The Interior Department’s new secretary (Trump appointee Ryan Zinke) has told his employees that he plans to let them bring their dogs to work on a trial basis.
Zinke announced in an email to employees Thursday morning the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays, one in May and one in September, the Washington Post reported.
“I’m taking action to establish a pilot program for Doggy Days at Interior!” Zinke said in the email to Washington-area employees. The email included two photographs of him with his wife, Lolita, and their 18-month-old black and white Havanese, Ragnar.
Zinke made a splash when he rode a horse to work on his first day on the job.
Whether it ends up being an open-ended and ongoing invitation, or just a couple of days a year when employees can bring their dogs to work, the new policy would make Interior the first federal agency to go at least a little dog-friendly.
While former CIA director Leon Panetta was known to sometimes bring his dog to work, government rules prohibit it. General Services Administration Rule 102-74.425 states that: “No person may bring dogs or other animals on Federal property for other than official purposes.”
Particulars of the Interior Department pilot program remain to be worked out, such as whether there will be size or weight limits. Likely, participating dogs would have to be housebroken, be up to date on vaccinations and stay on their leashes.
Zinke, an avid hunter, former Navy SEAL and congressman representing Montana, portrays himself as both an outdoorsman and a dog lover. Earlier this this month, he arrived at his new workplace astride Tonto, a bay roan gelding who belongs to the U.S. Park Police and resides in stables on the Mall.
His email referred to his own dog, and the times they have shared.
“Opening the door each evening and seeing him running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” it reads. “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with (Ragnar) riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”
Zinke said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the agency, which includes the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and six other departments.
Interior ranked 11th in employee morale of the 18th largest federal agencies in last year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey, with just 61 percent of its 70,000 employees saying they’re happy in their jobs.
(Top photo: Zinke, wife Lola, and dog Ragnar, courtesy of Department of Interior; lower photo from The Washington Post)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 24th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boost, cabinet, department of the interior, dog, dogs, dogs in workplace, federal, federal government, government, havanese, interior department, morale, offices, pet, pets, pilot program, policy, ragnar, ryan zinke, test, trial, Trump, washington, work
Former Baltimore police officer Jeffrey Bolger will receive $45,000 in back pay for the time he spent on unpaid leave after slitting a dog’s throat.
Bolger, 50, was acquitted last year of animal cruelty charges after killing the dog — a Sharpei who had wandered away from her home.
The Baltimore Sun reports that, pending approval today from the Board of Estimates, Bolger will get payment for about 10 months of paychecks.
Despite police commanders called the killing “outrageous and unacceptable” — and witness who claimed to have heard Bolger say, “I’m going to (expletive) gut this thing” — Phinn ruled the officer was acting in the interest of public safety.
Bolger was forced to retire early from the Police Department, but under the police union contract, he is entitled to receive back wages for the period he was suspended.
Steven H. Levin, who defended Bolger, said his client was unnecessarily charged and suspended from the department. “The evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Bolger acted appropriately,” Levin said Monday.
Nala escaped through a gate in her Canton backyard, and bit the hand of a woman who was trying to rescue her.
Witnesses told police that fellow officer Thomas Schmidt held down the dog while Bolger slit her throat. Charges against Schmidt were later dropped.
(Photo: Nala and her owner, Sarah Gossard)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: $45, 000, acquitted, animals, back pay, baltimore, contract, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, officer, pets, police, police union, police. officer, runaway, sarah grossard, sharpei, slit, throat, trial
We’ve come to expect this behavior from police officers, and regularly bash them for making snap judgments to end a life because a dog is running towards them in what they perceive — sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly — to be an aggressive manner.
But possibly even scarier than that is the idea of a cable guy who is toting a gun, and making that judgment.
In this case, Martel Travis had arrived at a home when he was approached by Cleo, a three-year-old chocolate Lab mix who lived next door.
Travis told police, after the incident, that the dog was acting aggressively, so he walked away from the home and to his service truck, where he retrieved his gun and shot the dog.
We can’t help but ask, once he was back in his truck, why didn’t he just drive away?
Is installing cable so important that gunning down a dog is preferable to coming back another day, perhaps one when the neighbors have been called and asked to keep their dog inside?
To consider this a killing that occurred in the “line of duty” is a joke.
But somehow, a jury saw clear to acquit him of the charge the prosecutor’s office filed — animal killing/ torturing, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.
The Monroe News reports that the jury deliberated about an hour before rendering their verdict.
“This has revived my faith in the criminal justice system,” said Marlon B. Evans, the Detroit lawyer who represented Travis. “… He was at work, doing his job and he had a right to defend himself.”
Monroe County Assistant Prosecutor Ronald Benore Jr. called six witnesses to testify in the one and a half day trial, and argued that Travis overreacted and shot the dog unnecessarily.
