It’s amazing, when you think about it, how much one little dog can shake up the whole world.
We see it over and over again: with Buddy, the dog dragged through Colorado National Monument; Pepper, the dog thrown off a bridge in Lithuania, Baxter, the paralyzed therapy dog, Baltic, the dog rescued from an ice floe in the Baltic Sea.
All are dogs that — through the deeds they’ve done, the abuse they’ve suffered or the dilemmas they’re in — have captured the public imagination, big time, with an assist from the news media, bloggers, and social networks like Facebook.
It’s a mostly wonderful thing when a dog rises from plain old pooch to international headline.
Most recently, there was Spork, a dachshund leading a quiet life in Lafayette, Colo., until he bit the face of a veterinary technician during a dental appointment.
Spork, because the vet tech and the city decided to pursue the case, appeared headed toward classification as a “vicious dog” — a label his owners feared could have meant a death sentence, kennel confinement or wearing a muzzle the rest of his life.
As Spork’s owners, Tim and Kelly Walker, fought back, the 10-year-old dachshund drew national media coverage. A Facebook page created on his behalf drew 23,759 fans. A “Save Spork!” YouTube video began circulating. Bloggers freely opined, most concluding that the vet tech mishandled Spork’s visit.
On Friday, Spork got a reprieve.
A Lafayette Municipal Court judge granted the dog a 6-month deferred prosecution. If Spork stays out of trouble, all charges will be dropped, ABC7 News reported.
It was the sort of the story that brought out the best in dog lovers, and sometimes the worst.
Since the Aug. 14 incident at Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette, the vet clinic and Lafayette city council members received death threats, and veterinary technician Allyson Stone, who had to undergo plastic surgery, has been roundly derided in Internet forums — so much so that, between the critics and her new-found fears, she’s opted to pursue a different profession.
In court Friday, testimony revealed veterinary technician Stone lost inch-wide chunks from her upper and lower lips. Stone told police Spork lunged without warning as she was taking the dog from Kelly Walker for a routine dental cleaning.
Stone said she had used scissors to trim excess plastic from an identification collar she’d placed around the dog’s neck. But she had put the scissors down when she reached for the dog.
Here are excerpts from an interview Stone had with the Boulder Daily Camera after the ruling :
No matter what you think of those remarks, that Spork has been the recipient of so much more human compassion than the human he bit is a little disturbing — at least to me. We all like a distinct hero and a clear cut villain, but real life’s not always that black and white. The bigger question, in this particular case, than whose side you are on is, Why must one take a side in the first place?
Posted by John Woestendiek March 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: allyson stone, animals, bit, bite, biting, bitten, cleaning, colorado, court, dachshund, death threats, deferred, dental, dog, emotions, jasper animal hospital, pets, plastic surgery, proesecution, public, repreive, save spork, spork, support, technician, vet tech, veterinary, vicious
Spork is a 10-year-old, 17-pound dachshund who, after biting a veterinary technician during oral surgery, has been labeled vicious and faces the possibility of being euthanized.
That possibility is being opposed by thousands of Facebook friends, as well as Spork’s owners, who refuse to accept their dog is vicious.
“Every night I tuck him into bed. If he doesn’t have a blanket on him, he starts crying, I have to get up and make sure he’s covered,” Kelly Walker, Spork’s owner says.
She and her husband Tim are charged with having a vicious dog, after taking their dog to the Jasper Animal Hospital in Lafayette, Colo., for dental surgery. “I was holding him and he bit her on the chin,” Kelly Walker says. She says the vet tech got too close to Spork’s face with some scissors, which scared him.
According to the Boulder Daily Camera, the technician lost pieces of her lips and was treated at Boulder Community Hospital.
The veterinary clinic notified animal control about the bite.
Colorado law excludes those who work with animals in veterinarian offices from pressing charges in animal bite cases. But Lafayette’s local laws, which take precedence, include a vicious animal law that doesn’t have a similar exclusion.
Jennifer Edwards, the lawyer representing the Walkers, said the charges should be dismissed: “The case should have never happened,” she said. “Bites are just an assumed risk of a veterinary technician. It’s the name of the game.”
