A former Marine sniper’s support dog was shot by police in Dacono, Colo., after escaping from his yard and acting in what police say was an aggressive manner.
Mongo, a 3-year-old pit bull, is recovering from a gunshot wound to the chest.
His owner, James Vester, is seeking an explanation and an apology from police, whose behavior, he noted, seemed more like something you’d see on the streets of Iraq.
“I didn’t think I would see that again. You see it in Iraq — and then you see your best friend here get shot,” said Vester, who got Mongo, a certified emotional support dog, to alleviate stress after returning from combat.
Vester said he was doing yard work when Mongo got loose. A neighbor called police because Mongo began barking at her dogs from across a fence. When two officers arrived, Mongo barked and growled and lunged at one of them, according to police reports.
Some neighbors disputed the police account, according to Fox 31 News in Denver.
“There was no noise at first, I just heard the gunshot — then the dog started crying,” said Heather Viera, who was told by police to go back inside her home when she stepped outside.
Another neighbor, Jenny Stevens, says she was a few hundred feet down the road, walking her dogs, when she heard the shot. She said she didn’t hear any barking or growling before it was fired. “It was dead silent. There was not a bark, there wasn’t a growl. The cop did not say stop to the dog, the cop didn’t yell anything.”
Dacono Police Chief Matthew B. Skaggs said an investigation was being conducted.
“I think it is important to remember these things develop very quickly,” the chief said. “If you look in the report, the officer did say specifically that the dog got within six feet of him and at that point he felt like it was his only option.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 9th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aggressive, animals, barks, behavior, colorado, dacono, emotional, growls, investigation, iraq, james vester, law enforcement, marine, mongo, pets, pit bull, police, police shoot dog, service, shoot, shot, sniper, support dog, veteran
Another disabled veteran and service dog have been kicked out of a business establishment — this time in Virginia, where Pat Horan and his dog Wilson were asked to leave a restaurant in Centreville.
As often isn’t the case, Horan’s ejection got some news coverage, thanks to his Facebook friends and the fact that his sister-in-law is a TV reporter.
After a visit with his dentist earlier this week, Pat and his wife, Patty, stepped into a restaurant next door, the Village Café , for lunch.
Upon seeing the dog, the restaurant owner’s wife ordered them to leave the premises.
“I tried to explain to her that this isn’t just a regular pet, this is a service dog,” Patty Horan said. “My husband is disabled. She really didn’t want to listen to any of it. She just wanted us to leave the restaurant.”
They were offered the option to order and sit outside and eat, but there were no tables or chairs set up, she added.
The Horan’s posted what happened on Facebook, leading to angry comments from their friends, and the involvement of WUSA reporter Peggy Fox, who’d done a series of stories on her brother-in-law’s recovery. He was shot in the head in Baghdad, resulting in brain injury, seizures and instability.
Fox went to the Village Café and interviewed Mo Aminfar, the owner.
Aminfar said his wife, Mary, didn’t understand that Wilson was a service dog.
“She doesn’t speak very well in English,” he said.
Aminfar said it was a regrettable misunderstanding: “Pat, we apologize and are really sorry for what happened.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aminfar, animals, apology, brain injury, centreville, disability, disabled, dog, dogs, head, iraq, media, news, pat horan, peggy fox, pets, service, shot, vet, veteran, village cafe, virginia, war, wilson, wusa
A wandering veteran who lost his dog while living out of his camper in Utah has been reunited with him, thanks to a chance encounter, a blog entry, and a woman who had a feeling someone was missing the dog her father brought home.
Rusty Reed woke up on a summer morning earlier this year and tied his dog, Timber, to a 50-foot leash so he could get a little more sleep. When he awoke, Timber was gone, having pulled free of his collar.
Reed searched for three days, until, with wildfires approaching, he was forced to leave the area. He went back to Arizona, grieved, felt guilty and gave up on hopes for finding his dog. Two weeks later, he threw away Timber’s toys and dog food.
But the story – told, quite beautifully, in yesterday’s Arizona Republic, in an article by Scott Craven — has a happy ending.
Here’s the beginning: Reed came into possession of Timber three years ago. He was visiting Washington and ran into a friend who owed him money. The friend asked if he’d rather have cash or a dog.
“The dog,” Reed recalls having said. “A dog lasts longer than money.”
Calling Flagstaff, Arizona, home in the summer, and wintering in Lake Havasu City, Reed would walk Timber every day — either on a six-foot leash, which Reed called the “walkin’ leash,” or a 50 foot leash, which he called the “explorin’ leash.”
