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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Making Dog Theft a Felony
NY bill passed to strengthen punishment for pet thieves

Having a beloved pet stolen is one of my worst nightmares. In New York, pet thieves are typically only charged with a misdemeanor since dogs are considered property by law. The value of stolen property must exceed $1,000 to qualify as a felony larceny. Since it's hard to place a dollar value on an animal, most thefts are prosecuted as the lesser offense. Fortunately, it looks like this may be changing for the better.

Earlier this week, the New York State Senate passed a bill with a landslide 58-3 vote that would make it a class E felony to steal a cat or dog. If the bill becomes a law, stealing a pet could get you up to four years in jail. The State Assembly is expected to pass its version of the bill later this month.

Besides making pet theft a more serious crime, the law would also give police a greater incentive to look for missing pets. Since most cases are prosecuted as a misdemeanor, often police can only take limited action on reported thefts. This bill seeks to rectify these situations.

Similar legislature has had difficulty getting adequate support in the past, but judging from the overwhelmingly positive response in the Senate, I'm hopeful that this bill will be passed.

I consider my dogs to be family, so ultimately I wish the law would be changed so that pets would not be considered property. However, I think this bill is certainly a big step in the right direction.

News: Guest Posts
Dogs Told Joplin Man Tornado Coming
Ken Ayton credits canines for saving life

Joplin resident Key Ayton was working in his garage during what seemed like a typical thunderstorm this past Sunday. It wasn't until his dogs started "going crazy," that he knew this was more than a little rain. He quickly ushered them inside then heard the tornado sirens. That extra time gave him a chance to jump in the bathtub and ride out one of the scariest moments of his life. Ayton and his dogs survived a tornado that was a half-mile wide and destroyed everything in its six-mile-long path. At least 89 people were killed; many remain missing. While rescue teams search for human survivors, local humane organizations are rescuing displaced animals. They need monetary and food donations, plus foster homes to care for lost pets and displaced pets whose owners need time to get back on their feet. A Facebook group has been started to help reunite owners with lost pets.

News: Guest Posts
Stray Breaks into Fairbanks Shelter
That’s one strategy for finding a home

I love this story about a stray breaking into a Fairbanks shelter—and not just because Albert looks an awful lot like my dog. I’m guessing Albert’s story will help him land in a good home. Let’s hope the same can be said for all his current shelter buddies.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Involved in Bin Laden Mission
A trained canine assisted the Navy Seals last Sunday

The U.S. Navy Seals and the elite Team Six have gotten a lot of attention lately for their heroic efforts in the Osama Bin Laden mission. However, I just found out that a special canine was also among the 79 commandos that day. The explosive-sniffing dog was strapped to one of the Navy Seals and descended from the helicopters with the rest of the team.

As it turns out, these trained pups, typically German Shepherds, are routinely used by the top-secret Navy Seal unit. The dogs wear ballistic body armor that protects against knives, shrapnel, and gunfire and carry infrared night cameras that provide troops with critical real-time information.

These pups are trained to jump from aircraft at an incredible 25,000 feet (wearing an air mask of course) and attack anyone carrying a weapon. These talented dogs can also crawl into tunnels and rooms unnoticed.

What an incredible bunch of working pups!

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Will a Mutt Be New York’s Top Dog?
New York legislators consider “the rescue dog” as new state dog

New York state legislators are teaming up to take a major stand for shelter dogs: In April, they introduced a bill designating “the rescue dog” as the official New York state dog. And it’s a bipartisan effort. State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, a Democrat from Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is co-sponsoring the bill with fellow Manhattanite and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal along with Rochester Republican Joseph Robach, a state senator.

