Monday, August 30, 2010

Celeste's Second Training Session - Still a Perfect Dog

We had our second training session at the sanctuary, so the trainer could see how Celeste is with other dogs.

Turns out I made the issue bigger than reality.

Celeste's initial greeting is appropriate. She's relaxed but prefers nose-to-nose, which I've never thought was appropriate or polite. She can walk side by side with other dogs and generally ignores them, even if they are off leash and she is on.

The trainer and I agree that she then becomes unsure of what her role in the new relationship is, she tenses and then will either growl or lip curl. She was inappropriate with a smaller dog, but responded well to the dog's appeasement behavior (on her back, eye avoidance).

In fact, the trainer thinks the greeting behavior can be modified in a month, if not less. She thinks group classes would be a great idea, so I'll look into those. After she gets good at nose-nose, we'll work on nose-butt greetings and eventually work our way up to off-leash play time. Today gave me great hope that Celeste will be able to play appropriately with other dogs.

The trainer commented I was really good at keying in on Celeste's behavior, knowing the right moment when to call her over and reinforce desired behaviors while distracting her from undesired ones.

I can thank Mina for that. I can also thank Mina for my rather over-the-top belief that Celeste was irremediably damaged and would never ever play nice with other dogs off leash. Mina is a difficult dog, and she is also a more subtle dog to read. I'd always considered myself capable of understanding most dogs' behavior, but Mina proved me so wrong. She taught me much about appropriate and inappropriate behavior, about the less obvious cues and insight into a dog's inner state (or our best approximation).

Relax! That is what I'm telling myself now. We'll work on the dog greetings with Celeste, at work and while on walks. I'll remind myself that Celeste is actually acting quite normal and isn't behaving as inappropriately as I thought. And hopefully, Celeste will make some canine playmates other than Mina. It would be so fun to go on weekend hikes with friends and their dogs without worrying about a grumpy Celeste (Mina does not do long hikes, thanks).

Media Bias in Two Recent Attacks

Story: 19-mos old child wanders away from home, enters yard with chained dog, is severely mauled: Collapsed lungs, 45 puncture wounds, multiple internal injuries, required chest tubes to stay alive.Covered in 16 articles
Breed Mentioned
Zero times: 5
One time: 3
Title of article: None
All articles are a variation of the same basic two - no article mentions the breed more than once. Not once is it mentioned that Huskies pose any meaningful threat to anyone.

Story: 8-mos-old infant placed on the floor of a kitchen. An adult mixed breed Pit Bull belonging to a family member entered the home and picked up the child by her buttocks and dragged her outside.The dog was without food and water.
Covered in 36 articles
Breed Mentioned: In every article
Zero times: 0
One time: 0
More than one time: 36
In title: 36
 In both cases, a child was placed, inadvertently, in a situation that resulted in severe injury for the child and undoubtedly death for the dog. In the first case, we have a situation involving possibly lax parental supervision and a chained dog in an unfenced yard. In the second case, we have a situation involving a potentially neglected/underfed dog and an infant placed on the ground, unattended, around the dog. 

But how they are reported by the media is very different. 

And how *we*, the public, respond is very different. In many of the Husky articles, the victim is blamed. As in a 19-mos-old child is blamed for walking up to a chained dog and trying to "pet him". The parents are blamed. The individual dog is blamed. But there are a lot of comments defending the dog's behavior.

In the case of the Pit Bull Mix, many of the comments are quite negative and blame the dog and its breed. Some blame the owner. Thankfully, unlike some comments in the Husky case, no one blames the infant.

Oh wait. There isn't any media bias. The media reports Pit Bull attacks the same way they report Husky attacks. The public respond to Pit Bull attacks the same way they respond to Husky attacks of the same magnitude. I still cannot believe there are people who STILL maintain there isn't a media bias. It's like someone falling out of a plane without a parachute thinking they can just, you know, defy gravity with their mind. Surprise!

Samples from the Pit Bull Mix Attack

Baby bitten by pit bull in critical condition

Boston Herald - ‎Aug 7, 2010‎
The dog's owner, Bryant Sidney, was cited for prohibitive treatment of the dog and not having a rabies tag. Police say Sidney is the baby's great uncle. ...
Infant critical after attack by pit bull Atlanta Journal Constitution
9-Month-Old Attacked By

Samples from the Husky Attack

Toddler Injured by Dog Bite Recovering Well

KMEG 14 - Erika Thomas - ‎Aug 27, 2010‎
His mother tells us, 19-month-old Samuel Van Donslear had X-rays Friday afternoon. His vital organs are doing well and his chest tubes will be removed ...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If You Feel Like Signing a Petition :)

Why Fires Scare Me

The blaze ballooned from about 15 acres at 5:30 p.m. Friday to 600 acres by 9 p.m

This is a fire that is burning in a town near where the sanctuary is located. It's currently at 850 acres and uncontained. We had a strange weather front move in that brought with it powerful winds, a stark contrast to the 100+ F weather we've had the past few days. I fell asleep last night thinking the weather was perfect fire weather (dry lightning + gusty winds = yay for fire, boo for some of us).

It's just so amazing that in under four hours, a fire can go from 15 acres to 600, 40 times its original size. When that's near 200 animals, it's a little more than frightening, it's petrifying. Thankfully that isn't the case here, but it's a reminder that even in a cool weather, even with a bit of rain, in California fire is an enormous danger (and August is one of our worst months for fires).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

An 11-yr-old was mauled by a small brown dog in the UK, causing wounds significant enough for her to be sent to the hospital. It took two people to get the dog off the child. It is unclear why the men are described as a "white man" and a "black man" or why a picture of a large, German Shepherd is used.

Alligators are invading our cities. In Brockton, MA, a firefighter discovered a strolling alligator with, of all things, a collar. In New York City, an an 18-inch alligator was discovered hiding underneath a car and apparently "delighting onlookers". All the cops busted out their iphones and took pictures of the taped up baby gator. Cuz, why not? Another wayward gator was captured in the Chicago River.

SeaWorld slapped with $70,000 fine, calls everyone a liar, including a former trainer and OSHA. Listen to the 911 calls in which the woman calling explicitly says a trainer is in the pool with the one whale no one is supposed to be in the pool with. I'm sure SeaWorld considers her a liar too.

An English Bulldog let loose out of his car attacks a Bouvier being walked on a leash.

A mixed breed Pit Bull was stabbed multiple times when she went to defend her owner from an abusive boyfriend. She barked and nipped at the man who then reacted by stabbing her multiple times...she didn't defend herself. His attorney is arguing that it is only reasonable a person react to a barking dog who nips you when you argue/shove/abuse your girlfriend by stabbing the dog, especially if she's a Pit Bull, multiple times with a 12" knife. For reals.

Another Pit Bull prevented a woman from being raped.

A child savagely mauled by a nearly blind Belgian Malinois is still recovering. The attack was so severe that the child may never see again - he had to have his eyes sewn shut. The attack happened in June when the parents left their child alone with a dog they had only for 3-weeks. I'm not buying the claim the dog thought the child was a toy. The dog has since been killed.

"Two Pit Bulls Attacks Tuesday" in which one day of the week regrets every happening! I'm not going to link to it, but the title alone is worth including.

A Great Dane adopted the day before nipped a 2-yr-old in the face. The "wound" needed one stitch.

