A pit bull separated from his family when they evacuated during the summer floods in Texas miraculously surfaced in northern California in September.
And as of yesterday, Thor was back home — thanks to help from strangers who heard about his story.
Eddie Hurtado and his family evacuated their home in San Marcos during the floods in late May, planning to return for their three dogs.
Two were found shortly after they returned, but not Thor.
Somehow, he ended up more than 2,000 miles away.
A police officer picked Thor up in Crescent City after seeing him jump from the back of a pickup truck. The officer brought the dog to the local animal shelter, where he was checked for a microchip.
That confirmed the dog was Thor, but Hurtado didn’t have the money to bring him home.
“We’re having to replace all the furniture and all the appliances and right now we don’t have any extra cash to try to get him down here,” he said.
After Thor’s story was aired on KEYE in Austin, and shared on social media, people stepped forward to help cover the cost.
“We ran the story on Thor at 6 p.m. and by 10 p.m. we had a shipper offering to ship the dog at a third of what Eddie had been quoted and we had viewers lined up to cover the cost. So Thor is coming home,” said Fred Cantú, a KEYE reporter.
“Most police versus pitbull encounters don’t have a happy ending,” he added. “Nice to be able to share this one.”
More offers of help came from California after the The Daily Triplicate published a story about Thor — enough help to get Thor a ride back home.
Hurtado had said he was hoping that would happen before Christmas. “Ever since my grandson found out that he was out there, he says that’s what he wants for Christmas. He wants to get his baby back.”
Thor left Crescent City Saturday, aboard a truck driven by Bruce Heinichen, a driver for Orange County Transport who is hauling a boat from Portland to Laredo, the Triplicate reported.
By Monday afternoon, the truck carrying Thor had crossed into Texas, the Los Angeles Times reported. By Wednesday, Thor was back with the Hurtados.
Hurtado said the transportation cost is being covered by two Austin benefactors, who will split the $665 bill.
The Hurtados, while still recovering from the May floods, are now dealing with a new round of flooding near the Blanco River.
“We probably need to get into a new house pretty soon,” said Hurtado. “But this time we’re keeping the dogs with us if we ever have to leave the place.”
(Photo: Del Norte County Animal Control Director Justin Riggs takes Thor for a walk; by Bryant Anderson / Del Norte Triplicate)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 5th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animals, crescent city, del norte county, dogs, evacuation, flooding, floods, home, microchip, miles, pets, pit bull, pitbull, san marcos, texas, thor, trip, truck
To make matters worse, the officer claimed the dog had been been hit by a car and was dead when he found him.
The atrocious behavior and blatant lie likely would have never come to light if not for a family’s persistent efforts to find out the truth about their dog, who they named after the movie star.
Brad Pitt ran away from his home in Kennesaw in July, and the family launched an extensive search, driving around the area, posting flyers and reporting the dog missing to Cobb County Animal Control.
Animal Control employees told them repeatedly that no dog matching Brad Pitt’s description had been there.
Then a neighbor called the family and told them he had seen Brad Pitt being loaded into a Cobb County Animal Control van.
Brad Pitt’s owner, Holly Roth, called Animal Control again, and learned the dog had been found dead — at least according to the officer who picked him up, Matthew Cory Dodson. Dodson had told his supervisors the dog had been hit by a car and was dead when he found him.
Roth, doubtful of the account, continued looking for the truth.
Police investigators questioned Dodson, and he confessed to what happened, according to his arrest warrant.
Dodson told police he put the dog in a compartment of his county truck around 9:40 a.m. July 18 after picking him up in the Kennesaw area. He finished his work day without bringing the dog back to the shelter.
“Failing to do so in a timely manner resulted in said dog’s death, likely from a heat related illness,” the arrest warrant states.
Dodson was charged with cruelty to animals and obstruction, both misdemeanors.
He was arrested Thursday afternoon, but released from jail on his own recognizance about an hour later. A Cobb County police spokesman said Dodson has resigned from his position.