Thousands of people are rallying around Spork and a “Save Spork” Facebook page has drawn more than 8,000 members, many urging people to boycott the Jasper Animal Hospital or the city itself.
The Walkers say they’ll do anything to make sure their dog isn’t euthanized, including spending their life savings or moving out of town.
(Click here for all of the Wiener Awards.)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal law center, animals, behavior, bite, bitten, charges, colorado, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, kelly walker, lafayette, news, oral surgery, owners, pets, spork, technician, veterinary, vicious, wiener, wiener dog
Humans, as Steve Markwell sees it, create bad dogs. So humans have the responsibility to rehabilitate them.
“When people create these monsters, I think it’s people’s responsibility to take care of them. Not to just kill everything because it’s inconvenient,” Markwell says in the Times article. “The fact that they have their quirks, the extra things you have to be cautious of, in some ways it’s almost endearing. It’s kind of like, the world hates you, but I don’t.”
The Olympic Animal Sanctuary, located in the Olympic Peninsula rain forest, caters to dogs who would be euthanized or turned away at other shelters.
Among the more than 50 dogs now there are guard dogs who once belonged to drug dealers, wolf hybrids with violent pasts, and Snaps, the pit bull mix who made headlines south of Seattle in June when he attacked two women on the command of his owner, a 15-year-old girl.
“This vicious monster of a dog, he’s the sweetest thing in the world,” he said. Snaps is now one of the few dogs allowed to roam uncaged inside the sanctuary’s main building.
Markwell said the secret of rehabilitating the dogs is giving them space, exuding quiet kindness and corralling like-minded dogs together, allowing for socialization and management of bad behavior rather than trying to immediately eliminate it.
He scoffs at “dog whisperers” and rejects potential volunteers who say they have a “spiritual kinship” with animals, the article says.
“I have absolutely no place for people like that because they’re dangerous,” he said. “What it takes is common sense and experience. That whole ‘animals like me’ — well, animals like me too. But I take a really bad bite about once a month. Let’s not rely on that as our safety mechanism.”
Posted by John Woestendiek December 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bad, bad dogs, behavior, dog, dogs, mean, nasty, olympic animal sanctuary, peninsula, rehabilitate, rehabilitation, rescue, sanctuary, sea-tac, seattle, snaps, steve markwell, training, vicious, violent
A municipal judge in Aspen has ordered a Pomeranian named Gizmo to get out of town.
Judge Brooke Peterson last week told Gizmo’s owner to find the dog a new home — outside of Aspen — adding that, if Gizmo, who has a history of biting people, returns, he will be euthanized.
“As a judge, the hardest decision I ever have to make is to take someone’s pet away or euthanize it,” Peterson told Melinda Goldrich, Gizmo’s owner. “But you and I have been dealing with your dog since 2006 … and your excuses have worn out my patience.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aspen, ban, banned, bite, bites, biting, brooke peterson, colorado, courts, euthanasia, euthanized, gizmo, judge, law, melinda goldrich, news, order, out of town, pomeranian, vicious
There’s some irony in here somewhere:
In June, Sioux City Councilman Aaron Rochester had his dog seized by authorities after the dog bit a man and was deemed vicious. Under the local dangerous dog ordinance, the dog has to be euthanized.
The councilman appealed Animal Control’s decision twice, and has until Aug. 16 to appeal again. But he said he has no plan to do that, according to an Associated Press story.
Many others came forward to try and save the dog, including someone who came forward with wire cutters, broke into an outdoor kennel at Sioux City Animal Control, and stole the councilman’s dog. No other dogs in adjacent pens were taken — only Jake, the councilman’s 3-year-old yellow Labrador.
Police say there are no suspects, and Rochester was adamant that he didn’t take his dog and has no idea who did.
To top it all off, Rochester is the councilman who led a successful effort last year to ban pit bull terriers from Sioux City, Iowa, saying they were too dangerous.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aaron rochester, animal control, appeal, ban, breed-specific, city councilman, dangerous, dog, euthanasia, euthanize, iowa, law, ordinance, pit bull, shelter, sioux city, stolen, theft, vicious, yellow labrador
Leave it to lawyers, landlords and insurance companies to screw up a perfectly good story.