A Husky in Sioux City, Iowa (where Pit Bulls are banned) inflicted multiple bite wounds on a 19-mos-old child who had wandered away from home and up to the chained dog.

Mobile police are now admitting the dogs who attacked and killed two miniature ponies were not actually Pit Bulls after the veterinarian who euthanized the dogs stated they were a bunch of aggro mutts.

Whitehall News Article Misses the Point

In December, an animal control officer in Whitehall noticed a loose dog outside of an apartment complex. She climbed over a 4' fence and approached the dog, who barked at her before being called back home. The dog had been let out to go potty. The woman identified the dog as a Pit Bull and in violation of the breed specific legislation that stipulates particular requirements for Pit Bull owners.

You can see a picture of the dog in the article. The dog is not a Pit Bull by any stretch of the imagination.

For the next eight months, this law-abiding couple had to endure appeal after appeal and litigation efforts to try and save their friendly, non-aggressive dog from being seized.

They recently won their case.

Eight wasted months, money wasted on litigation, all to try and disprove a negative - that the dog wasn't a Pit Bull...even though it's clear to everyone but the animal control officer that the dog is a mutt, and not of the Pit Bull variety.

The take home message was that Whitehall should revise it's identification of Pit Bulls.

Well no, Whitehall should revise it's Pit Bull restrictions. This is the reality of breed specific legislation - it criminalizes law-abiding citizens, kills dogs, and wastes money. How unfortunate that the news agency chose not to focus on that aspect of the story.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Monterey Dunes

It was too difficult to get photos of the dolphins but a couple sea otters make an appearance. I wish the moment when a dolphin barreled and leaped through a wave was the moment I had my camera. Alas, it was not.

Someone asked me what I did on my vacation. Nothing. You do not visit the Monterey Dunes and do anything. You simply become part of a world we have forgotten. It's a world of sea salt, kelp, birds daily migrations, hunting dolphins, roaming otters. It's a past so primal and so in all of us that you just want to curl up on the sand and meld with it and the ocean.

I took pictures. That's about all I did.

Curlew in flight
This is a curlew in flight. They are strange looking birds with elongated beaks perfect for jack-hammering into wet sand, searching and seeking out crustaceans. They do not like you to look at them. When you do, they fly away.

Curlew bonding
It's tempting to believe this is a romantic or friendly moment of bonding. Two birds recognizing their one soul, stopping for a moment of heartfelt connection. It's actually a fight. I like pretending, though.

The Birds!
When we saw them coming, of course we got Hitchockian and thought The Birds had come to roost.

Well, they had. Literally, they were coming down before sunset to roost. The pelicans flew off elsewhere but all the gulls met with great gusto at this sandy outcropping. Later, before the sun's vermilion rays spread out, half of the gulls fled to the sea. I am hoping there was a hidden gem of an isle or island for them to settle down for the night.
The Birds!
Another view of the mass organized chaos. That's what group bird flight is, you know, organized chaos.

Pelicans in Flight
Three pelicans in flight during a foggy day. Pelicans are fun. They look gangly and awkward, then they surprise you by tucking in tight, wings against feathered body, and divebombing powerful and perfect into the ocean currents. Some come up heavy with fish, most come up flustered and annoyed. It was easy to find the dolphins, all I had to do was find the terns and gulls and pelicans hunting with them.

While I couldn't see what went on underneath the sea, I could tell the dolphins were emitting bubbles from their blowholes in an ever-tightening circle around their victims. The fish become confused and cannot easily escape from their bubble prison. I watched the dolphins circle and then swim and leap violently into the circle for a catch. It was both fascinating and disturbing.

March of the Plovers
These are plovers. Ridiculously cute, they move on legs that shimmer when in motion. A more accurate capture would have been a still body with a blur for legs. They don't like getting wet, but they thrive on the little crustaceans beneath the sand. When the tide pulls out, they race fast as their legs can carry them, stick their beaks in the sand, butts pointed high, and then like magic, scurry back to dry land. Delightful creatures.

Pelican alone
A lone pelican flies out for a day of fishing.

Sea otters are sea otters
Hello, we are sea otters and we see you seeing us.

Gull pondering meaning
A line of gulls deciding whether they should try and hunt for crustaceans or not. These are in fact the laziest birds on earth. Most of the day, they hang out on the sand in a clique, grooming themselves, casting furtive glances to the ocean. For a brief interim, they stroll down to the wet sand and hunt. Mostly, they wait for the curlews and plovers to catch something and then try to steal it. They are endearing and strange birds.

Ocean foam
Foam is foamy.

Pelicans in Sun
These two pelicans are heading in for the afternoon. It's not a perfect shot, but I really love the light. They are about to fly directly in front of the sun.

Curlews hunting
Curlews hunting.

Ships a sailin
This was a beautiful day for sailing. If that is your thing. It is not my thing. My thing is solid land and a happy stomach.

Lonely sailing boat

Wild flowers at sunset
This looked a lot like a lavender plant. The dunes are quite fragile but so full of life.

Pelicans in sunset
Pelicans heading home for the evening.

I love the dunes. They are not raucous beaches with sunbathing tourists. They are cold and violent and often shrouded in fog. They are for bundled walks down damp sand. When you are in the mood, they are for cold-tendrils of ocean grasping at ankles, sometimes knees. They are for the birds, the seals, the crabs. They are for us, but only in small doses, only when we can handle their chilly hands and harshly blowing winds. They invite us into their world of suffering and death, beauty and compassion, so horrifying yet so intrinsically a part of our souls, our code. It is to the past, the first days of existence, when nothing was but a freezing ocean and a setting sun.

Jim Crosby, Bay County Shelter, Oh How You've Failed!

I've written about Jim Crosby, former director of the Bay County Animal Shelter, before and generally with a positive attitude. When he took over in February of 2008, he reduced the kill rate significantly and in two years, he tripled the adoption rate. Pit Bulls fared much better under his control.

But then something happened. Well, a whole lot of things probably happened. But I'm going to go to imaginary land and share a story about what happened.

John Q. Public dropped off a well-muscled dog, let's say a Labrador Retriever, at the Bay County Shelter. This dog had behavioral problems. Although two people wanted to adopt Friendly, the Lab, an employee at the shelter decided to bring the dog home, slit his throat, and BBQ him. I mean, he WAS well-muscled. The director of the shelter resigned. The former owners of the dog didn't get why anyone would be fired - I mean, according to them it was a stupid dog.

Now, if this were true, I imagine there would be a lot more furor and outrage. And jail time.

Instead, the animal in question was a pig. This was a pig who had "behavioral issues" probably brought on by inept owners (anyone who calls pigs "stupid" and who has met pigs is rather intellectually challenged themselves). Pigs are smarter than dogs, for crying out loud! They're more sensitive too. Anyways, two people were interested in ADOPTING the pig. You know, providing a permanent home in which she could live out her life. This is the opportunity extended to dogs and cats who enter Bay County's animal shelter, why wouldn't it be extended to any animal who walks or hops across its threshold? There is no rational reason why there should be schizophrenic inconsistencies.

Jim Crosby resigned - this was "the straw that broke the camel's back", a rather inappropriate cliche for this animal lover, heh. The employee was not reprimanded or fired, even though his actions were ethically unsound and cruel. You would not let an animal shelter employee take your dog in, offer to give him a good home, then eat him. If you would not permit that to happen to your dog or cat, then you should apply the same basic, logical standards to any abandoned animal at the shelter. If not, then you are morally inconsistent (nevermind the the inconsistencies we exhibit when it comes to pigs who aren't entering the animal shelter system).