And when Reed hit the road in his camouflage-painted 1975 pick-up truck, which it sounds like he did often, Timber would come along.
Earlier this year, while camping, Reed met a woman named Sue Rogers, who was living the gypsy lifestyle as well in a camper with her two dogs, and blogging about her adventures at rvsueandcrew.com.
Four months after she posted about meeting him, Rogers heard from Reed again, who called to tell her about losing Timber.
“Rusty starts a tale I immediately sense is not going to have a happy ending,” she wrote on her blog after the talk.
Shortly after midnight on Aug. 26, Rogers posted a piece about Timber going missing, which led to numerous comments, and a few of her readers turning detective in hopes of helping locate the homeless veteran’s dog.
One of those posted a notice that, according to Fidofinder.com, a shepherd mix had been found July 10 near Loa, Utah. The listing included no photos, but Rogers contacted the poster and forwarded photos of Timber to her.
When Daisy Pettem, of Boulder, Colo., looked at the photos, she tried the name on the dog her family was calling Willy.
His ears went up.
Her father had found the dog as he camped outside Loa in early July and, unable to locate an owner, brought him home.
Pettem said that, given how sociable the dog was, she knew he belonged to someone, and that someone was likely missing him. It was she who posted the ”found dog” notice on Fidofinder.com.
Pettem communicated with Rogers, and then Reed, who, when he called her, asked her to put the phone to the dog’s ear.
“To to Timber, how are you boy? Daddy’s Number One Timber,” Reed said. Timber barked.
After some repairs to his pick-up, Reed headed to Longmont, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. He heard Timber barking when he stopped his truck.
Timber jumped out of an RV and dragged the holder of his leash over to Reed.
“Daddy’s here, boy, daddy’s back,” Reed said.
(Photo: Stephen Root / 12 News)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 10th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, blog, bloggers, blogging, camper, daisy pettem, dog, dogs, fidofinders, found, homeless, pets, returned, reunion, reunited, road, rusty reed, rvsueandcrew, sue rogers, timber, traveling, utah, veteran
The reunion took place at Lackland Air Force base in Texas last week, and the eight-year-old dog is now home with Logan Black.
Black, 34, launched a campaign on Facebook to persuade the Air Force to retire Diego and let him adopt him, KCTV in Kansas City reports. The retired soldier says Diego saved his life, several times, in Iraq.
“This feels fantastic,” Black said. “I’ve been waiting for those for a really long time.”
Black trained Diego and they served on nearly 40 missions in Iraq in 2006, searching for hidden weapons and homemade bombs.
Five years after they sent separate ways, Black said he still missed the dog. He began a search for Diego and learned that he was working at Lackland AFB, helping train other bomb-sniffing dogs.
“No doubt Diego would have found a home somewhere, but a home with me is different than with a totally new stranger,” Black said.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, animals, bomb, bond, campaign, detecting, diego, dog, dogs, facebook, handler, home, humans, iraq, lackland, logan black, military, pets, reunion, reunited, search, sniffing, veteran
What at least one doctor prescribed, a New York housing complex says must go — a Shih Tzu that helps a seven-year Army veteran cope with his post-traumatic stress.
Eugene Ovsishcher returned from a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan suffering nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety, leading a psychiatrist and his family doctor to advise he get a dog.
Last August he did — a Shih Tzu puppy that he named Mickey because he crawled like a mouse. Mickey woke him from nightmares and served to calm him down when he was alone and anxious.
“Take a look at his face,” Ovsischcher told the New York Times. “You can’t stay anxious or angry or whatever. You look at that face and you start laughing.”
But those in charge at his housing complex, Trump Village in Coney Island, aren’t laughing. They’ve ordered him to get rid of the dog, in accordance with their no-pets policy, or leave.
Ovsishcher says he’d rather give up his home, where he lives with his wife, Galina, and their two children, Philip, 15, and Yaffa, 10.
“I can’t get rid of a family member,” said Ovsishcher, 42, who enlisted in the Army five years after immigrating from Moscow in 1994. “If they asked me which I want to keep, the kids or the apartment, I would keep the kids. Same thing with the dog.”
Ovsishcher says that the building staff has seen him with his dog since Mickey showed up in August and that nothing was done to remove him until February, when he received a warning letter. Under New York law, a loophole allows dog owners who don’t receive notification to get rid of a dog within 90 days to keep their dogs. He also says he applied to register Mickey with the building as a comfort dog, but he was turned down.
