Boneheads | Boneheads Boneheads en-us Thu, 08 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 Thu, 08 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 Orion <![CDATA[Bizarre Break-In: Dogs at Kennel Get an Unexpected Guest]]> As cat burglars go, this guy has gone to the dogs. Employees at K9 Playtime boarding and daycare facility in San Francisco got quite a surprise when they arrived for work last Friday morning.

Inside, they discovered 59-year-old Michael Grunwald, who had broken into the kennel in the middle of the night. But apparently all this scofflaw had gotten around to taking was the opportunity to party with some pups.

Grunwald, who was also apprehended filling a "doggie bag" of toys and food, let a number of boarded pups out of their cages, and showered them with treats and toys. The surveillance video aired by local station KPIX-5 shows pups wandering the store as he does his thing.

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The startled employees used a stun gun to subdue Grunwald, who was charged with commercial burglary. In addition to the attempted burglary, he allegedly threw a store display "at a computer screen," vandalizing the retail area. But Grunwald apparently supplied a reason for his actions.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, "Before police arrived, [K9 Playtime owner Marc] Pearl had a chance to have a few words with the suspect, who reportedly told him he was a federal agent and that he was in the store on federal business. He also told Pearl that he saw someone else break in to the business and that he was only trying to help catch that suspect."

Thankfully, no animals were harmed in the making of this apparent episode of World’s Dumbest Criminals.

Via KPIX-5 and the San Francisco Examiner

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About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/burglar-k9-playtime-kennel-daycare-san-francisco
<![CDATA[Sarah Palin Posts Photos of Trig Standing on His Dog]]> I have a six-year-old boy, and if I ever saw him preparing to use our dog as a stool to reach the sink to wash the dishes, I would not grab my phone and get the camera ready.

And if he did end up using my dog as a stool to reach the sink and wash the dishes -- by stepping on him -- I would not take pictures of the event and then post them to Facebook. 

A child could get the wrong idea about standing on dogs, you see, like it's an OK thing to do and not utterly wrong. Encouraged by someone holding up a camera and gurgling praise, he might do it again -- and again and again and again. One time he may really hurt the dog. 

And any of my five million Facebook friends could get the wrong idea as well.

Five million Facebook friends? Oh, that's right, we're talking about Sarah Palin. 

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Sarah posted those gems on New Year's Day with the following note:

May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for "up!", found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone. 

Criticism flowed, naturally. So did support and undying love. That's the natural order of things on Palin's Facebook: outrage, love, outrage, love. There were comments -- more than 26,000 comments. And Likes -- more than 72,000 Likes.

In the face of all this, Sarah did not pause, consider the wisdom of letting her son stand on the dog -- the pros and cons of dog standing, as it were -- and compose a reasoned response. She weaponed up. She blasted ... PETA. She started like this: 

Dear PETA, Chill. At least Trig didn't eat the dog.

And then she went into this:

Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

Then she talks about the Iditarod and commercial fishing, and finally unloads this multifaceted, world-splitting sentence:

Aren't you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin' new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)?

That's a 545-word sentence!

Finally, she gets down to the matter at hand: Standing on dogs. Sort of: 

Our pets, including Trig's best buddy Jill Hadassah, are loved, spoiled and cared for more than some people care for their fellow man whose politics may not mesh with nonsensical liberally failed ways or don't fit your flighty standards. Jill is a precious part of our world. So is Trig. 

Well, maybe she doesn't; the wisdom of standing on dogs is never addressed. We can safely assume that the Palins love their dogs -- Jill is a service dog to Trig, who has Down Syndrome -- but really: Don't let kids stand on dogs, and don't post pictures of kids standing on dogs to your five million Facebook friends. It's simple stuff. No reason to drag Alaskan caviar into it. 

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Photos via Sarah Palin's Facebook page

What do you think? Do you think Sarah should have told Trig to quit standing on the dog dammit instead of posting photos of it? Let us know in the comments.

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Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:58:00 -0800 /the-scoop/sarah-palin-photos-son-trig-standing-on-service-dog-facebook
<![CDATA[To Gamergate, the Death of Brianna Wu's Pet is Another Opportunity for Abuse and Harassment]]> For anyone who's familiar with the online movement known as GamerGate, it should come as no surprise that this week they combined their trademark misogyny with dog-hating.

When game designer Brianna Wu announced on Twitter that her dog, Crash, was ill and ultimately died from brain inflammation, Gamergate supporters harassed her about the dog's death. At least one person even went so far as to create a Twitter account in Crash's name (it's now been suspended) and used it to make abusive comments to Wu as if they were coming from her dog in the afterlife. Wu also tweeted that she's received photos of mutilated dogs in her corporate email account.

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Brianna Wu's dog, Crash, died from brain inflammation on Sunday night.

If any of this seems especially, unbelievably cruel, you probably haven't been keeping track of the Gamergate saga.

Wu, along with several other women, has been under siege by Internet users identifying with the Gamergate movement since August. The controversy started when indie game designer Zoe Quinn's ex-boyfriend published a letter alleging that she had slept with Nathan Grayson, a video game journalist and reviewer for the website Kotaku.

Members of Gamergate claim that their intention is to push for higher standards of journalistic integrity, but their primary actions have been little more than abusive harassment of women who have become prominent in the video game community. They have especially targeted those who have been critical about sexism in the industry.

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Brianna Wu

In October, Wu was forced to flee her home when someone using the handle "Death to Brianna" posted her home address on Twitter. "Your mutilated corpse will be on the front page of Jezebel tomorrow, and there isn't jack s--- you can do about it," the person said in one tweet.

Most dog lovers can understand the grief of watching their dog die. Even by itself, when everything else in your life is going well, it can be a trauma that overwhelms. Imagine that, in addition, you have to deal with that knowing that there are people who have publicly sworn to kill you. That's the situation that Wu was faced with on Sunday night. She tweeted about being in the veterinary emergency room, waiting to find out what would happen to Crash, and even then, friends warned her that Gamergate supporters were chatting online about how to find the address of her vet.

"As I'm trying to find an emergency vet, Gamergate is constantly tweeting me and harassing me," Wu said on Twitter afterward. "I'm a bitch, I'm a liar, I'm this, I'm that. My dog, who would be dead in under 12 hours, is shivering and dying in my lap. Imagine how horrible that is. Now imagine, that on top of that, you're getting warnings from friends that Gamergate is trying to locate and dox your vet's location. I've had dozens of threats to my life. The public does not know all the details. Now I'm worried I will be killed as my dog is dying."

At least one supporter on Twitter suggested that Wu might have actually poisoned her dog herself to gain "victim points" and publicity.

As sadistic and inhumane as this incident is, it's hard to look at it and say, "Gamergate has gone too far"; they went too far a long, long time ago. The death threats and rape threats that became their stock in trade were already too much for any decent human being to stomach. It was too far when Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a talk at Utah State University because some anonymous terrorist promised "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if she spoke.

But it is an index of how deep the cruelty and sadism of Gamergate's supporters go. Most of us would have some kind of "stop" point, even with people we deeply despise. Most of us would stand away, at least for a moment, and let them have their grief. The Gamergate types won't even let their targets have that one courtesy of being able to mourn undisturbed when a family member dies. There are politicians and public figures that I despise without qualification, but I would never intrude while they mourned the death of a child, a pet, or other loved one. I would certainly never imply that they had caused the death themselves as a tactic to get sympathy, not unless I was holding undeniable evidence in my hand.

One touching moment did come out of all this, one that anyone who's lost a pet should be able to identify with. In response to Wu's grief and her thoughts about getting a new dog, a friend of hers, Seth Mendelson, replied:

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We pet lovers don't replace pets. However, we have a hole in our hearts that needs to be filled. So, we keep our hearts open for the next great love.

If only responses like that were more common, the Internet would be a much safer place for us all.

