Excited dogs greeting returning soldiers have become an Internet staple, but here’s one with a special twist.
Emma, a pitbull mix who suffers from a congenital anomaly that affects her spine — leaving her front legs only partially functioning and her back legs useless — didn’t let that stop her when her human returned from a six-month deployment.
She pulled and slid herself across the floor to greet him, along with the other two family dogs.
Melissa Swanson uploaded the video of her returning husband and excited dogs on YouTube.
“Emma and her daddy were very close! It broke her heart when he left,” she wrote. “When I come in the door, she normally sits at the end of the hallway and waits for me to pick her up. This time, when her daddy came in, she went to him … Gotta love homecomings!”
The Swansons heard of Emma through SNARR (Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation), and became her foster parents. They’ve since decided to adopt her. They’re still trying to find the perfect cart for Emma — one that will require her to keep using her front legs without putting too much pressure on them.
You can learn more about Emma on her Facebook page.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, animals, congenital, deployment, dog, dogs, emma, family, foster, greeting, hemivertebrae, homecoming, homecomings, pets, returning, reunion, snarr, soldier, soldiers, special needs animal rescue and rehabilitation, spinal, swanson, video, war
Warning: This video is graphic and disturbing
A video posted on the Internet reportedly shows soldiers in Colombia using a dog for target practice.
The video, taken with a cell phone, shows four officers joking as they tie the animal to a tree, shoot it and laugh while it yelps.
Later, the dog — identified in some reports as a trained detection dog — is struck with the butt of a rifle and, once it regains consciousness, appears to be picked up and thrown.
The unnamed soldiers are reported to be from Infantry Battalion Magdalena 27.
The New York Daily News said the incident happened four months ago in the jungle near the town of Pitalito, but didn’t come to light until this past weekend when a video clip was uploaded to YouTube.
Army Colonel Fabian Estevez is quoted in the South American press as saying the dog miraculously survived the incident and had since been treated for its injuries and “was doing fine.”
The four soldiers who were filmed shooting at the dog have been identified, but face no charges, according to Colombia Reports.
“But this is a regrettable and despicable act from the point of view of the National Army,” Estevez said. “Some young soldiers in an unusual game committed an act of indiscipline which will be subject to investigation of military justice.”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, army, cell phone, cellphone, colombia, colombian, Colonel, cruelty, detection, disturbing, dog, dogs, Fabian Estevez, graphic, infantry, internet, magdalena 27, pets, posted, practice, shoot, sniffer, soldiers, south america, target, video, youtube
A recent CNN report raises questions about Operation Baghdad Pups, and the charity that oversees the program, SPCA International.
CNN, whose sister network presented a positive and heartwarming portrayal of the program last year, found that SPCA International spent nearly all $27 million it received in donations to raise more money through a direct mail company.
The report also said SPCA International “misrepresented” Baghdad Pups on its tax filings, and that it hired an officer for that program with a “questionable background.”
Two immediate thoughts:
One, in an ideal world, which of course we’re not in, it would have been nice of CNN, or even its less probing sister network, HLN, to do its digging before tugging at our heartstrings to the extent we cough up money.
Two, with animal charities becoming big business, where should the line be drawn when it comes to how much of the money they rake in actually goes to helping animals?
A charity needs to spend money to raise money, of course, but Bob Ottenhoff, president of the charity watchdog group GuideStar, told CNN that the SPCA International’s tax records raise “a number of red flags.”
“No. 1, there is an enormous amount of money going into fund-raising,” Ottenhoff said. “It’s not unusual for a nonprofit to fund-raise. In fact they need to fund-raise. But this organization has an enormous amount of fund-raising costs, certainly relative to the amount of money being spent.”
Of the $14 million raised in 2010, SPCA International reported it spent about $60,000, less than 0.5%, on cash grants to animal shelters across the United States. About $450,000 — about 3% of the total raised in 2010 — went to bring back animals from Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its “Baghdad Pups” program.