Animal shelters SHOULD be held to a higher standard. They are SUPPOSED to be role models and authority figures. They should never be cutting throats of those they are supposed to protect. They should never be eating the animals they are supposed to place into permanent homes.

Friendly wasn't just some "stupid pig". First off, she was a she, not an it. A chair is an it. A car is an it. A thinking, sentient, feeling being is a she or a he. Second off, Friendly deserved the same opportunities as any dog, cat or rabbit (who are also eaten, used for fur and vivisection in this country, more inconsistencies) who enters the shelter. Finally, Friendly had placement. This is no different than killing and rendering or sending to the landfill a dog who has a rescue or individual willing to adopt them. It's just more creepy b/c someone ate her (if you replace "dog" with "pig", most of you would find it more creepy than the landfill).

Hat tip to My Dog Says

Ruby shall appeal to your emotion....NOW
Almost sitting Ruby

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Parole Denied to Man Who Torched Dog in Alabama, Speaks to Bigger Penal Problem

In 2007, angered that his mother wouldn't let him drive the car, Juan Daniels took his frustration and anger out on his mother's dog, a 6-yr-old Pit Bull.

He proceeded to pour lighter fluid over the dog, lit him on fire and beat him with a shovel. Amazingly, the dog survived and didn't hold any grudges.

Animal cruelty has only been in a felony in Alabama since 1994. Few people have been convicted of felony-level animal abuse in the state. Daniels would be the first to receive an extremely stiff penalty - 9 years in prison. He was sentenced in 2009 and went up for parole recently. The dog, Louis Vuitton, was present for the hearing, wagging his tail and bestowing kisses to anyone who would receive them. His extensive scarring served as a reminder to the torture and suffering he endured. Daniels' parole was denied 3-0. He will be up for parole in 2012.

There is certainly a level of satisfaction animal lovers feel over this sentencing. Too often people commit egregious acts of cruelty against companion animals* and suffer little in the way of consequences. You need only read about the recent 90 day sentencing of Jerry Lee Southern. He starved dogs to death and chained more than a 100 up without adequate housing, nutrition or water. There is a stark inconsistency with how law enforcement deals with animal cruelty issues - sometimes they go to one extreme, most times they don't even bother prosecuting.

I am not partial to our penal system. It sets people up for failure and does not serve to redeem most who pass through. That is not to say there are people who should be behind bars - there most assuredly are. I might even qualify someone who reacts to the mundane denial of a borrowed car by beating and setting on fire a dog as one who should not only spend time behind bars but who is in desperate need of anger management therapy. There are people who are beyond redemption. I don't know if Daniels is one of those people nor am I qualified to offer an opinion on that particular issue.

Regardless, the one most powerful thing I've learned in dog training is to never, ever set a dog up for failure. Yet we do that to our fellow humans with an inordinately expensive legal system that is racist and classist in scope. Do I think Daniels should be in prison? Until he has proven himself able to manage his rage and misdirected anger appropriately, yes. Do I believe there is a determinate figure of time? No. Do I think he will get the treatment needed? Unlikely.

We have a failed system. I am unsure why so few understand that. Perhaps it is the primal fear of those who do not abide by a moral and legal code of ethics the rest of us do (and arguably some of those "ethics" are questionable, like California's 3-strike law and the rampant criminalization of minor drug use). Still, it is hard to argue against the high rates of recidivism and the egregious cost of running our system. I feel this more acutely living in a state in which the average cost per prisoner - a cost I help pay for - is twice the national average. And even the national average is only a little less than my take-home pay! In California, it costs nearly $50,000 to care for an inmate, nationally it's about $30,000. It's not just California, either. And it's not just the cost, it's the crimes - while violent crime has diminished, the prison population rate has increased. Most people in prison are there for non violent crimes, including minor drug use or low-level drug dealing. We spend nearly $70 billion annually on the current federal and state penal system.

So I can't help but, in some small way, sympathize with Daniels family. Not because I think they are right, that Daniels should just get to "move on with his life", but because we have a system that penalizes without rehabilitation. When it comes to the prosecution of crimes against animals, the system is even more off-kilter, with few prosecutions and convictions. There is a good chance Daniels isn't getting therapy. There is a good chance Daniels isn't being taught skills that translate into real-world opportunities. We have a system that puts people behind bars but gives them no valuable means to go beyond and get better. We also have a system that generally doesn't penalize people like Daniels, those who abuse animals, and generally focuses its efforts on "victimless" crimes. Animal abuse is more far-reaching, more likely to transcend the species barrier than stealing a bike or smoking pot (two crimes that will get you closer to 3-strikes and a mandatory 15-yr prison term in California).

I'm not sure what the answer is, except to seriously reduce our prison inmate population and focus more on programs that stimulate meaningful change for those who violate our laws. We claim to want to give 2nd chances, yet we deny them so easily to people who don't pass muster. Our system fails people like Daniels and ultimately, fails us and other animals. What is to stop Daniels from reacting inappropriately and cruelly in the future if his mental health and ability to deal with real-world annoyances are severely in question AND, more importantly, aren't treated/modified? We cannot justify keeping him in prison for his entire life, for human ethics alone, but I am left questioning how we can justify denying him parole without doing anything to set him up for success. Daniels deserves that. Louis Vuitton, the dog, deserves that. Any future person or animal who interacts with Daniels and people like him deserve that too.

What do you think?

*For ease of this particular discussion, I am focusing on traditional companion animals, particularly dogs.

Photo credit: (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, David Bundy) (David Bundy - AP)

Whitley County Animal Control Shoots Friendly Dog For Being Stray

Apparently Whitley County animal control officials think it's fine and dandy to shoot a scared, non-aggressive, stray dog (with a collar and name tag!) even though those who called them to RESCUE the dog offered to adopt him.

Bugsy is dead. He's a big, white fluffy dog who was found wandering near an office complex in Whitley County, Kentucky. Office workers liked the dog and did their best to take care of him. He was flighty but, at some point, employees read the tag on his collar - Bugsy. When it started to pour rain and they couldn't get Bugsy to a dry place, folks did what they thought was the right thing - what should be the right thing. They called animal control.

Animal control arrived with a police officer. They cornered the dog against a dumpster. Horrified onlookers realized that they were pulling out a gun and about to shoot the dog. They rushed over and tried to intervened, offering to pay city fines for a stray dog and adopting the dog themselves. Their pleas of kindness were ignored and instead, the dog was shot three times and killed.

The county judge executive released a statement saying "the animal control officer's poor judgement is clearly not the protocol of this was the judgement of the animal control officer and the city police officer that this action was necessary. I think it was poor judgement and this officer will be disciplined."

Well, gee, thanks I guess. I hope by "disciplined" they mean fired.

It wasn't easy to find contact information for the commissioners. Actually, I didn't.

But here are some other officials that you can email to ask that a) the animal control officer be fired and required to attend mandatory anger management classes; b) criminal charges be considered against the officer; and c) that Whitley County implement a top-down review of their stray animal policies and when it is and is not appropriate to discharge a weapon.

Bugsy doesn't get a voice, not anymore. His basic right to a chance at a permanent home was denied. His basic right to live was denied. Please be his voice.

