The movie based on the story of a dog whose mistreatment led to changes in North Carolina’s animal cruelty laws had its world premiere in Winston-Salem over the weekend.
“Susie’s Hope” kicked off the RiverRun International Film Festival Saturday, and if you missed that showing there are two more — Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre, and Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Main Theatre at UNC School of the Arts.
Susie, a pit bull mix, became a poster puppy for fighting animal abuse when she was found burned, beaten and close to death in Greensboro’s Greenfield Park in 2009.
The woman who adopted her, Donna Lawrence, was once a pit bull victim.
Lawrence began feeding a dog near her home in High Point whose owners had moved away. After several days, the dog attacked her, latching on to her left leg and going for her throat before she was able to push it away and seek help. The wound left her bone exposed, and she’d receive 45 stitches.
She didn’t blame the animal: “I blame the owners who turned their dog into what it was,” she writes on the movie’s website. “Their neglect and abuse made their dog fearful and territorial.”
The attack left Lawrence, a long-time dog lover, with a fear of dogs and nightmares, even after her physical recovery.
“Then one day I met Susie, and she changed my life forever,” Lawrence writes. “So now you can see Susie and I shared something in common: she was a pit bull mix that had been had been tortured by a human and I was viciously attacked by a pit bull just a few months before we met. Our similar experiences allowed us to go from being victims to living victorious lives. I forgave the dog for my wrongful attack, and Susie forgave the human for hers.”
She was found with second- and third-degree burns on 60 percent of her body, a broken jaw, her teeth knocked out and her ears all but burned away. Her wounds were infested with maggots and she’d been surviving by eating sticks and drinking from mud puddles.
Lawrence and Susie would go on to foster awareness of animal abuse and push for increased penalties for the crime. Susie would become a therapy dog and a Canine Good Citizen.
In 2010, the state legislature passed Susie’s Law, which increased the penalty for anyone who “maliciously” kills an animal by “intentional deprivation of necessary sustenance, and raised the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony. Susie’s abuser received a sentence of 4-6 months in jail for burning personal property and a 4-5 month suspended sentence for animal cruelty.
Susie — though a puppy portrays her in her younger years — plays herself in the movie.
Filmed locally, the movie has some actors you might recognize – Emmanuelle Vaugier, best known as Charlie’s ex-fiance Mia on the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” plays Lawrence; Burgess Jenkins (“Remember the Titans”) plays Roy Lawrence; and, in our favorite bit of casting, Jon Provost (Timmy from the TV show “Lassie”) plays state Sen. Don Vaughan, who sponsored the bill that became Susie’s Law.
(Photo: Courtesy of Susieshope.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abused, animal cruelty, animal shelter, animals, attack, burned, dog, dogs, donna lawrence, Emmanuelle Vaugier, felony, film festival, fire, found, greensboro, guilford county, jon provost, lassie, law, movie, neglected, north carolina, park, pets, pit bull, pitbull, premiere, river run, riverrun, set on fire, susie, susie's law, susies hope, timmy, victim, winston-salem
Navy Captain Bob Dolan died at the Pentagon on 9-11, but his namesake, a Labrador retriever trained in bomb detection, is ready for duty.
The 500th dog to go through Transportation Security Administration training at Lackland Air Force Base — all of them are being named after the 3,000 victims of 9-11 — Dolan is headed for duty in Maui, according to NBC.
NBC first reported on the dog when the TSA announced the birth of the 500th dog destined to enter its Explosives Detection Canine Team program. Dolan got to meet the wife of the man he was named after, Capt. Robert Edward Dolan Jr., on the Today show.
“My children and I are very excited to have a puppy named in Bob’s memory,” said Lisa Dolan. “Bob began his military career as an explosives ordnance expert. When he was killed at the Pentagon, he was working on Homeland Defense, and so it very fitting to have one of the TSA puppies named for our hero, Captain Bob Dolan. Knowing ‘Puppy Dolan’ will one day be an explosives detection canine in the service of our country is reassuring. Dolan’s future career keeping travelers safe is a fitting addition to Bob’s legacy of freedom.”