The CNN report seems to make much of the fact that most of those animals weren’t actual members of the armed services — but, from our coverage of the organization, it never seemed to making the claim that they were.
Baghdad Pups is a program that “helps U.S. troops safely transport home the companion animals they befriend in the war zone,” it states on the website.
As CNN put it, “the charity admitted that only 26 of the nearly 500 animals transported to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan were actually service animals. The rest were stray animals … And those 26 service animals were not attached to military K-9 units but belonged to Reed Inc., a private contractor that built roads in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
While dogs abandoned by contracting companies have been a concern of the program, stray animals, as I understood it, were what the program was all about — seeing that, in cases where they bonded with soldiers, they had a chance to come home with them.
While the CNN report may have been barking up the wrong tree in that regard, it was on the money in other ways — namely, in looking at what happens to the money.
SPCA International funneled nearly all the donations to Quadriga Art, one of the world’s largest direct-mail providers to charities and nonprofits. The payments to Quadriga Art and its affiliated company, Brickmill Marketing Services, were for publicizing the organization and helping it raise more funds.
It is the same company hired by two veterans charities that spent tens of millions of dollars for its services, triggering a Senate investigation last month. One of the charities,Washington-based Disabled Veterans National Foundation, collected nearly $56 million in donations over the past three years yet paid Quadriga Art more than $60 million in fees, raising questions about whether it should retain its tax-exempt status.
SPCA International is still $8 million in debt to Quadriga Art, according to a spokeswoman for the direct-mail firm.
Lat week’s CNN report also brought up previous problems Operation Baghdad spokeswoman Terri Crisp encountered while working on behalf of animals.
Crisp, who appeared on CNN’s sister network, HLN, last year with two dogs rescued from Iraq, is the former head of a California-based animal rescue charity called Noah’s Wish. It took in $8 million in contributions to support its work “rescuing and caring for the animal victims of Hurricane Katrina.” An investigation by the California attorney general was looking into whether that money was being used for that purpose when a settlement was reached in 2007.
Crisp, while not admitting to any wrongdoing, agreed to return $4 million in donations, and to not ”serve as an officer, director or trustee or in any position having the duties or responsibilities of an officer, director or trustee, with any non-profit organization” for five years.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: afghanistan, animal welfare, animals, armed service, baghdad, bringing, charities, cnn, contractors, direct mail, dogs, finances, fund raising, fundraising, guide star, hln, home, investigation, iraq, K-9, k9, noahs wish, non profits, nonprofits, operation baghdad pups, organizations, pets, pups, quadriga art, reed inc, rehoming, report, rescue, saving, shelter, soldiers, spca international, stray, strays, terri crisp, troops
“60 Minutes” correspondent Lara Logan went to Afghanistan to report on brothers serving together in the U.S. Marines.
But apparently she fell in love while on assignment.
She completed her report, and it aired last night, with no mention of the behind the scenes romance — which saw Logan wrap a civilian named Bill into her arms and smuggle him past authorities. For that, you have to go to the 60 Minutes Overtime website.
There you will learn that Bill was a puppy
While working in the field, Logan and her producer Tom Anderson met a group of Marines from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, who had taken in an orphaned puppy, near death when they found him.
“You know, everyone has this image of Marines as jarheads and door-kickers” said Logan. “But when we got to this patrol base, we saw these guys sitting around caring for Bill. I just watched for a little while, and it was very clear from the first moment that all these Marines loved this little dog. They were mad about him.”
It wasn’t long before Logan fell for Bill, too, and agreed to sneak him to an animal shelter in Kabul, where he could stay until one of the soldiers finalized his plan to take him back to the U.S.
With help from a bureau chief there, who harbored the pup for a while, the dog eventually made it to the shelter, where the love story came to a sad ending. Bill, it turned out, had parvo, and died.
Logan, fighting back tears, explains what happened next in the video above. The soldier decided to use the funds he’d raised to get Bill home to rescue another dog from the shelter, in Bill’s honor, and bring him back to the U.S.