County Clerk's often report information to the board of commissioners: - Kay Schwartz
Lawrence Hodge (county sheriff): 


KTVU: Interesting Choice of Words

Last week, a dog walker was taking a client's dog for a walk when she encountered a park regular at an off-leash San Francisco park (Fort Funston). The two dogs reacted to each other. The dog walker asked the man if his dog was neutered. That's when the man took out a knife and began stabbing the other dog. The dog was severely wounded, his spleen was removed but he survived.

Read the article

Guess which dog's breed is mentioned? The Pit Bull belonging to the man who stabbed Lenny, the other dog.

This is the stabbed dog. His breed is not mentioned.

Lenny is obviously a Pit Bull type dog. Even though he was stabbed, he let people handle and hold his wounds down. Even though is owner aggressively attacked Lenny, the other dog didn't do anything aggressive.

Yet, we are left with an impression about the other man AND the dog, based solely on two words - Pit Bull. It won't matter that Lenny is a Pit Bull. It won't matter that the other dog didn't hurt anyone. Pit Bull is used to make connections and inferences. KTVU made a cognizant choice in how they would portray this story. It wouldn't be good enough to say "A man walking a dog stabbed another dog" or that "this is how the dog looked" or "Both dogs were Pit Bulls", what they chose was to report that a man walking a Pit Bull stabbed another dog.

While I think it is unfortunate "Pit Bull" conjures up some nasty associations, the current reality is that it does. That is what the media plays on, and it reinforces stereotypes and prejudices both about the dogs and their owners. Lost, of course, is the dog walker who was apparently normal, Lenny who was apparently normal, and heck even the other dog, who was apparently normal. The only abnormal one is the man with the knife.

I'm Back

You may not have noticed I was gone.

I was at the Monterey Dunes enjoying a long weekend.

I saw dolphins hunt and play off the coast, sea otters float on their backs, seal heads pop up out of the breakers, plovers scurry across the sand, curlews dip long beaks into wet sand, pelicans dive bomb fish in the sea, and a whole host of other birds doing what birds do. It was wonderful. I'm going through the pictures now and will post some, maybe later today!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A Rottweiler in the UK is being honored with an award after he stopped a sexual attack on a stranger. The dog chased the rapist off and stayed by the victim's side while his owner called police.

Barstow, CA considering a mandatory spay-neuter law that may apply to only Pit Bulls or all dogs.

A woman taking a walk was attacked by a small unknown mixed breed and a large German Shepherd mix. One dog bit her on the breast, while the other attacked her back and leg. She was saved by neighbors who heard her cries for help.

Dog bite insurance claims up 6%.

A parent instigated a "poor supervision" policy when they took their 4-yr-old child over to a neighbor's house to look at a car for sale. While the child was told not to go in the house, the parent didn't bother to hold on to the child to prevent that. The toddler wandered into the home and was bitten once on the face by a Bullmastiff. The child will be fine and no charges have been filed.

A crazy woman got upset when her son was "bitten" by a neighbor's dog. The bite did not break the skin, so it wasn't much of a bite. She grabbed a knife and attempted to attack the dog's owner. She is now in jail. Super awesome role model.

No decision has been made regarding the fate of a St. Bernard who attacked a boy. Not once is the breed mentioned.

A German Shepherd attacked and killed a much smaller dog at an off-leash hiking area (not a dog park). The dog was out of sight of her owners when the attack happened. The dog disemboweled the small dog.

THe owner of a German Shepherd who attacked a postman in the UK has been ordered six months community service. The dog caused severe injuries to the postal worker, including bites down to the bone.

97 Crazy Miniature Pinschers (don't worry, that's their true name, not an insult) need homes in Broward County, Florida.

Story about two men who are fighting over the rights to own a dog. The dog, a Basset Hound, had escaped her home when she was found by someone else. The second person decided to keep the dog (which in California is illegal if you don't do your due diligent to find the owner). When he took the dog to get microchipped ( responsible), the vet found a microchip (from the also responsible first owner). The first owner arrived at the vet when the second person ran out with the dog...much craziness ensues.

A kangaroo mauls a woman. 

Pit bull tries defending his owner's body from rescuers. Dog is shot with a stun gun and runs home. His owner dies.

A loose Boxer kills a miniature Schnauzer.

A Labrador Retriever (or German Shepherd) mix kills a smaller dog at an off-leash dog park. Article makes a point to mention a loose Pit Bull that doesn't kill another dog.

A "large whippet" (which I can only assume is a lurcher or Greyhound) attacks a boy in the UK.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear 100 Prospective Adopters, I've Found Dogs For You!

Nothing gets the phone ringing with cries of "I'll take him!" like a cruelty case. Apparently saving a life isn't appealing enough to people, they need to save a cruelly treated life!

Take Mason, a 12-week-old Pit Bull in Saugatuck, Michigan. He's got a line of 100 people interested in adopting him. This is amazing, folks. Getting a Pit Bull adopted is hard, but this little man has dozens of folks to choose. All it took was some idiot cutting off his ears with scissors! If that got Pit Bulls homes, well gee, let's anesthetize them all and snip off some ears...we'll market them as survivors of cruel treatment! No worries, I'm far from serious.

In case any of those Mason-lovers are googling away for Mason-talk, and they magically come across my blog, well, have I got a solution for you!

Out of the goodness of my heart, I have gone to the trouble of finding 99 Pit Bulls who are as adorable and in need of a home as Mason! You see, there's this nifty pet-finding device. It's really amazing. It finds pets for you! This pet-finding website will bring you into the 20th century, and then someday you might enter the 21st. Anyway, it's called Petfinder, and I have found you some Pit Bull pets.

There's Jake - he was rescued from a shady part of town. His original owners were happy to release the little dude - it meant they didn't have to kick his head in! He had The Mange and so looks appropriately sad and pathetic, a neglect/cruelty case for you!

Kingston is a 6-8 week old PUPPEH OF CUTE. I'm sure his father said mean things to him and his mother didn't love him, else why would he be abandulated at a shelter?

Hawkeye has an awesome name and an unknown history. I mean, he was tossed to the curb, left to fend for himself, kicked at by evil teenage boys, and some old lady with shopping bags told him to go die! Adopt him now!

Isabelle is super adorable and white with patchy-eyed goodness...she is IN A SEA OF PIT BULLS, SAVE HER NOW!

In fact, there are 15 PAGES of Pit Bulls within 100 miles. I did the maths - 375 Pit Bulls! Make the world a better place, go out and adopt one of the awesome-like-Mason Pit Bulls near you!

Media and Onlookers Confused About Breed...Again

A chained dog in Cincinnati breaks free and ends up nipping several children.

I find this story very interesting, because it conveys a lot more fear than is necessary. I'm not saying there should have been NO fear - the dog posed a danger because he was willing to put teeth on skin. However, if you look at the bite wounds, they are very minor. In fact, most don't break the skin. This dog, who has probably lived his whole life on a chain, showed incredible restraint when he encountered these children.

These are the reports:
"The dog is a pitbull and remains on the loose, according to police." News

"Investigators said the dog -- a chow mix -- bit several children" News

The SPCA is wisely not bothering with a breed.

Here's the dog:

The dog does not physically resemble a Pit Bull or a Chow Chow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Piglets Are Cute

Piglets are especially adorable farmed animals. They talk and root and bite when they're displeased. They are not wall-flowers, they are loud and personable. Everything about them screams big personality.

