The letter was in an envelope addressed to Moe, Doggie Heaven, First Cloud.
Coping with the death of the family beagle, a Norfolk mom encouraged her 3-1/2-year-old son, Luke, to express his feelings in crayon-drawn artworks and letters.
It was Luke’s idea to write to Moe in heaven, and Mary Westbrook said she figured it would be good therapy for her son who, after Moe died at 13, kept asking if and when Moe was coming back.
She’d put each letter, upon completion, in the mailbox, then, after Luke had gone to bed, she’d go out and retrieve them.
But one day she forgot, and the mailman picked it up.
“I figured someone would just throw it away once it got to the post office,” Westbrook told the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
“It didn’t even have a stamp.”
But last week, a letter from Moe — magically, it seemed — appeared in the Westbrook mailbox:
“I’m in Doggie Heaven,” it said. “I play all day. I am happy. Thank you 4 being my friend.
“I wuv you Luke.”
Postal worker Zina Owens, in her 25 years on the job, had taken the liberty of answering some mail to Santa before, but this was the first time she took on the persona of a deceased family pet, hoping to make a child happy.
Owens, a window clerk, had noticed the letter to Moe on a table at the post office. She opened it and found a card covered in crayon scribbles. With help from the address on the envelope, she was able to read between the lines.
“I felt it in my heart,” she said. “Here was a child who had lost his dog, and any time you love something and it goes away, it hurts.”
So Owens, as Moe, wrote back. Mary Westbrook was touched to find the reassuring letter from Moe in the mailbox and shared it with Luke.
She posted the response on Facebook, saying, “What a beautiful kindness from a stranger.”
Owens says seeing the letter from Luke “made my day … so I wanted to make his. It’s just love, plain and simple.”
“You see so much negativity in the world, so many bad headlines,” she added. “But we’re more than that.”
(Photos: By Bill Tiernan / Virginian-Pilot and courtesy of the Westbrook family)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 15th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beagle, boy, children, coping, crayon, dead, death, dog heaven, doggie heaven, dogs, drawings, grieving, heaven, letter, luke, moe, mourning, norfolk, pets, postal worker, rainbow bridge, virginia, writes
Gracie, one of more than 50 dogs rescued seven years ago from NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting compound, has died.
The black pit bull spent her final years in an adoptive household in suburban Richmond.
She died Monday morning, according to Amy McCracken, executive director of the Richmond Animal League.
“This morning, little, old, bow-legged Gracie passed away and got her angel wings. Any words we write here could never begin to express the profound, positive and lasting impact that this little, black pit bull had on so many people who encountered her or heard the story of her suffering and triumph,” said a post on the animal’s league’s “Gracie’s Guardians” Facebook page.
“We are and will be forever grateful for this little, broken black dog and everything she personified.”
The dog arrived at the Richmond in 2007 and was adopted by the group’s board president, Sharon Cornett.
“Gracie was very, very friendly,” McCracken told CNN. Gracie had been used as a breeding dog, as opposed to a fighter, in Vick’s operation, she said. “She loved people and was never aggressive to other dogs.”
With her new owner, Gracie attended conferences and meetings about animal welfare and visited schools to show people they have nothing to fear from most pit bulls.
Gracie was one of about 50 pit bulls seized by authorities in April 2007 when Vick, then a quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, was charged with operating an illegal dog-fighting ring, called Bad Newz Kennels, on his Virginia property.
Twenty-two of the dogs were sent for rehabilitation and long-term care at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, while others went to Bad Rap, a San Francisco pet shelter, and a handful of other shelters and sanctuaries,
Created by the Richmond animal shelter, Gracie’s Guardians is an initiative dedicated to the welfare of pit bulls. The group chose Gracie as their namesake “in tribute to her perseverance and that of countless other pit bulls who have suffered or continue to suffer at the hands of people, yet whose spirits and love for humans remains untarnished.”
(Photo: from the Facebook page of Gracie’s Guardians)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bad newz, bad rap, best friends, dead, death, died, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, gracie, gracie's guardians, michael vick, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rehabilitation, rescue, richmond, vick, vick dogs, victory, virginia
Three North Texas families say the diabetic alert dogs they received from a Virginia-based nonprofit aren’t alerting them to anything, and have turned out to be nothing more than expensive house pets.
Each of the three paid up to $20,000 for what they were told were specialized service dogs trained to alert them to spikes and drops in blood sugar and help them manage Type 1 diabetes.