Last week we told you about Kelsey Westbrook, the University of Louisville senior who helped rescue a pit bull that had been thrown off a bridge, then went on to take the dog, who she named Sunny, home with her.
Now comes word — in the Louisville Courier-Journal — that, if she keeps the dog, she may lose her apartment. The company that owns the building has a policy against “vicious breeds,” and has told her that she is violating her lease by having the dog on her property.
Westbrook, a waitress at Joe’s Crab Shack, ran with other employees to the shore after the dog was seen being thrown off the bridge and hitting the water roughly 80 feet below.
As the employees attempted to call the dog to shore, Louisville firefighters arrive and pulled her from the Ohio River.
Westbrook also owns a 2-year-old German shepherd mix named Nala and pays a monthly fee to keep Nala in her apartment. Westbrook said apartment officials told her she can’t make the same arrangement for Sunny because they consider the pit bull a “vicious breed.”
Westbrook said apartment officials gave her two days to remove Sunny from her apartment, and told her they will be conducting random inspections. Her boyfriend is keeping Sunny at his house until she decides what to do.
Since the property company is only following it’s own addle-brained rules, most likely designed at the request of its insurance company, we won’t go so far as to compare their behavior to that of the soulless, heartless wretch who threw the dog off the bridge.
But we will provide you with an email address, in case you want to:
Arete Real Estate, which owns Westbrook’s apartment, can be contacted at Apartments@areterealestate.net.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: apartment, arete real estate, ban, breed-specific, bridge, dangerous, dog, insurance, kelsey westrbook, landlord, lawyers, lease, louisville, ohio river, pit bull, pit bulls, rescued, rules, saved, sunny, thrown, vicious, violation
Add the Marines to the list of military branches banning “dangerous” dog breeds from some of their bases — most recently Camp Lejuene in North Carolina.
Nearly a year after a 3-year-old boy was killed by a visiting pit bull at Camp Lejeune, the base has changed its pet policy to ban full or mixed breeds of pit bull or Rottweiler, wolf hybrids, “any dog of any breed with traits of aggression as determined by the base veterinarian,” and any dog with a record of vicious behavior, according to a base spokesman.
A Pentagon memo issued earlier this year bans pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and chows from living on Army bases. The Air Force also has enacted a breed-selective policy and the Navy is expected to do the same.
The change at Camp Lejeune follows the death of Julian Slack last May, according to a letter written by Camp Lejeune’s commanding officer Col. Rich Flatau. At the time of the attack, no specific breeds of dogs were forbidden on base, though animals deemed vicious were not allowed to stay, according to the Jacksonville Daily News.
In a letter distributed to family housing residents, Flatau said the breed choices chosen for the ban were based on ”a significant body of empirical evidence indicating they are apt to violent behavior, often unpredictable and have the capability to inflict severe harm or death.”
(Clearly, the Marines would never tolerate that kind of behavior.)
Camp Pendleton in California limits the number of dogs or cats residents can have, though no particular breeds of dogs are banned. Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia, bans “potentially dangerous dogs such as full or mixed breeds of pit bulls (Stafford Bull Terrier, America Staffordshire Terrier and other similar breeds).”
The revised order also will apply to dogs brought aboard the base by visitors, Flatau wrote in his letter.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air force, army, base, breed ban, breed-specific, camp, camp lejeune, dangerous dogs, dogs, marines, memo, military, navy, order, orders, pentagon, pit bulls, vicious
What was her senior project is now a nearly-finished product — a documentary that looks at pit bulls and the people who love and defend them.
The film explores the factors behind the public’s fear of pit bulls and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of breed specific legislation. It also investigates the myths associated with the breed and asks the question, “What exactly is a pit bull”?
To see a trailer, click here.
Sherrill left an eight-year career with HGTV to write, direct and produce her self-financed film debut, and is now hoping to enter “Beyond the Myth” in film festivals.