Ruby is no exception. She is from a free-range pig farm. Like on "factory farms", runt piglets are killed. Such was the fate of Ruby when one visitor intervened and asked to take the sickly piglet home.

I can't even begin to describe how well this woman took care of Ruby. So well that the "dying" piglet is now a 20 lb, bouncing bundle of squeaking, squealing joy.

Today I took pictures of Ruby.

If you have never taken a picture of a pig, then let me share something with you - they are one of the most difficult animals to photograph. They are always nose to the ground, seeing the world through their nose. When they are older, it becomes a little dangerous to bring food into their enclosure to try and picture their faces. I generally try to catch them off-guard, startle them a little, and then try and capture that one "I can finally see your eyes" moment. Or I just photograph them snoozing. That's cute too. (And by dangerous, I don't meant they will eat you - except one pig here, who will try - but just that they are so food motivated, they would overwhelm you with their hunger).

Piglets are easier. Even easier are piglets whose rescuers have trained to sit. Oh gosh, it's so cute.

Here's Ruby:
Sitting Ruby

I know, killing you dead, right? Oh gosh, she is an adorable piglet. She likes taking walks on a harness and thinks little rivers are stupendous.

I'll post more photos later. I just wanted to get this photo of Ruby-rubicon up stat. SHE IS SO CUTE.

Around the Intarwebz

Loud people kill fish.

Pit Bulls in Hillsborough, Florida get second chance.

Only six or seven locations in the canine genome explain 80% of the difference in dog breed height and weight.

Family of a child savagely mauled by a retired police dog going blind say the dog probably confused the toddler with a toy.

A police service dog in Canada was playing in the water when he decided to attack a woman. She was bitten once and the dog quickly responded to release commands.

The Changing Narrative (KC Dog Blog) discusses the way national media outlets have changed in regards to their portrayal of Pit Bulls.

An Akita allowed to be off leash in a playground attacked a smaller dog who was on lead. The smaller dog is fine.

A Mastiff-mix attacked a woman who was trying to find the owners of a stray dog.

Rabid vampire bats attack more than 500 people in Peru. Four children have died from rabies.

A police K-9 mistook a police trooper for a suspect and attacked him, causing a severe bite wound to the leg.

Point Pleasant, WV turns down a Pit Bull ban.

Fear-mongering aplenty in this article about a "dog attack" which no dog or person was attacked.

A loose Chow mix bit several children.

Dear Animal Planet

I remember watching you as a teenager. It's true, I was there in the beginning. Lassie and Flipper were your mainstays and I loved you for it. Really. I even watched your version of Lassie with eagerness. So please know that this comes from a place of love.

It is about the animals. I know you decided a couple years ago to get all gritty and edgy. Fine, I was with it. You were producing animal cop shows faster than CSI and Law & Order. That says something. You were with it, hip, cool. While I tired of all the cruelty and abuse we inflict upon our fellow non humans, I looked forward to your new productions and line-up.

But then something strange happened.

You changed your logo, for one thing. Instead of an elephant trumpeting to a blue earth, you went modern on me. You don't even have an animal in your logo, and your "m" is just ridiculous. That isn't avant-garde, it's just weird.

Then you added shows like River Monsters. RIVER MONSTERS? A show about an overly tan, white dude who travels around the world, sinking hooks into unsuspecting fish mouths. There is nothing redeeming about this show. If I wanted to watch a giant fish get tortured, I'd sign myself up for the Outdoor Channel. I don't care about monster fishes, and let me tell you something: Having white dude in spooky flashlight-under-his-chin-lighting telling me never to go swimming in some Indonesian catfish-infested river is not only NOT frightening, it's melodramatic and laughable.

Don't even get me started on Monsters In Me.

You can do better.

And in some ways, you have. I admit I'm a fan of Whale Wars, even if it is painful to watch (and I'm not even talking about the harpooning scene you insist on showing every. single. friday...stop it already). I like It's Me or The Dog as a nice alternative to a certain quietly communicating "dog trainer". I even like that show that transforms unwanted pups into adoptable doggies and has a construction man build outdoor dog palaces.

But! Then you had to ruin my enjoyment of your channel in two, evil ways.

1) Dogfighting. Enough already. Here's a suggestion for your next Animal Planet Investigates program: People who dress their dogs up in halloween costumes. I'm available for an interview. Stop with the grotesque, evil, ugly footage of dogs tearing each other apart. It's not being used for any meaningful educational purpose. You're just sticking it in there because you can, not because you care. At least that's the impression I'm getting. I tried watching five minutes of your Gang Dogs program and knew, right off the bat, that the entire program would be chock-full of felonious, brutal dog fights and no redeeming qualities. I turned it off.

2) Surprisingly human? It's not about Pit Bulls? It's not about whales? It's not about rescuing dogs? Are you for reals? Every single episode of, say, Whale Wars, is about whales. While shows, like Pit Boss, have side-stories, I'm pretty darn sure the people rescuing Pit Bulls feels it's about Pit Bulls. And the crazy lady with like 27 dogs who gets them transported to new homes? It's about rescuing dogs. Making it about humans does allow shows like that cowboy program which isn't at all about animals and all about people profiting off of them. But is that what you really want to sell?

Dogs in cow costumes - way cooler. I speak only the truth.

So, please Animal Planet, please go back to your less evil ways. You can be gritty and edgy without shows like River Monsters and Monsters in Me (it's a monster-mash-up). I believe it! Drop the "surprisingly human" motto, it's just rude. Yeah, we're animals too, and yeah, these stories hold an intrinsically, fascinating human element...but I want a channel called Animal Planet to have more non humans in it than humans..

I will even take a re-run of Lassie or two.

Thank you for your consideration,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Montreal Police Do It Different

At least in one case of an aggressive dog.

A  homeless man set up camp on the property of a warehouse. The owners didn't mind and when they found out the man had dogs, they put up "Dogs on property" signs. At some point, one of the two dogs attacked a woman wandering on a neighboring vacant lot.

Police were called to confiscate the dogs.

The officer responsible for capturing the dogs was dressed up in padded gear, the same kind used in protection sports and police dog training, carried a catch pole and a taser. When the dog latched onto the man's padded arm, it was quite easy to capture him.

The other dog was not aggressive and clearly skittish.

Now, if these two dogs had been loose in Montreal 2007, they would have been shot and killed. But apparently police learned a lesson and modified their approach. If these two dogs had been loose in Cabarrus County 2010, the aggressive dog would have been shot immediately, and the non-aggressive dog would have been chased around for 40 minutes, THEN shot in the back several times.

But Montreal 2010 is a thing of beauty. Officers decked out in padding, tasers and catch poles at the ready...oh, and the patience to try and corral a frightened dog for several hours.

When that failed, they left. Which is a little sketchy, to me, and hopefully they left to get a live dog trap.

Still, what an impressive difference in the handling of an aggressive dog.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Broward County One Strike Law

Broward County, Florida doesn't seem to like animals.

They make it as hard as possible to reclaim and adopt animals. If you don't jump through spiked, flaming hoops, then they just kill your microchipped dog and blame you.

Broward County also has a nifty law that could get your dog killed, even if your dog was not the true aggressor.

It's a 2008 law in response to a loose dog fatally wounding a loose cat. While cat owners were allowed to have low standards of responsibilities, dog owners had foisted upon them a draconian law that condemns dogs to death who kill other animals.