Via Total Gaming Network

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Thu, 04 Dec 2014 11:45:00 -0800 /the-scoop/brianna-wu-dog-dies-gamergate-abuse-harassment
<![CDATA[Man Threatens to Kill a Dog Every Time His Social Media Followers Get a Question Wrong]]> I really hate it when I start the week with stories like the one that follows, and I hope it doesn't ruin the rest of the week for you. I highly recommend going over and looking at some cute dog pictures when you finish, just to recharge your batteries a bit.

Usually, we call people who do bad or stupid stuff to dogs "boneheads," but that's just too cute and coy a way to describe Jacky Lo. He goes straight into Doggie Douchebag territory.

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Here's a gratuitously cute puppy to focus on, just to make the rest of this article a little easier to deal with. Cute Dog by Shutterstock.

Lo seized international fame two weeks ago when he posted a video to Facebook showing a small white puppy struggling to get out of a washing machine as it is buffeted back and forth by the wash cycle. Lo called it "A super quick way to wash a dog: Soak, clean and dry. All done. Clean and quick!" When someone asked if the dog had died, he responded with glee: "Yes (it's dead). Do you wanna see?"

Lo became an Internet meme of the kind that makes me want to take a blowtorch to my cerebellum, just to burn the though of him away. The good part is that over 20,000 people signed a petition asking the Hong Kong government to bring him to justice. Under Hong Kong law, animal cruelty can be punished by up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$200,000. (About 25,800 in US dollars.) While it seems that Lo has enjoyed the notoriety from the video, gleefully taunting the people who condemn him, he posted that he was going back to mainland China to avoid the charges.

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Screenshot of Jacky Lo from his Facebook page.

After all that, Lo has decided to turn everything up a notch. Last Friday, he posted that he has six stray dogs, and he's going to kill one every week. "I will ask a question every seven days," he wrote. "I will kill a dog if your answer is wrong. The fate of the dogs will depend on you."

Will Lo follow through on his twisted version of Jeopardy? It's hard to tell. He seems to really enjoy the notoriety of being a sadistic dog abuser, but there's no proof that he actually has the dogs that he's threatening to kill. For that matter, the fate of the original dog is uncertain, although it's not unlikely that it died in the washer. What we do know is that Lo is quite willing to indulge in cruelty against dogs and brag about it.

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A screenshot from the infamous, horrible video.

Already, I can imagine people wanting to blame this display of cruelty on the Internet. Everything is the Internet's fault, after all. Jacky Lo -- if that's his real name -- may get a bigger audience for his sadism because of the Internet, but it wasn't caused by it. Just from writing for Dogster every day, I know that people's capacity for cruelty transcends the imagination with or without social media. The one bit of good news to come out of this is that Lo's bragging in the public square has allowed people to pressure the Hong Kong officials to take action. Here's hoping that he'll be apprehended before he hurts any more dogs.

Via The Straits Times

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Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:30:00 -0700 /the-scoop/jacky-lo-washing-machine-puppy-scandal
<![CDATA[Has Uber Been Denying Rides to Blind People and Their Service Dogs?]]> We keep hearing about poorly trained employees kicking out people with service dogs, forcing corporate apologies, like this one from Starbucks.

Now, it's Uber's turn, though it appears an apology won't be enough. According to the Washington Post, the California chapter of the National Federation of the Blind is suing the ride-sharing service for discriminating against passengers with service dogs.

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The lawsuit cites instances of outrageous behavior by the company's independent drivers. How bad? In once case, the lawsuit says a California UberX driver put Leena Dawe's service dog in the trunk without her knowledge, according to SFGate. After the blind woman finally understood where the dog was and asked the driver to stop the car, the driver refused until they got to their destination.  

In another case, Jamey Gump had called a driver to get him and his friend, who are both blind, at a pub and take them to his home in Menlo Park, according to SFGate. When the driver arrived and saw Gump's service dog, he shouted, "No dogs!" He is also accused of cursing at Gump and ignoring his explanations that the dog was a service dog. The driver then sped off, hitting Gump's friend. 

In the suit, the National Federation of the Blind says it knows of more than 30 instances where blind passengers were denied service. 

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The image Uber tries to project, via

In response to the suit, Uber released a statement: "It is Uber's policy that any driver partner that refuses to transport a service animal will be deactivated from the Uber platform. ... The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities." 

According to the Washington Post, Uber is reported to have told certain passengers that it can't control its drivers as they are independent contractors, telling customers to tell drivers beforehand if they have a service dog. The National Federation of the Blind said it presented Uber with a complaint in June and asked it to resolve the issue through negotiations, but the company refused, according to SFGate. 

Obviously, getting denied transportation service can have a serious impact on a person's life, causing delays and major inconvenience, along with, as the complaint notes, "the degrading experience of being denied a basic service that is available to all other paying customers." 

"Our right to independent travel is unjustly jeopardized when Uber drivers refuse to transport or harass blind customers due to the presence of their service animals," said Mary Willows, president of the National Federation of the Blind's California affiliate.

Via SFGate and the Washington Post

Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/lawsuit-uber-sued-national-federation-of-the-blind-service-dogs
<![CDATA[The Death of Clara the Pit Bull at PetSmart Teaches a Hard Lesson]]> This morning, I awoke to more 25 Facebook notifications, a full email inbox, and numerous social media tags, all regarding one story -- the stabbing of a Pit Bull in a Newnan, Georgia, PetSmart. The dog, Clara, was subsequently euthanized "due to the severity of the stab wounds," reports CBS Atlanta.  

Clara was there as part of an adoption event with volunteers from the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society. She went after the smaller dog after breaking loose from her handler.

Here, the facts get muddy. Some witnesses state Clara was attempting to "play" with the smaller dog, while others claim she attacked him. The owner of the smaller dog reacted by yelling and then stabbing Clara multiple times with a pocket knife. It was like something out of a horror film, with children and adults looking on, shocked by the events at hand.

While the main focus has been on the loss of Clara and the injuries to the smaller dogs, there are a few vital facts being overlooked, a major one being that Clara was known to be dog reactive/aggressive and had spent the past two years and eight months in a kennel. 

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Photo credit: Clicks for Clara Facebook page

Although a representative from NCHS was unavailable for comment, I researched Clara's backstory on the group's Facebook page. Clara was pulled from a shelter in 2012, narrowly avoiding euthanasia. Unfortunately, she traded one cage for another ... this one being in a boarding facility. A Facebook page dedicated to getting Clara more adoption exposure called "Clicks for Clara" (which was not accessible the last time we visited it) posted a bleak picture of Clara in a kennel in January 2013, noting that this was "Clara's reality 159 hours a week." To put that into perspective for you, there's only 168 hours in a week, meaning Clara only had nine hours of freedom a week ... less than one-and-a-half hours a day.

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Photo of Clara in kennel, credit: Clicks for Clara Facebook page

Well-meaning fans of the page suggested volunteers take Clara to PetSmart for more exposure, but they were told that "Clara does not show well at PetSmart ... she is too excited by the activity and most people there already have multiple other pets. Clara initially needs a human-only family, once she has that she will need some training to become more dog tolerant."  

The Newnan-Coweta Humane Society Facebook page noted that Clara could be "particular of other animal companions" and believed "the small and furry ones came out of the toy box." This tells me that NCHS and the boarding facility knew Clara was dog reactive/aggressive, making it a terrible idea to take her somewhere like an adoption event at PetSmart, where other adoptable dogs would be, as well as personal pets. A disaster waiting to happen -- and unfortunately in this case, it did.

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Clara was reported as being wonderful and loving with people. Photo credit: Clicks for Clara's Facebook page

Nothing can bring Clara back. "What ifs" and "should haves" won't undo the hurt experienced by the other dog who was bitten, it won't take back the nightmares many children may be having now, and it definitely won't repair the further damage done to Pit Bulls' reputations as a whole. As volunteers, advocates, shelter workers, and dog lovers, what we can do now is learn from this tragedy. 