“The jury must have believed he was in fear of his life or in danger,” Benore said.
The dog’s owners, Brian and Melissa Doran, said they were shocked at the verdict.
Cleo was never aggressive and was merely trying to greet Travis, they added.
We won’t second guess the jury (much), but we will second guess the cable guy: Once he returned to his vehicle to get his gun (which he has a license to carry), why didn’t he just remain inside and make a call, or drive off?
(Photo courtesy of the Doran family)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acquitted, animals, cable, cable guy, cable guy kills dog, chocolate lab, dog, dogs, gun, guns, handguns, jury, killed, line of duty, michigan, monroe county, on duty, pets, shot, trial
Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.
Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.
The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.
“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”
In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.
He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.
His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.
“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”
What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.
The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.
And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.
Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.
“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”
In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.
Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.
When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.
She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”
A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.
Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.
(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, baltimore, bite, bitten, court, cut, dog, dogs, hearing, hero, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, not guilty, officer, plea, police, pregnant, rabies, sharpei, slit, thomas schmidt, throat, trial, woman
A South Carolina man who dragged a pit bull mix behind his pick-up truck for two miles received the state’s maximum penalty for animal cruelty.
Circuit Judge Letitia Verdin sentenced Roger Dennis Owens of Greenville to five years in prison Tuesday for ill treatment of animals. He received another 5 1/2 years for habitual traffic offenses.
“This is one of the cruelest things that I’ve seen since I’ve been on the bench,” Verdin said.
Owens dragged the dog behind his truck for at least two miles on Nov. 29 — even as witnesses tried to get him to stop, according to the Greenville News.
Witnesses said the dog was tied to an open truck bed with her front paws on the gate while her hind legs were dragged across the road. The dog was running, trying to keep up with the truck, which was being driven at high speeds.
Two witnesses pursued Owens, following a trail of blood on the road until they found the dog, said Assistant Solicitor Julie Anders.
The dog, now named Andra Grace, was taken to a veterinary clinic for treatment, and more than $16,000 was donated to help pay for her care.
She has since been adopted.
Owens’ attorney, public defender Elizabeth Powers Price, said her client has cared for dogs his whole life but had been drinking that day.
You can learn more about Andra Grace on the Justice for Andra Grace Facebook page.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 10 years, 2 miles, abuse, andra grace, animal cruelty, court, cruelty to animals, dennis owens, dog, dogs, dragged, greenville, judge, letitia verdin, mix, pets, pit bull, sentence, south carolina, trial, truck, two miles, vehicle
An Oregon City man pleaded guilty to shooting a dog that belonged to his father’s neighbor.
Police say the father paid for the hit.
For his involvement in what authorities described as a murder-for-hire, Derek James Walkoski, 31, will spend 28 months in prison for shooting and killing Paws, a black Lab that lived next door to his father in Canby.
In a hearing in Clackamas County, Walkoski told Circuit Judge Robert R. Selander that he shot the dog with a rifle, the Oregonian reported.
“You just shot him?” Selander asked.
“Yes,” Walkoski said.
“Any reason?” Selander asked. “Any justifiable reason?”
“No, your honor,” Walkoski said.
Walkoski pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated animal abuse. He also pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another.
Paws’ owner, sitting in the back row of the courtroom gallery, did not address the court.
Walkoski’s father, David James Walkoski, 61, whose trial is set for June 18, hasn’t admitted to any involvement in the killing of Paws. But he was arrested during the court hearing when prosecutors informed the judge he, while free on bail, pointed his finger at Paws’ owners and simulated firing a pistol — despite an existing no-contact order issued by the court. He was charged with contempt of court and booked into the Clackamas County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.
According to police reports, the Walkoskis’ neighbor returned to his home in April 2012 to find his dog dead. Police said the father paid his son to kill the animal, but did not offer a motive for the shooting.
(Photos: David James Walkoski (left) and his son, Derek James Walkoski)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, black, canby, court, dog, father, guilty, justice, killed, lab, labrador, law, murder fo hire, oregon, oregon city, paws, pets, plea, retriever, rifle, sentence, shot, son, trial
Twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson were scheduled to be back in court this morning for a second trial on charges of setting a dog named Phoenix on fire two years ago.
The first trial for the Baltimore brothers ended in a mistrial in February.
The dog was found on fire by a police officer, who used her sweater to put out the flames. Days later, Phoenix died while being treated in Pennsylvania.
The case led to an increased focus on animal abuse in Baltimore and the creation of an Anti-Animal Abuse Taskforce.
In the first trial, a single juror held out against a guilty verdict, resulting in a hung jury.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, abused, animal cruelty, animal welfare, baltimore, burned, dog, fire, mistrial, new trial, phoenix, pit bull, postponed, postponement, second, set on fire, torture, travers johnson, tremayne johnson, trial