– 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 John Woestendiek 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
A disabled veteran is suing McDonald’s for $10 million, claiming he was harassed, beaten, and told that he couldn’t take his service dog inside.
Former Army captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, who inspired Sen. Al Franken’s first legislative victory — a service dog program for disabled veterans — claims in the lawsuit that he was confronted by restaurant workers on two separate visits, and beaten with garbage can lids when he returned with a camera.
Franken, in an e-mail message to Montalvan last week, called it an “awful, bizarre story,” according to the Star-Tribune.
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s USA said the matter is under investigation.
Montalvan, 36, of Brooklyn, filed the lawsuit in October, a week after Congress approved Franken’s provision establishing a pilot program to pair 200 wounded veterans with service dogs from nonprofit agencies.
Franken said Montalvan and his service dog, a golden retriever named Tuesday — both of whom he had met at a presidential inaugural ball — inspired his proposal.
“Captain Montalvan made great sacrifices fighting for our country in Iraq,” Franken said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the facts of this case, but what I do know underscores both the need to help our returning veterans and to raise awareness and increase access for service dogs.”
Montalvan suffered spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries during two tours of duty in Iraq that also left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, his service dog, helps him with balance, mobility and emotional support.
Montalvan’s lawsuit recounts a series of events that began last December, several weeks after he completed service dog training. Visiting a McDonald’s in Brooklyn, Montalvan was told by employees that pets were not allowed. He complained and a supervisor later apologized in writing and assured Montalvan that his dog was welcome.
Montalvan’s dog was barred from the restaurant again in January. Two days later, when Montalvan returned with a camera, the restaurant had been closed due to health code violations, but two McDonald’s workers confronted him and beat him with plastic garbage can lids, he says.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: access, al franken, army, banned, barred, brooklyn, captain, disabilities, disability, disabled, dogs, handicapped, lawsuit, luis carlos montalvan, mcdonald's, new york, senator, service dogs, veteran, veterans
Sen. Al Franken’s first piece of legislation — aimed at increasing the supply of service dogs for veterans – has been passed and is headed to the White House for approval.
Under the legislation, the Veterans Administration would develop partnerships with organizations that provide disabled veterans with service dogs. Franken said the measure will cost about $5 million and is designed not to interfere with non-profit organizations providing service dogs.
“The government is going to pay for essentially every other dog. What I didn’t want to happen was to dry up the funding for the organizations like Hearing and Service Dogs in Minneapolis and all of these non-profits who have been providing dogs to some vets.”
Franken said about 200 veterans will get dogs as a result of the legislation. The legislation was passed yesterday as apart of the Defense Authorization bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Franken introduced the legislation after meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan, a veteran who said his service dog improved his quality of life.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, al franken, approved, authorization, defense, dog, dogs, law, luis carlos montalvan, minnesota, passed, passes, sen., senate, senator, service, soldiers, veterans, vets, white house
There are those who say psychiatric service dogs aren’t “real” service dogs — that, unlike guide dogs for the blind, they merely make their owners feel good and provide nothing more than comfort.
Iraq war veteran Jennifer Pacanowski sees it differently — especially after, unaware she was going 85 miles an hour on the freeway, a wet nose nudged her elbow, bringing her back to reality.
The wet nose belonged to Boo, a 110-pound Bull Mastiff who warns her when her anxiety levels are rising. Pacanowski slowed down, and lived to tell the story, which is recounted in an article on psychiatric service dogs in U.S. News & World Report.
The article reveals that the U.S. Department of Defense is starting a 12-month study to find out exactly how the dogs help — by comparing soldiers with PTSD who have dogs with a similar group of soldiers without a dog. Researchers will measure changes in symptoms and medication use.
“We want to provide evidence for something we know observationally and help create a movement towards the use of psychiatric service dogs,” said lead investigator Craig T. Love, senior study director at Westat, a research corporation in Rockville, Md. “It’s time to make a change.”
Pacanowski is one of dozens of veterans and others who already know what the study seeks to substantiate. Boo, only a year old, has been helping her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a result of her experiences as a medic in the war — since December.
