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Reasons to Cheer, Reasons to Jeer in 2010
The best and worst dog stories of the year
From left: AKC welcomes mutts into agility competition; Laura Pople helps recession-wracked pets; Target, gone too soon.

We’re looking over our shoulders at the year that was—to celebrate the positives and, we hope, learn from the negatives. In that spirit, we (Julia, Karen, JoAnna and Lisa) have compiled what we consider to be some of the best and worst moments for dogs in 2010.

 

Best: After more than 125 years as the purebred dog’s advocate, the American Kennel Club invites mixed breeds to participate in its new Canine Partners Program. Mixes now go paw-to-paw against purebreds in agility, obedience and Rally competitions nationwide.
 
Worst: Despite providing excellent animal control services for the city of New Orleans for many years, the Louisiana SPCA is forced to play hardball with a new mayoral administration and city councilmembers when the latter offers a paltry sum for its 2011 contract. On December 15, the LA/SPCA says, thanks but no thanks to the city, explaining that humane work cannot be fueled by blood, sweat and tears alone. Two weeks later, the politicians come to their senses and offer a more agreeable sum so that all of New Orleans’ companion animals will be better served. 
 
Best: Couple in Oklahoma, after losing all six of their pets (two dogs, four cats) to poisoning from melamine-tainted pet food, donate five acres of land in Tulsa for a memorial garden to all the animals who lost their lives in this horrible way. They believe that all the pets need to be honored and that the people who suffered deserve to know that their pets matter.
 
Worst: The new kids book Smooch Your Pooch actually instructs kids to hug and kiss dogs—advice that greatly increases the likelihood of kids being bitten. This is exactly the sort of behavior that those of us who work with dogs in general, and aggressive dogs in particular, work so hard to discourage. Sigh.
 
Best: Ignoring the misinformation campaign of Tea Party activists, nearly 1 million Missouri voters approve the Puppy Mill Cruelty Protection Act, a statewide ballot initiative to establish basic standards of care for dogs in large-scale commercial breeding facilities, of which Missouri has the most in the country.
 
Worst: Missouri Sen. Bill Stouffer (R), who apparently doesn’t seem to think citizens should have a say, files a bill to repeal the puppy mill measure days after it passes. Also pretty lame are the other Missouri legislators working to gut the law. 
 
Best: The U.S. Department of Defense announces that it is financing a $300,000, 12-month study that will look at the effects of service dogs on changes in PTSD symptoms and medication use in veteran soldiers. Even better, some of the dogs being trained for the study will be rescued from animal shelters.
 
Worst: Target the war hero dog is accidentally euthanized after escaping from his adopted family’s backyard. The Shepherd mix had been brought over to the United States after warning soldiers of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, saving dozens of lives.
 
Best: In December, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act is signed into law, banning the creation and distribution of videos that show the torturing of puppies, kittens and other live animals for the titillation of viewers.
 
Worst: A plea bargain that requires 50 hours community service at the Maryland ASPCA for a man accused of beating his Miniature Pinscher to death.
 
Best: Always best—in this and every year—are the countless volunteers who give their all for dogs in need. This year we wrote about a few, including Gateway Pet Guardians, a small coterie of volunteers, who feed and find homes for the strays of East St. Louis and Laura Pople, who raided her savings and turned her farm into a sanctuary for pets who are casualties of the recession. Julia wrote about the invaluable work of breed-specific rescue organizations, which provide lifesaving support to overburdened shelters and city animal control departments. And during the year, we profiled a few animal transporters, like Operation Roger, C.A.R.E. and Pilots N Paws, which move dogs from regions where they can’t find a home to regions where the can. These volunteers make a difference for dogs every day and always inspire us at Bark.
 
What happenings in dogdom raised your ire or earned your praise in 2010?

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