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Clara on a walk, photo credit: Clicks for Clara's Facebook page

Maddie's Fund, a foundation dedicated to revolutionizing "the status and well-being of companion animals," notes that behavioral problems can arise as the result of a dog being kept long-term in a kennel environment, including barrier-related aggression and social hyper-arousal. The Journal of Veterinary Behavior (2007) published research regarding behavioral effects of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs, noting that the "kennel environment, even for short periods, is a psychogenic stressor for most dogs." The article cites several sources backing the statement that kennels are "spatially and socially restrictive, and as a result, many dogs show signs of acute stress when housed in kennels." 

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Excerpt from the Veterinary Journal

Unfortunately, kennels routinely become reality for many shelter dogs who are pulled for rescues when their fosters back out or potential adopters don't work out. No one wants to send a dog back to the shelter, so the dog sits ... and waits. Some dogs may be fortunate enough to only spend a short time in a kennel/boarding facility, but others, like Clara, may languish in a cage for years. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that this must have had on her, and it's hardly surprising that she behaved with extreme excitement in social situations and also went after the smaller dog at the adoption event. 

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Shelter/rescue dogs in kennel facilities need regular attention and exercise.

I believe rescue dogs in boarding still stand a chance, but change is in order. Dogs placed in these situations should be given more stimulation and regularly exercised by volunteers, and should also be routinely evaluated by licensed behaviorists, particularly before participating in public events like adoption days. Boarding should be a last resort -- no dog wants to trade one cage for a new one. The dog doesn't know they have been "saved," they only know that they are still in a cage. Rescues should have confirmed, committed fosters/adopters prior to pulling a dog, leaving boarding as a last-resort option, and not pulling any other dogs until those in boarding have found permanent homes/committed fosters. 

What do you think about the death of Clara? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. 

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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-adoption-petsmart-pit-bull-clara-stabbing
<![CDATA[When Is a Dog Rescue Not a Rescue? ]]> The case of Precious Pups, a dog rescue group based in Calverton, New York, might just be that rare example when it is.

Precious Pups was closed down by court order this week after allegations that it was little more than a glorified puppy mill, subjecting dogs to animal abuse. According to people who've adopted dogs from the organization, it regularly adopted out dogs who were sick, sometimes to the point that they die days or weeks after arriving at their new homes.

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Deborah Maffettone

Deborah Maffettone, for example, told a CBS crew she adopted a poodle from Precious Pups, only to have the dog die 36 hours later from starvation.

"We've got eight dogs documented that came out of the shelter with 20 percent less body weight," she says.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that there were many more complaints about dogs coming out of Precious Pups.

"The representations they made about the health of the dogs, that they received veterinary treatment were all false," Schneiderman told CBS. "We subpoenaed them, they refused to comply with the subpoena."

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Adoption fees for dogs from Precious Pups ran from $300 to $600 with no background checks or screening process, according to clients. The company's Yelp profile includes several highly detailed and highly critical accounts of bad dealings with Precious Pup's owner Laura Zambito.

One woman, writing as "Tina F," says that Zambito asked her to provide a foster home for several dogs.

"I completed an application to foster but never received a foster agreement," she writes. "My vet and personal references were never checked, nor was a home check done."

Nevertheless, she fostered three dogs but says they needed more than $900 in veterinary care. Health problems included heartworm infection, pneumonia, and sutures from previous surgeries that had to be removed.

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Activist Lisa Ludwig

According to Schneiderman and other critics, this kind of situation was typical of practices at Precious Pups. Animal activist Lisa Ludwig, a longtime critic, said, "This is a dog-flipping operation. So many people have been stuck with thousands of dollars in vet bills and dead dogs too."

Zambito has denied all charges, on Yelp and in court, and claims that the entire situation is the result of a malicious smear campaign against her. Precious Pups is fighting the charges in court. Zambito told CBS she plans to reopen: "We will be telling the truth in court. We will be presenting the facts with our attorney. So there is no further comment."

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Maffettone says the real problem is bigger than Zambito or Precious Pups -- there's no oversight or regulation for who is or isn't a legitimate rescue operation.

"Our main goal and the big picture here is to regulate rescue," she said.

What do you think? What kind of laws are needed to make sure that rescue operations are legit, and that dogs find good homes?

Via CBS New York, Shut Down Precious Pups Facebook Page, and Yelp

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Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/precious-pups-rescue-dog-adoption-new-york-shut-down-animal-abuse
<![CDATA[This Bonehead Drove With His Dog Tied to a Trailer]]> The picture is shocking, and hundreds of people on social media thought so as well. It shows a dog on a trailer, being motored down a road in Tennessee. But look closely and you'll see the dog appears to be nearly hog-tied to the metal bars. Animal cruelty? Well, maybe not in Tennessee.

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But let's back up. First, it's difficult to comprehend what's happening here. Did someone really tie a dog to a trailer instead of merely putting him in his -- what's that? -- a Prius? Did someone really need to tie the dog that tight? The scenario seems insane any way you look at it. 

WBIR shared the photo on its Facebook page, and people were justifiably outraged, so outraged that the Knox County Sheriff's Office got wind of the photo. To its credit, the office decided to investigate.

"We look at how an animal is being transported," said Martha Dooley, Knox County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, "[whether] it is injuring the animal in any way and also how an animal is restrained. Is that causing pain or injury?"

According to WBIR, deputies got the man's license plate from the photo and went to his home to ask him questions. Fortunately, it appears the dog was not hog-tied, but rather he had gotten tangled up in his leash. Unfortunately, the dog was indeed being transported on a trailer. 

"He says the dog was tangled up in the leash with his back legs, and as soon as he saw that, he untangled him, but yet left him on the trailer and continued on home," Dooley said. 

The man defended himself to police, saying his dog was in the car and was whining, so he put him on the trailer. Another photo shows the man heading back to his car after untangling the dog. 

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Police are still investigating, but because Tennessee has no law against transporting dogs on trailers or in the backs of pickup trucks, there might not be anything it can do. WBIR notes that the dog was not harmed, and the animal had clean water and food at home. 

WBIR contacted the family and received this statement: 

We agree that placing the dog on the trailer was not the best choice. However, the pictures posted do not show an accurate representation of the events. The dog was thought to be secured safely and at no time was "hog tied" and was being watched by the driver. At no time was the dog ever harmed. It is very concerning to our family of the multiple postings of threats of verbal and physical attacks along with identifying the address of where they live. Our family loves all of our animals and we believe the safety of an elderly couple is also a great concern.

What do you think about all this? Let us know in the comments. 


Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/animal-cruelty-drove-car-dog-tied-to-a-trailer-tennessee-facebook
<![CDATA[An Internet Video Helps Bust a British Teen Who Swung a Chihuahua by the Leash]]> Nineteen-year-old Alfie Loft will not own any animals for two years, and that's a good thing. Last week, someone spotted Loft with three friends on the streets of Stevenage, a small town about 30 miles north of London. He was walking a Chihuahua and repeatedly lifting the dog off the ground and swinging it around by the leash, according to the BBC.

Fortunately, this is the 21st century, and the cameras aren't actually run by Big Brother -- they're run by everyone who has a mobile phone. One such person shot a video of Loft and his friends and posted it on Facebook, asking, "I feel sick! Does anyone recognize them???? Please can everyone share this and get this bastard found!!!!!!!"

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Judge's Hammer on English Flag by Shutterstock.

After the video went viral, someone did recognize Loft, who quickly found himself in court. Besides being restricted from owning animals (not a big loss, as he apparently doesn't own any now), he was fined £250, which will go to the dog's owner. He also has a curfew; for 12 weeks, he's required to be home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

It will probably surprise no one that alcohol was involved. The four friends had just met the dog's owner while drinking at a nearby pub. When they went out to buy more alcohol, she asked them to take the dog for a walk. If this seems like a mildly questionable choice to you, you're not alone; even in the most rural, isolated places, there are usually better ways to find a reliable dog walker than randomly handing your dog over to a drunk teenager you just met.

The judge imposed the curfew on Loft in the hope that it would help curb his drinking.

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A Tiny Chihuahua on a leash by Shutterstock.

