Entries in Dogs (16)


Riverside County Considering Mandatory Fixing of Pit Bulls

iStockphoto(RUBIDOUX, Calif.) – The Riverside County board of Supervisors is considering making it mandatory for pit bull owners to spay or neuter their dogs in response to several recent pit bull attacks.

Pitt bulls are traditionally known as a violent breed of dog, and there have been quite a few instances of the dogs attacking people in Riverside County. Last month in San Jacinto a pit bull mauled a 76-year-old woman.

Animal services spokesperson John Welsh explained that fixing a dog tends to make them less aggressive.

“An altered dog regardless of breed tends to want to roam less,” he said. “And when a dog is roaming less it’s going to get into less trouble, i.e. biting kids or senior citizens.”

While there are many who agree with the proposal, there are some that think it’s a step too far, and that dog owners should have final say in whether or not to spay or neuter their dog. Breeders in particular are opposed to the idea.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Government Study: Bomb-Sniffing Dog Program Bombs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Is the government wasting big bucks on dogs trained to keep explosives off planes?

A new report by the Government Accountability Office says that many of these bomb-sniffing or "threat detection" dogs are failing the task they’re assigned to do -- particularly at high-risk airports -- while they cost taxpayers more than $100 million annually.

All this has come to light as the GAO, the main investigative arm of Congress, has secretly followed and videotaped dog teams at airports.

Deployed by the Transportation Security Administration, these dog teams are supposed to sniff out bombs during passenger screenings but the GAO learned they’re mostly used for training or air cargo.

Meanwhile, videos also show dogs unable to pass explosive tests in passenger terminals.

Responding to the GAO finding, the Homeland Security Department agreed with the report and called for more oversight of the program and its funding.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rescued Boy Huddled with His Dogs for Warmth

File Photo - iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SENECA, Mo.) -- A frantic search for a missing six-year-old boy in Seneca, Mo., ended in relief when deputies discovered the boy huddled under a bush with his two dogs for warmth.

As temperatures plunged into the low 20s, Ryle Smith was discovered about a mile from the family house with Baxter, a large Boxer, and Bella, a Labrador mix lying on top of the boy keeping him warm.

“He was wearing no socks or shoes,” Ryle’s mother Holly told ABC News. “His feet were so cold that it was the early stages of frostbite, he hadn’t eaten dinner, he was exhausted and hungry.”

Ms. Smith said that according to paramedics, the dogs were lying on top of the boy; they could tell because his upper extremities were warm.

Ryle disappeared at about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, following his puppy Bella away from the family property while playing outside. His parents called 911. Between 150 and 200 people responded to the alert to assist with the search.

“Complete strangers drove from surrounding cities and showed up at our doorstop,” said Holly Smith. "It was incredible. Most people have told me they have never seen a response like that.”

“We were real concerned about the weather,” Newtown County Sheriff Ken Copeland told ABC News.  “It was calling for sleet and snow later that night so we were really concerned.”

Copeland said responders from the Newtown County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Joplin, Seneca and Redings Mill fire departments, and the Newtown County Rescue and Recovery team, joined in the search, in addition to concerned local citizens.

“Here in Joplin we went through the terrible tornado,” said Copeland.  "To see all these agencies and the community come together… it went really well.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Superstorm Sandy: Pets Displaced by Storm Get Help in California

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sixty cats and dogs orphaned in Superstorm Sandy are getting a new home, three thousand miles away from the disaster zone in Southern California.

Southwest Airlines and Seaworld teamed up to fly the animals to the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter in California.

“Thousands of animals lost their homes and so we need to move these animals to a shelter on the west coast so we can make room for some of the Hurricane Sandy animals,” said Suzanne Pelisson Beasley of Seaworld.

The flight crew and veterinarians donated their time to ensure the furry four-legged friends arrived safely to their new home.

While the orphaned pets were adapting to their new home, celebrity chef Rachael Ray and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opened a 20,000 square foot shelter in New York to help animals left homeless by the storm.