Watch it until the end and you’ll see that’s exactly what happened.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 60 minutes, 60 minutes overtime, afghanistan, animals, assignment, bill, brothers, cbs, correspondent, dog, kabul, lara logan, love, marines, pets, puppy, rescue, serving, shelter, smuggled, soldiers, together, video, war
Just like their human counterparts, dogs in the military can suffer the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder — and they’re doing so at a rate nearly as high as humans.
By some estimates, more than 5 percent of the approximately 650 military dogs deployed by American combat forces are developing canine PTSD, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times:
“ … (T)he concept of canine PTSD is only about 18 months old, and still being debated. But it has gained vogue among military veterinarians, who have been seeing patterns of troubling behavior among dogs exposed to explosions, gunfire and other combat-related violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Of the dogs who show symptoms, about half are likely to be prematurely retired from service, said Walter F. Burghardt Jr., chief of behavioral medicine at the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base.
The Times article, accompanied by the beautiful photograph above, reported that dogs show the symptoms in different ways, much like humans with the disorder. They may become hyper-vigilant, undergo temperament changes, turn aggressive with their handlers, or start becoming timid and clingy, avoiding areas that they had once been comfortable in.
Most crucial of all — at least as the military sees it — they can also stop doing the tasks they’re being relied on to perform.
“If the dog is trained to find improvised explosives and it looks like it’s working, but isn’t, it’s not just the dog that’s at risk,” Dr. Burghardt said. “This is a human health issue as well.”
The number of dogs on active duty has risen from 1,800 in 2001 to about 2,700. The training school headquartered at Lackland prepares about 500 dogs a year for deployment.
Combining all branches of the armed services, more than 50 military dogs have been killed since 2005, the article reported.
Dr. Burghardt uses videos to train veterinarians to spot canine PTSD, such as this one of a dog that, while he has no problem inspecting a car, refused to go inside a bus or a building.
Treatment of dogs suspected of having the disorder can range from taking them off patrol and allowing them to just be dogs for a few days to ”desensitization counterconditioning,” which involves exposing a dog, in increments, to sights or sounds he’s reacting nervously to and rewarding him when he doesn’t react.
Dogs that do not recover quickly are returned to their home bases, and those that continue to show symptoms after three months are usually retired or transferred to different duties, Dr. Burghardt said.
(Photo: Bryce Harper for the New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, army, article, canine ptsd, care, combat, dogs, forces, humans, iraq, lackland air force base, military dogs, new york times, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service, soldiers, symptoms, treatment, veterinarians, walter f. burghardt, war
He has watched soldiers stop to pet a stray and walk away as if, at least for the moment, they’d found some peace amid war.
“It was an incredible transformation,” Rice said of one particular instance in Iraq, where he watched as a weary, rifle-toting soldier spent a few minutes with a dog that had wandered onto a base in Iraq. “Those few minutes looked as if they turned a bad day into one of his best. It almost brought tears to my eyes.”
Rice, a Scottsdale, Arizona veterinarian and member of the Army Reserve who’s now stationed in Kosovo, is working to let more soldiers (and more dogs) experience the therapeutic effects one species can provide each other.
He has taken in four strays so far, according to a story in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, and makes them available for soldiers to check out at Camp Bondsteel, home to a multinational UN peacekeeping force charged with monitoring tensions between Albanians and Serbs:
A soldier may check out a dog, just as he might check out a book in a library, and for a few hours take a break from a grinding overseas assignment…
“It gives them a connection to home, reminding them of the dogs they left behind,” said Rice. “It lets them think of things that have nothing to do with war…
“It’s a transformation you have to see to believe … A few minutes with a dog brings back some balance in your life. It relieves the pressure and re-energizes you.”
Rice’s official duty is to tend to bomb-sniffing dogs. But he’s the unofficial mayor of “Dog Town,” which now has a population of four stray mutts, all of whom wandered onto the base from the nearby town of Ferizaj.
Soldiers must go through a briefing to get into the program. Once completed, they can sign out a dog for up to 12 hours. Rice said about 50 soldiers have taken part.