“Beyond the Myth” challenges the idea that pit bulls are inherently vicious and goes one-on-one with people on both sides of this controversial issue, according to the documentary’s website.
A pit bull owners herself, Sherrill is against breed specific legislation, such as that passed in Ohio, Denver and numerous other jurisdictions.
“Opponents of BSL believe that such laws are a demeaning overreaction perpetuated by media bias and claim that dog bite statistics (showing pit bulls are responsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks) are unreliable sources of information regarding the ‘viciousness’ of a breed. They argue that BSL is unenforceable and ineffective, and that it fails to reduce the occurrence of dog attacks because it fails to address the root cause — people.
“Instead of focusing on and punishing owners who are irresponsible and criminals who use their dogs for illegal purposes, legislatures choose to place their focus on the dogs, making them into scapegoats. Many opponents believe BSL is the equivalent of racial profiling and banning a breed is, quite possibly, unconstitutional.
Through the documentary’s website, Sherrill is raising funds to help offset its cost of the documentary, fund a public opinion survey about public perceptions of pit bulls and how the media contributes to them, and establish a legal defense fund for people trying to keep their dogs in jurisdictions that have banned them.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attacks, beyond the myth, bites, breed, breed ban, breed specific legislation, cover y'all productions, dangerous, deaths, denver, director, discrimination, documentary, dog, dogs, graduate school, libby sherrill, media, ohio, pit bull, pit bulls, producer, profiling, satistics, scapegoats, student, trailer, university of tennessee, vicious, writer
Dogs that attack or threaten people or other pets in Washington County, Maryland, would get 18 months to improve their behavior before being labeled “vicious and dangerous” under changes to the animal control ordinance proposed Tuesday.
Currently, animals can be labeled “vicious and dangerous” after only one attack, which has led to protests from owners who say their pets were otherwise well-behaved, said Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, which enforces the ordinance.
The Washington County Commissioners discussed the proposal at their meeting Tuesday, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
The proposed change creates a separate designation for “potentially vicious and dangerous animal,” under which first-time offenders could take steps to get the label lifted.
Once designated “potentially vicious and dangerous,” an animal would have to be kept confined and would have to complete an approved training course, if ordered. The owner could also be ordered to take a “good citizenship” course. If there were no additional attacks within 18 months, the label would be lifted.
“Vicious and dangerous” animals must be kept confined and muzzled, and animal control officers may impound them if they are in violation. If the owner does not appeal within a specified time period, the impounded animal may be disposed of, the ordinance says.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attacks, behavior, bites, commissioners, confined, dangerous, dog, dogs, humane society, impound, maryland, muzzled, muzzles, pets, proposal, vicious, washington county
A proposed bill in the Ohio State House would remove pit bulls from state’s ”vicious dog” law.
Introduced by Rep. Barbara Sears last week, the bill would amend the current law, which deems all pit bulls dangerous and vicious solely on the basis of their breed.
“In the 1970′s it was German Shepherd, in the 80′s Dobermans, in the 90′s it was Rottweilers, now it’s Pit Bulls. Breed specific legislation does not accomplish the goal.” said Sears. “We want to take the focus of the law away from the breed and have it on the behavior of the animal, then hold the owner of the animal accountable.”
The proposed legislation has a zealous opponent in Lucas County Dog Warden, Tom Skeldon, who e-mailed Rep. Sears a case report regarding pit bull mauling deaths in Detroit, Michigan over a 19-year period, according to Fox News. The email contained an autopsy picture of a child.
Skeldon said the picture was necessary to show what the animal is capable of doing.
“The [Vicious Dog] law has been a valuable tool in protecting the public, it puts restrictions on pit bulls, requires the dog to be fenced or caged and requires owners to have liability insurance,” he said. “That would all go away with this law.”
Skeldon says his agency impounded 1354 pit bulls in 2007, compared to 50 in 1993.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, barbara sears, behavior, breed, breed-specific, dangerous, deaths, dog, dogs, house, injuries, laws, legislation, legislature, list, ohio, pets, pit bulls, proposal, remove, reversal, state, vicious