  A spokesman for Kellner told The New York Times, “He’s a huge advocate for animals in need.” He doesn’t own a dog at the moment, but has fostered shelter pups in the past. Robach owns three shelter dogs.   If the bill passes, New York will be the 12th state in the nation to name an official state dog. Most state dogs have an obvious local connection, such as Alaska and its Malamute or the New England-bred Chinook, state dog of New Hampshire. Adopting the rescue dog as a canine ambassador will be more of a statement.   It’s appropriate, though, considering New York’s history as a haven for immigrants looking for a new home and a new life. And, as Kellner pointed out in a press conference, New Yorkers are a tough, scrappy lot, much like rescue pups.   There’s no word yet on when it’ll be put to a vote. In the meantime, New Yorkers can voice their support for the measure by contacting their local representatives in the statehouse. Track the bill: SO4781, AO6681.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Proposed Ban on Dogs
An Iranian bill threatens to make pets illegal

Can you imagine a world without dogs? I can't, but dog lovers in Iran are faced with this very dilemma.

The Iranian government has long considered pet dogs to be an un-Islamic vice. In the past, it was not unheard of for police to confiscate dogs being walked down the street and for the government to lecture Iranians on diseases spread by canines. Eventually the crackdowns were relaxed and beloved pets were left alone.

Unfortunately, these days may soon be over if lawmakers in Tehran have their way. Recently, a bill was proposed that would make dog ownership a crime, citing canines as a public health hazard and ”a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West."

Under the legislation, dogs would be confiscated and offenders would face a $100–$500 fine. This is bad news for pets. There are several thousand dogs in Tehran alone and its uncertain what would happen to them under this law.

Iranian dog lovers are in a difficult predicament since these types of bans are rooted in political tension. Since Islam considers dogs “unclean,” in the past, they were rarely kept as pets. This changed in the last 15 years with the rise of an urban middle class that has taken on a lot of Western culture.

I can't even imagine what I would do in this situation. For most people, moving out of the country may not be an option. Unfortunately, in a country where Westernized hairstyles and cropped pants are banned, fighting the dog bill could be a losing battle.

What would you do in a world without dogs?

News: Guest Posts
Tails Are Wagging for Carol Guzy
Dog-loving photographer wins fourth Pulitzer Prize

We’re so proud—but not surprised—that occasional Bark contributor and certified dog lover Carol Guzy won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography this week. Guzy earned the honor, along with fellow Washington Post shooters Nikki Kahn and Ricky Carioti, for up-close portraits of grief and desperation after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. This is Guzy’s fourth Pulitzer, which makes her the first-ever four-time winner.

 

UPDATE!: Check out our gallery of Carol Guzy's shots from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and her story for Bark (February 2007) on the opening of the Washington D.C. Animal Rescue League shelter.

SECOND UPDATE!: You can also read Carol Guzy's heartwarming article about Washington, D.C.'s Washington Animal Rescue League, "A Place of Dignity," published in the January/February 2007 issue of The Bark.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Finds Fossils Of Giant Animals
Tortoise and woolly mammoth among discoveries

Webster the Chihuahua-Dachshund mix didn’t listen when Frank Garcia kept calling him to come, and Garcia is now grateful for that. They were fossil hunting together when Webster became interested in a particular area and refused to come away from it. When Garcia investigated it, he found the fossilized remains of giant tortoise shells, elephant teeth, and the skull of a woolly mammoth.

  The site is one of the most important giant tortoise fossil sites in the world, with the shells found in much larger quantities than in most places. Garcia has named the area “Webster’s Site” in recognition of the fact that Webster made the find. The tortoise shells there are relatives of the Galapagos Tortoise, only bigger. Once the fossils were reassembled, one tortoise was 51 inches long, 42 inches wide and 21 inches long. It probably weighed 700 to 800 pounds when alive.   Webster and Garcia often go on outings together. Though he is disabled and must drag himself around, Webster enjoys the fossil hunting. It turns out, he’s pretty good at it, too.

 

News: Guest Posts
Dachshund Survives for Weeks Inside Burned Down House
Miracle pup Lola is on the mend

The miracle dog of Boston who survived for nearly a month inside the charred ruins of her owner’s burned down home is expected to make a full recovery.