“The goal is to provide the people who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy an opportunity to bring their pets in and board them for up to 30 days and really just focus on getting their lives back together,” said Tim Rickey, spokesperson for the ASPCA.

To date, Rickey said the organization has helped nearly 16,000 animals in areas affected by Sandy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rescued Michael Vick Dogs Reunited Five Years Later

Mark Rogers/www.markrogersphotography[dot]com(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- They were battered and bruised but, ultimately, they were not broken.

Seven dogs rescued from NFL quarterback Michel Vick’s Virginia property when he pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to dog fighting, were reunited in California Oct. 27, tails wagging, tongues out, happy.

Five years ago they had scars, some physical, all emotional.  They wore bandannas at their reunion celebration, surrounded by 125 emotional guests and their proud owners.

“They’re very forgiving and they all really enjoy other dogs, which is probably the other big surprise that came out of the case,” said Donna Reynolds, director of Oakland-based BAD RAP, an advocacy group for “pit bull-type” dogs. “In fact, dogs were a comfort to them.”

Reynolds’ organization worked with prosecutors on the Vick case in 2007 to identify dogs that were taken from Vick’s property who could be rehabilitated. Of the 10 that Reynolds’ organization secreted out of Virginia in the back of an RV because of the ongoing investigation, seven returned to their ranch nearly unrecognizable from the dogs that they were before.

Hector, a brownish pit bull, has scars up and down his chest and missing teeth from his days in Vick’s dog-fighting arena.

“He’s got a notch out of his tongue, a notch out of his ear. He definitely had a poor life before now,” his owner Roo Yori said.

Nearly five years ago, Yori and his wife drove more than 35 hours from Minnesota to San Francisco to pick up Hector. He came back to their home almost as if nothing had happened.

“Hector, fortunately, was one of the dogs that wasn’t as affected as some of the other ones. Hector, he just kind of got out of there said, ‘That stunk, let’s move forward,’ and that was it. It was very obvious he had never lived in a house; he had never been a pet dog,” Yori said.

“He unpotted a potted plant because he wanted to play with it like a stick.”

Hector now fits in well with the family: Yori, wife Clara and their four other dogs.

At the ranch, the normally independent, 7-year-old Hector became uncharacteristically animated, wagging his tail wildly and wiggling in excitement upon being reunited with Donna Reynolds and Tim Racer, the founders of BAD RAP.

“Hector actually loved Tim and Donna … you could totally tell,” Yori said. “He’s kind of an independent dog, he’s kind of aloof. When he saw Tim and Donna, he stared wiggling. You could tell he remembered them.”

All the dogs now lead full lives.

“Dogs live in the moment; they don’t dwell on the past,” BAD RAP’s Reynolds said. “Once they have enough positive experiences to draw on, they just run right into the present.”

Seven have Canine Good Citizen Certificates and three are therapy dogs in hospitals and children’s literacy programs.

At least one, Jonny Justice, a black and white Staffordshire bull terrier with something of an eye patch, has become a bit of a celebrity.

Jonny appeared on “The Rachael Ray Show” in 2008 and next year will be the model for a stuffed dog made by manufacturer GUND as the winner of their “Top Dog” contest.

Of the 10 dogs rescued, three did not make it to the reunion: one because of distance and another because of a last-minute emergency. A third, Ernie, was just busy being a dog, no longer a “Vick dog.”

“Ernie’s mom doesn’t want him to be a Vick dog anymore, she just wants to have a dog,” Reynolds said.

As the seven dogs and their owners posed for a glamour shot, giggles and laughter rang out when the dogs tried to squirm their way to freedom.

“The tails were just flying around,” said photographer Mark Rogers, who valiantly tried to wrangle the disorderly group for a final photo.

But there were also tears that came mainly from the 125 members of the public who attended the event just to lend some support.

“There were lots of hugs, kisses, lots of crying. When people meet these dogs, they cry,” Reynolds said. “They understand that they are little pieces of positive history.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Grandpa Wrestles Alligator to Save Dog

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- How far would you go to protect your pet? Would you fight off a hungry alligator? A Florida grandfather did just that to save his furry friend.