Natasha Patel, who represented Loft in court, said that the incident started because Loft was just pulling on the leash to get the dog to walk, and accidentally lifted it off the ground.

"The people he was with began laughing at the incident and that has almost egged him on," she said. "He knows that was wrong. He doesn't remember much of what happened."

She also says that he's extremely regretful for swinging the dog.

"He's disgusted at himself, they were his own words to me," she told the Guardian. "He feels humiliated that this incident has occurred. He has also said he would like to write a letter to apologize to the owner of the dog to show that he is truly sorry. He does love dogs himself, although he doesn't own any himself."

I did a lot of really embarrassing -- and outright stupid -- things when I was a teenager, even when sober. It helps a lot when people let you know just how stupid you're being. Swinging a dog over your head obviously goes far beyond "stupid" into "abusive," but hopefully some of the shame will stick with Alfie Loft and he'll be less of a bonehead when he grows up.

Via BBC and The Guardian.

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Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:45:00 -0700 /the-scoop/animal-abuse-internet-videos-england-teen-swung-chihuahua-dog-leash
<![CDATA[Service Dogs for Soldiers? It Sounded Good, But This Rescue Turned Out to Be Rotten]]> After word got out that I had worked to shut down a fake Pit Bull rescue, I started getting lots of messages regarding various questionable rescues. One of these was Raja Renata Ranch (later called RRR Service Dogs) in Tennessee. Several of my colleagues had received similar inquiries, and the evidence we were acquiring was making it clear that, although Raja Renata Ranch appeared to be a good rescue group on the surface, we suspected something rotten at the core. Our suspicions were confirmed after a raid on Schifando's Clarksville, Tennessee, home resulted in the discovery of four dead puppies. Further investigation led to the seizure of 39 living dogs and 37 bags of animal remains from the barn Schifando was using for her Raja Renata Ranch program.

Founded in 2011, Raja Renata Ranch called itself an "organization to help meet the need for service dogs for Soldiers." As of now, I could find no record of the group obtaining 501(c)3 nonprofit status, although its website stated it was pursuing it. Raja Renata's staff claimed its focus was "pulling dogs from death row in shelters and turning them into service dogs for Soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), physical injuries and more." It also claimed to provide service dogs to nonmilitary members "at very low cost ... based on financial need." The group often started fundraisers online to pay for the service dogs.

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The "About Us" section from RRR Service Dog's website prior to the website shut down.

However professional RRR's website appeared, it still left many vital questions unanswered. I visited the group's Facebook page to find out more about its training. The response I got was, "We actually don't certify service dogs here. Our program is different in that we have the Soldiers training their dogs with our help and weekly training soldiers." It cited the U.S. Justice Department's Americans with Disabilities Act policy regarding service dogs, which is relatively lenient, leaving much room for interpretation.

In January 2013, I wrote to the group's founder, Nicole Schifando, for more information. She responded that Raja Renata Ranch was a "registered nonprofit with the state of Tennessee and ... licensed by the state gaming commission to solicit funds." Concerning training, she stated, "Training depends on each team. With the training we do (where the veteran/Soldier works with the dog on a specific task or two all week and then we review their work and proceed to the next task or command the next training) the process usually takes six months to a year but the Soldier is still receiving the benefit of having the dog with him during that time."  

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The homepage for RRR Service Dogs

At the time of my initial inquiry, Schifando was not a certified dog trainer. Through networking, I also discovered that she was operating a breeding program for German Shepherds.

In March 2012, Schifando had posted on the RRR Facebook page that she would be closing her rescue, although she would complete the training for the service dogs left in the program. She intended to place all other dogs in forever homes or with fosters. But within just a few months, she was pulling dogs from shelters again, including two from my local shelter. One was a German Shepherd named Church and the other a Boxer named Simmer. As a volunteer and concerned animal advocate, I expressed my concerns to the then-president of the board of the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society, Leigh Ann Falconer, as well as the "rescue coordinator," Charlene McCuller, with sending dogs to this rescue group because it seemed beyond suspicious; however, I was quickly reprimanded for questioning the decision of the rescue coordinators, as I was only a volunteer.

So the dogs were sent to Schifando, and within days, there were pictures of them with their new soldiers. Most rescues have a quarantine period, keeping the dog separate from other animals to prevent potential disease and to observe the dog's temperament. After getting called nearly every name in the book by fans of Schifando and RRR Service Dogs, including accusations of being unpatriotic, I gave up. Fortunately for the dogs, other concerned people kept up the investigation. 

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RRR;s response to me on Facebook.

On June 5, 2014, Nicole Hulbig (aka Schifando) was arrested on suspicion of four counts of aggravated animal cruelty "after Montgomery County Animal Control officers found four dead, decomposing puppies at her Clarksville home," according to the Leaf Chronicle. Many people were outraged, and many more -- including me -- have unanswered questions, the biggest ones being, "Where are all the dogs?" and "What happened to all the money raised for these dogs?"

I spoke with Melissa Kitchens, a former donor, about her experience with Nicole and RRR Service Dogs.

"It just really got to me when my friend's little girl was affected. ... Her money is gone, her dog isn't trained, and they're kinda screwed. She was a preemie ... had a brain bleed so she has balance, vision, speech, social issues as a result," she said.

Melissa has two disabled children of her own, and she donated what she could for her friend to get a service dog from Nicole.

"There are so many local families who could greatly benefit from the [financial] assistance that was offered to the RRR program," Melissa said. "It could have funded research, rehab, or even started a foundation that reached out to our local military families who have exceptional children. ... The support and physical aid could have done so much more in the right hands."

Like many others, Melissa feels like she's been had: "Our veterans who have served their community and country, just to have their trust taken advantage of ... and never last or least, the countless animals that were destroyed in the path of the RRR organization." 

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Nicole Hulbig (left) and husband, Eric. Photo credit: Leaf Chronicle/Associated Press

As the news hit social media and various news outlets, people began to come forward with pictures of dogs they had sent to Nicole's organization. "Where is my dog?" is the biggest concern for most of these people. One such dog, Whiskers, was one of three rescues from Afghanistan that a California woman, Amy Konstantelos, and a group of fellow dog lovers raised thousands of dollars to bring to the states and transport them to RRR for training. A reward is being offered for any credible information about the animals' fate and/or their safe return.

USA Today reported that deputies found 37 bags of animal remains and seized about 40 live dogs from the property of Nicole's mother. The paper reported that many of the dogs seized had been living in a barn in stalls or small cages without food or water, surrounded by their own waste. The dogs seized were taken to Sumner County Animal Control. Some have been reunited with their owners, but many more remain unclaimed. A Facebook page has been started to share the stories of dogs sent to Raja Renata Ranch and to assist in locating dogs sent there.

I asked Falconer, former president of the Thomasville-Thomas County Humane Society board, if she had information on the whereabouts of Church and Simmer, the two dogs sent to RRR in 2012. She responded, "Charlene ... has confirmed with one of the soldiers up there that the dogs are safe and sound with their families."

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A photo I took of Simmer prior to her departure for RRR Service Dogs.

The investigation is still in progress regarding the location and well-being of dogs entrusted to Nicole's care, as well as the funds sent to her organization to care for these dogs. All of the dogs that were taken to Sumner County Animal Control have been reported safe in the hands of rescuers, adopters, or foster homes. 

Read about what other dog owners experience Dogster:

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-adoption-rescue-raja-renata-ranch-rrr-service-dogs-animal-cruelty
<![CDATA[Bonehead of the Week: The Jerk Behind the "Your Dog Sucks" Facebook Page]]> I love the Internet. I've practically lived online since about 1993, when I got my first account in a college computer lab. I met my partner about 13 years ago through an online dating site. As you can see, I make at least part of my living by writing stuff for the web. Me and the Internet are old friends.

But really, sometimes it shows me things that I'd rather not see. Sometimes it makes the ugliest most vile parts of human nature so visible that I'd like to just pop open my skull and start scrubbing my cerebellum with steel wool.