Holly Roth said the 17-month-old basset hound and English bulldog mix had been a gift for her daughter after her elementary school graduation.
“I’m still so sick to my stomach about it,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He would’ve gotten away with it if I hadn’t been prying.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal control, animal cruelty, arrest, basset hound, brad pitt, bulldog, Cobb County, employe, employee, false, georgia, heat, holly roth, kennesaw, lied, matthew cory dodson, matthew dodson, mix, obstruction, officer, truck
Tibetan mastiffs, which once fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars each in the Chinese marketplace, are going out of style.
The New York Times reports that the lion-like dogs — all the rage among the wealthy in China just two years ago — are quickly becoming yesterday’s trend.
The reasons? A slowing economy for one, coupled with “an official austerity campaign that has made ostentatious consumption a red flag for anti-corruption investigators.” On top of that, the fad is doing what fads do — fade away, often, when it comes to dogs, with disturbing consequences.
About half of the country’s mastiff breeders have left the business, and those that are left are dealing with a surplus so severe that members of the breed can now be spotted on trucks laden with dogs headed to slaughterhouses.
About 20 mastiffs were on one such truck, with 150 other dogs, when it was stopped by Beijing animal rights activists who purchased the entire load from the driver and sent the surviving dogs to rescue organizations.
The Times says that, amid decreasing demand, the average asking price for mastiffs, which have reportedly sold for as much as $1.6 million, has dropped to around $2,000.
“If I had other opportunities, I’d quit this business,” said Gombo, a veteran breeder in China’s northwestern province of Qinghai. “The pressure we’re under is huge.”
Since 2013, about half the 95 breeders in Tibet have gone under, according to the Tibetan Mastiff Association.
“In some ways, the cooling passion for Tibetan mastiffs reflects the fickleness of a consuming class that adopts and discards new products with abandon,” the Times reported.
“Fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market,” Liz Flora, editor in chief of Jing Daily, a marketing research company in Beijing, told the Times. ”Han Chinese consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”
Other factors in the trend’s demise include unscrupulous breeders who mated purebred Tibetan mastiffs with other breeds, and the breed’s reputation of being aggressive.
Tibetan mastiffs are fiercely loyal, increasing the likelihood of attacks on strangers, experts say, and in the past couple of years some Chinese cities have banned the breed.
(Photo: Nibble, a Tibetan mastiff, was checked by veterinarians after being saved from the slaughterhouse by a group of animal rights activists; by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animals, breeders, breeds, china, dogs, fads, mastiffs, pets, slaughterhouse, status symbol, style, tibet, tibetan mastiffs, truck, wealthy
When Randi Hileman came upon a trail of dead dogs and cats on the highway in North Carolina, she did what most folks do nowadays. She got out her phone and took some pictures.
She was distressed enough by the scene that, after moving the corpses to the side of the road, she posted the photos on Facebook and called the news media — all in search of some sort of explanation.
And when, earlier this month, the explanation came, she — and a lot of other people — got even angrier.
What little official response there was went something like this: Someone failed to properly latch the tailgate of a truck transporting dogs and cats that had been euthanized at the Davidson County Animal Shelter.
Rather than ending up at their destination, a landfill, their bodies were left strewn along U.S 64, near Interstate 85.
Judy Lanier, the shelter’s director, told inquiring reporters it was a non-story, and apparently convinced a lot of them of that.
Not too many accounts of what happened can be easily found on the Internet, other than this one in the Winston-Salem Journal.
“It was an internal employee mistake that’s been dealt with in less than 30 minutes,” Lanier told columnist Scott Sexton. “Basically it’s a nonstory. There is one thread on one Facebook page where you’ve got less than 10 people beating a dead horse.”
Between being one of only eight counties backwards enough to still use gas chambers to put down dogs, the public opposition to that, the county’s dismal adoptions figures (it reportedly euthanizes 6,000 dogs a year), Lanier’s defensive reaction and the vivid images of what her employee left, however briefly, on the highway, it’s not too surprising that some people are calling for the shelter director’s resignation.
