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Tag: tickets

“Dog’s Purpose” has solid opening weekend

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“A Dog’s Purpose” opened over the weekend to protests, mixed reviews and box office receipts that, while impressive, were slightly less than those it expected before controversy arose over the treatment of one of its canine stars.

The film pulled in $18.4 million over the weekend — less than the estimated $24 million expected before a video was leaked showing a German shepherd resisting efforts to have him perform a stunt.

After the video appeared on TMZ, PETA called for a boycott of the movie.

Initially, many of those involved in making the movie — including its director and actor Josh Gad — said the video was disturbing.

Gad, who supplies the voice of the continually reincarnating dog in the movie, posted on Twitter that the footage left him “shaken and sad … As the proud owner of a rescued dog and a fervent supporter of organizations like PETA, I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images.”

The days leading up to the movie’s release saw a scheduled press preview canceled, Gad go silent, and a well choreographed defense of the movie that included appearances by its star, Dennis Quaid, who insisted no animals were harmed and that the video was misleading.

Even the American Humane Association, which monitors the treatment of animals in TV and movie productions — after suspending the monitor assigned to the film and before its investigation was finished — came out in support of the movie in a PETA-bashing letter published by its CEO.

The studio provided additional footage of the dog willingly performing the stunt during rehearsals to support their stance that he was not being mistreated. The movie’s makers also questioned why the video was leaked a year and a half after it was made — and the week before the movie’s opening — suggesting something nefarious was going on.

Dog lovers, generally a united bunch, found themselves on both sides of the issue — some saying the video showed the dog was pushed too far and supporting the boycott; others saying the leaked video lacked context, that the stunt was eventually called off for that day after the dog resisted, and that nothing cruel took place.

For many fans of the best selling book, there was a feeling that the movie’s sweet, dog-loving message didn’t deserve to be tarnished by a video they viewed as dubious.

Forty-five seconds of the video shows the German shepherd being urged to get into the pool, and dipped into it against his will. Another shorter piece of the video — believed to have been recorded on a different day — shows him struggling in the water and going under.

The water in the pool was being churned by outboard motors to create the effect of river rapids.

While the dog had willingly jumped into the pool during rehearsals, the location of where he was entering the pool was changed on the day of filming.

On opening night, there were small protests, including one outside the Arclight theater in Hollywood. Dozens of protesters held up signs that read, “A dog’s purpose is to be loved. Period” and they chanted “There’s no excuse for animal abuse! Dog’s aren’t props!”

PETA and others argued that the effects the movie makers were after could have been achieved with computer graphics, but the movie’s makers said that would have been too expensive.

Amblin Entertainment and Walden Media’s film was released by Universal Pictures, and its weekend receipts were nearly enough to cover the estimated cost of making it, about $22 million.

“A Dog’s Purpose” came in second to M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split,” which tells the story of a man with dissociative identity disorder who takes three teens hostage.

Industry consultants say the leaked video and boycott had some impact on the film’s opening, but apparently a minimal one.

“A Dog’s Purpose is based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, which has spent longer on USA Today’s best-selling book list than any dog book since “Marley & Me.”

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / For The Los Angeles Times)

Lotsa bark, little bite: Chicago crackdown on unlicensed dogs fizzles out

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Was all that talk about a crackdown on unlicensed dogs in the Windy City just bluster?

Chicago’s much publicized threat to conduct sweeps at dogs parks and beaches, track down scofflaws and issue tickets carrying fines of up to $200 — all in effort to get more of the estimated 653,000 canines living there registered — never really got rolling.

City Clerk Susana Mendoza said Tuesday that, despite publicity, free rabies clinics, contests and other citywide events aimed at encouraging dog registrations, licenses  rose only from about 30,000 to 40,000 this year.

Mendoza , who testified this week at City Council budget hearings, said her office followed through on creating incentives for dog owners to get licenses, but the city’s Commission on Animal Care and Control “dropped the ball” when it came to the enforcement side of the campaign.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that was likely  “either because it is inundated and understaffed or because Mayor Rahm Emanuel changed executive directors just when a ticket blitz was supposed to begin with stings at dog parks and beaches.”

For years, dog owners who failed to purchase dog licenses were all but ignored by the city.

That changed in 2005, when software was put in place allowing a county list of dogs who had received rabies shot to be compared to a much shorter list of licensed dogs in the city.

