as staying at the Motel 6 became for me (and maybe Ace, too), while there were nights I thought checking into another of its lookalike rooms would send me over the brink, I love Motel 6 — for two reasons.

It is consistently dog friendly, with no fees for pets and no restrictions on size or breeds. Most of the motel staff we encountered — with the exception of one employee who shrieked and ran away when encountering Ace — seem to like dogs. There were so many times that desk clerks passed him treats over the counter that Ace now jumps up and puts his front paws on any counter he encounters.

And it is consistently cheap — almost always under $50, often under $40, sometimes under $30.

On our trip, Motel 6 served as a huge comfort to me. Not the rooms, necessarily, but knowing it was there, in most towns, to take me in when others would turn me away because of my dog, or charge pet fees that nearly doubled the cost of a room, or just plain charge too much for our budget.

More important, it’s there for the growing masses who — foreclosed upon, laid off, or otherwise caught up in some bad luck — can get out of the cold for less than the cost of a tank of gasoline.

In a way, by not catering to the more upscale crowd, Motel 6 provides a public service — especially during the down economy. We met more than a few people who, with nowhere else to go, were calling their motel room home for now.

That Motel 6′s are more likely to be the scene of crime or other malfeasance is to be expected — in the same way poor neighborhoods have more problems than rich ones. People with criminal records and drug histories, people who are economically desperate or just plain desperate, end up there more often than, say, the Hilton.

Motel 6 deserves no blame or ridicule in connection with the shooting spree in Tucson. (Let’s save that for Sportsman’s Warehouse, where Loughner bought his Glock, and the Arizona lawmakers who have worked to make gunslinging so easy achievable in that state.)

I did a Google news search on Motel 6 earlier this week, and found most of the stories that popped up were, as I expected, about crimes: a man found bound and gagged inside a Motel 6 in Utah, an attempted robbery at a Motel 6 in Kansas, a man and woman arrested for using their Motel 6 room to print counterfeit money with an inkjet printer, a couple arrested with  2,000 illegally obtained pain and anti-anxiety pills at a Motel 6 in Alabama, a woman arrested on a prostitution charge after allegedly propositioning a plainclothes officer to join her in her Motel 6 room in Iowa.

One of the few non-crime stories that mentioned Motel 6 was about a colony of wild vervet monkeys, some of whom have chosen to live behind a Motel 6 in Dania Beach, Florida.

Nobody’s sure how the monkeys ended up in South Florida. Some say they are descendants of those used in a Tarzan episode once filmed there; some believe they are descendants of monkeys bred for research that helped lead to a cure for polio.

In any case, at least two of the monkeys live behind the Dania Beach Motel 6, where motel visitors look forward to watching them come out each afternoon. I’m guessing the monkeys find the Motel 6 guests equally entertaining.

What’s great about Motel 6 is its total lack of snobbiness. Desk clerks don’t look down their noses at you, or crinkle it up when you have a dog along. If you have credit card or cash, you’re in, which is as it should be.

It’s not a motel’s job — at least one at the bargain basement level — to monitor or screen its customers.

For business that are selling guns, as opposed to a night on a mattress, there is more of an obligation to screen customers, or at least there should be, in my view.

Motels 6′s don’t kill people. Guns do. Any monkey knows that.

(Vervet photo by Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald)

Florida officer kills two dogs out for a walk

A St. Petersburg, Florida, police officer shot and killed two dogs Sunday night.

Chris Clark, 44, said he was walking his Rottweiler, Quincy, and his landlord’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Missy, when he heard a police officer shouting at him — Officer Slobodan Juric, who was investigating a complaint about a suspicious person in the area.

When Clark stopped, a third dog, unleashed approached Missy and the two exchanged growls. Quincy’s leash got wrapped around him. Clark fell and the dogs started fighting.

Clark told the St. Petersburg Times that he was grabbing his dogs’ collars, trying to pull them away, when Juric yelled “mad dog” and pointed the gun at Missy.

Clark said Juric fired one shot into the dog, pointed the gun at Quincy and fired another round, then fired two more shots into Missy.

“We’ve begun an internal affairs investigation,” said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz. “There will be a statement taken from (Clark) and from everybody who was a witness in the case, to try and discern the totality of the events and the appropriateness of the (officer’s) action.”

Juric, 25, has been with the department for more than a year. He was formerly a freelance photographer for the St. Petersburg Times.