Case in point: the Facebook page Your Dog Sucks, which is devoted to celebrating animal cruelty including the torture and killing of dogs. Yes, there's a link there, but don't click unless you're really sure.

As of this writing, the timeline of Your Dog Sucks includes a photo of two dead dogs in plastic bags with the caption "hooray trash day tomorrow," a "hero alert" for an article about a woman who's being tried for killing a dog because it pooped on her floor, and a video of U.S. soldiers throwing a dog off a cliff in Iraq. That's just the top few entries. There's much more.

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According to WPBF in West Palm Beach, Florida, a Facebook user named Michael Budukiewicz has campaigned to have the page removed. Since he discovered it last week, Budukiewicz has reported the page to Facebook every day, asking that the company take it down.

"I was outraged that something like this should be on there," he said. "That page should be completely removed and that person that posted it should be banned from Facebook."

Every time, though, Facebook has responded that "Your Dog Sucks" is not in violation of community standards.

"Your Dog Sucks" isn't an anomaly, either. While it has existed only since July 2 and has 204 followers, there are also pages such as Dogs Are Scum, which is equally vicious and has accumulated 859 followers since its debut on April 15.

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A partial screenshot of Facebook's response to Jennifer Burton.

A woman named Jennifer Burton has launched a petition on asking Facebook to remove Your Dog Sucks and similar pages. Unfortunately, the petition is poorly phrased and argued. When you sign on, the default email sent to Facebook says simply:

To: Facebook, Facebook

Remove a page.


[Your name]

Not very compelling, to tell the truth. Burton's text summarizing the petition's case is earnest but awkward:

Despite hundreds of people reporting the page and showing their disgust on the page itself. Facebook refuses to remove it as it states there is no violation of their terms. This page is actively encouraging people to burn, hurt and kill dogs. If that isn't a threat of violence I dread to think what it would take for Facebook to consider this. If it were a page about abusing children, they would remove it. Why should it be allowed because it is a dog.

Awkward or not, I'm not entirely comfortable with Burton and Budukiewicz's solution to the problem. I understand their revulsion and their passion. My guts squirm when I look at pages like this, and the fact that someone would put so much energy into something so petty, so sadistic, makes me despair for the human race.

But despite all the time that I spend on Facebook, I don't trust it. As an online resource, it's huge, and it has a lot of power to regulate who gets heard and who doesn't. I don't feel comfortable asking it to delete pages by fiat unless it's absolutely necessary. The case of Jeanna Hoch is still fresh in my mind. Just this past week, Hoch had her Facebook account deleted because she posted topless photos of herself breastfeeding. Her account was restored and Facebook apologized, but the incident shows just how arbitrary and devastating the social network's control of content can be. I prefer to encourage it to be as hands-off as possible.

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The case of Jeanna Hoch is an excellent example of how heavy-handed and arbitrary Facebook can become when they're asked to enforce community standards.

I think it's far better for dog lovers to look for bottom-up solutions than to call for Facebook to exercise power from the top down. For instance, if you notice that one of your Facebook friends has liked or followed one of those pages, call them out on it. Make them tell you why they'd support something like Your Dog Sucks, and remind them that such pages depict far more than mer abstract, cartoon violence no one would do in real life. The fact that people act on this kind of violence is exactly why groups such as the SPCA or the Humane Society exist, and it's why their work is valuable. The fact that people such as the ones behind Your Dog Sucks exist is why we need more people to rescue dogs from shelters and educate themselves on how to care for the animals. In that sense, these pages can serve a purpose: They remind us of just how bad people can be, and that the rest of us have to be just that much better because of them.


Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

Fri, 18 Jul 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/your-dog-sucks-facebook-page
<![CDATA[Ask a Trainer: How Can I Protect Myself Against Bonehead Dog "Professionals?"]]> As a dog trainer who has worked in the industry for a long time, and as an active dog owner and foster mom for most of my life, I hear horror stories about what happens to dogs at the hands of professionals when the owners aren't present. These stories of animal abuse depress me, but they keep happening -- so I am writing this to you, the dog owners of the world, to ask you to step up and protect your dogs from potential harm. 

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Overwhelmed dog walker by Thomas Nord /

Just because someone calls herself a "professional" in the dog industry does not mean you are dealing with a true pro. Sometimes, in fact, you are dealing with a felon. These cold-hearted humans come from all walks of life in the realm of dog services, including veterinarians, trainers, dog walkers, and rescuers. 

What can you do to protect your own dog to make sure no harm comes to your best friend? Here are five boneheads who did horrible acts, with my recommendations on how to avoid such things happening to you. 

1. A trainer who was sentenced to prison for dragging dogs down the street

Problem: Michael Rosenberg had been cited by local animal control for dragging a dog down the road. His prison time will run concurrently with a four-year term he received in 2011 on child endangerment charges, according to news reports. He still managed to get his animal abuse sentence suspended, but then had it reinstated after he violated his probation and failed a drug test and attempted to cheat on another.  

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Really, don't do this. A prime example of leash trouble. Photo by Shutterstock.

Solution: Google a trainer’s name and company before you take your dog in. Read the trainer’s website carefully and determine what training philosophy he or she adheres to. Don't fall for propaganda, and ask for details if you detect any rubbish or vague wording on their promotional materials. If you feel their web presence tells you little about their training methods, move on. 

Ask for recommendations from happy dog owners and local veterinarians who recommend their services, and call those people. Look for trainers who have the ability to train with force-free methods. Learning should not cause pain. You can find force free trainers at the Pet Professional Guild.

2. A vet who kept dogs brought to him for euthanasia alive -- to harvest their blood

One of the worst evildoers this year has to be the Texas vet who did not put down five dogs brought in for euthanasia. Instead, he kept them in small cages lying in their own excrement and used them for blood transfusions. This sicko's own poor Border Collie seemed to get the brunt of the cruelty; one of its legs was missing and another was dislocated, and both of his shoulders were dislocated.

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Sid the dog was dropped off to be euthanized, but a vet kept him alive for blood transfusions. Sid was returned to his family after six months.

I have nightmares about the stress these dogs endured by someone sanctioned by the state as a legitimate veterinarian. He’s been charged with cruelty to animals and his license has been suspended, but that's not enough punishment for what he made animals endure. 

Solution: Read "How Should I Choose a Vet?" Research your veterinarian's name and check your local media to see if there are any news stories about the vet. Ask people you know who have happy, healthy dogs who their vet is. 

Ask for a tour of the veterinary office for your first visit and come without Fido. Ask for a list of satisfied clients you can call. In other words, don’t immediately trust someone simply because they have a DVM after their name. Your dog can’t check Angie’s List or Yelp, so investigate properly on your dog’s behalf.

3. A trainer who tried to rehabilitate an aggressive dog in public

Paul, a stray German Shepherd, was scheduled to be euthanized because of his aggressive behavior. Shortly after pulling the dog from a shelter, a trainer permitted the dog to be out in a public place, where he attacked another person and then the trainer. The attack was so bad that an animal control officer had to shoot the dog three times.

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Aggressive barking and biting can't be fixed overnight. Illustration by Nigel Sussman

Attempting to "fix" an aggressive dog in two weeks is unrealistic at best. This dog had bitten a sheriff's deputy while at the shelter even before this trainer rode in on her white horse. The dog needed long-term behavioral modification and perhaps help from a veterinary behaviorist. Even with proper training, there is no guarantee that a dog with a bite history won't bite again. It's up to the humans around the dog to not put the animal in a situation where he believes his teeth are the necessary communication tool. 

Solution: Look for online reviews and especially news stories with the trainer’s name and website. Ask what professional membership and training certifications the trainer has and then look up those organizations and ensure they are a current member. Learn what their professional affiliations mean by reading the mission of the organizations. Anyone anywhere can claim to be a canine behaviorist or a trainer, so it is a true buyer beware situation. 

