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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Positive Pit Bull PR
National Awareness Day united Bully lovers

This Saturday, October 23, marks the fourth annual National Pit Bull Awareness Day. The dedicated day was started as part of the larger National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign by Bless the Bullys, a Pit Bull rescue and education group.

Far too often the media portrays Pit Bulls as dangerous killers while neglecting to report on stories that show this breed in a positive light. This perception has led to a bad reputation with more and more cities considering breed specific legislation.

Bless the Bullys introduced the nationwide day to create positive press for these misunderstood dogs. This year the day also aims to make a stand against breed specific legislation.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is a great way to dispel negative stereotypes and bring together breed clubs, rescue groups and individual bully lovers to unite in a common cause.

People all over the nation are organizing a variety of events to celebrate--rallies, walks, festivals, and educational workshops and demos. For a full list of events, visit the Bless the Bullys website.

 

 

 

News: Guest Posts
Animal Cruelty Registry
NYC suburb makes offenders’ identities public

In February, we wrote about California legislators’ efforts to create a statewide animal abuser registry, along the lines of sex offender databases. Although this effort stalled, probably over funding, Suffolk County, N.Y., has created an animal cruelty registry that will be the nation’s first.

  “The law was prompted by a number of animal abuse cases in recent months,” reports The Huffington Post, “including that of a Selden woman accused of forcing her children to watch her torture and kill kittens and dozens of dogs, then burying the pets in her backyard.”   The idea is that a registry will not only keep offenders in check but also provide for the future protection of animals and maybe people, since violence against animals is often a precursor to violence against humans.   I sympathize with the impulse to mark these often dangerous people with a scarlet letter but at the risk of drawing your ire—last time around, Bark readers’ general consensus about the registry was a hearty thumbs-up—I have to wonder where we draw the line in creating public, online databases. If we list all the people convicted of animal cruelty, then why not list those convicted of domestic abuse, or arson, or robbery? Why not create neighborhood maps that reveal where every felon lives? I also wonder if the registry might not have a negative impact, taking away offenders’ incentive to reform since they've been publicly flagged. Why not create an easy-to-use, searchable database with access limited to law enforcement, employers in animal-care related fields and shelters and rescues?   Honestly, I don’t know where I land on this, but I do think it’s important to move beyond fear and anger to consider the potential consequences of registries of this kind.

 

News: Guest Posts
Deadly Force
Police shoot another dog

Imagine coming home to a note from the police explaining that while you were away they responded to a false alarm and in the process shot your beloved dog. The Hallock family of Oakland know the terrible truth of it. Three shots from a 40-caliber Glock handgun ended the life of their dog Gloria last Thursday. In addition to dealing with their grief, the family is having a hard time believing that the arthritic, 11-year-old, tail-wagging yellow Labrador Retriever invited deadly force.

  According to news reports, the officer has not been identified or put on leave—although the department has apologized and says it will review the matter.   Meanwhile do we just have to accept that protecting dogs isn’t part of the equation—even if they are hanging out in our backyards not hurting anyone? I hope the police give the incident serious consideration that includes a greater awareness that for many of us, our dogs, cats, and other companion animals are family members and part of what we want to protect with our alarms and our tax dollars.   Unfortunately, this shooting isn’t the only recent case of police shooting dogs. In August, an off-duty officer in a Maryland park shot a dog at a private off-leash park. And on Sunday, police shot a dog during a Washington DC street fair.

 

News: Guest Posts
Stray Dog Caught After 3 Years
Community that cared for him glad he's safe

Rusty, aka Mr. Windyface, was the dog no one could catch. For three years, the Chow-Sheltie mix eluded animal control officers, police and the concerned  residents of Woodside Estates, the development in Oak Brook, Ill., that Rusty called home.

This implies that he was shy and rarely seen, but he was spotted nearly every day, often following people walking their own dogs through the neighborhood. In fact, he was rather social. One resident even videotaped Rusty playing with his dog.

Employees of nearby Follett Higher Education counted on regular Rusty sightings. My husband – who works for Follett at a different location - recalls seeing him two years ago when he stopped at the Oak Brook campus  one afternoon. He was worried about the loose dog in the parking lot, but his colleagues assured him, “Oh, that’s just Rusty.”

