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Friday, April 07, 2006

You'll Need a Strong Stomach for This, But it's Important

This was sent by a blog reader who wanted to comment on the vicious-breed controversy. She wrote:

"There are good and bad dogs of every breed. Personally, my breed of choice is German Shepherds, who are also on the "bad dog list" (we won't even go there!)

"But what it all boils down to are the people who take these animals and do horrific acts with and to them. After Katrina, look at the numbers of German Shepherds and other dogs that were obviously used as bait dogs in fighting.

"Again it all comes back to the fine group of people who get a thrill when they have an animal that will kill another. And unfortunately, the law pretty much turns its back on dealing with these people. Think about it - if they have such a total disregard for the life or lives of animal(s), what would happen with another human? And the ones who suffer are the breeds that serve as their "tools."'

She attached the following, which nearly made me lose my breakfast but it's a worthwhile effort that deserves attention. It's the tragic story of what happened to a Newfoundland kidnapped by sadists, and a petition in his memory:

Kahn was the beloved companion of the Bradford family of Wetumpka, Alabama. On Feb. 20th, 2004, Kahn was abducted from the Bradford home by criminals who intended to use him as a "training" dog for fighting pit bulls.

Kahn was placed in a pen and attacked, tortured and mutilated by multiple pit bulls trained to attack and kill on command by their human owners. After a long, heroic struggle to survive against overwhelming odds, Kahn was shot to death and left on the side of the road, his usefulness to these criminals at an end. Only the perpertrators of these heinous acts know to what extent Kahn suffered before they cruelly murdered him.

The Bradford family found their beloved gentle giant and family companion laying dead in the gutter, by the side of the road. Kahn was tossed aside like garbage by these sociopathic criminals who mutilated, tortured and murdered him.

Can you imagine the incredible horror and overwhelming grief you would experience if you found somone you loved gone, as a result of a situation such as this? How would you feel? What would you feel? What would you feel like doing? Rage? Anger? Incredible sadness? Incomprehension? What would you tell your son or daughter had happened to their friend and companion? Do you think those feelings would diminish when the criminals who did this received only a $400 dollar fine?

Well, sadly, that's what happened. Adding incredible insult to heinous injury for the Bradford family. The current laws of the State of Alabama classify this type of activity as a Class 'B' Misdeameanor. Any sane, law-biding citizen of our Great Nation can recognize that the criminals who carried out these heinous actions did so in a pre-meditated, cruel and wanton manner with complete disregard for anything other than fulfilling their own perverted, sociopathic desires.

In order to conduct this activity, these criminals had to:
#1.) Find a suitable dog in a pre-meditated search.
#2.) Plan to abduct and obtain the identified dog
#3.) Trespass on Private Property to abduct the animal.
#4.) Break and Enter into a secure area where the animal was restrained.
#5.) Commit theft and larceny to remove the property of the Bradfords from their private property.
#6.) Possess Pit Bull dogs previously trained to attack and kill.
#7.) Possess a previously prepared "pen" or area to place Kahn to allow the planned and pre-mediatated attack, torture, mutilation and murder of Kahn to take place.
#8.) Utilize a deadly weapon and discharge said weapon in such a manner as to cause the death of Kahn.
#9.) Dispose of Kahn's remains in a pre-meditated manner so as to effectuate a hinderance to Legal Authorities in determining the perpatrators identity and location.

All of these pre-meditated criminal activities clearly add up to what can only be charecterized as a pre-meditated criminal conspiracy and enterprise to conduct these unlawful activities. What Prosecuter, Judge and Law Enforcement Authorities would be willing co-conspirators in prosecuting this matter in a way that would culminate in a $400.00 fine?

Many people in a rural community would be predisposed to dismissing any seriousness in prosecution with a statement such as, "It's only a dog..." Criminals who engage in these types of activities are very often predisposed to the gradual escalation in the violent tendencies and behaviors these activities reinforce.

Our legal system's responsibility to our society demands significant punishments for these behaviors. Lack of punishment will only reinforce in these criminals' minds the tacit acceptance by society at large of these sociopathic and cruel behaviors.

Mr. Bradford served his country proudly for over 20 years as a member of the elite United States Navy SEALS. Is this justice in the country which he served proudly for the majority of his adult life? Are these the ideals for which Mr. Bradford and countless others have risked and sacrificed their lives for since the birth of our nation?

The antiquated laws of Alabama currently reflect a turn of the century, agricultural mindset and jurisprudence. Times have changed. Companion animals are not livestock like cattle, pigs, chicken and sheep. The incredible trauma inflicted on a family is not adequately served or protected by these antiquated laws.

This website is our first step in working to achieve JUSTICE FOR KAHN! and all our companion animals. Together, compassionate, caring people can work together and take ACTION to petition elected officials to make CHANGES TO THESE LAWS NOW! We look forward to working to achieve that goal and look forward to YOU, our compassionate friends in helping us achieve that goal.

PLEASE sign Kahn's petition, maybe his death will help the next animal from suffering his cruel fate.
Go to justiceforkahn.bravehost.com.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Defense of Pits (and their relatives)

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to get an e-mail from Liz Balmaseda, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who left the Herald a few years ago. She'd read the story (below) about the Pembroke Pines pit bull shooting and wanted to share her thoughts.