Steve Gustafson, 66, was doing yard work on Tuesday when he heard his 9-year-old West Highland Terrier cry out for help. He turned around to find a 7-foot gator pulling the pooch into the water by her shoulder and collar.

“For whatever reason, I don’t know, I just yelled, ‘you’re not going to get her!’ and just leaped on the gator…just like you do some silly belly flop in a pool,” Gustafson told the Orlando Sentinel. “The only difference was I landed on top of a gator.”

He managed to wrestle the dog from the gator’s grip and bring it back up to shore. Both Gustafson and the dog were a little bruised, but otherwise unharmed.

Patrick Delaney, an alligator biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said attacks on dogs are “extremely uncommon” but do occur.

“One thing we stress at the Florida Fish and Wildlife is to be proactive. Not letting your dog that close to the shoreline would be the best thing you could do, and if you’re near the shore, keep your dog on a leash,” he told

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Survives Being Tied to Train Tracks, Two Die

Design Pics/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- PETA has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man who tied three dogs to Cleveland train tracks.

Animal control officials were called to the tracks, which run through an industrial neighborhood in Cleveland, Friday evening after a railroad employee said he saw a man tying a dog to the tracks and taking photos or video as a train passed by, police said. The bodies of the other two dogs were found nearby.

"It's got everyone upset over here that someone would do that. It's awful that someone did that to torture animals, and might be filming it," Lt. Mark Ketterer, who is leading the investigation for the Cleveland Police Department, told the Plain Dealer newspaper. The surviving dog, which is believed to be a mixed-breed Manchester terrier and is much smaller than the others, managed to avoid the train by crouching, said Leslie DeSouza, kennel manager at the Cuyahoga Animal Shelter, which is caring for the dog.

"She is doing amazing. She is healthy and happy. There is not a scratch on her anymore," DeSouza said. "When she came to us, she was very traumatized and cautious. She's still skittish but an absolute sweetheart."

The dog had no chip or identifying information on her pink collar, DeSouza said. She is expected to be placed for adoption this weekend, after a mandatory waiting period to see whether an owner comes forward.

"We have had a lot of calls and we are going to go through each one," DeSouza said. "We're going to make sure she finds a nice home."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why Is PETA Fighting Program Pairing Panhandlers with Dogs?

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Animal rights organization PETA is fighting against the launch of San Francisco’s Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos (WOOF) program, which will pay previously homeless people now living in sponsored public housing to foster dogs that are at risk of being euthanized.

PETA has offered to give $10,000 to the program if they leave animals out of it.

Teresa Chagrin, PETA’s animal care and control specialist, calls the program, “A lure to keep people from panhandling. Many chronic panhandlers battle with addiction issues. These animals are supposedly not adoptable. Putting these two troubled populations together is very likely to result in disaster.”

Bevan Dufty, director of San Francisco’s Housing Opportunities, Partnership, and Engagement (HOPE) initiative, said that while some of the housing residents do resort to panhandling, they should not be labeled as panhandlers, but as people trying to get their lives back on track, and are fully able to care for pets.

“These are individuals who have been through job readiness programs, who live in our buildings. They were individually interviewed, went through orientation, and have gotten a gold star of approval,” Dufty said.

San Francisco’s Animal Care & Control, HOPE’s partner in launching the program, also said that PETA’s claims are unfounded.

“You have this image of us pulling up in a van full of dogs handing them out to people,” ACC director Rebecca Katz said. “We would not be putting animals at risk. Our job is to investigate animal abuse and neglect. We are going to have a lot more oversight during this fostering program than if they were to just adopt dogs on their own.”

ACC’s involvement, however, does not lessen PETA’s concerns.

“I don’t believe that people at Animal Care & Control have a lot of experience dealing with people with mental health and addiction issues,” Chagrin said. “You can’t put dogs with people who are battling their own demons.”