Lisa Dolan and her daughter got to reunite with the dog again at his recent graduation.
Operating out of Lackland Air Force Base since 2002, TSA’s canine program selectively breeds and prepares puppies to be trained and deployed to airports and mass transit systems throughout the country.
About half of the 500 puppies bred by TSA are working as detection dogs for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies or have been selected as breeders for the program.
The TSA relies on volunteers to help raise the puppies. After screening and an orientation, families in central Texas provide a nurturing home environment from 10 weeks to 12 months of age. TSA provides all the food, equipment and veterinary care, and the families provide environments in which the puppies can grow and develop.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 000, 3, 9-11, airports, animals, bob dolan, bomb, bomb-sniffing, captain, detection, dogs, explosives, foster, homeland, labrador retriever, lackland air force base, law enforcement, mass transit, navy, pentagon, pets, puppies, robert edward dolan jr, security, training, transportation security administration, tsa, victim, volunteer
Star, the pit bull shot in the face by New York City police last month, is walking, playing with toys and eating on her own.
But she’s doing all that with one eye — veterinarians had to remove one damaged from the shooting — and her hearing is not what it used to be.
Star was guarding her master, who was having a seizure on a sidewalk, when she lunged at a police officer that stepped toward her. She was shot in the head and left in a pool of blood as a crowd gathered, many of whom who can be heard in a video of the incident questioning why police weren’t doing anything to help the dog, or the man.
Star underwent surgery Monday to remove her left eye and metal fragments wedged in her skull, and was transferred into the custody of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of rescue groups and shelters. The Alliance is not disclosing her specific location.
“She suffered a significant degree of hearing loss, but her hearing is coming back and the vision in her right eye also seems to be improving.” said Richard Gentles, a spokesman for the Animal Care & Control.
“She has a lot of healing to do,” Steve Gruber, director of communications for the Mayor’s Alliance, told People.com.
The man she was trying to protect the day she was shot, identified as Lech Stankiewicz, hasn’t reclaimed Star.
Gruber said the Alliance hopes to find a caretaker for her “who can really understand what she’s been through.”
To contribute to Star’s care, you can donate here.
(Photo: New York City Animal Care & Control)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animal control, animals, care, dogs, donate, eye, hearing, lost, new york city, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, recovery, seizure, shooting, shot, star, update, veterinary, victim
It was one of those heartwarming dog-reunited-with-family stories: Rogue, a missing Peruvian herding dog whose owner was killed in a car accident, had been found and was to be returned to the owner’s family.
As Sara Quinn — the girlfriend of the accident victim’s cousin — hugged the big black dog, news media recorded the event, having been invited by the Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Quinn, 27, said the family had been searching for the dog, and that she planned to bring him back to their ranch in Friant.
But Rogue, the allegedly missing dog was a she, and the dog Quinn was hugging was a he — and he wasn’t the Erickson family’s dog at all.
In fact, the Erickson’s dog was never even missing.
After the Monday reunion, the story — told by the Fresno Bee and others — began unraveling.
Joe Erickson, 61 — father of Richard Erickson, who died after the car crash – saw news reports about the reunion on TV. He called The Bee to say his family’s dog, Rogue, was safe at home and she never had been missing.
He said he had no idea why Quinn manufactured the story.
Tuesday night, Quinn said she wasn’t trying to trick anyone, and that she thought she was doing a good deed by orchestrating a reunion of the dog with its owner’s family, the Bee reported.
The false Rogue, after Quinn adopted him from the shelter, was returned to the SPCA, where he awaits his rightful owner, or adoption.
CCSPCA spokeswoman Beth Caffrey said Tuesday, “we do the best we can to give animals the right opportunity. Unfortunately, we were all misled by this adoption” The CCSPCA is “grateful to have the dog back in our possession,” she said.
The CCSPCA had sent a news release out on Monday, recounting Quinn’s story of having found the family’s missing dog at the shelter. At Monday’s news conference, Caffrey said police had found the dog on the streets on Aug. 13. He was taken in by the shelter and put up for adoption on Aug. 21. Quinn called on Aug. 23 to claim him.