“Sometimes I forget where I am and will go back to the war in Iraq. He brings me back to reality and makes me realize that I can’t run people off the road. It’s a frequent thing with PTSD to have road rage,” said Pacanowski, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Boo is one of a team of “psychiatric service dogs” being used to help people with various mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and, perhaps most notably, PTSD.
“If a dog observes when a person with PTSD is escalating, the dog will be able to signal that they are escalating and, given it’s so early in process, the person can manage and even prevent the escalation,” explained Joan Gibbon Esnayra, president and founder of the Psychiatric Dog Service Association.
The dogs have been in service for about 12 years and while patients and professionals alike know they work wonders, there has been no real empirical evidence of their value — and, as a result, they often receive neither the respect or funding opportunities of guide dogs.
“A recent survey showed that 82 percent of patients with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in symptoms, and 40 percent had a decrease in the medications they had to take,” added Dr. Melissa Kaime, director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), who spoke at a telebriefing last month. “I fully expect this will be positive trial.”
You can learn more about psychiatric service dogs at the Psychiatric Service Dog Society website.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: boo, department of defense, dog, dogs, iraq war, jennifer pacanowski, mastiff, post traumatic stress disorder, psychiatric service dogs, ptsd, soldiers, study, therapy, u.s. news & world report, veterans
We liked him as a comedian, and early indications are we’ll like him as a politician — not that we see too vast a difference between the two.
In his first piece of legislation as Minnesota’s junior senator, Al Franken is trying to expand the number of service dogs available to wounded veterans.
In an opinion piece published Monday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Franken proposed a pilot program that will train “a statistically significant number of dogs,” put them to work and measure the benefits they provide to veterans living with devastating war injuries.
Franken believes the dogs’ companionship provides invaluable health benefits — both physical and emotional — to veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders.
The service dogs will help “reduce the suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations and lower the cost of medications and human care,” he said.
Franken’s said the legislation was inspired by a meeting he had last January with a wounded former Iraqi intelligence officer and his golden retriever, “Tuesday.”
“Service dogs like Tuesday can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds,” wrote Franken.
Franken said service dogs typically cost about $20,000 to train and another $5,000 to place with a veteran — a cost that is well worth the investment.
“It is my strong belief that a service dog will more than pay for itself over its life, and my bill is designed to determine the return on investment with a pilot program that provides service dogs to hundreds of veterans,” said Franken.
Franken’s bill would be his first piece of legislation since officially becoming a senator on July 7.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al franken, assistance, bill, commentary, disorder, dogs, emotional, injuries, law, legislation, minnesota, proposed, psychological, senator, service, suicide, train, trauma, tuesday, veterans
In case you missed it, Glenn Close gave viewers of the Oprah Winfrey show an inside look last week at Puppies Behind Bars, and that organization’s latest initiative — providing service dogs for wounded veterans.
Under the new program — “Dog Tags: Service Dogs for Those Who’ve Served Us” — prison inmates train and raise puppies to become service and therapy dogs for wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
“It’s totally a win-win situation,” said Close “On one hand, the inmates … are given a chance to give back to society and learn invaluable skills that will prove vital if they ever re-enter life outside prison. On the other, wounded soldiers are given a chance to rebuild their shattered lives — to be released from the prison of their wounds. What unites both inmate and soldier is the love, loyalty and talent of a Puppies Behind Bars dog…”
FetchDog, a Portland-based pet supply company Close helped start and writes a blog for, is helping support the program by donating $1 from the sale of each of its new “Chewy Shoe” dog toys. Vibram Pet Products, which manufactures the toy, will also donate a dollar of each sale to the cause, according to a press release.
The toy is available for purchase at FetchDog.com.
Puppies Behind Bars was founded in 1997 to raise guide dogs for the blind. Since then it has worked with prison inmates to train explosive detection dogs and dogs to assist the disabled and autistic.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: afghanistan, chewy shoe, dog, fetch, fetchdog.com, glenn close, irag, oprah winfrey, prison, programs, puppies behind bars, rehabilitation, service dogs, therapy dogs, train, training, veterans, war