Lanier, while she’s not granting many interviews with the media, is responding to what people are saying on Facebook.
“I never took it lightly,” she says in one comment. “I dealt with it a week ago in a professional expedient fashion … I take issue with this non story that was simply an error of equipment usage being used as another platform for attacking our shelter, our staff and our ethics … Not one cat was adopted due to this story being spread all over face book. Not one of these so called activists stepped through the door to help lessen the overcrowding that requires that truck to make that trip several times a week. Shame on those who criticize that which they don’t understand and those who don’t intend to put their words into action. Journalism when practiced honestly does not require ambushing and exploitation. That’s just his personnel (sic) self aggrandizement in print.
Lanier wrote that none of the animals found on the road had been put down in the gas chamber, and said the shelter uses lethal injection three times more often than it uses its gas chamber. Opponents of the gas chamber, she said, are using the dead animal spill to fuel their campaign against the use of gas.
“Those animals are the visual picture of what happens in a community that does not spay/nueter (sic), thinks of animals as disposable property and expects a small shelter to absorb their decisions and re home each one. That’s a fact not an excuse but reality.
In another comment, she gets in a shot at the reporter: ”Must be a slow day in the newspaper world when a columnist can only report week old news and quote a no comment voice mail to make a punch line … Mr. Sexton burnt a bridge he won’t ever cross again today.”
Lanier further states that she wishes people criticizing the shelter would spend that energy instead on volunteering at the shelter, helping get dogs adopted and educating the public on spaying and neutering.
Amid her comments, an apology can be found.
“The incident where animals were found on Highway 64 on Tuesday, August 8, 2014 was an unfortunate error caused by the tailgate on the animal shelter truck being inadequately secured. The animal shelter truck was in route to the county landfill at the time of the incident. The animal shelter staff acted as soon as possible to correct this error and the staff member involved was extremely sorry and devastated that this had occurred. The shelter staff member is an excellent employee who performs above and beyond every day at the shelter. Measures have been taken by the staff to make sure this never occurs again.
“The Davidson County Animal Shelter apologizes to the public who witnessed this incident. We are aware of the impact this has had on our citizens. The entire incident was due to human error and is regrettable.”
Probably she should have provided that statement to reporters and stopped there, rather than telling them they were “beating a dead horse.” And probably she should have held back on criticizing animal advocates who want to see the gas chamber dismantled.
Criticizing those who see the issues differently is bad for public relations. Badmouthing reporters is bad for public relations. The gas chamber is bad for public relations. Dead dogs on the highway is bad for public relations.
Davidson County officials have the power to do something about one or two of those, or perhaps all four.
(Photos from Randi Hileman’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption rates, animals, bodies, carcasses, cats, davidson county, dead, director, dogs, euthanized, facebook, gas chamber, judy lanier, lethal injection, neuter, north carolina, pets, photos, put down, rescues, shelters, spay, spill, tailgate, truck
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
Police in Carver received a call Saturday after the truck went into the murky pond.
By the time Officer David Harriman arrived, one of two dogs had escaped and was standing on shore with the owner. But the other hadn’t surfaced, according to Boston.com
“Instead of waiting for the dive team, I decided to go in and try and get the dog,” Harriman explained.
“Seconds mean a big difference for animals, and people for that matter, under water,” he said.
The owner of the dogs, Debra Titus, 59, of Plymouth, stopped the vehicle next to a pond that provides water to the local fire department to argue with a man about dogs, South Coast Today reported.
“She thought she threw it in park but in fact threw it in reverse,” Sgt. Raymond Orr said. “It backed up and went into the pond.”
According to a police department press release, Harriman “removed his gun belt and dove into the murky water … He then managed to open the door and enter the vehicle and retrieve the dog. The dog was returned to its owner in good health but a little frightened.”
A photo of Harriman standing on the roof of the submerged Toyota Tacoma, with the tiny dog in his arms, is racking up the likes on Facebook.