Trainers can be highly specialized, and just because someone is a great agility trainer, that does not automatically qualify them to help with serious canine behavior issuesIf you are dealing with aggression or any severe and protracted unwanted behavior, consult with a veterinary behaviorist or a certified applied animal behaviorist

4. A woman who claimed she was a trainer arrested on 12 counts of animal cruelty

Thirty-seven bags were filled with animal remains. Nicole Hulbig said she founded RRR Service Dogs to help returning soldiers and others who suffered from PTSD by "training" a service dog for folks in need. At least three dogs were flown in from Afghanistan at great expense by well-meaning people for former military personnel who wanted to save these dogs. The dogs arrived at RRR Service Dogs alive and healthy but left inside of the trash bags. It's a horror story that is all too real. 

Solution: The service dog industry has no one organization overseeing it and anyone can claim to train service dogs. See my recent article, "5 Tips to Avoid Getting a Service Dog Who's a Dud." Visit the trainer’s facility and ask to see dogs working. The dogs must have good manners and they must do what they are being sold to do and do so in public settings. If you are thinking of obtaining a service dog -- which can cost up to $20,000 -- demand that any dog you are considering will be tested on video by a third party tester, who has no connection or interest with the service dog organization or trainer. 

5. A dog walker who left eight dogs in a hot van while she went shopping

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Dogs and hot cars don't mix.

The dogs were hot and defenseless in the van. The dog walker had her dog walking city license removed --but so far that seems to be the extent of her punishment and the owners of the dogs were not notified by authorities. This "pro" took client's money and trust, and instead of doing her job, she tied the dogs inside of her hot can so that she could go about her mall shopping. She's very lucky they didn't die.

Solution: By now, you know what to do: your homework! Also, do surprise drive-bys when you know the dog walker will be out in public with your dog. Make sure your instructions are followed exactly and that your dog is not in stress.

I told you it is beyond depressing what happens to our beloved dogs when we leave them in the hands of unscrupulous professionals who seem to exist just to make a buck off of helpless animals. There are many talented and safe canine professionals out there, but it is up to you to know the difference between a good professional and a dangerous one. Please be your dog’s advocate, and do your homework!

Read more by Annie Phenix:

About the author: Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA, is a force free professional dog trainer enjoying her mountain-filled life in Colorado. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild and the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She and her husband get to take their four highly trained dogs with them everywhere dogs are welcome because of their exceptionally good manners. Phenix generally leaves her six donkeys at home on the ranch . . .but she is thinking about clicker training those little hairy hee-hawers as well. 

Fri, 11 Jul 2014 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/dog-training-professional-trainers-walkers-worst-things-animal-abuse
<![CDATA[Grr: Some Bonehead Wrote "Free" on a Dog and Then Dumped Her]]> In many parts of the country, people deposit their old, used furniture and the like on public property, tape a "free" sign to it, and back away slowly. If your stuff is halfway decent, you're in the clear -- it'll be gone by morning. If your stuff is horrible, you should be ashamed -- you're just dumping trash in the street. In any case, the "free" sign attached to crap is an American tradition.

And some Bonehead in Bencia, California, just did that to a dog. Animal abuse? You bet.

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Rather than do something, anything, responsible, this Bonehead had some sick fun in the way he or she unloaded an unwanted pet. The dog had the word "free" written in black marker on both sides of her body, with "I need a home" on her forehead. 

Luckly, Shannon Bettencourt came across the dog, and Bettencourt is a good person. She found the dog "scared and whimpering" next to a tree outside a Chinese restaurant on First Street in Bencia last Thursday.

"It's hard to imagine what somebody was thinking when they did that," she told KTVU

But rather than call police, Bettencourt had other ideas. 

"The first thing I thought was to call the police but then I was like no, they're going to call animal control," Bettencourt said. "I didn't know what could happen from there. I was like no way, I'll at least keep her for the night."

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One night turned into two, and the rest ... well, you know how this ends. She bonded with the dog and decided to keep her, naming her Libby, short for "Liberty," because she was found the day before the Fourth of July. 

"Somebody just kind of treated her like trash but she ended up being my treasure," Bettencourt said.

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The dog is healthy and well-trained. Bettencourt can't figure out why she was dumped, but she's glad she and Libby were brought together. 

"It was actually kind of a blessing in disguise," she said, "even though it was very sad to start with."


Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:30:00 -0700 /the-scoop/animal-abuse-dog-dumped-rescue-adoption-free-benecia-california
<![CDATA[You've Heard of House Flipping? This Bonehead Tried Dog Flipping]]> On Sunday, an awful person adopted a dog from the Hawaiian Humane Society. At the time, staff didn’t know the person was awful; they just thought the woman wanted to give a good home to Sally Mae, a 10-year-old Jack Russell. They were happy. 

Then, one hour after the adoption took place, the dog appeared on Craigslist. For sale. At a price, $200, that was more than double than what was paid in adoption fees. It appears the woman who adopted the dog was trying to make a fast buck in one of the most terrible ways possible -- flipping a dog. She says in the ad that the her and her boyfriend were too “caught up with work” to have a dog. 

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An image of the woman on the Humane Society's Facebook page.

“It’s really disappointing to think that animals are really seen as a commodity vs. your loving pet that’s part of your family, so that’s really hard for us,” Christina Kam, Hawaiian Humane Society’s communications and event coordinator, told KHON2. 

Watch a video of Sally Mae created by the Hawaiian Humane Society:

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The Humane Society has been in contact with the woman, trying to figure out what is going on, knowing that what the woman is doing is not illegal. She signed a contact, but nothing in the contract prohibits her from selling the dog. 

“We’re just really imploring her to come and return Sally to us so we can just get her to a new home. She does have a medical condition,” said Kam.  

KHON2 got in touch with the woman by phone, who claims it’s all a “misunderstanding” -- bizarrely, because she says she does intend to sell the dog. She says the $200 price she’s charging is what she has already spent on the dog. She also says Sally Mae is five years old, which is a lie. Sally Mae is 10, according to the society. 

The woman claims she is afraid to return the dog to the Humane Society in the fear that the dog will be euthanized. The society has done nothing to indicate that would happen.  

As for the Humane Society, it plans to change the adoption policy to restrict selling dogs after they are adopted. Enforcement, however, would be difficult. 

“It’s going to take a lot of advocacy work, sharing with people that this does happen," says Kam. "And to keep your eye out on Craigslist.” 

Via KHON2. 

Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dog-adoption-house-flipping-craigslist-jack-russell-terrier
<![CDATA[Who Leaves 8 Dogs In a Hot Van While on a Shopping Spree?]]> Late last week, it was balmy, in the 70s, in San Francisco, and Pamela Uberti, as owner of 4 Your Paws Only dog walking and pet sitting service, was tasked with keeping eight dogs entertained and exercised, happy and healthy, for an extended period of time. She got everybody in her windowless work van and headed out. 

First stop: Stonestown Galleria. The mall. Where Uberti shopped -- and shopped, and shopped, and shopped. For two and a half hours, according to KRON4. Primarily Nordstrom, it looks like, but she probably hit up some other shops in that time -- two and a half hours is a long time to shop.

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As for the dogs, they didn't get to shop. Uberti left them tied up inside the van. For activities, she let them bark. She also let them pant -- she had parked in direct sunlight and left the windows up, and the van soon grew sweltering on that warm day. Witnesses said the dogs also had no water.  

"Those dogs were tied up in a hot van. No water, nothing," one told KRON4. "There was a lot of stress. It was extremely hot." 

"They were barking up a storm," said another. "I told her that her behavior was deplorable."

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The witness called police, and fortunately, when animal control officers arrived, they found the dogs in good condition. Because the dogs were "not in immediate danger," according to animal control, they were released to Uberti, but officers told KRON4 that they expect her license will be taken away this week. 

"It was just heartbreaking when they opened the van seeing the animals tied up like that, and being completely defenseless," said a witness, "completely at the mercy of this sadistic woman."