Mindy Guidry said the dog she received to help her daughter manage her diabetes has failed to detect any blood sugar spirals. On top of that, the dog is afraid to go out in public.
“I cannot take her out in public at all. Even in our own household she’s scared,” Guidry said.
Krista Middleton told NBC 5 that her dog doesn’t alert her when her blood sugar is dropping dangerously low.
“And then I’m passing out. I’m going into comas. My kids are finding me in seizures,” said Middleton. “It gets to the point where, as a mom, I wanted to make sure my kids weren’t the ones to find me convulsing.”
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers says it offers a one- to two-year training program with initial in-home sessions of up to five days, long-distance training and education and up to seven more multi-day visits.
Middleton and Guidry both failed to complete the training program, a spokeswoman for the agency said, and both still owe the agency money.
Middleton said when she informed the non-profit her dog wasn’t working, she got no response.
But Warren Retrievers spokeswoman Jennifer Bulotti told NBC 5 when a dog isn’t working “instant intervention and training is provided.”
Dan Warren, founder and president of the nonprofit, was convicted of passing forged documents in 2008, before he started his service dog agency. While working at a car dealership, he had someone prepare phony tax returns to help customers get loans for cars, NBC 5 reported. He was sentenced to five years’ probation
Tax records from 2012 list his salary from the service dog agency as $157,411.
The Virginia Attorney General’s office has received 30 complaints against Warren Retrievers, but declined to discuss the details of any of them.
Providers of service dogs operate relatively free of government regulation or required standards, and some think it’s time for that to change.
“This is an industry that’s fraught with fraud,” said Brent Brooks, president of The Diabetes Alert Dog Alliance (DADA). “It angers me to have to say it but you have to be skeptical.”
Posted by John Woestendiek July 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alert, alerting, animals, blood sugar, complaints, dallas, diabetes, diabetic, dogs, health, industry, investigation, nbc 5, news, pets, regulation, report, service dogs, spikes, standards, virginia, warren retrievers
Eight months after she was stabbed seven times with a steak knife, Chloe the Shih Tzu lives in a new and happy home with a veterinarian who works at the animal hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
“…She certainly hasn’t let it get her down,” said Abby Dunlap, of Vienna, Va., who took the patient home after it was decided her previous owner shouldn’t get her back.
The three-year-old dog, formerly known as Coco, was living with her owner in Southeast D.C. when the owner’s brother, claiming the dog was Satan, stabbed her seven times, according to the Washington Times
Miraculously, no vital organs were hit, and Chloe, after being stitched and bandaged, recovered.
Police took her to the animal hospital, where it was discovered that, miraculously, the knife had not hit any vital organs.
“She was very lucky,” said Scott Giacoppo, a spokesman for the Washington Humane Society. ”…I’ve seen animals stabbed, beaten, set on fire and discarded like trash. It’s horrible. But we get stories like Chloe’s and it brings a smile to our faces that we can make a difference.”
Dunlap said she and her husband had just lost their own dog when they volunteered to foster Chloe.
“It took a little bit of time for me to trust her and figure out if we wanted to keep her.”
But now Chloe has bonded — with Dunlap, her husband, their children and other dogs in the neighborhood, she says.
(Photo: Washington Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abby dunlap, adopted, animal cruelty, animal hospital, animals, dog, dogs, foster, pets, recovery, shih-tzu, stabbed, steak knife, vet, veterinarian, veterinary, virginia, washington
Sharon Mulcahy, 62, of Richmond, told police she’d arrived at a motel in Baltimore the night before with her “bowels overflowing,” and left the dogs in her car while she checked into a room, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“Ms. Mulcahy stated that she was going to go back downstairs to care for the dogs, but instead decided to go to sleep, leaving the two dogs inside the vehicle for approximately 19 hours,” the police report said.
Temperatures in Baltimore reached the mid-90s on Saturday. Police said one window of the car was cracked open about two inches, but that the dogs — both poodles — had no food or water.
Inside the car, they found a six-year-old brown poodle named Missy dead, laying across the center console. A second poodle, Bear on the floor of the drivers seat. Bear survived.
Police found Mulcahy in the laundry room of the hotel. She was charged with six counts of animal cruelty and two counts of restraining a dog without shelter or food and water.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, arrest, baltimore, bear, car, charges, death, dog, dogs, heat, left in car, locked, missy, motel, pets, police, poodles, richmond, sharon mulcahy, virginia
It’s a done deal: Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit group that fights chaining, penning and other forms of cruelty to dogs, has closed on Michael Vick’s old house — the former headquarters of the quarterback’s dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels.