Harriman, who described himself as a dog lover, has an 8-month old bulldog named Jaxx.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accolades, animals, car, carver, david harriman, dive, dog, dogs, facebook, hero, law enforcement, officer, pets, pickup, police, pond, rescue, submerged, trapped, truck, under water
Yesterday I suggested, half-seriously, that a Dog Walker Hall of Shame be established, and that an aspiring actor in Los Angeles who left a client’s dog in his parked Jaguar be made a charter member.
It only took a few minutes, once I put a link to the post on my Facebook page, for one reader to nominate what she thought was an even more deserving candidate.
(I have nothing against dog walkers; I am one. But I’ve always felt — even as a journalist — that it’s up to members of a profession to help weed out the bad seeds, or at least shine a spotlight on the dangerously dim bulbs certain occupation sometimes attract.)
Last Tuesday a dog walker in Langley, British Columbia, reported to police that six dogs were stolen from the back of her truck, parked just outside an off-leash area. She said she went to the bathroom and returned 10 minutes later to find all six dogs were gone.
That led to a week-long search — by authorities, doggie detectives, and the individual families who owned the pets.
In a heartbreaking development, police now say the dogs weren’t stolen, but died of heat exhaustion in the dog walker’s truck. Police are looking into charging the woman with public mischief, according to the National Post. The SPCA is also investigating.
The bodies of the dogs — five belonging to clients, one belonging to the dog walker — were found in Abbotsford, police said.
Alesha and Al MacLellan, of Petsearchers Canada, who were assisting in the search for the dogs, said the dog walker, Emma Paulsen, admitted to them that the dogs died.
She “disclosed that on May 13th, all six dogs were in the back of her vehicle with the side vent windows open and water available, as she had done hundreds of times,” Alesha MacLellan said. “Sometime during the outing, all six dogs perished from heatstroke. Upon arriving at the location and seeing her beloved charges deceased, she went into a blind panic at the thought of notifying the families and the possible repercussions.”
Initially, Paulsen said of the disappearance of the dogs, ”It’s just unimaginable. If somebody thought they were doing the right thing by saving theses dogs out of a hot truck, I can understand this perspective. But enough already, bring them home. Everybody’s just tortured at this point.”
The missing dogs, dubbed the Brookswood 6, gained widespread media coverage in B.C. Money was donated for rewards, and there was a rally for them at a Langley dog park.
The dog walker’s own dog, Salty, was among the deceased animals, according to The Province. The other dogs were Mia, a 15-month-old pit bull; Oscar, a six-year-old Rottweiler-husky mix; Buddy, a Boston terrier; Molly, a five-year-old German shepherd-blue heeler cross; and Teemo, a poodle-Bouvier mix.
The owners of the pets were devastated to learn that the dogs they thought were missing were dead, Mrs. MacLellan said.
“There’s always that sliver of hope. Until we talked to them today, we were also hopeful that if something bad had happened to some of the dogs, maybe one or two were hidden away somewhere safe. It’s pretty devastating that all six have perished.”
“Each year we attend hundreds of calls to rescue dogs in distress in hot cars,” said SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk. “Animals can suffer brain damage and death in as little as 10 minutes in a hot car, even with windows left open. The SPCA issues this warning repeatedly in warm weather in the hopes of averting such tragedies but sadly, we still continue to see animals left in hot cars.”
You’d think a professional dog walker would know better.
Louise Scott, who owned Molly, said she’d been hopeful her dog might return. She learned what happened from a neighbor, whose dog was also among the six.
“They said they’re all dead,” said Scott, 80. “I’m too upset to say anything. And I’m very, very mad. Angry is the word.”
(Photo: National Post)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, british columbia, canada, deaths, died, dog walker, dog walkers, dog walking, dogs, dogwalker, dogwalking, emma paulsen, hall of shame, heat, heat deaths, pets, petsearchers canada, six, spca, truck, walkers