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News: Guest Posts
Jury Rules Against Hartz
Beloved bulldog died 35 hours after flea drops were applied

[Editor’s note: We’ve blogged a bit about adverse reactions in dogs due to spot-on pesticide treatments and flea collars (see links below). Yesterday, Bark contributor Lisa Wade McCormick reported for ConsumerAffairs.com on what may be the first successful small claims case involving topical flea treatments. A portion of her story is reprinted here.]

A 72-year-old dog owner has won what may be a landmark decision against the country’s leading maker of pet care products and fueled the ongoing debate over the safety of topical flea and tick treatments.

A Texas jury awarded Frank Bowers $4,440.75 in the small claims court action he filed against Hartz Mountain Corporation. In this David-versus-Goliath court battle—believed to be the first small claims court action of its kind—Bowers alleged that Hartz Ultra Guard Pro Flea and Tick Drops caused the death of his beloved Olde English Bulldog, Diesel.

The six-member jury deliberated less than 30 minutes before reaching a unanimous decision in favor of Bowers, who was widely considered the underdog in the case.

“When the bailiff walked in the courtroom and said we have a unanimous decision, I nearly passed out,” said Bowers, who represented himself in the court action. “The jury said ‘we find Mr. Bowers’ integrity outweighed what was presented by (Hartz) attorney. He lost an animal of value and all costs he’s out are awarded to him.’”

“I just literally went numb,” Bowers added. “I caught up with three jurors in the hallway after the hearing. All I said to them was: ‘thank you, thank you, thank you.’ And they just said: ‘we did our job.’”

Hartz told ConsumerAffairs.com that it believed the case was “without merit,” but did not appeal because of the time and cost involved.

Sense of justice

For Bowers, the jury’s decision brings closure and a sense of justice to an emotional issue that started at 8:30 p.m. on August 7, 2008. On that warm summer night in Texas, Bowers applied Hartz Ultra Guard Pro Flea and Tick Drops to the 14-month-old, 68-pound, Diesel.

“I nipped off the top of the tube and put it on his back,” Bowers recalled. “I precisely used it as directed – nothing more, nothing less than directed.” By early the next morning Diesel had become gravelly ill.

“I went to my garage to work and I smelled this odor from excretion,” Bowers said. “Diesel was laying on the floor. He was shaking and having spasms of some kind. And he was passing a horrible odor of diarrhea.” Bowers called his daughter, who told him to immediately take the ailing dog to the vet.

Diesel’s health continued its rapid decline during the ride to his vet’s office, Bowers said.

“He continued to have bowel movements on the way. When we got to the vet’s office, he couldn’t walk. They got one of those stainless steel tables and took him back to an exam room.”

The veterinarian asked Bowers a battery of questions about Diesel, including one that caught him off guard.

“The vet asked me if I’d put any flea treatment on him,” Bowers said. “And I said: ‘yes, last night.’ I told him what it was and went back to the store to get a tube to show him.”

The vet, he said, took one look at the Hartz Ultra Guard Pro Flea and Tick Drops and shook his head. “He said: ‘Oh, my God. He’s going to have kidney failure.’”

By 4 o’clock the next morning, Diesel’s kidneys had shut down.

“He was in total renal failure,” Bowers said. “The vet wanted permission to euthanize him. I said you know what’s best and I don’t want any animal to suffer. “I picked Diesel up around 7 a.m. and took him out in the country and buried him on my daughter’s 10 acres.”

This painful chapter in Bowers’ life happened in less than 35 hours—from the night he applied the flea and tick drops to the morning of Diesel’s death.

Read Lisa Wade McCormick’s complete report.

News: Guest Posts
Tough Love
Simon Cowell has a heart…for animals

Sometimes it seems like Simon Cowell, the famed curmudgeon judge of American Idol, doesn’t have a kind word for anyone. Well, that’s not entirely the case. When it comes to animals—an old dog, in particular—he’s practically mushy. And he’s gone public (in a video released last night) about his lifelong love for animals to help the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) promote an international campaign for animal welfare. Check it out:

Like many of us, Cowell’s respect for animals came early, while growing up with pets. Drawing on these lessons, he has pledged his support for the WSPA’s Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare—an admirable initiative to persuade governments across the world to embrace international laws that protect animals with the hope of ending animal suffering and cruelty. It’s easy to cast join him.