The dogs are allowed almost anywhere on the base — except for mess halls.
“We’ve had dogs sit in with us on staff meetings,” said Major John Brunett of Santa Fe, who frequently checks out dogs. “Everyone likes an opportunity to pet or have them on their laps. People respond well to the dogs, and of course, when they’re out, they get lots of attention.”
Dog Town was started by previous veterinarians stationed at Camp Bondsteel who were disheartened seeing the conditions that dogs in the village lived in.
Its current occupants now include Hannah, a terrier mix; Trcec (pronounced “tur-kek,” a 50-plus pound shepherd mix; Kacanik (“catch-a-nik”) a 2-year-old terrier mix, and Gjakova (“ya-ko-va”), a 7-month-old Sar Mountain dog mix.
(Photo: David Wallace / Arizona Republic)
A good year before I was born, my father wrote a letter while sitting in Korea, and sent it back home to friends in North Carolina.
A week ago, it came back to him — in Arizona.
“It’s so damn cold in here that I just about can make my fingers work,” the letter begins. “… Even so , it’s indoors, so I can imagine how really miserable the boys living in holes are tonight…”
Typewritten on flimsy stationary, the letter goes on to recount a weekend in Tokyo during which he enjoyed burgers and “Jap beer, which is very good.” He asks about what’s going on back home and wonders when he might return. “I’m supposed to come home in February. And now there is a rumor making the rounds that we’re supposed to be rotated to Japan after 10 months in Korea. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen.”
It was mailed to Lil and Roy Thompson, friends and co-workers at the Winston-Salem Journal, both now deceased.
Apparently Lil filed it away in a book, to be specific, an autobiography of William “Billy” Rose, the showman and lyricist who wrote, among other songs, “Me and My Shadow” and “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”
I don’t know whether Lil parted with the book long ago, or whether it was part of her estate when she died a few years ago, but somehow it ended up among the stock of a second-hand book dealer in Carrboro, N.C.
Robert Garni, once he opened the book, found the letter and read it, took to the Internet to locate my father, Bill Woestendiek, then mailed him the original, along with this note:
” … Quite coincidentally, the other day while sorting out some used books for sale, I came across an old letter that had apparently been tucked away in a hardcover copy of Billy Rose’s autobiography …
“Upon examination of the letter, I realized it may be of some sentimental value to someone and therefore I did a quick search of the Internet where I was able to locate your full name and current address. I am enclosing the letter herewith. I am hoping my information is correct and current so that this letter may finally return to its rightful owner.”
In my father’s letter, he mentions what turned out to be his most cherished memory of the war. He was a lieutenant in the Army, but he was also writing a weekly column for his newspaper back home called “Battle Lines.” The columns weren’t so much about the war as they were Korea and its people. Most of the stories he wrote focused on the children, often orphans of war, and the poverty in which they lived.
His stories led to an outpouring of support from back home in North Carolina — hundreds of pounds of clothing and toys were donated by readers, shipped overseas and distributed at a Christmas party.
“I am overwhelmed, no kidding,” he writes in the letter of the readers’ response. “We’ll have clothes for our party and still some extra to give to the orphanages around here which are also hurting for clothing.”
Reading over those articles, which I found amid my stuff, in a green scrapbook whose binding was falling apart, I understand a little better why he got so misty when, 19 years ago at Los Angeles International Airport, my father watched as my son arrived, a six-month-old, adopted from Korea.
In the faded old letter he thanks Lil for her support, and for keeping him up on the goings on at the newspaper. “You are one of the best morale builders I have,” he writes.
It took a little help from a thoughtful second-hand book dealer, but, judging from the joyful response my father, now 87, had to getting the letter back, it seems Lil — even though she’s no longer with us – did it again.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: army, bill woestendiek, book dealer, carrboro, children, friends, journalism, korea, korean war, letter, lil thompson, mail, newspapers, north carolina, orphans, poverty, returned, robert garni, roy thompson, second hand, soldiers, used, war, winston-salem journal
Target, the dog brought to the U.S. from Aghanistan by one of the soldiers whose lives she was credited with saving — only to be accidentally euthanized by an animal shelter – was remembered in a memorial service last night.