Bear-Bear decision still a week away

Prosecutors say they are still at least a week away from deciding whether charges will be filed against the federal officer who shot and killed a Siberian Husky he thought was acting too roughly with his dog at a Maryland dog park.

The officer, though authorities have withheld his name, has been identified as Keith Elgin Shepherd, employed by the Army at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Northern Virginia.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors told the Baltimore Sun yesterday that it may take another week for them to finish their investigation. The investigation was prompted by a public outcry after authorities originally said no charges would be filed.

Public interest in the case remains high. About 20 people demonstrated yesterday outside the Anne Arundel County courthouse in Annapolis, supporting of the owners of Bear-Bear, fatally shot Aug. 2 in a private dog park in the Quail Run community in Severn.

Police say the shooter thought Bear-Bear, who was unleashed, was getting too rough with his German shepherd, who was leashed. 

Police have refused to identify the shooter, and his name was blacked out on police reports supplied to the news media. But a report without redactions obtained by the Sun identifies him as Shepherd.

Prosecutors said last week that key issues focused on whether the shooter was legally allowed to carry a personal handgun off-post, and whether he broke the law in shooting the husky or was acting to defend his dog, self and wife.

Probe continues in Bear-Bear shooting

Police still haven’t released the name of the officer who shot a Siberian husky at a Severn dog park, but two Anne Arundel County prosecutors have been assigned to work with police on the continuing investigation.

Bear-Bear was shot Aug. 2 at the private dog park in the Quail Run community by a civilian police officer employed by the Army at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Northern Virginia. The officer told police his leashed German shepherd was attacked by Bear-Bear.

One of the prosecutors assigned to investigate whether charges should be brought against the officer is Kimberly DiPietro, who handles the office’s animal cruelty cases and other matters relating to animals.

DiPietro told the Baltimore Sun there are two issues: whether the shooter had a right to carry a weapon, and whether the shooting of the pet violated the law.

The weapon used in the shooting was the man’s personal weapon, police said.

Dog-shooting officer placed on leave

The off-duty federal police officer who shot and killed a Siberian husky he claims attacked his German shepherd in a Severn dog park has been placed on administrative leave.

Police in Anne Arundel County are still declining to identify the 32-year-old officer, and the officer’s attorney would not release his name either, citing threats against his client.

Attorney David Putzi says the Department of Defense officer shot the 3-year-old husky known as Bear-Bear in defense of his dog, himself and his wife, according to the Associated Press. Putzi says Bear-Bear attacked the officer’s German shepherd and that the husky’s owners “could not or would not” control their pet.

Police say the officer fired his personal handgun.

About 50 people, including Bear-Bear’s owner and her family attended a memorial for the dog at the Quail Run Dog Park last night, according to the Baltimore Sun blog, “Unleashed.”

The blog reported that consideration will be given to renaming the park in Bear-Bear’s honor.

Family demands justice for Bear-Bear

Authorities in Anne Arundel County say they won’t file charges against a federal officer who entered an off-leash dog park with his leashed German shepherd and shot a Siberian husky who he thought was playing too roughly with his dog.

Bear-Bear, a 3-year-old brown and white husky, was playing in the Quail Run dog park at about 6:30 p.m. Monday when the officer and his wife arrived with a German shepherd, who was kept on a leash.

According to the Baltimore Sun, when the dogs began to play roughly, the federal officer asked Bear-Bear’s guardian — the brother of the dog’s owner – to call off the dog. Then, seconds later, he pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear.

Bear-Bear died of his injuries a few hours later.

Anne Arundel County police, astonishingly, have not named the federal officer, and — equally astonishingly — say no charges will be filed against him. No further investigation appears to be taking place.

“I’ve been bawling my eyes out since 7 p.m. last night,” Rachel Rettaliata, Bear-Bear’s owner, told the Sun. “It’s grief mixed with anger. We’re so angry this guy was able to take our animal for what we feel was no reason at all…We still don’t believe that he’s gone. We just want so badly to be diligent about this. [The officer] has to pay some sort of consequence for his foolishness.”

Rettaliata adopted Bear-Bear about two years ago from a husky rescue. He’d been seized from a Delaware home where people had tied him up outside and neglected him.

Bear-Bear was a regular at the dog park in Quail Run, a community of townhomes. Neighbors say the park is generally an easygoing place where well-mannered dogs play with one another.