She sent along this picture of her beloved Lola, who'll celebrate her 3rd birthday on April 16. Happy birthday, Lola! (Look at that sweet face)!

Says Liz: "I start my day by reading all the mass emails from this national bully breed rescue network I signed up with. You wouldn't believe the heartbreaking stories. (But so many happy endings, too.) The worst stories are the ones about the growing trend of pitbull-discrimination laws. What a horribly misunderstood breed.

''I'm especially interested in this because I have a gorgeous American Bulldog who is sometimes confused for a pit...She's a mush. A few months ago, we were adopted by a litter of stray kittens that showed up at my front door. I kept two of them, Sugar Ray and Valentine, and got them spayed/neutered. At first I thought I'd have to keep them apart from Lola, but they all seem to love and respect each other. (Okay, Lola would much rather they be puppies, but she's cool...)''

If you have anything to add about this debate, please do (as a comment or to my e-mail: ebrecher@MiamiHerald.com).

Dog Discrimination is the Pits

The jarring story out of Pembroke Pines yesterday about cops shooting a pit bull on private property again highlights an emotional and polarizing issue in the pet-loving community: Are some dogs naturally dangerous? Should dangerous dogs be penalized or banned?

The insurance industry thinks so, and in some places is expanding the definition to include a wide range of breeds.

I remember having a tussle several years ago with my insurance company about my late, much lamented German shepherd, Kendall. She was 13 at the time, and about as dangerous as teddy bear.

But she was a shepherd, a breed unilaterally declared vicious by this company, so common sense be damned; they didn't want to insure me. I finally prevailed because this company had insured every house I'd owned since 1980, and the agent - so rare these days - actually had a sense of loyalty to a long-time customer and made the issue go away.

Here's a recent article from the Boston Globe on the issue, with a link to read the whole story:

Mary Ellis, who has owned Siberian huskies for 25 years, was
incensed when her insurer canceled its policy on her Bridgewater home
even though, she said, she had never filed a claim and her dogs had
never bitten anyone. Ellis was told by Commerce Insurance Company that
her five huskies, a breed described by the American Kennel Club as
''friendly ..."

Here's the article.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Advice from An Expert on Ehrlichiosis

I had a chat the other day with Dr. Sara Pizano, the vet who heads Miami-Dade's Animal Services division, about Ehrlichiosis, the potentially fatal tick-borne blood disease that has afflicted my lab mix, Gracie.

Gracie was deathly ill for a week but seems to have bounced back, thanks to heavy-duty antibiotics. Yesterday, I caught her rooting in a trash can, a sure sign she's feeling better, and today she snatched a squeaky toy away from C.C. She's also eating again with gusto. THAT'S a relief, considering a week ago she was too weak to do any of the above.

Anyway, Dr. Pizano stresses that tick control is key to avoiding the disease, noting that not all ticks are infected.

Frontline, the topical preventative, "is the best you can do,'' though it's not foolproof, she said. "Once they've got [the disease], basically there are three ways it progresses: they get sick immediately or become carriers for months and months, then they get sick. It's a delayed response.

"The two cells it attacks are red blood and platelets. You can get a wide variety of signs because it's a blood disease: anemia, swollen joints, bruising, lethargy. The life-threatening part is anemia. We had one dog present with blood tears in vet school.''

One scary thing is that having had it doesn't confer immunity "because it's not a virus.''

It's especially important to treat the yard in warm weather, she said, so while nobody likes having to use pesticides, it's prudent.

So go forth and spray, and check your animals daily for those yucky little brown monsters, pull them off so you get the head, then drown them in alcohol. Good riddance!

Police Kill a Pit Bull in Pembroke Pines Yard

From today's Miami Herald:

Should a police officer use lethal force to stop one animal that is attacking another animal? It happened in Pembroke Pines, and the case is under review.
BY JENNIFER LEBOVICH
jlebovich@MiamiHerald.com
Pembroke Pines police are reviewing the actions of an officer who shot and killed a pit bull terrier that was ''violently mauling'' another dog on private property, police said.

The officer responded to an anonymous complaint Monday about 3 p.m. that several pit bulls were behaving aggressively at a home in the 9700 block of Southwest 16th Court, according to Pembroke Pines police Sgt. John Jacob.

Four pit bulls were inside a 6-foot-high wooden fence. Three were chained and one was running loose, Jacob said. The loose dog was attacking one of the others, ''causing severe injury and distress to the animal,'' Jacob said.

The owner of the house was not home at the time, police said.

The officer, whose name was not released by police, shot and killed the attacking dog from outside of the fence because it was not safe for the officer to go inside the fence, Jacob said. The pit bull that was mauled died from the attack, he said.

''There is no specific policy on whether or not we can use force against one animal to try and save another animal,'' Jacob said.

The incident is under investigation, and it is also under police administrative review, he said.

An officer with Broward County Animal Care and Regulation Division also went to the home, according to spokeswoman Tarnell Carroll.