WSPA is an alliance of more than 900 animal welfare organizations in 150 countries. The declaration calls for, among other goals, recognizing animals as sentient beings, capable of suffering and experiencing pain—an essential baseline for animal welfare progress.

Meanwhile for Cowell, this might be the leading edge of a larger life change. Last night on the Tonight Show, he revealed that he's engaged. Maybe he plans on opening his heart a little more for people now, too.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Accidentally Euthanized
Shelter’s mistake was fatal

Most of us have lost dogs and suffered the agony of that grief. We all share the pain when someone we know is dealing with the death of a dog, but I don’t think my heart has ever hurt more than when I heard about what happened to Will Harlee and his family. It seems that Charlotte-Mecklenberg Animal Care and Control euthanized their two dogs, Deuce and Ralow, by mistake. And no amount of regret or sorrow can bring them back. It’s heartbreakingly painful.

  The dogs were being held at the Animal Care and Control facility after having escaped out of the family’s yard through a hole in the fence. Their paperwork states that Harlee could get his dogs back once he repaired the fence, but when he made the repairs and came to get his dogs, they were already dead. It’s unclear how such an enormous mistake happened, or what will be the consequences for the agency. Harlee says that he wants to see somebody lose a job over this because he believes that somebody has to be held accountable. His biggest concern is that this does not ever happen to anyone else.   I picture Will Harlow having to tell his two young children that Deuce and Ralow are dead, and I urge every shelter and animal care facility to check on their policies and the safeguards against such a fatal, irreparable error. And to the Harlees, all I can offer is my sympathy, which is deep and heartfelt.  

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Saving Fido
Most people would risk danger to rescue their pets.

After Hurricane Katrina, we learned about countless people who refused to leave their pets behind in pursuit of their own safety. As a result, the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act was signed in 2006 to ensure that animals are included in local and state emergency plans.

So it should come as no surprise that recent research found that 58 percent of people would put their life on the line for a pet. The study, presented at the Annual Emergency Service Conference in New Zealand, confirms how pet lovers feel about their four-legged family members.

Every now and then the news will cover stories of pet lovers who rush into burning buildings or jump into freezing rivers to rescue their beloved furry family members. Of course I can’t imagine ever leaving my pups behind, and I would like to say I’d have the same reaction as these heroic people, but I’ve never been in an emergency situation before. I am glad, however, that legislation like PETS has been passed to minimize the difficult choices pet lovers must make in times of crisis.

Would you risk your life for your pup?

News: Guest Posts
We Love Word Play
Low-cost spay/neuter effort in Michigan

Just when you think you’ve read or heard every possible dog pun, rhyme or wordplay (in my line of work, I’d begun to think so), some creative minds come along and cast the familiar in a shiny new way. In this case, I’m sending a word -play shout-out to a cooperative effort in Michigan. Nooters Club (how come this is the first time I’ve heard that?) and All About Animals Rescue are teaming up with Pet Supplies Plus of Bloomfield Hills for their, wait for it, “Prevent Littering” campaign in honor of Earth Day on April 22. Clever words for a good cause.
 
The details: From March 1 through April 16, pet owners who pre-pay can get their pet spayed or neutered on April 17 for only $50 for dogs and $30 for cats.

News: Guest Posts
Poison Meatballs
Three dogs dead in Spokane

Last week, Lee Harrington blogged about a post on Craigslist that contained a threat to plant poison in New York City dog runs. It may have been a hoax but, since you can never be sure, NYCdogs sent out an alert. This week in Spokane, Wash., poison meatballs on the ground have caused the death of at least three dogs. In at least one case, the meatballs were discovered and ingested on private property.

I don’t monitor my dogs’ every move when they are in the backyard. Until today, I figured I knew what was back there. I’m guessing (hoping) this an isolated aberration, some sort of personal neighborhood grudge, and that no more dogs will be hurt.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Provided Girl Warmth and Safety All Night
Just one example of how dogs save people’s lives

Victoria Bensch could have frozen to death or been attacked by a wild animal. Instead, thanks to her dog Blue, she is safe and back at home with her parents. She wandered from her home late last Thursday and spent the night lost in freezing temperatures half a mile away in an area where coyotes and other predators are a concern. Blue huddled with her, which is probably what kept her warm enough to survive, and his presence likely provided safety as well.