At the press conference, Quinn said she planned to surprise Richard Erickson’s mother by taking the dog to the ranch that evening. She wept and hugged the dog when he was brought out to her.
Tuesday night, Quinn admitted she had “created a big mess.”
(Photo: Fresno Bee)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 29th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, adoption, animals, central california spca, deception, dog, dogs, fake, family, fresno bee, heartwarming, news, news media, peruvian hunting dog, pets, reunion, reunited, richard erickson, rogue, sara quinn, shelters, spca, staged, victim
Sak, a former Chicago police officer, had sued the city, saying his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated when the town ordered his dog — because it was part pit bull — out of town.
Aurelia’s town council voted 3-2 to accept the settlement, the Des Moines Register reported.
As part of the settlement, the city will pay the couple $30,000 and abide by an injunction issued by a federal judge in December that allows Sak to keep the dog in the city.
Sak and his wife, Peggy Leifer, must keep Snickers inside a fence when he’s home and on a leash when he leaves the property.
The couple moved to Aurelia in November to care for his 87-year-old mother, unaware that the town ban pit bulls.
Snickers has served as Sak’s service dog since a stroke in 2008 that left him without use of the right side of his body.
Snickers was taken from the home after 36 residents of Aurelia signed a petition to remove the dog. When a federal judge granted an injunction, the dog was returned.
Aurelia Mayor Jim Tell said the city agreed to settle the lawsuit to avoid further bad publicity.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, aurelia, breed bans, chicago, disabilities, discrimination, dog, dogs, exception, iowa, james sak, keeps, lawsuit, negative, pets, pit bull, pit bull ban, pit bull mix, police. officer, publicity, retired, service, service dog, settlement, snickers, stay, stroke, victim
The town of Aurelia, Iowa, has declined to settle out of court with James Sak, the former Chicago police officer who says he should be allowed to keep the pit bull mix that helps him cope with the effects of a stroke.
Sak, 65, had to relinquish Snickers last year because the municipality bans pit bulls. He sent the dog to a boarding facility outside Aurelia. Later, an Iowa judge later granted an injunction, allowing Snickers and Sak to reunite (see the video above) and stay together in Aurelia until the case is resolved.
The Animal Farm Foundation, which is helping with Sak’s legal representation, said last week that the town has declined to settle the case, and that a trial has been scheduled for July, 2013, more than a year from now.
Earlier this year, Saks, a stroke victim, was diagnosed with throat cancer. He has been undergoing treatment at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.
“The worst part of my [cancer] treatment is not having my dog here,” said Sak, who is expected to return home after his hospital stay.
“Jim has been so strong throughout all of this. We know his strength comes from knowing Snickers is waiting for him at home, waiting to do his job as his service animal and his support,” said said Kim Wolf, community engagement specialist for Animal Farm Foundation.
Sak suffered a stroke in 2008 that left him confined to a wheelchair and unable to use the right side of his body. He was paired at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago with Snickers, who helps him walk, balance and call from help in an emergency.
“We want everyone to realize that Aurelia’s decision to use taxpayer dollars to put Jim through the agony of a trial, especially while he’s battling cancer, does not reflect the sentiments of every resident of Aurelia,” Wolf said. “The outpouring of support and disbelief from Jim’s neighbors has been huge.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal farm foundation, animals, aurelia, ban, breed, breed-specific, breeds, cancer, chicago, disability, dog, dogs, hospital, iowa, james sak, kim wolf, law, officer, pets, pit bull, pit bull mix, police, scheduled, service, snickers, stroke, treatment, trial, victim
When emergency workers found the body of tornado victim Carol Forste Friday in Amelia, Ohio, her dog Kush, was at her side.
“Kush would not leave her deceased body’s side…stood right next to her until they discovered her,” Dr. Dan Meakin, Kush’s vet, told News Channel 5.
Meakin, of All Creatures Animal Hospital, said that in addition to Kush’s injuries, his owner’s death took an emotional toll on him. For days, the pit bull wouldn’t eat or drink.
