Since January of 2010, Houston police have gunned down 187 dogs, killing 121 of them.
And last year alone, law enforcement officers in Houston and Harris County shot more dogs than New York City police officers shot in 2010 and 2011 combined.
All of those shooting were deemed by police to have been justified, but it’s not too hard to find families that disgree with that.
The KHOU 11 News I-Team did, and its report this week is more evidence that, across the country, requiring police to be trained in dealing with dogs could save dogs, and their families, a lot of pain.
Colorado passed a law requiring that, and it was signed by the governor this week.
The KHOU report, when it looked at the police-involved dog shootings for all of Harris County found at least 228 dogs had been shot by officers and deputies since 2010, 142 of them fatally.
“If the dog turns and comes at a citizen, or the deputy, they have all right to use lethal force,” explained Dpt. Thomas Gilliland of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Records show Harris County deputies shot 38 canines in the last three-and-a-half years.
When asked if all those shootings were justified, Gilliland said: “The justification is, in that matter, and at that moment the deputy had to choose the decision to use lethal force against that animal.”
Sgt. Joseph Guerra, who works as a cruelty investigator for the Houston Humane Society, said it teaches some officers how to safety interact with threatening dogs. But the training isn’t mandated for all officers.
“A lot of times, officers are not sent to training to get that type of certification to feel comfortable enough to deal with these animals,” he said. “We need to get those officers involved in some mandated training in how to defend before going to deadly force.”
The Arlington and Fort Worth Police Departments started mandatory dog training for officers last fall, and state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require the training for officers across Texas.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, arlington, behavior, canines, colorado, dangerous, deputies, dogs, fatal, fort worth, harris county, houston, interact, killed, law enforcement, new york, officers, pets, police, police shooting dogs, shoot, shot, texas, threatening, training
We’re not sure we totally buy his argument — we even think it smells a little like one of those Texas tall tales – but we’re 100 percent behind John Mark Cobern’s fight to bring his dog to work in the Titus County Courthouse.
After being notified by the county commissioners that he can no longer keep Belle in his office during the workday, Cobern, the Titus County Attorney, is asking for a ruling from the state attorney general.
Cobern maintains that he keeps Belle with him for protection, and that Belle makes the courthouse a safer place, according to the Austin American-Statesman
“The primary reason for bringing my dog to the county office was to make my office a safer work environment,” he told the attorney general, noting his job puts him in contact with “the mentally ill and potentially unstable individuals.”
As you already know — because you’ve seen the picture — Belle is not a German shepherd, Belgian malinois or Rottweiler.
She’s a dachshund. And she’s 16. And she suffers from a glandular ailment.
Even though it’s a little difficult picturing Belle accosting deranged gunmen, subduing prison escapees or breaking up fights, we don’t totally rule out there could be an action hero beneath her greying fur.
We don’t think Cobern should have to lay legal groundwork to be able to bring his dog to work, but if that’s the route he has chosen he should probably emphasize the calming effect Belle can have, and the ways she can assist him in doing his duty that don’t involve detecting bombs or striking fear into the hearts of thugs.
For Belle is clearly no Texas-sized attack dog.
The commissioners say they decided to ban Belle, and all non-service animals, from the courthouse in Mount Pleasant after a complaint was received about her — but who the complaint came from, and what exactly it was, have not been reported.
Titus County Commissioner Thomas Hockaday took the matter to his colleagues and it was approved, despite opposition from Titus County Judge Brian Lee, who questioned commissioners’ authority to regulate what goes on in the offices of elected officials, such as the county attorney.
Cobern has had Belle since he started law school in Houston. “She laid in my lap for hours at a time while I studied,” he said. “She was always with me, and she is always with me now. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself.”
At the courthouse, Belle spends her time in Cobern’s private office, separate from where his staff is and where the public enters. The glandular ailment Belle suffers from killed an earlier dog of Cobern’s.
Cobern has asked Attorney General Greg Abbott for an official opinion on whether the county commissioners have the authority to regulate whether he — also an elected official — can bring his dog to work.
Abbott is reportedly a dog lover himself, and considers his dog, Oreo, part of his family.
Assuming Belle has not caused severe carnage at the Titus County Courthouse, we hope the attorney general bases his ruling not on dusty law books, but on the heart.
(Photo: Cobern and Belle, courtesy of Cobern)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attorney general, ban, belle, commissioners, county attorney, courthouse, courthouse dogs, dachshund, dog, dogs at work, elected, greg abbott, john mark cobern, office, officials, opinion, pets, protection, ruling, security, texas, titus county, work
A rat terrier who wandered from his home and ended up on a busy Texas highway was rescued by a police officer in La Porte, who halted traffic and carried the dog to safety.