 

What really may have saved Victoria’s life is her strong bond with the dog. He did not want to leave her, but instead chose to remain with her all night. The entire family is grateful to their faithful Queensland healer, and that includes one aunt who says she doesn’t even like animals. (Though her new love for Blue clearly shows.)

  Many people feel as though their dog has saved their life. Often this is a figurative statement meaning that the dog played a pivotal role in helping them get through a dark time: recent widowhood, a divorce, job loss, financial hardship, the death of a friend, dealing with a sick family member, moving someplace new, loneliness, depression and suicidal thoughts, an abusive situation, or any other kind of hard time that we humans face. Other times, as in the case of Victoria Bensch, the way dogs save our lives is absolutely literal: keeping us alive when facing threats of criminal violence, extreme temperatures, attacks by wild animals, an imminent natural disaster or possible exposure to toxic substances, just to name a few possibilities.   The great love we share with our dogs can have amazing consequences. How has your dog saved your life—literally or otherwise?
News: Guest Posts
Dog Kept Three-Year-Old Girl Warm, Safe
The bond between Blue and Victoria saved her life.

Thanks to her loyal Australian Cattle Dog, Blue, three-year-old Victoria Bensch survived freezing overnight temperatures in the desert. She had wandered away from her Phoenix home this past Thursday afternoon. Family and the local authorities frantically searched for the little girl as temperatures dipped in the desert. Thankfully, Friday morning, a sharp-eyed medic flying in a helicopter spotted Victoria cuddled up with Blue about a half mile from her home. The medic, Eric Tarr, was able to rescue both Victoria and Blue and reunite them with the family. My favorite part of the article is when Victoria's aunt says, "I don't even like animals and I hugged that dog so hard!"   

News: Guest Posts
“Demo Was My Snoopy”
A boy inspired by his dog

I’m a huge fan of the children’s book, “Demo: The Story of a Junkyard Dog,” written with wry humor by Jon Bozak and illustrated by Scott Bruns. So I was very sad to hear that the real-life Demo – Bozak’s rescue Pit Bull – passed away just shy of 16 years. Not bad for a 65-pound dog born in a scrap yard. Bozak wrote a moving tribute to Demo that every dog lover should read. The way he measures their time together is both humorous and poignant. Once you’ve finished drying your eyes, buy the book, then tell me about the dog who inspired you.

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Frisbee Inventor Dies
His product gave joy to millions

Fred Morrison died earlier this week at the age of 90. Best known as the inventor of the Frisbee, he was also a World War II pilot, husband and father, and an entrepreneur. The first discs he threw were the lids of popcorn tins, which he and his wife threw back and forth at a family picnic in 1937. These dented too easily so he moved to cake tins, and then began to manufacture his own discs, which he sold for a quarter at the beach in southern California. People loved them, and they sold well, attracting enough interest for Wham-O to buy the rights to his flying discs. In 2007, the Frisbee in its current form turned 50.

  Morrison called them Pluto Platters in recognition of the UFO craze sweeping the nation decades ago. The name Frisbee comes from the Frisbee Pie Company, whose platters were thrown like Frisbees before any were manufactured out of plastic. The name Pluto Platters is quite suitable considering the canine character named Pluto. Dogs and Frisbees hit the spotlight together in the 1970s, starting with a man and his whippet who jumped on the field during a televised baseball game at Dodger Stadium and wowed the crowd with a display 35 mph throws and nine-foot high jumps to catch the Frisbee.   For anyone who has a Frisbee-loving canine in the family, it’s hard to imagine life without them. (It can actually be hard to imagine an outing without them. I occasionally hear someone in agony at the dog park exclaiming, “Oh, no! There’s no Frisbee in my bag!” Invariably, a crestfallen dog is nearby wondering why the fun has not started yet.) Many dogs exhibit a level of athleticism and defiance of gravity when playing with a Frisbee that is beautiful to watch. Their level of joy soars as high as they leap.   If your dog considers a day without a game of Frisbee to be a day wasted, I want to hear from you. How does your dog amaze you, and when did you first discover that your dog was a Frisbee dog?   And thanks, Fred. Your invention has given endless joy to so many.

 

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