The law does not have exemptions, and two recent court cases show that.

Earlier this year, Gigi, a leashed 9-yr-old Labrador Retriever mix was being walked by her owners when an off-leash Yorkshire Terrier ran up to the dog. During the altercation, Gigi killed the Yorkshire Terrier.

In another case, Brandie, a Husky, was being walked on leash when an off-leash teacup Poodle ran up and barked aggressively at her. The dog bit the poodle and killed her.

Now both dogs are on death row because of the 2008 law, and their owners are fighting for their lives.

There are times when euthanasia is appropriate. There are times when gross negligence should be punished. There are times when a dog is so dangerous, they pose a threat to four and two legged creatures and should be placed in a sanctuary or responsible home or killed.

This is not those times. These are not those dogs. These are family pets who belong to responsible owners who followed the leash law. They are being held culpable for the irresponsible behavior of two small dog owners who, for whatever reason, allowed their dogs to run loose and approach, aggressively, larger dogs.

I hope the court rules in their favor. While I am saddened by the deaths of the smaller dogs, they would be alive today had two owners decided to leash their dogs. The owners following the law should not be held culpable.

Dr. Laura, Reverse Racism for the Fail

Dr. Laura. I never listen to her. I found out one good reason today.

A woman called her concerned about some comments made by her husband's friends. She is black and her husband is white. Her husband's friends stereotype black people and have made flippant or intentionally racist comments in front of her.

We'll ignore that she called Dr. Laura and focus on Dr. Laura herself.

First, Dr. Laura explains that stereotyping black people isn't racist. The caller should just get over herself. Also, she should realize that black people DO strange's a black thing, she says. For example, Dr. Laura tells us why black people voted for Obama - it's because he was half-black. All us white folk were apparently voting for his white half.

Next, Dr. Laura shows us that she's in the in crowd. She has a black bodyguard! And when Dr. Laura busts out the b-ball, she wants the black person on her team. Everyone knows black people can jump real high and white people cannot. Black people are athletes and, if you are white - like Dr. Laura - you should always pick black people because your lame-ass, un-athletic white-self won't be able to compete. This too is not racist, according to Dr. Laura, it's just smart team building.

Then the coup de grĂ¢ce -black people say n***** all the time. They say it on HBO, even. Caller, your husband's friends are actually cool. Black people on HBO say a racial slur and therefore the white people who invented that racial slur to oppress and subjugate and humiliate should be able to use it too! And Dr. Laura does, quite profusely.

But my favorite line is this:

We have a black man as President, and we have more complaining about racism than ever

In other words, black people, just get over yourselves. You got a half-black President, doesn't that just make up for everything? Can't you people just be HAPPY now with your basketballs and black comedians who can say the n-word? Why must you keep bringing up race issues that don't exist - we're a happy, go-lucky, equal opportunity, totally great nation!

Oh wait, there's also this line:

If you're that hypersensitive about color and don't have a sense of humor, don't marry outside of your race.

Yeah, keep the bloodlines pure. We don't want to be "mixing the races". I mean, Dr. Laura's not racist for saying such a nasty, racist statement. She's just trying to help the caller be less sensitive, because all this racism, well, it's really being "bred by black activists".

Nothing like a bit of reverse racism to spice up the conversation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mina, the Farm Dog. Sorta.

Mina the farm dog

Mina does not look particularly pleased to be a farm dog. I had to drive around in the mule (not to be confused with the equine) searching for signs to take pictures of...I know, don't ask. Mina accompanied me, looking properly woeful about the situation. I love her.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

When a Husky began attacking a Shetland pony at a horse sanctuary, two goats took action and charged the dog. The dog took off...the goats saved the horse's life.

An elderly woman was severely mauled by a police dog in South Africa. It took two minutes to get the German Shepherd off the woman, because the dog refused to listen to commands. The woman was then asked not to sit on the seats of the police car because of the blood. Classy.

Cows attack a woman in the UK.

Two Akitas attack a Border Collie, nearly killing the dog (who may still not survive). The owner of the BC was also bitten trying to protect her dog.

A park ranger shot at several dogs who were barking at him. The owners of the dogs were nearby. He shot one dog in the head. The dog, a mixed breed, survived but may have permanent vision problems.

This article is marketed as a Dogue do Bordeaux and Rottweiler attack. In reality, the Rottweiler did not bite the other dog, only the french mastiff did. The attacked dog survived.

A German Shepherd ran from his owner and attempted to bite a 3-mos-old child being held by her grandmother. The dog aimed for the child's throat on multiple occasions, leaving the infant with several bite wounds. The grandmother was able to protect the child enough. The breed of dog isn't mentioned in the title and isn't first mentioned until the 9/10th line.

Dog bites are down 40% in Minneapolis, but some folks are still calling for a ban on Pit Bulls.

A German Shepherd Mix has been killed after biting off a man's nose. This is the second bite from this dog in 8 weeks.

A rescued Great Dane bit a child in the face at an adoption event.

A dog I can only assume is not a Pit Bull (b/c hey we're not talking a "fighting dog" scenario, right?) bit a child in the face after a group of kids tried to throw a fishing net over the tied up dog.

In the UK, where Pit Bulls are banned, a man became enraged when his girlfriend told him to quiet down during a party. He got so mad that he encouraged his dogs to attack her...after he beat the crap out of her and ripped out the landline so she couldn't call police. The dog bit the woman and, in response, the man flung the dog against a wall. The dog was a Jack Russell Terrier. The guy is getting a measly 7-months in prison.

A taser was used to stop a Dogue de Bordeaux mastiff from mauling his owner. The dog was later killed.

A meter reader trying to install a smart meter was bitten on his gloved hand by a Vizsla. In response, the man sprayed the dog with mace. The man had not notified the owners of the property of his presence and, as a result, the utility company paid for the veterinary bills.

Wendal Feigning Innocence

Wendal Is Cute

The true face of Wendal is goofy dog, not innocent puppy. He is my friend and coworker's dog, and he loves Mina. He also loves Celeste but the feeling is not mutual. I captured this photo while Wendal implored me with his gaze to steal Mina's bone and give it to him. This I did not do. One does not go about stealing Mina's bones.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Celeste Will Be Seeing a Professional

That sums it up.

Next Tuesday, a dog trainer will be coming out to assess Celeste and me. Celeste for her inability to like other dogs and me for my inability to make her.

I am really hoping Celeste can overcome her fear. She is not egregiously aggressive, but in canine-speak, she's incredibly rude and hostile. I'm used to Mina's intense greeting, which involves lots of posturing and butt-sniffing and finally friendship. She can't be in playgroups because more than one dog (excepting calm situations with multiple small dogs) gets her overwhelmed.

Celeste, on the other hand, greets every dog with a growl. She hates butt sniffs from other dogs but demands them herself. Everything is tense and not fun.

So that is that. Celeste will get her own personal dog trainer for however long I can afford her. And hopefully I'll get some neat techniques to make Celeste more comfortable and more likely to play with other dogs.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Around the Intarwebz

A Labrador/German Shepherd mixed breed dog entered a dollar store and began attacking people. The dog was attacking so fiercely that it took officers seven shots to kill the dog.

Two dogs got into a fight at a dog park. The owner of one of the dogs decided to bust out his gun and shoot the other owner's dog to death. The other dog had no bite wounds or injuries. The man, an off-duty police officer, has essentially been exonerated.