Cujo, whose owners say he suffers from a bad hip, was spotted Monday by officer Kyle Jones on Spencer Highway, limping along in a lane of moving traffic.
Jones spun his car around and blocked traffic on the busy highway, called to the dog, then walked over to him, debating whether he should pick him up.
“You know how Chihuahuas are,” Jones told KHOU. “You’re not really sure if you can trust ‘em or not. But he kind of looked at me and said, ‘Man, I’m glad you’re here.’ He let me pick him right up. Stuck him in the back seat of the patrol car.”
Jones turned Cujo over to an animal control officer who, thanks to the ID tag on the dog’s collar, was able to return him to his family.
The Zapalac family had been searching for Cujo.
“We spent the whole morning, about an hour, looking for him,” Jeremy Zapalac said. “It started pouring down rain. And he hates water.”
Zapalac described Cujo as “a Napoleon-type of dog. He’s very short, but with a very big ego.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal control, animals, cujo. spencer highway, dog, dogs, highway, kyle jones, la porte, law enforcement, officer, pets, police, ran away, rat terrier, rescues, returned, saves, texas, zapala
After a Valentine’s Day hearing, a Texas judge will decide who should have custody of Victory, a bearded collie who is missing her nose.
Victory was found last month wandering in Hutto, Texas, outside of Austin. Her fur was heavily matted. She’d sustained puncture wounds. And her nose appeared to have been cut off.
Since then, an owner has stepped forward, saying Victory (not her original name) had run off a month earlier, and that the loss of her nose was the result of an autoimmune illness she was being treated for.
After she was found, the 4-year-old dog was treated by a local veterinarian, then placed in a foster home by Austin Pets Alive, which began a fundraising campaign and raised $2,000 for the dog to undergo skin graft surgery on her nose last week.
The surgery was canceled after a man called saying he owned her and wanted her back, said Laura Stromberg Hoke, a spokeswoman for Austin Pets Alive.
A judge will hear the matter Thursday, deciding whether the dog should be returned to her owner or remain with Austin Pets Alive, according to the Austin American-Statesman. No charges have been filed in the case, but police say they “wanted a judge to hear the information they had gathered during the investigation.”
Hutto animal control officers found the dog Jan. 9, and initially suspected she’d been the victim of abuse. The owners of the dog — who authorities refused to name — said she had run away around New Year’s, according to Hutto Police Chief Peter Scheets.
Police say they are still investigating whether the dog lost her nose due to medical neglect or abuse. Veterinary records show that the dog was last treated for lupus nine months ago but had no follow-up treatment, the police chief said.
One type of lupus that occurs in dogs can cause redness, scabs and ulcerations on a dog’s nose.
Scheets said there is also a possibility that the dog was injured after she escaped from her home and before she was discovered by police.
The hearing is open to the public and will be at 4 p.m. Thursday (Feb 14) in Hutto Municipal Court, 401 W. Front St.
You can find an update on this story here.
(Photo: Austin Pets Alive)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 13th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, austin, austin pets alive, bearded collie, courts, custody, cut off, disease, dog with no nose, dogs, foster, found, hutto, investigation, lupus, missing, no nose, nose, noseless, owner, pets, texas, victory
Bush broke the news on his Facebook page, where he also made public a recent oil painting he did of his dog.
“After twelve and a half years of life, his body could not fight off the illness,” Bush said in the post.
Barney had lymphoma.
Barney was born Sept. 30, 2000 — two months before Bush was elected to his first term.
In his Facebook post, Bush wrote, “Barney greeted Queens, Heads of State, and Prime Ministers. He was always polite and never jumped in their laps. Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House. He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal.”
Barney’s mother was Coors, a Scottish terrier owned by former Environmental Protection Agency Director Christine Todd Whitman, and his father was Kelly of Champion Motherwell Stormwarning.
Barney had his own section on the Bush administration’s official White House website, starred in numerous videos and was a fixture at the White House, the Bushes’ Crawford ranch and Camp David, where Barney’s favorite activity was chasing golf balls on the chipping green.
He was a “fierce armadillo hunter,” Bush wrote, who loved going along when he fished for bass at the ranch.
“Barney guarded the South Lawn entrance of the White House as if he were a Secret Service agent. He wandered the halls of the West Wing looking for treats from his many friends. He starred in Barney Cam and gave the American people Christmas tours of the White House.”