“I’ve never personally seen him be aggressive toward any dog or human or anything, for that matter,” Tarnna Hernandez, who lives two doors down from the Rettaliatas, told the Sun.

“I have not seen that dog hurt anyone. Or snarl. He’s never even barked,” she said. “His only way was to get out a gun out and shoot him? Uh-uh. It’s completely unbelievable.”

The manager of the homeowner’s association, Dorothy Pearce, called the shooting “tragic…A community of homeowners with children playing around should not have gun-crazy, off-duty policemen shooting in their area, especially a dog in a controllable situation.”

According to Rettaliata, Bear-Bear didn’t cry out when shot.  “He just went and laid down,” she said.

Carolyn Kilborn, chairwoman of Maryland Votes for Animals, based in Annapolis, said the case should be further investigated.

“The killing of the dog in Severn is a sad situation that should be investigated carefully to determine if the incident was caused by a dangerous dog or a dangerous person,” she said.

A “Justice for Bear-Bear” Facebook page has been established, encouraging concerned citizens to contact county authorities through this email address.

Caged dog, shot six times, survives

Two men were arrested in Toledo after they allegedly took turns shooting a German shepherd while he howled in his cage.

The dog, named Sarge, was hit by six shots, but survived. He’s now being held by the Lucas County dog warden.

One of the men, Lawrence Mick, 57,  the dog’s owner, is in the Lucas County jail, where he was being held on $25,000 bond. He’s charged with a third degree felony for using the weapon, and if convicted, he could be sentenced to one to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The other charges he faces in connection with the incident, including cruelty to animals, are all misdemeanors.

Mick has a drug conviction and is prohibited from using a firearm, the Toledo Blade reported.

Mick and another man, Adam Collins, are accused of taking turns shooting the captive dog with a 25-caliber pistol Friday in Mick’s backyard with a 25-caliber pistol.

Police shoot at pit bull, hit teen

A shot fired by a Baltimore police officer went through a pit bull and into one of a group of boys who had been harassing the dog earlier, police say.

The group of teens had been antagonizing a pit bull in Northeast Baltimore. Police say the pit bull got loose and was acting aggressively toward the children when officers arrived.

One officer fired a shot at the dog in defense of the 14-year-old boy, but the bullet passed through the dog and struck the boy, WBFF reported.

The child was being treated for a leg injury at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The 2-year-old pit bull was killed.

Man kills owner of dog who urinated on lawn

A former Marine known for taking great pride in his suburban Chicago lawn has been charged with fatally shooting a neighbor who let his dog urinate on the man’s front yard.

University Park, Illinois, resident, Charles Clements, 69, a former Marine, is being held on a $3 million bond in connection with the fatal shooting last Sunday of 23-year-old Joshua Funches, ABC News reported.

Patricia Funches, the victim’s mother, said Clements followed her son home, pulled out his gun, and shot him.

Police say Joshua Funches’ fox terrier urinated on Clements’ lawn, leading to an exchange of words between the two men. When police arrived at the scene, they found Funches bleeding on the ground in front of a vacant house.

Funches, a father of two, suffered a single gunshot wound in the abdomen, and his death was ruled a homicide.

Clements was famous for the upkeep on his well-manicured lawn, winning several local beautification awards. He kept a sign posted on his mailbox urging letter carriers not to walk on his grass.

Reward given in case of slain police dog

jimiThe Atlanta Humane Society on Monday gave a $5,000 reward to the woman who provided the names of two people eventually charged with shooting and killing a Griffin police dog.

Jimi, a two-year-old German shepherd, apparently strayed onto a nearby property, where he was shot. The dog’s body was found last November dumped along the side of a rural Georgia road in Lamar County.

Lamar County investigators announced the arrest of Kevin Pippin, 37, last month.

Lamar County District Attorney Richard Milam said he plans to ask a grand jury in June to indict Kevin Pippin, 37, and his mother, 66-year-old Geraldine Pippin, for misdemeanor animal cruelty, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The Humane Society said the woman who provided the names was unaware of the reward at the time she gave the information.

Jimi’s handler, Griffin police Cpl. Chad Moxon, and his family also put up a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for killing Jimi, who was trained at detecting drugs and explosives and tracking people.

Hayes received that $1,000 reward earlier, though the case has yet to go to court.

(Photo: Jimi, on the right, with Moxon’s other dog, Yager)