A German Shepherd who killed a small dog and bit the owner during the attack was "let loose" by her owner to fend for herself.

A man is facing penalties after his dog attacked two people. The dog, a German Shepherd, first bit a police officer during a burglary call. Months later, he went onto to savagely maul a man, causing severe wounds. The UK banned Pit Bulls in 1991 in an attempt to reduce severe attacks.

Officials are on the look out for a Husky or spitz-type dog who has killed four sheep, several birds and injured several others on three separate occasions.

A chow mix bit the hand of a man who entered the dog's property in a threatening manner.

An officer shot and killed a Great Dane who had escaped from his owner's car and attacked the officer. This occurred after the girlfriend of the man pulled over became irate and began attacking the officer.

A six-year-old boy was bitten in the leg by a small terrier mix running loose. The owners of the dogs did not try to help the bitten child or family; instead, they shrugged their shoulders, loaded up their dog and left.

A German Shepherd bit a police officer in the UK during a drug bust.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Not To Become No-Kill, Spotlight on Robeson County Animal Shelter

Robeson County Animal Control in North Carolina has been mired in controversy for some time. They have a history of mismanaging their shelter and, dare I say it, abusing the animals in their care. For years, the shelter killed animals via heart stick, a notoriously painful and poor way to die (animal welfare advocates filed a complaint in 2001, later losing their claim). They only stopped recently. Even though the interim manager claims "Our desire is to become a no-kill facility", a recent attempt at getting a dog placed leads me to believe otherwise.

This post is about brown dog. I learned about her on Facebook.

This is the first posting, August 2, 2010. It's a plea to help a sweet, gentle-looking shepherd in Robeson County Animal Control. The poster did not merely post about this dog, she vested extensive time and effort to try and help this dog. She contacted rescues. She even found a home and was figuring out transport, when the adopter backed out on Thursday, August 5. She contacted the shelter and told them she would work on finding a home if they would just give her some more time. Later on Thursday, August 5th, the shelter was contacted and told all fees would be paid for, including pull and transport, if they could just give a bit of time figuring out how to get the dog out of the shelter.

Friday, August 6th, this is what I read. It turns out that the dog had been killed August 3rd, Tuesday, a full two days before this woman was told the dog was alive and would be held. The shelter either lied or did not update their records to indicate this dog was actually dead, killed by a shelter whose manager wants it to go no-kill. Suggestion from this blogger is to stop killing adoptable dogs.

As of today, August 7th, a full 72+ hours after this dog's death, she is still listed as available on Petfinder.

How is this possible? This is a shelter that recently claimed the animals were "suffering" because they weren't killing them. Yet they have someone willing to go twenty extra miles for a dog, and they kill her.

This is what the petfinder page says about "43430" (probably makes it easier to kill them without names): Id# 43430 This girl is very friendly & loving would surely make a great dog for someone. She is waiting for her furrrrever owners to come get her & give her a good furrrrever home with them.

Such cutesy language for a dead dog! Add insult to injury, why don't you?

This isn't new. Robeson County Animal Shelter kills animals all the time, they have at least an 80% kill rate. They kill animals who have adopters. A lawsuit was filed earlier this year, which was later dropped but led to some changes in how the shelter deals with "flagged"dogs. Those are dogs rescue agencies would be interested in taking but may need enough time to pick up the dogs. Clearly the changes didn't much help this dog who should not be dead, who had an advocate, who had a chance. Had being the key word.

This is a shelter that blames the community for its problems, yet kills dogs the community wants to adopt. This is a shelter that blames an overpopulation of dogs for its problems, yet leaves cages empty for ease of cleaning. This is a shelter that blames lack of money and participation, yet limits its adoption hours and does not require an adoption period for animals (they can be killed after the legal 120 hour hold period, five days) or fundraise actively for donations through a legal non-profit. This is a shelter that does not wish to accept any responsibility for, oh I don't know, running a shelter. Blaming everyone else doesn't get you far, it just gets you alone and angry, and if no one was hurt but yourself, fine, but dogs and cats are dying.

It isn't my responsibility to post dogs on Facebook. It isn't my responsibility to call rescuers and arrange transport. It isn't my responsibility to do everything in my power to place brown dog. It isn't my responsibility to save her life. That so many people who aren't in the shelter community MAKE it their responsibility is a testament to their compassion and tenacious, driven desire to save lives. In the end, it still isn't their responsibility. Robeson County, it's your responsibility. You are funded by the taxpayers, and your job entails managing a shelter in an efficient, humane manner. It does not involve heart sticks. It does not involve killing adoptable animals, especially when people are trying to place them. It does not involve bitching and whining about all the things other people aren't doing and start campaigning and speaking about the things YOU, the shelter, ARE doing.

First step, don't kill adoptable dogs.

It's smooth-sailing from there.

A Day of Strange

My parents live in a nice neighborhood. It's the kind of neighborhood where you can leave your doors unlocked. Or so I thought. I don't normally leave my SUV locked when I visit my parents. This is because I'm naive and expect too much of people.

Someone decided to investigate my unlocked vehicle. They emptied the console and opened the glove compartment.

And they stole one cd.

Seriously, that is all that was stolen. It was surreal and oddly more irksome and threatening than someone who steals a cd player or something. Who does that? Who semi-ransacks a car and then decides to take one freaking shiny-music-playing cd? I think it was the Weepies or Death Cab.

I'm just glad I didn't leave my iPod or cameras. Well, judging by their behavior, they probably would have left those too.

My mom and I went to a used book sale benefiting cats. I bought books.

Suffering from hunger pains brought on by books, we had lunch at Sugar Plum Vegan. Everyone who visits Sacramento should do this, because Sugar Plum Vegan is awesome.

On our way home, two more strange things were witnessed, both encompassing the stupidity of people.

One involved two motorcycles driving the wrong way on the highway. They were heading back to the scene where they lost a bag. This bag must have contained the key to heaven or at least a million bucks, because the guy decides to get off his bike and retrieve the bag. The bag located in the middle of the highway where people drive 70+ mph.

Public service announcement, it's free: Nothing in your bag is worth walking across a speeding highway. Nothing. The guy made it back, but only because people were nice enough not to just plow through him.

Further up the highway stood a man next to his damaged vehicle. He seemed puzzled and ready to call authorities on one of those public call phones strategically placed alongside our state's highways. But alas, he noticed that he had in fact hit the public call phone and knocked it over. I figure if you hit a large metal pole located 40'off the side of the highway, then you should not be driving anyways.

I spent $10 on 8 books. I win at life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ticks Are Everywhere

I hate ticks.

And I'm vegan.

Because I love animals.

Even leeches.

But ticks? I hate.

They don't do anything other than suck your blood and infect you with diseases. They don't keep their diseases to themselves and when they attach, they don't have the common courtesy to anti-coagulate your blood. They get plump and fat and if they're in a good mood, they fall  off. But sometimes they just sit there, fat and ugly and fat some more. Not all fat creatures are ugly, mind you, but ticks are.

After a walk yesterday, three ticks made their way home with me and the dogs. One crawled up my arm. One crawled on my bed.

Worst of all, one attached itself to Mina's eye. Okay, not her actual eye, but the little flap of skin directly beneath her eye. I looked at her and thought, "Wow, Mina has some extra eyeliner on today, that's attractive" and then realized it was a tick.

There it was, just sitting there, legs waving madly, head firmly embedded into Mina's lower lid.