The pit bull had already been shot and killed when the animal care officer arrived. The animal control officer wrote the owner, Dionysus Eagle, eight citations for failing to have proper licenses and current rabies vaccinations.
Eagle told Herald news partner WFOR CBS-4 on Tuesday that the dogs are ``like family to me.''

The two dead dogs were taken to a Hollywood animal hospital, and the others were left at the home, Carroll said.

Some legal experts said there is no clear-cut case of whether a police officer can shoot one animal to protect another since laws are usually concerned with the life and safety of people.

Though animal cruelty laws are meant to protect pets from their owners, the laws might come into play when one animal attacks another, said Dawn Capp, the director of Coalition of Human Advocates for K9s and Owners.

If an officer sees two dogs starving, animal cruelty laws allow the officer to enter the property, she said. A situation in which one dog is attacking another could be analogous, said Capp, an attorney in Sacramento, Calif.

''If police see an animal chained being attacked, there are animal cruelty laws that would qualify,'' she said. ``I think there is some duty there to try and intervene.''

Capp emphasized the importance of having trained animal control officers to handle potentially dangerous situations involving animals.

In Pembroke Pines, owners can have no more than three dogs, according to the Broward Animal Care and Regulation website. Owning pit bulls is legal in Broward but illegal in Miami-Dade County, according to Miami-Dade County's site.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Pembroke Pines police at 954-431-2225 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Increased Reward for Return of Sparky, the Seizure Dog

Because of a recent Herald story about the theft of Sparky, 17-year-old Carl Brooks's seizure-detecting dog, his mom's $500 reward for information leading to his recovery is now up to $2,000.

That's thanks to generous readers, according to Dr. Nita Lewis, Carl's mom. Carl, of Homestead, has a severe form of epilepsy, and siezes nearly every day. Sparky, a small, black, 8-year-old poodle mix, had the magical gift of sensing when it would happen, which enabled Dr. Lewis to administer medication sooner that made the episodes less severe. He disappeared from the yard before Christmas.

"I did not ask for donations for this but several people insisted on making donations anyway,'' Dr. Lewis, a single mom and University of Miami chemistry professor told me. "In the event that Sparky is not found, the money will be used to train seizure dogs for epileptics who cannot afford them.''

If you have information that might lead to Sparky's return, call 305-989-0718. For more information about Sparky, visit fidofinder.com, and put ID #21536 in the `Find ID' box.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Humane Society-Adopt a Pet Canine Brunch: What a Hoot!




Bassetts and Yorkies and Scotties, oh my!

They came in matching dog/human outfits, in baby strollers, in dazzling crystal collars, to yesterday's Humane Society of Greater Miami and Adopt a Pet Canine Brunch at the swanky Surf Club on Miami Beach, an annual fundraiser that includes a silent auction and raffle. (Susana Escayola, above, with Blackjack and Poker)

Some 400 people and about half as many dogs dined on a buffet of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, salads, turkey, chopped liver, lox, and outrageous desserts; who even wanted the dog biscuts scattered under the amusing centerpieces of giant white mums turned into doggie faces, with all that fabulous "people food?''

Certainly not the two that my boyfriend, Jake, and I brought from our combined brood: Harley, the wolf hybrid, and Shadow the golden. They were so full that by the time we got home, they were literally belly up on the floor, their tongues hanging out of their mouths.

Everyone behaved wonderfully, though the wait staff had to execute various deft maneuvers to avoid unfortunate encounters of the canine kind.

(Many kudos and much applause went to Roye Levin, Adopt a Pet's founder, for organizing the event (he attended with his beloved dogs Scottie Bonnie, and little Corey, a mixed terrier). He swears it's the last time he'll do it, but I suspect that the pursuasive powers of Humane's executive director, Emily Marquez, will ultimately triumph).

I ran around madly snapping pictures of dogs: under tables, in laps, perched in chairs with white cloth napkins around their necks, and here they are, in two galleries:

First gallery

Second gallery

New Maine Law Shields Animals in Domestic Violence Cases

From the New York Times:

Susan Walsh told Maine legislators a chilling tale in January. She said she had wanted many times to take her two children and leave her husband, ending a relationship she found frightening and controlling.

But she said she was afraid he would harm the animals on their 32-acre plot called Blessed Be Farm in Ellsworth, Me. In the past, she said in a telephone interview yesterday, he had retaliated against her by running over her blind and deaf border collie named Katydid, shooting two sheep and wringing the necks of her prized turkeys.

"It wasn't just the cats and the dogs I had, it was the sheep and the chickens — I was terrified for their welfare," Ms. Walsh, 50, said. "I knew if I were to leave, he wouldn't hesitate to kill them. He had done it before."

Experts on domestic violence say accounts like that of Ms. Walsh, who is now divorced, are not unusual. They say many men who abuse wives or girlfriends threaten or harm their animals to coerce or control the women.

To address the problem, Maine's governor, John Baldacci, signed a bill yesterday that allows animals to be included in protection orders in domestic violence cases.


For the full story, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/01/us/01pets.html?ex=1144558800&en=9558ef831e581311&ei=5070&emc=eta1.