“Something like that really puts the fear into them, so it sometimes takes them a couple of days to they feel like eating again, but Kush is starting to take food with hand feeding,” he said.
Kush suffered torn ligaments and will require surgery, but is expected to recover. Vets said they’re working to lower their fee for the $1,800 surgery because the Forstes lost most of their valuables in the storm.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: all creatures animal hospital, amelia, animals, carol forste, dan meakin, dogs, emotions, grief, kush, mourning, ohio, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, tornado, victim, weather
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
That question may be headed to New York state’s highest court in a case in which the state’s first judicially approved courtroom dog sat in the witness box with a 15-year-old girl as she testified that her father raped and impregnated her.
The father went on to be convicted, but defense lawyers are appealing, saying that the courtroom dog — a golden retriever named Rosie — may have swayed jurors, according to a report in The New York Times.
Rosie is a therapy dog who specializes in comforting children and other vulnerable witnesses and victims – one of a growing number of which are being used by prosecutors to put crime victims at ease. They’ve been allowed in courtrooms in Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, Idaho and other states.
Defense lawyers argue that the dogs may unfairly sway jurors with their cuteness, that they can evoke sympathy for a victim, and that they can even be seen by some as a reason to trust the human they’re alongside.
The new witness-stand role for dogs in a handful of states began in 2003, when the prosecution won permission to use a dog named Jeeter in a sexual assault case in Seattle.
In a ruling in June that allowed Rosie to accompany the teenage rape victim, Dutchess County Court judge Stephen L. Greller said the teenager was traumatized and the defendant, Victor Tohom, appeared threatening. Greller ruled that Rosie was similar to the teddy bear that a New York state appeals court said in 1994 could accompany a child witness.
At least once when the teenager hesitated in Judge Greller’s courtroom, Rosie rose and seemed to push the girl gently with her nose.
Lawyers for the father, who was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life, have raised a series of objections that they say seem likely to land the case in New York’s highest court. They argue that jurors are likely to conclude that the dog is helping victims expose the truth.
Rosie’s presence “infected the trial with such unfairness” that it constituted a violation of their client’s constitutional rights.
Since that case, Rosie has been busy, the Times reports. She spent recent weeks with two girls, ages 5 and 11, who were getting ready to testify against the man accused of murder in the stabbing of their mother.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 8th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 15 year old, appeal, comfort, convicted, courtroom dog, criminal, defendant, defense, dutchess county, father, judge, jurors, new york, rape, rose, rosie, stephen greller, sway, symbols, sympathy, testimony, therapy dogs, trials, trust, truth, unfair, victim, victor tohom, witness stand
Johnna Hale, one of 59 victims profiled in the Kansas City Star Saturday, was prepared when the tornadoes struck on May 22. She’d phoned her daughter, stocked up on water and taken her border collie mix, Star, into the bathroom.
They were both in the tub when Star darted out of the bathroom, and out of the house.
Hale ran after her.
Apparently she caught Star and ran into a nearby building for shelter, where her daughter would hear from her, by cell phone, one last time.
She was found nine days later in the rubble of the building, with Star in her arms.
Daughter Miranda Hale told the newspaper that her mother was devoted to animals.
Things were looking up for Johnna Hale, her daughter said. She’d recently received a promotion at work. She’d redecorated her apartment, and seemed happy as her 50th birthday approached (June 15). She’d planned to treat herself to an expensive haircut, and she’d just bought Star a gate to keep her confined on the patio.
“My mom loved animals. She grew up on horses, we always had a cat or a dog around,” Hale told the newspaper. “We always joked about how our animals were better fed than we were. She had a border collie mix named Star, she was about 6-8 years old. I remember when she got her as a puppy and was really excited, she had adopted an older dog that just passed away, and was feeling sad from that.
“Star always slept with Mom, even if I went to visit, she had a full sized bed that the three of us, plus a cat, tried to fit on.
“When they had finally found my mom, they said that Star was in her arms.”
Posted by jwoestendiek June 14th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, chasing, disasters, dog, dogs, fatalities, johnna hale, joplin, kansas city star, missouri, mix, pets, profiles, rescuing, saving, star, tornadoes, victim