Barney also once bit a reporter who got too close.
The president, who has taken up painting since leaving the White House, also released a portrait he did of Barney. It is signed “43.” Bush was the nation’s 43rd president.
Barney is survived by Miss Beazley, another Scottish terrier who lives with the ex-president, and Bob, a cat.
(Photo: Bush’s portrait of Barney, from Facebook)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, barney, bush, death, died, dogs, first dog, first dogs, former, george, lymphoma, news, passed away, pets, presidency, president, president bush, presidents, scottish terrier, texas, w, white house
Shot in the face, tossed in a trash bag and tied to a fence post on the side of the road, a dog in Conroe, Texas was rescued, treated and — though he’s expected to have lasting damage — is mostly recovering.
Rescuers named him Buck — after the buckshot left in his face by a shotgun blast.
A driver spotted the bag on the side of the road Saturday on Bulldog Lane, and saw that it was moving.
Once it was was opened a bloody dog crawled out and collapsed on the ground.
When a call to animal control produced no immediate results, Tami Augustyn — known in the area for helping animals in need — was called.
Augustyn took the dog to Animal Emergency Clinic of Conroe, where it was determined he’d been shot in the face with buckshot, according to the Mongtomery County Police Reporter, which broke the story.
Dr. Ron Hendrick, a veterinarian at the clinic, said the mixed breed dog, about three years old, sustained damage to both eyes and also shows signs of hearing loss and brain damage.
The article about Buck — and a Facebook page set up to help him — led to nearly $10,000 in donations towards Buck’s medical care.
This week, the New York Daily News picked up the story.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, bag, bloody, buck, buck foundation, buckshot, conroe, cruelty, cruelty to animals, ears, expenses, eyes, face, facebook, fence, fencepost, medical, rescue, road, shot, shotgun, tami augustyn, texas, tied, trash bag
The starving stray dog rescuers initially dubbed Java, because of the coffee can around her neck, has been renamed Olivia, and she’s recovering from her surgery Monday.
Authorities estimate she spent a month with the can encasing her neck and cutting into her ears. She apparently gave birth to a litter during that time, though it’s not likely any pups survived, based on the emaciated condition Olivia was found in.
But she’s been making steady improvement since having surgery Monday. “She’s really doing remarkably well,” a board member with Animal Allies of Texas told the Dallas Morning News.
According to Animal Allies, Dallas Animal Control is not investigating whether the dog was abused because there is no evidence the can was intentionally placed on her head.
Vets expect Olivia, who still needs to be treated for heartworm and spayed, to spend another week at Metro Paws Animal Hospital. After that, she will be fostered by one of the veterinary technicians.
It could be up to four months before she is put up for adoption.
Contributions to Olivia’s care can be made through the Animal Allies website or by calling Metro Paws at 214-887-1400.
(Photos: Animal Allies)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal allies, animal control, animals, can, coffee, coffee can, contributions, dallas, dog, dogs, donations, found, java, litter, metro paws animal hospital, neck, olivia, pets, puppies, rescue, rescued, starving, stray, surgery, texas
A starving dog with a coffee can around her neck was dropped off Sunday at Dallas Animal Services, along with a second dog who appeared to be looking after her.
Both dogs were brought to the shelter by a citizen who who didn’t wish to be identified. He said he found the two dogs.
Officials at the shelter say the emaciated dog, named Java by its rescuers, has had the can around her neck for some time. It had cut into her ears, nearly severing one. The can was removed and Java was transferred to Metro Paws Animal Hospital for treatment.
The shelter posted on its Facebook page that “the next few days are critical. We have to get her stable enough for surgery and watch out for organ failure due to her starved condition. But that tail is wagging.”
The second dog, who was dubbed Joshua, is healthy and up for adoption.
“He was shy and frightened at all that was going on,” the Facebook post says, “but he was determined to be a reassuring presence for the girl.”
(Photo: Dallas Animal Services)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal allies of texas, animal cruelty, can, coffee, coffee can, cruelty to animals, cuts, dallas, dallas animal services, dog, dogs, dropped, ears, emaciated, found, injuries, java, joshua, metro paws animal hospital, neck, shelter, starving, stray, texas
How big of a reward would you post for the safe return of your lost dog?
A couple in Warren, Texas, is offering $50,000 — and putting their house up for sale to come up with the money.
Their dog Sir, a chocolate Lab, has lived with the couple for five years.
Charlie Parker said he and his wife have no children, and that Sir was like a child.