A subway repairman, Ovsishcher served with NATO troops in Kosovo, and then as a field artillery sergeant in Afghanistan, where enemy rocket fire took a toll on him psychologically.
Ovsishcher’s lawyer, Maddy Tarnofsky, has filed a federal housing discrimination complaint on his behalf.
“The heart of this story is that there is a guy who comes to this country and enlists and puts himself in harm’s way,” Ms. Tarnofsky said. “He didn’t have to do this, and he comes back damaged and they spit on him. A doctor recommends he have a support animal, and for some unknown reason they decide that they’re not doing this for him.”
(Photo: Ángel Franco / The New York Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: afghanistan, animals, army, brooklyn, co-op, comfort, coney island, doctors, dog, dogs, eugene ovsishcher, evict, eviction, health, housing, kosovo, new york, no pets allowed, pets, post traumatic stress, psychiatry, ptsd, service, shih-tzu, subway, support, therapy, trump village, veteran, worker
For 32 years after that, he served the city of Chicago as a tactical officer in the police department.
Last month, the retired cop moved to the small town of Aurelia, Iowa, to help serve his ailing 87-year-old mother in law.
And here’s what Aurelia, Iowa, has served him: Notice that his service dog, who helps him cope with the effects of a stroke, can’t live there.
The 65-year-old disabled veteran has shipped Snickers to a kennel outside of town after city officials threatened to seize and destroy the dog, a five-year-old — you guessed it — pit bull.
Days after moving into their new home, Sak and his wife were summoned to a town council meeting after a group of citizens circulated a petition calling for the dog to be removed from city limits.
The council voted December 14 to prohibit the dog from residing within Aurelia city limits — a move the Animal Farm Foundation (AFF) says, despite a local breed ban, violates 2010 guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on breed limitations for service dogs.
Attorneys representing AFF filed a request for a preliminary injunction earlier today, asking a judge to order Snickers immediately be returned to Sak. An expedited hearing was requested, and AFF says it hopes to see Snickers back with Sak by Christmas.
AFF maintains that, because Snickers works as a service animal for a disabled person, the dog is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and should not be subject to the breed ban.
The Department of Justice said last year it “does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks.”
Snickers has no history of aggression or nuisance complaints, the AFF says.
In 2008, Sak suffered a stroke that left him unable to use the right side of his body, and in a wheelchair.
For two years Sak worked with Aileen Eviota, a physical therapist with the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, to learn to live more independently through the use of a service dog.
“Snickers has been individually trained to assist James with tasks which mitigate his disability, including walking, balance, and retrieving items around the house,” Eviota wrote in a letter to the Aurelia Town Council dated December 2, 2011.
The Animal Farm Foundation says it has hired an attorney to represent the Sak family and is paying to board the dog at the out-of-town kennel.
“It’s about the injustice of this man having his service dog taken away — this man who is a Vietnam War veteran and a retired Chicago police officer who has always given back to the community,” said executive director Stacy Coleman.
“This town has taken away this man’s independence, his peace of mind, and his freedom to move about his house, go out in public and keep from having to go to a nursing home with 24-hour care. He’s physically in danger without his dog.”
Aurelia passed its breed specific ban in March of 2008, after a meter reader was bitten by a pit bull, according to the Chicago Sun-Times
Peggy Leifer, Jim’s wife, told the Sun-Times she and her husband weren’t aware of the ban when they moved, and that she’s “appalled and embarrassed by the town I grew up in…They have made our lives a living hell since we got here.”
“They called us to a city council meeting Dec. 14 and voted 3 to 2 to make no exceptions. I had to get him out of the house by the next day. That dog has never been away from us a night in his life. He’s the sweetest, most good-natured dog you’d ever want to meet,” Peggy Sak said.
“I lost my helper,” Jim Sak said. “I’m not looking for special treatment, I just want to be safe, and I need my service dog for that.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ada, americans with disablities act, animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, breed ban, breed-specific, chicago, cop, council, destroy, disabilities, disabled, dogs, filed, injunction, iowa, jim sak, justice department, officer, pets, pit bull, police, retired, seize, service, service dog, snickers, sought, stroke, threats, town, veteran, victim, vietnam
Back to Michigan we go for another tale of shameful behavior — that of another service dog getting kicked out of a restaurant.
