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Tag: tracking

Could cadaver dogs be replaced by vultures?

Skilled as dogs are at finding dead bodies, police in Germany think they’ve found an animal even more adept at the task.

Police in Walsrode, Germany, say they have trained a vulture named Sherlock to lead them to cadavers.

By placing a GPS device on his leg, they can track him and respond — I’d hope before he’s eaten too much of the evidence.

“If it works, it could save time because the birds can cover much more area than sniffer dogs or humans,” officer Rainer Herrmann told the Daily Mail.

The turkey vulture, a natural scavenger, feeds almost exclusively on carrion, finding its meals through keen vision and a sense of smell that allows it to detect the gasses produced during the decay of dead animals from as high as 3,000 feet in the air.

“‘It was a colleague of mine who got the idea from watching a nature programme,”  Herrmann said. ”

Sherlock can even find remains in woodland or in thick undergrowth. Unlike sniffer dogs, who need regular breaks, Sherlock doesn’t seem to get tired and can cover a far larger area.

Sherlock is being trained at Walsrode, the largest bird park in the world with 650 different species.

Trainers hope to assemble a squadron of crimefighting vultures, but — given that the vultures aren’t native to the area, would have to be raised from chicks to be tame, and require lots of training — it will be a while before they are called to duty.

Submerged suspect doesn’t buffalo dog

A police dog from Buffalo tracked down a shoplifting suspect in Canada — even though the alleged culprit was submerged in a swamp.

Thor, a two-year-old German shepherd, and his handler Lt. Sam Losi, were in Niagara-on-the- Lake to participate in training drills with the Niagara Regional Police canine unit.

Sgt. Jeff Hopkins, head of the Niagara canine unit, was conducting training when he received a call to assist in a search for a shoplifting suspect. With no other dogs at his immediate disposal, he invited Thor and his handler on the call.

They were told a man had been seen shoplifting from SportChek at Niagara Square, ran from security officers and had disappeared in a swampy area behind the mall.

Thor tracked the suspect’s scent from the mall to the swamp and jumped into the water. He came to a stop on what appeared to be a mound of debris in the water.

“We looked closer and saw what looked like a pant leg and a nose sticking out of the water,” Hopkins told the Niagara Falls Review. “He was totally submerged under water.”

A 45-year-old Niagara man was pulled from the swamp and is now being treated at a local hospital. No charges have yet been filed.

AT&T unveils collar that will track your dog

peterclarkcollage1

 
A dog collar that will allow pet owners to map their pets’ location on their computer or other wireless devices will soon be hitting the market, Apisphere, Inc.  and AT&T announced.

“The dog collar, with an embedded wireless SIM, will leverage Apisphere’s award winning geo-mobility platform to transmit location-aware data across AT&T’s nationwide wireless network directly to a pet owner’s wireless handset or personal computer,” according to an AT&T press release

In other words, what the communications company is saying, I think, is that the new gizmo will tell you where your dog is.

Apisphere is a provider of “location-smart technologies” for mobile applications and devices.

Pet owners who use the technology will be instructed to register their pets and important contacts as soon as they attach the collar. Owners may establish a “geo-fence” around the home where the pet can roam freely. Through the technology, owners can locate their dog if he strays outside of his established parameters.

Apisphere software will transmit street level data for easy pet location. Owners will have the option to program text, email, video or audio alerts, to be distributed as often as they like.

“There are few things as important to my daughter as knowing the whereabouts of our dog,” said Glenn Lurie, president, AT&T Emerging Devices, Resale and Partnerships. “The peace of mind that a wirelessly connected collar will bring my family and pet owners across the country is long overdue. We’re extremely excited about this product and its possibilities.”

Pricing, distribution, and design details of the collar will be made available at launch, expected later this year.

(Art: From Peterclarkcollage.com)

Task force on animal abuse calls for changes

phoenix3Baltimore could be doing a far better job of protecting its pets and animals, a task force appointed by Mayor Sheila Dixon concludes in an interim report released this week.

Its recommendations include stiffer penalties, stronger laws, greater police involvement, a larger and better equipped animal shelter, improved coordination between city departments and a greater effort to increase public awareness about the problem.

The task force was created after a pit bull was doused with gasoline and set on fire in West Baltimore in May, 2009.

Police Officer Syreeta Teel observed the burning dog on the 1600 block of Presbury Street and extinguished the flames with her sweater. The dog, who was subsequently named Phoenix by her caretakers, suffered severe burns over 95% of her body and died four days later.

The task force was charged with looking at ways to eradicate animal abuse, and dogfighting in particular, in the city; increase awareness of animal cruelty laws; legislation to protect animals and prosecute abusers; and how animal control and law enforcement could better handle animal cruelty cases.

“Our examination into these subject areas has not been all bleak,” the task force reported. “While the Department of Animal Control is in urgent need of assistance and reform, other systems, such as the current system for tracking animal related concerns, operates fairly effectively and needs only minor revamping to track animal cruelty cases.

“And while additional legislation should be enacted to prosecute abusers, on a positive note, the State’s Attorney’s Office of the City of Baltimore has shown great commitment in the prosecution of Travers and Tremayne Johnson, the defendants charged with aggravated animal cruelty in the burning death of Phoenix.”

The report adds: ”The public response to the work of the Task Force has been positive. Public sentiment is changing and a “no tolerance” policy toward animal abuse is emerging. Moreover, it is well recognized that animal abuse is a precursor to violent crime against people …

“If the City of Baltimore seeks to eradicate drug violence, gang violence, child abuse and spousal abuse, it must also eradicate animal abuse, for when one encounters animal abuse or dogfighting, one of the former scourges is likely to be present. Stamping out animal abuse is one of the most effective crime prevention tools available to law enforcement officials.”

You can find the full report on the mayor’s website.

Recommendations in the report call for a better system of reporting and tracking animal abuse, beefing up Animal Control staff, better communication with the city’s social services department about animal abuse cases, and assigning three police officers to work full-time with Animal Control.

Currently, there are no officers assigned to work with the department and no liaison between Animal Control and the Baltimore City Police Department, and no channel of communication to discuss ongoing investigations, the report says.

Animal control officers have no authority to make arrests or carry guns, the report notes, and “must call for police backup when investigating dogfighting or crimes in progress against animals.” Police response times can vary, but can be as long as 40 minutes. “In the interim, witnesses flee, crime scenes are not secured, and evidence degrades.”

Maryland has recently dropped into the bottom tier of states in terms of the strength of its animal cruelty laws, according to the report, which calls for stiffer penalties for animal abuse.

Here is the complete list of recommendations:

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After wife’s highway death, a search for dogs

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For five straight days, Greg Wong returned to the lonely stretch of highway on Wyoming’s prairie where his wife was killed, searching not for closure but for Sammie and Maddie, the two small dogs traveling with her.

Hours after state police on May 30 called his home in Laramie, notifying him that his wife, Susan, had been killed  on Highway 487, Wong made the first two-hour trip, arriving at 2 a.m., just as a tow truck pulled the SUV his wife had been driving from a deep ravine.

Police told Wong that his wife apparently lost control of the vehicle. It rolled over three times and landed in the ravine. Police told him no dogs were found inside the vehicle, or in the area.

Wong told the Casper Star-Tribune that as soon as he got the news, it was as if he heard his wife’s voice in his head, saying “find the dogs.”

“I guess a lot of it didn’t soak in,” he said. “…You get to that point where you almost turn into a zombie. You are afraid to start thinking about it too much because emotionally you can’t handle it. I kept focusing on ‘you have to find those dogs.’ In a way, I was thinking my last connection to my wife was those dogs.”

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