The dog disappeared from their property on September 15.
The couple posted fliers at local businesses, but they have yet to hear anything, according to KFDM. (Click the link to see the video report.)
When he disappeared, Sir was wearing a camouflage collar, the Parkers say.
Anyone with information is asked to phone (409) 547-2297 or (409) 200-6008.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $50000, animals, charlie parker, chocolate lab, couple, dog, dogs, dollars, fifty thousand, labrador, lost, lost dog, missing, offers, pets, retriever, reward, sir, texas, warren
At least 38 dogs entrusted to a Texas pit bull refuge whose mission was to provide them with care and find them new homes never came out, perishing instead from heat stroke, and being buried in a mass grave on the ranch.
Not too much news has been coming out of Spindletop Refuge in Willis, either.
Since authorities last week seized nearly 300 dogs, mostly pit bulls, and removed them from conditions generally described as cramped and unhealthy, there have been a lot more questions than answers.
On Friday, after hours of private negotiations, Spindletop owner Leah Purcell agreed to relinquish ownership of the 287 dogs, and through her attorney, she agreed to terms prohibiting her from future rescue and boarding in the county.
That court action was related strictly to the custody of the dogs. No charges have yet been filed against Purcell, and there has been no clear word that they will be.
Instead, there are a heap of questions unanswered — most of them from rescue groups around the country that sent animals to Spindletop, and now want to find out if they’re still alive, and reclaim them if they are.
On top of that, there’s another all-important one — what led what was once such a highly respected refuge to end up keeping dogs in conditions more like those you’d find at a puppy mill or the home of a hoarder?
Members of at least 50 rescue groups attended a Friday custody hearing in Conroe, but it was behind closed doors that an agreement was reached between prosecutors and Purcell. Except for 11 dogs that belonged to her mother, she surrendered the rest, and custody was awarded to the Humane Society of the United States and Montgomery County.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a grand jury, also meeting behind closed doors, will decide whether Purcell will face criminal charges.
According to the Houston Press, several rescuers learned Friday then that the dogs they had surrendered to Spindletop — and were told had been adopted — died of heat stroke last summer.
“It was definitely not a sanctuary. Definitely not. Those dogs were left in a living hell,” said former Spindletop employee Brandon Louth, who says he’s the one who contacted authorities about conditions at the refuge.
Of the mass death he said, ”The dogs had suffocated, because the building was not ventilated. The electricity had gone off in the building, and basically I had to bury the dogs, put the dogs in sacks and dig a mass grave for them.”
Officials are still working to catalog all the rescued dogs, and were putting together a website where they’ll be posting photos of all of the dogs. The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping coordinate the effort, said this week on its Facebook page that approximately 40 dogs have been claimed and returned to owners or places of origin, or will be in the next few days.
They advise those seeking dogs that were in Spindletop’s care to:
“If you have not already done so, please send extremely detailed information about dogs you wish to reclaim to firstname.lastname@example.org and to Constable Tim Holifield at email@example.com . Include a phone number and an email address. Put the word SPINDLETOP in the subject line. Animal Farm Foundation is coordinating the communication with owners and places of origin and schedules appointments for reclaiming dogs.”
At Friday’s court hearing, Montgomery County Constable Tim Holifield assured the crowd that the animals were being well cared for and that the Humane Society of the United States, which assisted in the Spindletop seizure, is committed to not euthanizing any of the dogs.
“It’s especially painful to see people and places that purport to help animals do precisely the opposite,” HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote yesterday on his blog, A Humane Nation.
“We tell people shopping for a dog from a breeder to go see the parents of the dog, to make sure the place is not a puppy mill. With so many of these cases of neglect by those who say they are helping animals cropping up, it’s also wise to do background work or a site visit to any self-described rescue or sanctuary. There are so many good rescue groups and sanctuaries doing important work for animals every day, and every one of them would agree with me on that point … Calling yourself a sanctuary or a Samaritan isn’t enough. You have to act like one.”
It’s also important, we’d point out, to get to the bottom of what happened — what made such good intentions go astray — and for that information to be public. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening with Spindletop, which only increases the chances that, sometime soon, somewhere else, we’ll be hearing the same story again.
(Photo: One of the rescued pit bulls in Texas; by Scott Dalton, via A Humane Nation)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 24th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, catalog, custody, deaths, dogs, hsus, leah purcell, location, mass grave, montgomery county, news, ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, private, public, refuge, rescue, sanctuary, seized, spindletop, surrender, texas, wayne pacelle, willis