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Tag: threats

Organizer of “Touch a Dog” event in Malaysia apologizes amid death threats

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Facing death threats, the organizer of an event aimed at softening the harsh view many Muslims have of dogs has apologized for the furor his “I Want to Touch a Dog” gathering has created.

Syed Azmi Abhalshi, reacting to complaints that the event in Malaysia was insensitive, said he was only trying to educate people — Muslim and non-Muslim.

i-want-to-touch-a-dog-1He said his intention was not to convert Muslims into dog lovers or lead them to violate the precepts of their faith.

Many Malays took offense at photos from the event.

“I organized this event because of Allah, not to deviate the people’s faiths, try to change the Islamic rules of law, poke fun at the ulama or encourage pluralism,” Syed Azmi said.

Since the event last Sunday, he has received threats, and posts on social media platforms have accused him of being “a Christian in disguise,  according to the Straits Times.

Syed Azmi spoke at a press conference Saturday in Kelab Sri Selango – but left abruptly because he feared for his safety, his lawyer said.

“We are very concerned with his well being,” his lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, said.

In the week since the event Syed Azmi, a pharmacist, has received more than 3,000 phone messages on his phone, many of them hateful and a dozen of them threatening physical harm, the New York Times reports.

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The event, aimed at dispelling negative perception of dogs particularly among Muslims, started out as a small get-together for those curious about dogs, but it was attended by about 800 people, about half of them Muslims.

Syed Azmi said he never meant to encourage people, particularly the Muslims, to adopt dogs as pets but was merely trying to offer advice on how to deal with dogs.,

“During the event, the participants were also given detailed explanation on rules and regulations on how to handle dogs,” he said, including instructions in sertu, the Islamic way of purifying.

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Some Muslim attendees kissed and cuddled with dogs, but organizers said that — despite the event’s name — wasn’t the intention of the program.

“There were those who wanted to learn to touch the dogs and there were those who just wanted to observe,” said co-organizer Norhayati Ismail. “I admit we had no control over the crowd and what they did to the dogs. There could also be those who came late and did not hear our explanation from the Islamic perspectives,” she said.

Although many Muslims in other countries do not view touching dogs as forbidden, conservative Islamic groups in Malaysia view dogs as unclean and followers are required to undergo a ritualistic wash if they come into contact with canines.

(Top photo: Najjua Zulkefli / The Malaysian Insider)

PETA drops plans to use Tiger Woods in ad

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Tiger Woods’ attorneys apparently growled loudly enough to dissuade PETA  from using the troubled golfer’s image in a public service announcement for spaying and neutering.

So now the organization is considering using South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford instead as their roll in the hay model.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals planned to put up billboards bearing Woods’ face and the slogan, “Too much sex can be a bad thing … for little tigers too. Help keep cats (and dogs) out of trouble: Always spay or neuter!”

After lawyers for the golfer threatened to sue if his image was used, PETA set its sites on Sanford for a similar billboard, with  the possible tagline: “Your dog doesn’t have to go to South America to get laid,” the New York Post reports.

The ad campaign is aimed at preventing millions of abandoned cats and dogs from being euthanized at shelters each year.

PETA now  intends to poke fun at Sanford, who flew to Buenos Aires last year for a romantic assignation with someone other than his wife — when he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Are dogs the answer to lax airport security?

Could dogs have prevented Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab from boarding a plane with explosives hidden in his underwear?

CNN asked the question yesterday — the answer to which is, with enough properly trained dogs, probably.

But explosives-detecting dogs, the report points out, aren’t generally trained to sniff out humans, and having them do so might raise some privacy concerns.

Still, those quoted in the report say, something as low-tech as dogs could be our best solution to the problem.

“The fact that this individual showed up with a one-way ticket, purchased with cash and no checked baggage — he should have been pulled aside,” said security expert Larry Berg, a consultant with Berg Associates. “And at that point, if inspected by a dog, he literally could have been detected.”

“A well-trained dog and a very good, well-trained handler can find explosives with little or no false alarms,” said trainer Patrick Beltz said. “And if they had been doing it, it might have deterred him from trying to get on the plane in the first place.”

About 700 bomb-sniffing dogs currently work at U.S. airports, and they are trained to detect up to a dozen different explosive compounds, including PETN, the compound that AbdulMutallab is alleged to have smuggled aboard Northwest flight 253 to Detroit on December 25.

The report also looks at research underway at Auburn University in Alabama, where dogs are being used to sniff not people, but the air they leave in their wake when they pass by. The Auburn trainers believe their dogs can detect very small traces of explosives and then follow the trail to the person carrying a bomb.

Flea treatments: What’s safe, what’s not

The National Resources Defense Council, which warned this week of the hazards of flea and tick collars, has issued a product guide ranking the safety of more than 125 flea and tick control products.

The guide lists the products, the chemicals they contain and the risks they pose. It’s part of a NRDC’s new Green Paws campaign that helps consumers find the safest flea-control products that won’t endanger pets or children.

NRDC released a report yesterday warning of dangerously high levels of two carcinogenic neurotoxins on pet fur after the use of ordinary flea collars. The organization filed a lawsuit against companies including Petsmart, Petco and Sergeants; and it has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of the chemicals in flea collars.

For the full product list, click here.

Man could lose house for refusing to leash dog

A man in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is sticking to his guns — and threatening to use them — in a protracted battle over walking his dog without a leash.

Robert Wirth Jr. has spent $100,000 in legal fees on the case, and may lose his house, all because of walking his dog in a deed-restricted community without a leash.

“We’re running out of time because we’re running out of money,” said Wirth, 52, who works as a real estate broker and continues to walk his black Labrador, Cole, without a leash.

In January 2003, the River Watch Homeowners Association fined Wirth and his wife, Sandra L. Blaker, $1,000 for letting Cole walk without a leash. When the couple didn’t pay, the association filed a lien and, later that year, foreclosed on the home to collect the debt.

Last year, a circuit judge ordered Wirth and his wife to pay the fine, plus interest, attorney fees and other costs or the house would be sold. Wirth now owes more than $40,000, he said. He filed another appeal in February 2008, which has yet to be ruled on.

Wirth argued that the River Watch Homeowners Association deed restriction –  “A dog must be kept on a leash at all times when outside” — is too broad and, as written, required even dogs in fenced yards to be on leashes.

Wirth’s frustration have escalated to the point that he not too wisely said he would shoot and kill one of the board members if things don’t go his way. “I am not going to let them ruin me and my wife like this without standing up to them,” Wirth said.

Wirth’s comments were reported to the Tarpon Springs police, which followed up. The agency said the threat didn’t appear imminent, but that authorities would monitor the situation.

The St. Petersburg Times, in an editorial today, comes down on the side of the homeowner’s association, calling Wirth’s defiance of the rule ”stubborn and illogical.”

The editorial argues that the couple, by buying the house, agreed to the restriction and states that, no matter how well-behaved a dog might be “there are no guarantees when dealing with an animal.”

The full story an be found here. The editorial is here.