Frank Eckl, his family and his service dog, Spruce — who helps Eckl, a veteran, detect and recover from seizures he believes are a result of contact with chemicals in the Gulf War — were forced to leave the Don Julio’s restaurant in Grand Rapids because the manager on duty would not permit the dog beyond the lobby.
“She said we were more than welcome to stay, but patrons in the restaurant and the manager didn’t want dog hair in the restaurant,” he said.
A manager at the restaurant told News 8 that patrons had complained, and that she would do the same thing again. “I can’t keep every customer happy,” she said. “I can’t have any kind of animal be around food. It’s kinda hard having most of my customers leave out on me because of one customer.”
“That’s insane!” said Jocelyn Dettloff, a representative for the Disability Advocates of Kent County. “I mean, who would say that you have to leave your cane or your mobility device at the door. People who rely on service animals — it’s the exact same thing.”
Eckl says he isn’t seeking monetary damages and doesn’t want anything from Don Julio’s other than an apology and training for its staff.
After the restaurant’s unwelcoming behavior, Eckl and his family went to the IHOP restaurant next door, where Spruce was permitted.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, disabilities, disability advocates of kent county, dog hair, dogs, don julios, frank eckl, grand rapids, law, michigan, pets, refused, restaurants, sanitation, seizures, service, service dogs, spruce, veteran
The dog, who turns 3 on Tuesday, was inside Lorimer’s SUV when it was stolen at a gas station April 10, according to the East Valley Tribune.
After searching for the dog for a week, Lorimer received a call Monday from a construction worker who found Max in Mesa on his way to work.
The worker, Rolando Artalejo, took the dog home to his wife and daughter who had seen earlier reports about the missing dog and were able to get in touch with Lorimer.
“As soon as they called, I was there in about two minutes,” Lorimer said. “I didn’t know who was happier – him seeing me or me seeing him. He jumped up on me and knocked my glasses off. That little booger was so tickled to see me, he couldn’t stop licking me.”
Lorimer, 72, a U.S. Navy Veteran and retired plumber who has congestive heart failure, believes Max was trying to make his way back home when he was found, just a few blocks from where he lives.
Lorimer, a week earlier, had left his car running outside a gas station and stepped inside for coffee. When he came back out, his car and dog were gone.
When Lorimer recovered the vehicle later that day, Max was not inside. One of the car thieves called him and told him where he could find his car, which had run out of gas, but they said they had let the dog out of the car at an apartment complex.
“I told them I didn’t give a damn about my car. I just wanted my dog back,” Lorimer said. “I can replace my car, but not my dog. I was devastated.”
Once back home, Max went to his favorite resting spot, under the coffee table.
“I’ve had him since he was three and a half months old,” Lorimer said. “I didn’t think I was going to find him. He means more to me than my own life.”
(Photo by Tim Hacker / East Valley Tribune)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, bill lorimer, car, dog, dogs, found, lost, max, mesa, miniature, missing, pets, phoenix, recovered, reunited, rolando artalejo, schnauzer, stolen, suv, veteran
I’d pulled into a trailer court to turn around after my visit to the Howdy Manor when a voice called out: “Hey, bro!”
It being a neighborhood that’s even sketchier than it was 35 years ago, when I briefly lived in it, I was going to pull out when I heard it again. “Hey, bro!”
So I rolled to a stop there in the driveway next to the Bucking Bronc motel and trailer court, a couple of motels down from the Howdy Manor.
Four people — three men and a woman — were sitting in front of a trailer enjoying beverages that included beer and vodka. One of them approached my car, with something in his hand.
Thinking he might have mistaken me for a drug buyer, I was ready to beg off when he passed it through my open window.
I hesitated to open it, fearing some illicit narcotics might be hidden between its pages — that maybe children’s books were the drug dealer’s delivery method of choice in this particular neighborhood.
Seeing my skepticism, he grabbed it back and opened it himself, showing how, through the holes in the cardboard, you could touch the fake fur and fake skin and get an idea what each animal — tiger, lion, alligator, polar bear, chimpanzee — feels like.
“Tiger, tiger, running through the grass, your black-and-orange stripes go quickly past,” read the first page. “Tiger, tiger, I can hear you growl, as you get ready to go on the prowl.”
I wasn’t sure why I deserved the book, and told him he really should give to a child. He explained that he saw the ohmidog! magnet on my car door, and figured I liked animals. I should have it, he said.
I was waiting for him to quote a price, but he never did. Instead he asked about my dog. I got out and popped open the back door to let Ace out. He greeted the man with the book, then went over to see the rest of the gang.