A few weeks ago, Rusty must’ve decided that he didn’t want to go through another Chicago winter on his own. He waited at the gate to play with his buddy, a rescued mix named Milo, and Milo’s owners let him in then quickly closed the gate. Finally, Rusty was caught and safe.

He is now at the Hinsdale Humane Society, where he is being treated for heartworms and growing more comfortable with people. Thankfully, there is no shortage of potential adopters and donations to his medical care fund.

For updates on Rusty’s health and home search, friend him on Faeebook where he goes by the name “Steve Arfenbarker.”

News: Guest Posts
Fourmile Canyon Fire
People, pets evacuate during Boulder’s worst-ever blaze

I’m in Boulder, Colo., visiting my sister for a few days before attending the BlogPaws West Convention in Denver. Monday morning, we sat and watched, as a brown cloud covered the blue sky and blotted out the sun. We thought, storm cloud. Then, dust cloud. Then, walking into the backyard, which had an eerie pink hue, we smelled the smoke—a brushfire in the foothills, not far, as the sparks fly, from my sister’s home.

 

All day high winds fed what is being called the Fourmile Canyon Fire. Smoke waxed and waned over our heads and filled our nostrils. Yesterday and this morning, the blaze continued—reportedly, zero percent contained. More than 7,000 acres and nearly 100 structures are confirmed destroyed. Thousands of people have been evacuated. A man in the latte line with me this morning lost his home. I couldn’t believe how calm he was about it.   And, of course, there are the animals: Horses, dogs, cats and more—mostly successfully evacuated. But, over lunch, a friend tells us about one man, trying to return to his Gold Hill home to save his dog, being turned away by emergency personnel. It is for the man’s safety, but it’s too painful to contemplate.   The Boulder Humane Society has been providing temporary shelter for dogs, cats and small mammals displaced from their homes but it is now full. The shelter has requested cat litter, towels, blankets and cash donations. Donate online or give $10  by texting PROTECT to 50555. Nearby, the Longmont Humane Society has been providing backup—taking in 30 animals so far—but will soon reach capacity. Some livestock have been evacuated to the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.   The central shelter at the Boulder YMCA is allowing evacuees to bring their dogs, although they are kept in a separate area. In other cases, private individuals are offering to house and care for pets needing temporary refuge while their people stay with friends or in hotels.   The situation serves as a terrible and vivid reminder to be prepared. Make a disaster plan that includes your pets. I live in Seattle, an earthquake zone, and I realize that I haven’t taken all the steps I need to protect my dogs, Lulu and Renzo, should I be unable to get to my house in a disaster. When I return home, I plan on arranging a backup plan with my neighbors—who also have a dog and probably need a backup.   Here's a pretty stunning video from among the many shot in and around Boulder over the last few days:

News: Guest Posts
National Dog Day
Celebrating canines, August 26

Thursday is National Dog Day, which was founded in 2004 to acknowledge all the dogs who “work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort.” Even if you’re naturally cranky like me and resent being told you need to show your appreciation on a particular day, it’s hard to argue with the fundamental idea that dogs give us a great deal and deserve our best in return.

  I’m willing to set aside my fundamental belief that dogs—just like mothers, fathers, grandparents, lovers, etc.—should enjoy special treats and praise daily to get behind the National Dog Day mission: supporting shelters and rescues, promoting adoption and saying no breed bans.   Among the celebration suggestions on the official National Dog Day website are parties, treats, a day lazing on a new bed (ugh!), and dressing up in patriotic attire (huh?). I think we can do better than that. How about committing ourselves to mastering some new tricks? Kicking off a more active regime? Volunteering for an animal welfare organization or making a donation? Launching a new strategy for helping animals? Reading a book about canine massage? Signing up for an organized activity, such as agility or Nose Work? With the right attitude, we can keep this from being another Valentine’s Day. Improving the health of our own dogs and reaching out to help dogs-in-need is a better investment than a box of chocolates or cut flowers (not that I’d refuse either).   Do you have plans for National Dog Day? Look for our National Dog Day poll this week on Bark’s Facebook page.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Stolen Dog
Son of deployed soldier is devastated

Sometimes you read a story that warms the cockles of your heart. Other times the overheating you feel stems more from rage or disgust. Such was my experience when I learned that a 10-year old boy’s new puppy had been stolen from his yard. Cameron’s Dad had given him the puppy, whose name is Caleb, before he deployed to Afghanistan. The meanies who took it did so on the actual day that he left for his yearlong deployment.