PETA’s protests have not slowed WOOF down, which begins its first trial in August with 10 individuals working in pairs with five dogs.

Both Dufty and Katz said they believe PETA’s objections highlight the extreme negative prejudice faced by the homeless, making this program even more important.

“I’m pretty horrified by some of the criticism I’ve seen. They believe anybody who has ever been on the street has mental and addiction issues,” Katz said.

Dufty echoed Katz’s attitude, “In order to be effective in responding to homelessness, you can’t ignore the humanity of people. Ultimately this program is about giving dogs and people a second chance, and I don’t see how you can argue against that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Rescues Unconscious Owner from Oncoming Train

Courtesy Angell Animal Medical Center(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts pit bull named Lilly took on a freight train last week to save her owner, who collapsed unconscious onto the tracks during a late-night walk in Shirley. The 8-year-old dog used her teeth to pull Christine Spain, 54, off the tracks as the train approached. While Spain emerged unscathed, Lilly lost a leg.

The train's engineer, who didn't want to give his name, said he spotted the woman and her dog on the tracks just after midnight on May 3, according to the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He said he tried to stop the train in time, but feared he'd hit them both. When he got out, he found that Spain was unharmed, but the train's wheels had sliced through Lilly's front right leg, which was bleeding heavily.

An animal control officer rushed Lilly to an emergency animal hospital in nearby Acton, where Spain's son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, met them in the parking lot. Lanteigne said he had a feeling of dread as he got out of his car, but Lilly let him know she was OK.

"The first thing I see is just those big, beautiful eyes just looking at me, and next to her, I saw her right front paw was severely damaged," he told ABC News. "I saw her tail wagging the first time right there."

Lanteigne said he rescued Lilly three years ago, thinking she'd make a good therapy dog for Spain, who had battled alcoholism, depression and anxiety for many years. He said Spain doted on the dog, and often defrosted packets of green beans to cut them up and put them in Lilly's food. Eventually, he said, Spain's drinking decreased.

"We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom's life," he said. "My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what pit bulls are truly about. I hope by Lilly going through this, it's going to get other dogs homes."

Lilly underwent two surgeries last weekend at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Steel plates were implanted to repair her fractured pelvis and support her left leg. She now has a long scar where her right front leg was amputated. Angell spokesman Rob Halpin said Lilly's doctors expect she'll be able to walk again, but adjusting to three legs will be hard for the senior dog.

Spain, who Lanteigne said relapsed before her collapse last week upon hearing some bad news, was arrested on the scene and arraigned the following day in Ayer District Court on charges of obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track and animal cruelty, Shirely Police Executive Secretary Ann Whiting told ABC News. Spain was not arrested on any alcohol-related charges, but she was placed in protective custody because of intoxication, said Whiting.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Goes from Craigslist to Westminster

Dan Stallings(NEW YORK) -- The Westminster Dog Show is a celebration of canine entitlement. It is where purebreds are spritzed, shampooed, trimmed and blown dry, where they’re hand-fed steak, dressed in diapers and bowties and followed around with saliva zambonis, but Maverick is an exception. He was found on Craigslist.

“[He] was a rescue that was abused and neglected and in terrible shape,” Maverick’s owner, Dan Stallings, told ABC News.

Maverick’s previous owners kept him in a crate for years. He was so thin you could see his ribs. His nose was infected and he’d chewed his own tail raw, but Stallings nursed him back to health and their bond is now palpable.

Five months after rescuing Maverick, Stallings started entering him in shows, and Maverick started winning, making it to the biggest stage of all.

“I can’t even imagine [if he wins],” said Stallings. “That would really tear me up. I’d be so happy for him.”

As Stallings watched nervously, Maverick and his trainer paraded before the judge Tuesday. But in the end, the judge picked another dog.

“There’s my boy. There’s my boy,” Stallings said, petting Maverick after the defeat. “This is what it’s all about, every day.”

Stallings said he wasn’t disappointed because Maverick in a sense had already won. He had gone from forgotten to unforgettable.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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