He snuggled with Sherry, and knocked over her bottle of beer. She didn’t mind at all.
Then he met Johnny, who said he was a former Marine and Vietnam vet who now sells newspapers to get by.
There used to be two daily newspapers in town. He sells copies of the remaining one, the Arizona Daily Star, where 35 years ago, I used to work as a reporter. The newspaper costs 75 cents now, but Johnny sells them for less. My suspicion — and perhaps it’s just my cynicism again — is he pays for one paper, then pulls them all out of the vending machine and sells them on the street. Call him an entrepreneur.
Ten minutes later, he was still looking. When you carry your life in a knapsack, things can be hard to find.
I asked them if they lived in the trailer court, and they said they didn’t — that they just lived “around.”
After another five minutes, Johnny’s search paid off, and he pulled a slightly rusty harmonica out of his bag.
Johnny sat on a plastic chair, Sherry on a cinderblock. I took a seat on the guest rock — actually a rock atop a cinderblock, which functioned kind of like a rocking chair. Everyone’s jackets hung on a nearby tree.
Johnny brought the harmonica to his mouth and started playing a happy but unidentifiable song. Everyone tapped their feet and hummed along, and one member of the group started howling like a dog, leading Ace to look at him with tilted head.
I love the tilted head — a dog’s transparent, non-judgmental way of expressing puzzlement when he hears or sees something different. It seems to say – and here I am wrongly interpreting dog behavior by human standards – ”I don’t get this … I will turn my head slightly to the side and focus even harder to understand.”
If only humans could do that. Instead, when we see something different, we far too often judge, frown and walk away. As adults, our childish curiosity gets crusted over with cynicism — to the point we can get fearful of something as innocuous as a “touch and feel” children’s book.
Johnny played for about five minutes, and the song never really came to a distinct ending; it just kind of tailed off, once Johnny switched from harmonica to the vodka bottle.
I thanked them for allowing us to hang out, wished them all the best and headed for my car – feeling I’d made some new fleeting friends, but still, being human, expecting to be asked for money. They had, after all provided me with a book and musical entertainment.
As I started the car, the man who’d given me the “touch and feel” book appeared at my window. But all he did was shake my hand one last time.
“Vaya con Dios,” he said.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, arizona, benson highway, book, books, children's books, cynicism, dogs, harmonica, homeless, howdy manor, johnny, marine, motel, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, skepticism, touch and feel, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, tucson, vaya con dios, veteran, vietnam, wild animals
– Ventura Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sharon Troll
Pvt. James Sumner, an 1860s Army hero who was awarded the Medal of Honor, is buried beneath what is now a popular dog park in Ventura, California — and there’s an effort underway to have him scooped up and moved to a ”more respectful” resting place.
Sumner, who was awarded the nation’s highest military honor by Ulysses S. Grant for gallant actions after a band of Apaches kidnapped a settler’s child, died in 1912. He’s one of about 3,000 people buried in what was formerly St. Mary’s Cemetery.
“Talk to any veteran, he will tell you it is a terrible thing. It’s disrespectful,” said retired Marine Sgt. Craig “Gunny” Donor, who served two tours in Vietnam and is determined to get the soldier’s remains moved. “I’m trying to get him moved to Bakersfield National Cemetery. He needs to be moved to a place of respect. Cemeteries are solemn places.”
Others say graveyards don’t necessarily need to be grave places — that adding a little life to the cemetery hurts no one, and some go so far as to say that maybe it’s appreciated by the departed.
Though thousands are buried there, only a few dozen markers remain at the 7-acre Cemetery Memorial Park.
Ventura city leaders have so far balked at moving Sumner, saying the park is well maintained and gravesites aren’t being damaged. “We are treating him pretty darn well, except for the poop,” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sharon Troll told the Ventura County Star.
The commission voted July 21 to postpone for two months Donor’s request to unearth Sumner.
Other cities look a little less kindly on allowing dogs in cemeteries. Concord, New Hampshire, recently passed an ordinance that bans them.
Donor, who lives in Fontana and is a state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle club that honors fallen veterans, expects the fight to wind up in court. “He has no family, no one else to stand up for him, except for his brothers and sister in arms,” Donor said.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, army, buried, california, cemeteries, cemetery, craig donor, dog park, dogs, grave, graves, graveyards, gunny, hero, james sumner, medal of honor, parks, pets, rebury, recreation, respect, resting place, sharon troll, ventura, veteran, veterans