  The thieves came into the yard, supposedly to pet the dog, and then grabbed him and took him away in their car. Obviously, taking someone’s dog is a horrible thing to do, and under any circumstances people will be left upset and angry. But to have someone steal your dog the day your Dad leaves for a year is especially awful, and as a mother myself, the thought of such pain for my children is unbearable.   I hope that Cameron gets his dog back, that his Dad returns home safely, and that the thieves get what they deserve.  

 

News: Guest Posts
Baghdad’s Strays
Increasing numbers good news?

A disturbing piece of news caught my attention today: A recent campaign to kill some of the estimated 1.25 million strays (by shooting and poisoning) that roam Baghdad streets is seen as a sign that conditions in the city are improving.

  Sandy Smith at Huliq.com writes: “The dog control campaign is at once a part of local efforts to return Baghdad to normalcy seven years after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and a sign that conditions in the city have improved significantly. With more local residents now moving around normally, open-air markets have revived in the city, providing stray dogs with a source of food. With food once again plentiful, the dogs are having bigger litters, thus causing the population surge.”   As many as 58,000 dogs were killed in three months. It boggles the mind. How can good news for the people be bad news, ultimately, for the dogs? I only hope conditions continue to improve so that more humane “population control” strategies can prevail in the future.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Cash Found in Poop
Ever find anything interesting when scooping?

Last month, an honest professional pooper scooper gained media attention for returning money left behind by a client’s dog. Steve Wilson was working at Karen Linn's house and found $58 in bills entwined in a pile of poop. The DoodyCalls Pet Waste removal worker promptly cleaned the bills and returned them to Linn. She offered Wilson a reward, which he declined, so in honor of her adopted pup, Fozzie, Linn decided to auction the bills on eBay to benefit the Humane Society of the United States.

According to the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (APAWS), Wilson is the first pooper scooper to ever find and report cash in dog poop (at least the first to gain media attention anyway).

Ever since dogs entered my life, I find that I spend a lot of time looking at the ground. When you scoop poop on a regular basis you end up finding lots of random items this way. While walking the dogs one March, I once found a friend’s spare set of keys that had been unknowingly lost for months under the melting snow. 

As for the poop itself, I usually inspect my dogs’ since it can be a good indicator of health, and I often end up finding pieces of missing household items like sponges and socks. I have yet to find anything valuable, which is a good thing!

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve found when scooping dog poop?

News: Editors
Maker of Special Dog Films
Remembering Robert Radnitz

The quiet passing of Robert Radnitz last week, a onetime English teacher turned movie producer should not go unnoticed. Radnitz is responsible for two fine films that prominently featured dogs—A Dog of Flanders and Sounder. With the release of his first film, A Dog of Flanders in 1959, Mr. Radnitz established his reputation as a maker of high-quality movies for children and their parents. Based on the venerable novel by Ouida, the bittersweet story of a poor Flemish boy and an abandoned dog is a classic tale of adversity, a theme that would appear often in the producer’s films. Radnitz’s greatest success was his production of Sounder in 1972, directed by Martin Ritt, and nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Screenplay, Best Actor (Paul Winfield) and Actress (Cicely Tyson). By today’s standards, Sounder may appear a tad sentimental in portraying the harshness of the subject matter—the cruel racism of 1930s American South—but the film introduced mature subject matter, intelligently and compassionately, to a young audience. I remember seeing it as a young boy in my local movie theater and being moved and angered by the injustice the film depicted. Radnitz went on to produce many films, including Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain, Where Lilies Bloom, among others. As part of a joint resolution by the U.S. Congress honoring his work, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas paid him this tribute, “The films Robert Radnitz has produced touch the common thread of humanity and that’s why he’s made such a great and glorious contribution to the thing that makes our society a viable, living, vibrant whole.”

  Robert Radnitz passed away at the age of 85, Sunday night, June 6, at his Malibu home, surrounded by his devoted wife Pearl and his beloved dogs, Coco, Junior and Rosebud.  

 

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