Warning letters were mailed to those whose names appeared on the county’s list, but not the city’s.

Those produced only a small surge in registrations. Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed the planned crackdown — with fines for violators — but that produced only another small surge, and the stiffer enforcement that was promised never took place.

Licenses are $5-a-year for spayed and neutered dogs, $50 for those that are not, and $2.50 for dog owners who are senior citizens. Fines for unregistered dogs run from $30 to $200. (You can learn more about registering your dog in Chicago here.)

Mendoza estimated Chicago’s dog population at more that 500,000 but others say it exceeds 653,000.

Despite the “tremendous job” her department did, Mendoza said, the crackdown “was really predicated on a strong enforcement effort, which we’re not responsible for . . . I have not seen a crackdown that I would feel comfortable with in terms of really getting people to license their dogs. I’m very disappointed in it.”

Pit BULL: “No place for them in our society”

Boston’s six-year-old ban on pit bulls has proven to be “all bark and no bite,” according to a review by the Boston Herald.

While the city has issued tickets in more than 518 cases since the law went into effect in 2004 — all to owners who failed to register or muzzle their pit bulls, as the law requires — the vast majority of them (four of every five)  have refused to pay their $100  fines.

Instead, many of them have opted to turn their dogs over to the city, meaning that, in addition to not collecting the fine money, the city’s burdened with the expense of caring for dogs whose owners have deemed the expendable.

“It’s a disposable commodity, and they don’t care. They’re not good dog owners,” said Sgt. Charles Rudack, director of Boston Animal Control, which has no authority to force scofflaws to pay the $140,000 in unpaid fines.

Rudack said about 1,000 violators have chosen to turn over their pit bulls to Animal Control rather than pay the fine.

Pit bulls under the care of Animal Control are put up for adoption. Those that aren’t adopted or taken in by other rescues are euthanized.

City Councilor Rob Consalvo, who co-sponsored the pit bull ordinance — it requires pit bulls to be registered, muzzled in public and for their owners to display “beware of dog sign” at their homes — defended the law.

“We never said this ordinance was going to be a magic wand that would make the problem go away. What we did say is that this would be a new tool that animal control and police could use to get a better handle on what I see is a problem with pit bulls.”

State data shows pit bull and pit bull breed attacks in Boston increased between 2006 and 2008, from 25 to 46. But that trend reversed last year, when the city recorded just 30 attacks from pit bull and pit bull breeds.

Still, people like Donna Fitzgerald, whose Shiba Inu “Rocky” was attacked by an unleashed pit bull in South Boston in 2004, say banning the breed seems to be the only solution.

“I’m a dog lover and I don’t mean to sound cruel about a certain breed, but there’s just no place for them in our society,” said Fitzgerald, who now lives in Florida.

(Photo by John Woestendiek)

Los Angeles tales: Barkers beware

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance creating fines for pet owners whose dogs violate leash laws (by being off them) and noise laws (by barking too much and too loudly).

The “administrative citations” would fine pet owners, possibly as little as $25, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Owners whose barking dogs have racked up complaints from neighbors will still face the possibility of being called to a Department of Animal Services hearing. But under administrative citation law, they also could be fined immediately.

“It’s a great enforcement tool for our animal control officers on the streets,” said Kathy Davis, the interim general manager of the city’s Department of Animal Services.

It’s also a great way for the city to bring in some needed money.

Although city officials have yet to decide on a fee structure, Davis said last year that other jurisdictions assess fines of 100 to $300. Considering the nearly 20,000 “notices to comply” the city sent dog owners last year, that could have amounted to more than $2 million for Los Angeles if fines had been in place.

The city’s Department of Animal Services is facing a proposed $1.8 million in cuts to its budget — nearly that same amount.

What a coincidence.

But the city says cracking down on dog owners isn’t financially motivated; instead, it’s for protecting everyone’s peace and safety.

“The object is to make people understand how serious the issue is they’re getting cited for,” Davis said.  Unleashed dogs, she said, “could go into the street and get killed, they could cause an accident. They could bite someone … there are lots of good reasons to keep that dog on a leash.”

Tickets all around in Chicago dog shooting

An off-duty Chicago police officer shot and killed a neighbor’s German shepherd Monday, claiming the dog was preparing to attack her.

The officer said she was walking her dog, described as pug, when the neighbor’s dog escaped from the backyard, attacked her dog and then threatened her.