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Uberti's dog-walking website

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Image of Uberti from her website


Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:45:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dog-walker-san-francisco-8-dogs-hot-van-shopping-mall
<![CDATA[This Bonehead Washed Her Dog's Butt in a Water Fountain]]> On Tuesday, a woman was in Central Park with her dogs -- an often-used, very popular location in the park -- when one of her dogs had some sort of undefined poop issue in his nether region, according to Gothamist. Might have been nothing more than a (pardon me for this) dingleberry, or it might have been a (also for this) poop-smeared horrorshow apocalypse.   

In any case, the woman looked around, and to her great relief saw she was near one of the many dog-butt-washing stations located around the park. You might know them as drinking fountains. She hustled over and began a long, incredibly thorough butt-washing, much to the surprise of parkgoers.

This woman is our Bonehead of the Week. 

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Too see a up-close photo of the event, check out the story on Gothamist

According to witness Emily Leisz Carr, the woman crammed the butt of her dog right up against the spigot -- the spigot is where the mouth should go -- and kept it there for a good long while. Imagine that for a second. When someone finally came up to complain, stating concerns about hygene and saying that "human people put their faces there," the woman said it was okay and she would clean it up. Carr told Gothamist that it was only when the woman was confronted did the woman seem to think that what she was doing was in any way wrong. 

After she finished, the woman left with her dogs. Ten minutes later, she returned with a "balled-up plastic bag," according to Carr, to give the fountain a half-hearted once-over. Gothamist notes that the woman cleaned her dog's anus with much more zeal that she cleaned the fountain, almost like she knew that a balled-up plastic bag was a poor choice of a cleaning implement. 

After she was done, the weirdness continued. A documentary film crew happened to be in the park, because of course one was, and it filmed the event, because screw the script we're going with this! After filming wrapped, a producer asked the woman to sign a release, and she did. Meaning her cute butt-washing-in-a-water-fountain interlude could appear in a documentary film one day. How lovely for her. 

This Bonehead made some great choices on Tuesday. 

Via Gothamist

Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:30:00 -0700 /the-scoop/funny-dog-pictures-photos-drinking-fountain-bidet-central-park
<![CDATA[This Bonehead Dumped His Dog at a Shelter and Ran -- Twice!]]> Sometimes here at Bonehead HQ we get a bonehead who whose actions toward a dog truly baffle us. Colorado resident Daniel Sohn is one of those people. For his contributions to the harm of a dog he adopted and promised to treat well, he's been cited for animal cruelty and neglect, according to Denver Animal Control. He's due in court July 2. 

This is what authorities believe he did. Buckle up. A week ago, Sohn took his dog back to the shelter he got him from in October of last year, because he wanted to give the dog back. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes dogs don't work out. But there is something wrong with Sohn, because when he was presented with the paperwork he had to complete in order to surrender his dog, he turned heel and ran out of the building. 

His dog, named Bronson, ran after him. 

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Later, he said to 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson, "Well, I didn't ditch him. I actually dropped my dog off at the shelter where I did pick him up at. I actually gave my dog a choice if he wanted to be with me or possibly find an owner he might feel better with."

Come again? Forget about it -- let's go back to the scene, with Sohn running out of the shelter with his dog running after him. Sohn got in his car and took off. His dog followed, running after the car. Here's what that looked like, thanks to a someone who snapped a picture of the heartbreaking scene: 

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Next, witnesses say Sohn hit his dog with his car. This is what he said later about the incident to 7NEWS: "I didn't accidentally hit him. He jumped in front of my car but I felt he was triggered to do so as if, like, he was a mechanism of the surrounding people."

Got that? His dog was a mechanism of the surrounding people. It's gets even weirder. After he let the dog back in his car, he returned to the shelter for the second time to drop off the dog, but again he bolted out before filling out the paperwork. 

And again, his dog ran after him. 

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So, what ultimately happened to Bronson? Sohn told 7NEWS that he drove to Los Angeles with the dog --  Sohn lives in Colorado, remember -- and the dog jumped out of the car at a gas station in Beverly Hills.

Where he vanished. Bronson disappeared into the streets and has not been found. 

Talking to 7NEWS, Sohn appeared blithely unconcerned about the fate of his dog.

"He's a stray and some dogs just stray, and he's probably onto the next owner," he said. "Is he still alive? I’m sure he is."

Sohn is due in court July 2, and officials are asking people who might know the the location of the dog to call Denver Animal Control at (720) 337-1800. Let's hope Bronson is found, and that those charges of animal cruelty and neglect stick. 


Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/dog-dumped-ditched-colorado-shelter-twice
<![CDATA[Hundreds Gather in Canada to Mourn 6 Dogs Who Died from Heat in Their Walker's Van]]> Last weekend, hundreds of dog lovers gathered in a park in British Columbia to remember six dogs who died because of the alleged negligence of their dog walker. Known now as the "Brookswood Six," the dogs were reported missing by Emma Paulsen on May 13. She told the police that the dogs had been stolen from her van after she had walked them at Brookswood Park, but after an extensive search lasting several days, a very different story emerged. Investigators believe the dogs had not been stolen, but died of heat exhaustion when she left them alone in the van for an hour. The police found the bodies dumped in a ditch.

Jennifer Myers, whose dog Buddy was one of the six, said that the walk was not just to remember the dogs, but to thank the people who have given support through the entire trauma.

"I know all six dogs came here quite a bit," she said. "This was Buddy's favorite spot to come for a walk."

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Jennifer Myers' dog, Buddy, who died with five other dogs.

Louise Scott's five-year-old dog Molly also died in the van.

"This is not easy," she said. "I still hope that she will walk in the door."

Barbara Brintell, who attended the memorial to support the owners, voiced a sentiment that's no doubt shared by many: "I think they should throw the book at her. To think those people went through all the heartbreak, all in the hope that their dogs could be found and then to find out what an end they had. It's terrible."

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Oscar, a Husky-Rottweiller Mix.

During the search, the community responded with online fundraising, social media campaigns, and a $5,000 reward offered by television host Sarah Daniels for the safe return of the dogs. Now that the truth has come out, funds are still being accepted for the legal expenses of the families. The SPCA has recommended that Paulsen be charged with six counts of animal cruelty, but no charges have been filed yet.

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Teemo, a Poodle cross.

The fact that a professional dog walker would leave six dogs alone in a van for an hour is disturbing; but the fact that she disposed of the bodies in a ditch and sent the families on a desperate hunt for their dogs is what makes it horrifying. Our best thoughts go out to the families, and the people who rallied around them.

Via CTVNews and The Province

Read about what other dog owners experience Dogster:

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 06:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/six-dogs-died-heatstroke-dog-walkers-van-british-columbia-canada
<![CDATA[I Worked at a Large Commercial Pet Store, And What they Do to Puppies Will Shock You]]> I worked at a pet store when I was in college. It was a family-owned franchise, and I will say they ran about as good a business as you can for a pet store. They visited each breeder they worked with, and adhered to very strict guidelines on how many litters (and how often) could come from a breeder, in an attempt to avoid puppy mills.

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The pet store owners really cared what happened to the puppies after they left the store. Posted by mchelleliddle on Tumblr.

The owners turned away potential customers if they felt they weren’t the right fit, and truly seemed to care about the puppies' futures after they left the store. It wasn’t unusual for us to stay all night if puppies were sick just to be able to tend to their needs. If a puppy fell asleep, we weren't allowed to wake her up to show her to customers, because the owners understood that they were babies and they needed their sleep. 

My experience there was so nice that when the time came for me to find another job, I once again sought out a job at a pet store.

Big mistake.

This one was part of a large commercial chain. Unlike the first store I worked at, where the puppies would come in healthy and our job was to keep them that way, these puppies started out by coming in sick and full of worms -- and our job was to sell them before they died. 

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Illustration by the always-awesome Nigel Sussman

As soon as a “shipment” of puppies arrived, it was store protocol to deworm them and start them on antibiotics before they even saw a vet. We threw them on a scale and medicated them according to a little chart on the wall telling us what to give the puppy according to his weight.