The candlelight vigil was held at the Pima County Animal Shelter in Tucson.
In Afghanistan, Target, a stray befriended by a group of American soldiers, kept a suicide bomber who was trying to enter a building on a military base from gaining access. Instead, the bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.
Phoenix soldier Terry Young brought Target back home to Arizona. Last month, the dog escaped from Young’s yard and ended up in at the Pinal County animal shelter in Casa Grande, where she was accidentally euthanized the next day. The employee responsible for the mistake has been suspended.
Young said his son, Tavius, and the rest of the family is still working to get over the dog’s death, according to KGUN9.
“It’s been a few weeks already and Tavius still says, ‘Where’s Target?’ It’s heartbreaking.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidentally euthanized, afhganistan, animal shelter, animals, bomb, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, hero, hero dog, memorial, military, pets, pima county animal shelter, pinal county, shelters, soldiers, stray, suicide bomber, target, terry young, tucson, vigil
Target’s owner, Sgt. Terry Young, found out his dog had been killed when he showed up at the shelter to claim her.
The dog had escaped from his backyard over the weekend.
“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” Ruth Stalter, Pinal County animal-control director, said in a statement. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”
The county is investigating the accidental euthanization at its Casa Grande shelter.
In Afghanistan, Target snapped and barked at a suicide bomber, who was trying to enter a building on a military base. The bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.
“I just can’t believe that something like this would happen to such a good dog,” Young told the Arizona Republic.
When he returned to the U.S., Young brought Target with him to his home in the Phoenix area.
A county spokesman said a shelter employee has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
Young said he found the gate to his backyard open on Friday morning, the day after Veterans Day.
Heather Murphy, a spokeswoman for Pinal County, said Target was found by a nearby resident, who put her in his backyard and called the pound.
Later that night Young saw Target’s picture on a website used by Pinal County’s animal control office, and, assuming the shelter was closed for the weekend, figured she would be safe until he could pick her up Monday.
When he arrived, he filled out some forms and a staff member brought him another dog. Young then showed the employee a picture of his dog. Then he waited for an hour.
According to the Republic, Young saw one worker sobbing. And the director of the shelter told him there had been a mistake.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, accidentally euthanized, afghanistan, animal control, animal shelter, arizona, casa grande, dog, euthanized, hero, killed, lives, mistake, news, pinal county, put down, saved, soldier, soldiers, suicide bomber, target, terry young, war
Faith, the two-legged dog, continues to spread inspiration — most recently last weekend when she visited McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis in Washington state.
Faith met thousands of soldiers — some headed to war, some coming back.
“She just walks around barking and laughing and excited to see them all,” Faith’s owner, Jude Stringfellow, told the Associated Press.
“There is a lot of crying, pointing and surprise. From those who have lost friends or limbs, there can be silence. Some will shake my hand and thank me, some will pat her on the head. There is a lot of quiet, heartfelt, really deep emotion.”
Faith, a Lab-chow mix, was born to a junkyard dog around Christmas of 2002. Her mother rejected her and she was rescued by Jude Stringfellow’s son, Rueben, now in the Army. The mother and son taught the dog to walk on her rear legs — using peanut butter and a lot of practice.
Since then Faith has done the talk show circuit, and Stringfellow has become a motivational speaker. She has written two books about Faith and is working on a third, “Faith Walks.”
They get more than 200 letters and e-mails a day, run a website and make dozens of appearances every year, including stops at veterans’ hospitals across the country to cheer injured soldiers.
Rueben Stringfellow left Iraq in September and is stationed in Alaska. He is scheduled to get out of the Army and head home on Jan. 1.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air force, army, base, chow, coping, disabilities, dog, faith, fort lewis, hope, inspiration, jude stringfellow, lab, legs, limbs, lost, mcchord, motivation, on two legs, rear legs, rueben, soldiers, two legs, two-legged, video, walks, washington