Dogs Deserve Better plans to turn the property in Surry County, Virginia, into a center to rehabilitate and resocialize dogs that have been mistreated and abused, with the hope of finding them adoptive homes.
The name of the facility will be: The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
The potential deal, which we told you about in February, became a reality in May, when Dogs Deserve Better raised enough money for the down payment and secured a bank loan to purchase the 4,600-square-foot white brick house and surrounding 15 acres.
The group paid $176,507 as the down payment for the house, liisted at $595,000, and is still raising money to pay for the rest and make improvements.
Once complete, it will be a $2.5 million facility, founder Tamira Thayne said told the Virginian-Pilot.
“Purchasing this property and in effect giving it back to the victims of the abuse that occurred here is a very powerful step for animal advocates and our country’s dogs alike,” said Thayne. “We are sending a message to those who want to abuse and fight dogs that a new day is dawning in America, a day where dogs are treated with the love and respect they deserve as companions to humans.”
The Washington Post had a report on the property’s transition from a place of nightmares to a place of hope earlier this month.
Dogs Deserve Better, which will move from its Pennsylvania base to Virginia, has never had a facility of its own, but it says it has rescued and rehomed more than 3,000 dogs during its existence.
Dogs Deserve Better says having the facililty in a house will help in socializing the dogs it takes in. The group hopes to rescue and rehabilitate 500 dogs a year.
Thayne said that, in addition to welcoming visitors, Dogs Deserve Better will also build a memorial on the property for the dogs who died and suffered there, according to Dogster.com.
For more information on the purchase, the plans and how you can donate, visit the website of Dogs Deserve Better.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, adopt, adoption, animals, bad newz kennels, bought, buys, center, chained, dogfighting, dogs, dogs deserve better, dogster, football, former, good newz rehab center, home, house, michael vick, mistreated, moonlight road, nfl, operation, penned, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bulls, property, purchase, rehab, rehabilitation, rescue, ring, surry county, tamira thayne, virginia
An animal rescue group says it has been able to raise enough money to make the down payment on Michael Vick’s former home in Virginia, which they plan to turn into a center for rescued dogs.
It will be called Good Newz (a play on Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels) Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
The group Dogs Deserve Better announced on its website it had received an approval for a loan and hopes to close on the Surry County property that served as headquarter’s for Vick’s dogfighting operation in mid-May.
The group, which has already raised a third of the sale price, is still raising money to pay off the remaining two-thirds — the amount the loan was approved for. They hope to build a fence around the property and start accepting dogs while they raise the money to build the facility, WVEC reported.
Members have previously said say they’d need an estimated $3 million to create the dog center, which would also serve as the new headquarters for the Pennsylvania-based rescue group.
After the forfeit of Vick’s five-bedroom, 15-acre property, potential buyers were few — in part because of a down real estate economy, maybe too, though real estate agents played it down, because of the horrors that occured there. Assessed at more than $700,000, the house is being purchased by Dogs Deserve Better for $595,000.
In an interview with Care2, DDB’s Tamira Thayne said, “I felt when I was there that the dogs who lost their lives and suffered there welcomed us and were grateful to us for both preserving their memories, continuing the fight against dog abuse, and bringing happiness to a place of such sadness.”
DDB announced in February that it had obtained an option to purchase the property, located at 1915 Moonlight Road.
Vick served 21 months of a 23 month sentence in federal prison for bankrolling the dog fighting operation at the property.
DDB plans to build a state of the art dog facility there, with help from volunteers and donations.
Thayne said the group hopes to house, train, and sent to adoptive homes about 500 dogs a year at first, moving up to 1,000 dogs a year. The group will be rehabilitating primarily dogs that been abused and neglected, penned and chained.
“For us, having a standard shelter is not the answer, because we have to be teaching these dogs how to live within the home and family,” Thayne told Care 2. “So we want to design a center where they will be trained in a house setting every day, working one on one or in small groups with a human to assess and deal with issues and teach housetraining and people skills.”
For information on how to donate, visit the Dogs Deserve Better website.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, bad newz, center, chained, ddb, dogs, dogs deserve better, former home, good newz, headquarters, home, kennels, michael vick, neglected, penned, philadelphia eagles, property, quarterback, rehabilitate, rehabilitation, rescue, shelter, surry county, tamira thayne, vick, virginia