The meds, which were stocked in bulk and came from who knows where, were very hard on the puppies' tummies, so almost immediately they would have diarrhea. They were kept in metal grated cubicles that gave them cage sores, and now they were defecating in them and exposing open cage sores to more bacteria.

How did we counteract that infection? We gave the puppies more antibiotics.  

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At the meaner pet store, we had to wake up sleeping or sick puppies to show them to potential owners. Sleepy Puppy by Shutterstock

With the puppies' immune systems already worn down, upper respiratory viruses ran rampant throughout the store. Because the owner didn’t want to pay us overtime, we were instructed to put the dogs three and four at a time into the nebulizer unit (a plexiglass box that pumps in medicated vapors) to get their treatments done faster. This meant that several sick dogs with different viruses and infections would be crammed together in essentially an airtight container, breathing each other’s germs.

We spent so much time cleaning up dog poop and taking care of sick puppies that it didn’t leave a lot of time to get other things done. In an effort to cut down on the time we spent washing the glass water bottles in each puppy cubicle, we were instructed to put a tiny bit of bleach into each bottle so that they were self-cleaning. 

When it came to making a puppy sale, we were encouraged to show the sick animals to the customers. If they were feverish and sleepy, “Well, this one is very docile and quiet, great for someone with young kids!” 

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Pet store puppies are puppy mill puppies. Illustration by the always-awesome Nigel Sussman

Our manager spent nearly all of his working hours fielding phone calls from unhappy customers and trying to quiet the ones who would come in screaming about “the sick animal you sold me.” I personally watched the police remove several livid customers from the store -- people who just wanted answers as to why they had been sold an animal who was so sick.

I lasted two weeks before the bosses mysteriously let me go. They never fired me; they just told me that they were overstaffed and would call when they had an open time slot.

I have to believe it was because I was the one who stayed late nebulizing the puppies one at a time. I was the one who turned a customer away from a feverish puppy. I was the one who refused to put bleach in the water bottles. 

I wasn’t outright fired because I hadn’t done anything wrong; I had done everything right.

Unfortunately the puppy business doesn’t have time for people like me on their schedule; they have sales to make, whatever the cost.

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I wasn't going to rush the care of the puppies. Illustration by the always-awesome Nigel Sussman

Views on pet stores are to the animal world what discussions about abortion, gay rights, vaccinations, and war are to the rest of the world. There’s a pretty good chance we won’t ever all agree, and everyone will have a pretty strong opinion on why his or her view is the right one. Like I said, not all pet stores are bad. There are in fact a few great stores; you just have to look really hard to find them.

Here's why you shouldn't buy a dog from a pet store

The biggest problem with pet stores is that they cater to the instant gratification of wannabe pet owners. “Wake up and want a puppy? Great, come on in and you can have one immediately.” 

Don’t do this, people! If you really want a puppy, chances are you will still want one in a couple of months, after you have had time to do a little research. Buying a puppy mill dog on a whim is only setting you up for a rough road ahead.

If you truly just decided that you need a puppy right this minute and have had no time or drive to plan this “purchase,” there is a good chance you haven’t had the time or planning to really think about all the work that owning a dog entails.

People also buy from pet stores because they want purebreds and don’t want to pay private breeder prices, but there is a reason they are cheaper in the pet store: You get what you pay for! It’s like buying a cheap knockoff purse. Sure, it looks great on the outside and can pass for what it’s supposed to be, but the quality sucks and it probably won’t last as long.

As sad as it is, these pet store animals don’t live as long as they should, and their lives are often riddled with the health problems that come along with bad breeding. 

Another reason some people feel that it’s a good idea to buy from a pet store is because they believe they can select a breed with the qualities and temperament they want. I’m sorry to break it to you, but this falls under the same category as the knock-off purse. Sure, the dog looks like a Labrador, but let me tell you, his poor little puppy brains are probably so scrambled from years of being bred with his siblings that you would have better luck with a mutt from the shelter, because at least that dog doesn’t have an overlapping DNA strand.

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This puppy mill Yorkie was photographed by USDA inspectors in 2011. The breeder refused to get treatment for the dog repeatedly. Photo credit: HSUS blog

But if you're dead set on buying from a pet store [Editor's Note: UGH, PLEASE NO!], here's some advice

Do your research first. Look online to see how many complaints were filed against a store. Check out the Better Business Bureau site and see what their rating is. Go in and talk to the manager, ask detailed questions about their breeders. 

Also, do not take the animal to the vet that the store tells you to take it to. The reason they wave the benefit of a “free vet exam” in your face when you buy the puppy is because they are contracted with that vet’s office (at least this was the experience at my store). The vet gets tons of new client business from the store, and they know you will be back when the animal keeps getting sick! And, in my opinion, some unscrupulous vets will even say initially that the pet is “fine and healthy” because they don’t want to lose their contract with the store. Call other vets in the area and see what their opinion is of the pet store -- they will give you the most honest reviews of the pets they have treated who were purchased from there. 

So that, my friends, is what really goes on in a pet store. You wouldn’t buy a car without doing a little research first, why would you buy an animal without doing the same? At least a car stays in your garage, whereas this purchase will be looking to you to take care of her -- and maybe even sleeping in your bed. Don’t you want to know what you are sleeping next to?

Have you ever bought a pet store puppy? What do you think of all this? 

Read more on puppy mills and pet stores:

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

About the author: Eden Strong is a quirky young woman with a love for most animals with fur. She readily admits to living her life completely devoid of most social graces and so far she's still alive. More of her crazy antics can be read on her blog, It Is Not My Shame to Bear

Fri, 23 May 2014 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/never-buy-dogs-puppies-from-pet-stores
<![CDATA[Serendipity: Driver Dumps Dog Right In Front of a Dog Lover's Home]]> Toni Luisi is a dog lover, so when a cute, happy dog turned up at her gate the other day, she didn't just shoo her away. She took the dog in, checked to see if she had a tag -- she did not -- then took her to the vet to see if she was chipped. Nope.  

Then, curious, she checked her surveillance footage. She has a camera that records the street in front of her house. What she saw made her burst into tears. 

A silver SUV drives into her cul-de-sac and stops in front of her house. The driver lets the dog out -- she stands, confused, behind the car. As the SUV drives off, the dog runs after it, chasing her owner, but 20 seconds later she's back in the frame, walking back to the stop she was dropped off. With nowhere to go, she returns to the very spot her owner dumped her. 

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"How can anyone hurt this beautiful thing?" Luisi told KSNV. "I was crying, I couldn't stop. ... How could someone do this? God's creature. A beautiful animal. Why?"

Another question might be: How could a dog be so lucky as to be dumped in front of a certified dog-lover's home? Gracie had been on her own no more than 20 minutes before she wandered up to Luisi's gate, attracted by her dogs. Gracie's ordeal was over. 

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Luisi gave the dog her name -- Gracie -- and is determined to find her a good home. Due to the press coverage, she's received hundreds of emails from people eager to adopt the dog.  

“With all of the people emailing, it’s not going to be easy to choose a new home for her. But one of the emails was from a woman who said her son is a cancer survivor and he would love Gracie as his pet. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to call her,” Luisi told NBC. “That got my heart.”

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But getting Gracie a good home isn't Luisi's only goal. She's furious that someone would dump a dog like that, and she wants to make sure it never happens again. 

"You cannot do this again, no you cannot," she told KSNV. "This is serious. How do you treat your children if you kick your dog to the curb? I hope your friends know who you are, because someone does."

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As Gracie wiggled in her arms during the KSNV interview, showering her with kisses, Luisi was brought to tears.

"I don't want them to get another animal, ever," she said. "They don't deserve a loving animal, not at all, especially Miss Gracie. Nobody's ever going to hurt you again."


Read about dogs in the news on Dogster:

Thu, 22 May 2014 10:00:00 -0700 /the-scoop/serendipity-driver-dumps-dog-right-in-front-of-a-dog-lovers-home