I tried to grab it, but Mina was all "HEY!" and by "HEY!" I mean Mina kept trying to lick my face. Every time I grabbed the tick with my fingers, Mina leaned in and gave me kisses. I told her to stop it, but then she got all maudlin on me, inspiring much guilt.

The tweezers were busted out, and I tugged that tick right out from Mina's eyelid. She was unperturbed. I squealed and ranted and told the tick he was a very, very, very bad tick. And then I flushed him down the toilet. I figure this fulfills my goal of causing the least amount of harm and gives the tick a fighting chance at survival. Somewhere else far, far away.

In conclusion, I hate ticks. But ticks love me and the dogs.

Disapproving Pit Bull Disapproves

This is the photo I will use forever more when I need a Pit Bull who disapproves about something.

I'm hopeful the photographer will not blanch at such an idea and will in fact be overjoyed that Luce will be plastered across the intarwebz when needed.

If you aren't a regular reader of Save the Pit Bull, Save the World, well you're missing out. I mean, come on, pink-nosed eevil red dog with perky ears and oversized glasses! Mina cannot pull this look off because she has perky, rose-pricked ears and she would just look emo. Celeste would look like a nerdy blue-eyed dingo. Luce is the disapproving librarian and pulls it off beautifully.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Judge Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Discrimination, in all of its ugly forms, is wrong and for same-sex couples in California, it's unconstitutional!

US District Judge Walker found today that Proposition 8 - which essentially banned same-sex marriage in California - was unconstitutional. The day Prop 8 passed, I became utterly ashamed of my state. Today, I am glad that reason, justice and fairness prevailed. This issue will go to the Supreme Court, no doubt, and I am ever hopeful the land's highest court feels the same way as Judge Walker.

I don't care how you feel about homosexuality or same sex marriage or the institution of marriage in general. I only ask: Do you want to be part of a generation, an era, that issues the same arguments and rhetoric spewed forth to rationalize slavery and oppression of women as second class citizens? Do we really want our grandchildren pondering why on earth their grandparents made such grievous, prejudicial errors?

I don't, and I hope most of you don't either. And if you own a Pit Bull, you have a small inkling what it is like to face prejudice, to face ugly stares and invectives. You know that walking through Denver with your Pit Bull could kill your dog and put you in jail. You know what people assume when they find out you have a Pit Bull. You know that you are not allowed equal access to insurance policies and it's almost impossible to find rental units. In a small way, you understand. And I hope, with that understanding, comes compassion for same sex couples who wanted the simple right to marry...and complete outrage that they were denied that by Californian voters.

May they be vindicated.

Thanks SBTC, We Love You Too

James Beaufoy is the president of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club in the UK.

The UK is having a problem with dangerous dogs, with some of the highest hospitalization rates in years. They banned Pit Bulls and three breeds in 1991. There are still Pit Bulls in the UK, by the way. Lots of them. There are still dog fights. Lots of them. There are still dog attacks. Lots of them. 

And Pit Bulls are still getting the blame.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has become popular, too popular and with the wrong sorts of folk. People who think dogs are the extension of your penis. People who think dogs are representatives of clout and strength. People who think dogs are something other than what they are.

But Pit Bulls are getting the blame for SBT's popularity and the resulting problems.

It couldn't be because problems arise with popularity. It couldn't be because problems arise with rampant, irresponsible breeding. It couldn't be because the media and society has glamorized SBTs as the next "devil dog" and popular amongst dog fighters and males who apparently need to have a dog prove their masculinity.

Nope, it's Pit Bulls. They are being bred with SBTs and ruining the breed. Ruination!

According to Beaufoy, ""They are a perfect family pet. You could not train a real Staffie to attack a human being because they trust them so much. A pit bull terrier cross is a very different matter though."

No, a real SBT would not attack a human being, it's only those mongrel Pit Bull crosses. This defies genetics and logic and all that is sane and rational in this world. It also flies in the face of what the UKC says about Pit Bulls, " The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable"

I mean, if they're both right and SBTs and APBTs are like super-awesome people dogs, then breeding them together would be an EPIC WIN for humans everywhere. 

Now, I don't know who's right, but I have many opinions. I've met aggressive Pit Bulls and SBTs. I've met more friendly Pit Bulls and SBTs than dangerous ones. I've certainly met more APBTs than I have SBTs, although I did foster a beautiful SBT named Sage who loved to let my pet mouse walk on her back. She was strangely awesome like that. 

Anyway, us Pit Bull type dog owners should stick together. Across the pond, here in the US, SBTs are often classified as Pit Bull type dogs. For legal and "I will kill you dead" purposes, they *are* Pit Bulls. Ouch, I know, Mr. Beaufoy. Trust me, I'd like to consider my Pit Bull not a Pit Bull just to avoid the hassle of, you know, insurance discrimination, legal discrimination, personal discrimination, death for my dog that me and my dog face on a daily basis. But she is what she is, and we would serve her and your dogs a lot better if we didn't send some dogs to death b/c we want to save our own from distorted public perception. I love and want to protect your SBTs as much as I love and want to protect APBTs. 

Please extend the favor and be a bit more cognizant of what you say. Anti-dogs-who-look-a-certain-way zealots love it when we fight amongst ourselves over labels. Don't give them the satisfaction.

Otherwise, Mina will eat you.

Sorry, but that's just how it is.

If Circumstances Were Different

What makes a dog's story special, so special that every single avenue of treatment and placement is sought?

Take Sarge, he's a German Shepherd who has a history of aggression. He was not treated very nicely, probably spending most of his life inside a cage or taunted by his "owners". In July, Sarge was shot six times by his "owners". The dog was in a crate at the time and had no chance at retaliation or escape.

The dog ended up at the Lucas County Warden, a shelter notorious for killing more dogs than it adopts. He was eventually transferred to the Toledo Area Humane Society where he has bitten two people.

While the Humane Society is not putting the dog up for adoption, they are seeking other avenues of placement, including a sanctuary setting.

So why is Sarge, an arguably dangerous dog to humans, being given every single opportunity at a permanent placement and so many other dogs are not?

If every dog entering the Lucas County Dog Warden's office had a jazzy story, full of excitement and horror, perhaps they too would receive the royal treatment.

But they don't. They aren't. They are unwanted and discarded, which is horrifying enough, but then they get nothing more than a spot on the petfinder's page...if they're lucky. If they're not, if they're a Pit Bull or too nervous or sound shy, then they get death. It seems a bit unfair.

Sarge deserves to live out his life in peace and comfort. All dogs do. So long as a dog is not in immense pain or egregious suffering, he deserves a chance at placement. What extensive compassion we extend to Sarge - a dog who bites people on a regular basis - should obviously be extended to every dog. What intense media scrutiny is extended to Sarge should be provided to all dogs. How wonderful would it be if every day, we were bombarded with dogs in need of homes, with asks to adopt, with educational and outreach opportunities to inspire adopting a dog, instead of buying one?

Top story - Dog with floppy ears needs you! Breaking news - Pink-nosed canine wants your lap for snuggles! Live - intrepid reporter gets kissed by adoptable canine!

I'd certainly watch the news more often.

Good luck, Sarge. I hope a sanctuary takes you. I hope people reading your story will be inspired to meander on down to their local shelter and check out dogs who don't bite people and who aren't shot six times but who would love to live out their lives in peace and comfort too.