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Tag: st. bernard

Swiss resort bans selfies with Saint Bernards

posing

The Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt has banned Saint Bernards from being used in photo sessions with tourists.

The town’s council came to the decision after complaints by an animal protection organization that the dogs being used by two local businesses were being kept tied up without access to food and water and forced to carry children on their backs.

Posing with the dogs with the snow-cappped Matterhorn in the background has long been popular with tourists — even though St. Bernards are no longer commonly used in rescue operations. Nowadays, Alsatians are more often used to find lost skiers and avalanche survivors.

Still, Saint Bernards — with or without the whiskey barrel around their necks — remain a symbol of Swiss mountain heritage, and getting a photo with them is a must-have souvenir for many a tourist.

Swissinfo reports that at least two entrepreneurs are making a living supplying Saint Bernards for photo ops for tourists.

The Swiss Animal Protection Agency, which recently published a report on the dogs’ mistreatment, welcomed the decision ending the practice.

By banning the practice, Zermatt shows that “it loves these animals, and it will put an end to the contemptible and dangerous shows these dogs were made part of by being used as tourist props,” the organization said in a statement.

In March, the agency filed a legal complaint against the Saint Bernard owners, claiming that the dogs’ living and working conditions were abusive.

Concerns had been raised over the dogs being forced to pose for hours on end without moving and sometimes having to carry children on their backs. The dogs were also tied up for hours, not taken for walks and often went without food or water for long periods, the report stated.

Zermatt Mayor Christophe Buergin said the two local firms providing the service were in talks with tour operators to come up with alternative offerings for visitors to the Matterhorn, such as posing for photos with a person in a Saint Bernard costume, or posing with an alphorn, a traditional herdsman’s instrument.

The mayor says the practice of offering photos with Saint Bernards would be phased out by next winter, allowing the companies to honor existing contracts.

(Photo: Keystone, via Swissinfo.ch)

Worst in show: Pair stole from elderly sisters to pay their dog show expenses, police say

ashleyTo pay for their dog show habit, two Pennsylvania women stole thousands of dollars from the life savings of two elderly sisters, state police say.

Jessica S. Skacel, 30, of Derry, and Ashley M. Giovannagelo, 22, of Greensburg, were charged with criminal conspiracy and theft, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported yesterday.

According to court documents, Skacel was hired as a caretaker for the sisters, now ages 85 and 83, in their home in Derry Township in 2011. Giovannagelo later assisted her in those duties.

Police say they started stealing from the sisters — both from their bank accounts and money the sisters had squirreled away in hiding places around the house — in early 2012.

Police began an investigation after a man who has power of attorney for the sisters noticed their bank accounts, both of which exceeded $100,000, ” were basically empty,” according to court documents.

“The bank records showed that both victims were making regular, large cash withdrawals from their accounts in amounts such as $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 and even $20,000 at a time,” an investigating officer stated.

Police say the money was used to cover travel expenses to dog shows. Skacel’s former husband, Kyle Squib, told police she purchased two trailers for more than $5,000 to transport dogs to shows.

Police say Skacel admitted to stealing an estimated $40,000-$50,000 from the sisters.

Skacel is a dog groomer and Giovannagelo shows dogs regularly, according to their Facebook pages.

Skacel and Giovannagelo were fired as caretakers for the sisters in September 2013, shortly after the investigation began, police said.

Both face preliminary hearings Sept. 3 before a district judge.

(Photo: Ashley Giovannagelo shows a St. Bernard at a dog show in a photo posted on her Facebook page)

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Saint Bernard

Age: 4

Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.

Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.

Why dogs are better than men — in song

norahjones-album

I have no statistics, just a hunch: Dogs — in addition to all the other places they’re appearing more often (books, TV and movies to name three) — are turning up more regularly on album covers.

The latest I’m aware of is the Saint Bernard who graces the cover of Norah Jones’ new album, ”The Fall.”

The dog on the cover isn’t her’s — just one of several model dogs that the photographer planned to use in a group shot.

“She wanted to use a bunch of dogs because she likes working with animals. I thought it sounded fun,” Jones said in an interview with Hulu’s blog “We ended up just loving the Saint Bernard so much that we got some shots with just him. He was so beautiful.”

Jones is a dog lover, doting in particular on her rescued poodle Ralph.

“My dogological clock started to tick. So I got a dog … I’m madly in love with him,” the songstress told NPR’s Morning Edition. “I like to say that he’s a scruffy, manly poodle, because you say poodle and people start rolling their eyes… ”

Ralph also served as the inspiration for the closing track of the album, “Man of the Hour,” whose lyrics recite the many advantages living with a dog has over living with a man.

Here’s her recent performance of the song on ”Good Morning America.”

Were dogs in Poland being raised for lard?

A woman in Poland is suspected of fattening up her dogs, then slaughtering them and selling their lard as a health supplement, according to an AFP report.

Polish police were questioning a woman at a farm near Czestochowa, in southern Poland, whose 28 dogs include St. Bernards and several puppies, found living in cages on the farm.

Police also founds bottle of lard, which they are testing to see if it came from dogs.

An animal welfare group tipped off the police after buying some lard at the farm.

Some of the dogs “were overfed to the point of no longer being able to walk,” according to a spokesperson for the organization For Animals.

The For Animals group’s undercover inspector, Renata Mizera, said the farmer had stressed the health benefits of the lard and told her that she herself added a spoonful to her daughter’s evening meal.

The police are checking whether the lard – which was found in bottles in a refrigerator at the woman’s farm – comes from dogs.

The 37-year-old farmer could face up to two years in jail for animal cruelty and distributing an unsafe substance, Poland’s TVN24 reported.

The dogs were seized and are being cared for by a vet while For Animals seeks to find new homes for them.

But did they bring him brandy?

In a reversal of roles, humans rescued a 16-month-old St. Bernard from freezing weather.

The dog, named Duke, escaped from his yard and ended up frozen to the ice on a pond at a golf course near Billings, Montana.

A maintenance worker at the Peter Yegen Jr. Golf Club, spotted the dog at about 9 a.m. Friday. Two firefighters on a sled managed to reach the shivering dog, breaking the ice around his tail with a mallet, and hauling the dog ashore — along with the chunk of ice still attached to him.

Rescuers believe that Duke, who weights nearly 120 pounds, fell through the ice on the pond sometime during the night and, after pulling himself out, sat on the ice and became frozen to it, according to an Associated Press account.

Duke was taken to Big Sky Pet Center, where he was listed in good condition after being de-iced and warmed up under a blow dryer.

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