When police arrived after the shooting, they issued a ticket to the owner of the dead dog for not having a license.

“Like killing my dog wasn’t enough?”  the neighbor, Laura Bravo, said.

The shooting happened as Bravo’s three children were heading to school. They let their dog, Malachi, out into the backyard, heard gunfire, and then saw the dog bleeding on the sidewalk.

After the Chicago Sun-Times inquired whether the officer had a license for her dog, the department checked and discovered she didn’t, a police spokesman said. The unidentified officer, a female who has been with the department about three years, was then issued one as well.

The tickets carry a fine of up to $500.

Michigan county nixes barking ordinance

We like this little story out of Van Buren County, Michigan.

The county board has rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed ticketing of dog owners if their pets barked, yelped or cried for more than 15 minutes straight between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The ordinance, which also required that dogs be on leashes while outdoors, had been debated for more than two years, with critics calling it an intrusion on their rights. Hunters objected, as did those who use guard dogs. Only one member of the county board voted for it.

But the real reason we like it is for its dateline, for the vote was taken in the county seat — a little town called Paw Paw.

(The town is named after the Paw Paw River, which was named by Native Americans after the paw paw fruit that grew abundantly along the river’s banks.)

Animal Control: Stuck in the mud

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Here’s a nutty, and muddy,  little story — one we’ll tell in pictures and words.

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All the pictures were taken Sunday, at Riverside Park in Baltimore, where after three straight days of rain, sunny skies had finally prevailed, along with temperatures so toasty that the squirrels took a break from hoarding their nuts to eat some, and the homeless guys — usually homelessguy1up and gone by mid-morning — slept in.

It was really more like a spring day, except for  the turning leaves, hitting their peak of redness on some trees, burning bright orange on others. Those already brown and fallen, after three days soggy, were starting to regain their crunch under the warming sun.

Football and softball games were getting underway on the sports fields — never mind the puddles. Parents and children filled the swings and slides in the fenced-in play area. 

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And dog walkers were out in abundance — some with their pets on leash, some of whom had let them off, which, in this particular park, as of now, is against the law.

Nevertheless, a lot of us do it — keeping an eye out for the white animal control van while we let our dogs enjoy a little freedom, exercise and squirrel chasing.

It was one of those free and easy, good to be alive, laid back Sunday mornings — quiet but for the happy squeals of children, the chirping of squirrels and that thwickety thwickety noise of dogs charging through piles of leaves — when what should appear but …

DSC07382The white animal control van. Usually the animal control van keeps to the paved paths, stopping to warn those with their dogs off leash to hook them up, sometimes writing citations, which carry a $200 fine.

This animal control van was — for reasons unknown — driving through the grass, which, in addition to not being good for the grass, could prove problematic for homeless guys sleeping thereon, not to mention children playing, families picnicking, or squirrels a scurrying.

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Anyway, the animal control officer pulled his van to a halt in the grass, apparently to confront some lawbreakers, and when the time came to leave, he couldn’t. The van’s back wheels became mired in the mud, sinking deeper the more they spun.

stuckvanThe officer called for a tow truck and, about an hour later, one arrived. Its operator attached a chain to the animal control van’s axle and hoisted it out of the muck.

While his van was being saved, the animal control officer found the time to take some photos of off-leash dogs running in the distance. That’s what his camera was pointed at, at least. Then again, maybe he was just shooting the foliage.

acphotoOnce freed, the van departed the park, leaving some big muddy ruts behind.

It’s unknown if the animal control officer issued any citations Sunday morning — and if so, whether the revenue those bring in will be enough to cover the towing fee and other damages left in the wake of his morning patrol.

After freeing the bogged down animal control van, the tow truck operator acccidentally hit a bolted-to-the-ground trash can, which he then used his truck to bend back into an upright position before pulling off.

garbagecanMaybe sending animal control officers to hunt for unleashed dogs walking in parks with their owners — as opposed to cracking down on abuse, neglect and dogfighting — is a legitimate use of their time. Maybe citing the owners of dogs who are bothering no one, and who no one has, specifically, complained about, makes the city a safer place. Maybe it’s not just a heavy-handed, wheel-spinning waste of tax dollars.

But the only visible marks left by yesterday’s patrol were these:

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(Photos by John Woestendiek/ohmidog!)