  Terisa Acevedo found Lola, her one-year-old longhaired dachshund, on Monday when she returned to her fire-ravaged duplex to silence the alarm on a Ford Explorer she’d left parked in the driveway.   “I was standing on the porch and I heard Lola scratching on the door,” Acevedo told Bark. “My boyfriend was with me and he pried the wood off the front door. When I saw her, I fell to my knees and started screaming and crying. I was so happy.”   Acevedo wasn’t home when the February 23 blaze engulfed her duplex, which is located in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. When she arrived, the 24-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT) asked firefighters if they’d seen her dog. They hadn’t.   “A couple days after the fire, police officers took sniffing dogs through the house and they didn’t pick up (the scent of) any remains of animals,” Acevedo said. “I thought Lola had run away. I made flyers and gave them to all the vets in the area and posted them all over Hyde Park.”   Acevedo also went back to the duplex several times, but never found any signs of the tiny dachshund.   “I cried for her every day,” Acevedo said. “I was so devastated. But I never gave up hope.”   Acevedo’s tears of sadness turned to joy on Monday when she discovered the much thinner Lola trapped inside the remains of her fire-damaged home. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said.   Veterinarians at Boston’s Angell Animal Medical Center, who treated the malnourished and dehydrated dachshund, released the “incredibly lucky” pooch on Thursday afternoon.   “She’d lost a tremendous amount of weight when she came here on Monday,” spokesman Brian Adams said. “She might not have survived much longer. But she’s a trooper, a true survivor. And her story of survival is simply amazing.”   Lola, however, still has one more health issue to overcome. Veterinarians discovered she had a condition called refeeding syndrome.   “If she was fed too quickly or improperly she could face life-threatening results,” Adams said. “She was given her first bit of food on Wednesday and will remain on a restricted diet at home. She will receive 16 grams of wet food, which is the equivalent to one teaspoon, every six hours as her body once again becomes accustomed to nourishment.”   Acevedo is confident that her best friend will make a complete recovery. “She’ll be okay,” she said. “She’s playful like always. She’s still Lola.”   But how did the little dog survive this ordeal? What did she do for food and water? “The police investigators said there was a refrigerator on the other side of the duplex that tipped over during the fire,” Acevedo said. “They think maybe she ran over there looking for food. They saw some chicken by that refrigerator. She might have eaten some cat food, too.”   What about water? “It might have come from the firemen who were trying to put out the fire,” Acevedo said. “The house was soaked.”   Acevedo hopes Lola’s story of survival will inspire others who’ve lost a pet. “Don’t give up hope when times are rough or when you’re down,” she said. “You just never know what will happen.   “I’m just so happy and excited that’s she’s here…next to me. And now I don’t plan to let her out of my sight.”

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Guardian Billed For Damages After Dog Killed By Car
Insurance company later backed down

When Tom Wrynn’s 8-year old Lab Mystie was hit and killed by a car last month, his view was that it was a sad accident. Mystie ran in front of the car on a dark night, and her black coat made her difficult or impossible to see. The driver of the car was in tears, and he consoled her, telling her that it was dark and hard to see and it was not her fault. (The Wrynn family still has Mystie’s daughter Zeta and I hope they have taken steps to keep her from running out into the road. Accidents involving dogs being hit by cars happen all too often, and prevention can save dogs’ lives.)

  Not long after Mystie was killed, the family received a letter from Plymouth Rock, the driver’s insurance company, saying that the dog caused the accident and that Wrynn was liable for the damages. The insurance company included a picture of the car, an estimate for repairing it and a bill for $738.13. According to Massachusetts state law, Wrynn is responsible for paying for the damage because the dog caused the accident.   Though it may not be considered a parallel situation legally, I can’t help but compare this to accidents involved people being hit and killed by cars. It’s hard to stomach the thought of a parent or other relative being held financially responsible for damages if the cause of the accident had been a child, someone who is elderly person or any other person.   The insurance company later issued a statement saying that after re-examining the case, they decided to take back their request for Wrynn to pay.

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