Subscriber Services Weather

Friday, July 21, 2006

Owner Blames Training Session for Dog's Death

That's the headline in the Palm Beach Post about a dreadful situation involving a young German shepherd and a trainer using controversial techniques.

The Bernstein family of Boca Raton hired trainer Jill Deringer to get control of a misbehaving Ringo. In the process, the dog died.

As with most stories of this kind, there are two (or more) sides. First read the Post's account (click here), then Deringer's open letter. (It's worth noting that in Florida, trainers aren't licensed).

"The Bernstein's dog Ringo was a tragedy. The Bernsteins did not exercise Ringo properly, meanwhile the dog was chained to the door most of its life.

"When they had many complaints and finally got in touch with me, the severity of Ringo's condition was "Chain Rage". The dog was not walked or exercised properly for fear he would attack animals or other people on their street. He lived a solitary indoor life with lack of socialization.

"This increased his risks of problems when normally exercise was established. This emergency case was heighten for me when the Bernstein's stated to me they were going to euthanize Ringo because of recent aggressive behavior directed towards them or would return him to the rescue organization they received him from.

"I tried to help the Bernsteins and Ringo to not go that route. I have trained many dogs on death row due to aggressive behaviors and prevented the needle.

"I was severely attacked by Ringo and if it wasn't for the greyhound muzzle I had on him, I would have been mauled even more.

"I have worked with many dogs, they are my life. I love dog's very much and I have many clients to prove that. I have never hurt a dog in any form and will continue saving dogs and helping people understand their dogs."

Vicious Dog Pack Attack on a Florida Gator

Perhaps you have seen this; it's been circulating on the Internet. If not, be prepared for a shock.

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator" in it's natural eco-system, can still fall victim to implemented 'team work' strategy, made possible due to the tight-knit social structure and "survival of the fittest pack mentality", bred into the canines over the last several hundreds of years by natural selection.

See the attached remarkable photograph courtesy of Nature Magazine. Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while the remainder of the pack prevents the beast from rolling.

Not for the squeamish or small children.

Tee hee!!

Miami-Dade Animal Services Sets a Record

In June, the Animal Services Department adopted out 538 critters, an all-time monthly high, according to Dr. Sara Pizano, director.

"In October 2005, when we became an independent department, 231 pets were adopted," she notes. "These stats don’t even include those pets [taken by] rescue groups: 219 for June. I want to congratulate the entire ASD staff who has worked very hard to make this happen. We are saving more lives than ever before [but] still have a long way to go."

She also mentioned that Liberty, the injured dog found on I-95 with Highway - whose euthanasia sparked a huge controversy - has finally been adopted. That's a good thing.

So, Does Size REALLY Matter?

I'm not sure, in this case...

Sarah Baird sent these photos, with the note:

My boyfriend and I took our 3-month-old Min Pin to visit the family in Fort Myers. Their 5-year-old Weimaraner, Coby, didn’t like Izzie intruding on his territory, or playing with his toys.

If you want your pet photos on the blog, e-mail them to

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Note to Anonymous (Re: Posting About Documentaries)

Note yesterday's posting about two important but necessary documentaries about the 9 million unwanted pets killed every year in this country because irresponsible pet owners have created an unconscionable overpopulation problem.

An anonymous e-mailer commented: "People like you are why there are starving kids in Africa."

I can only surmise that Anonymous means that people who care about the fate of animals don't care about humans. To which I have to say the following (and if I offend those with differing political views, I'm sorry, but you're welcome to weigh in as well):

Don't be so naive and glib. People who care about animals are not the reason there are starving kids in Africa. There are starving kids in Africa (and all over the Third World) because of international monetary policy, civil wars, climatic conditions like drought and floods (some impacted by the First World's consumption of natural resources), and corrupt regimes' cynical manipulation and expolitation of political and tribal differences.

In my experience, people sensitive to animal-welfare causes are as or more likely to support humanitarian causes as those who see animals as disposable. Compassion for the planet's most helpless creatures, human and animal, is hardly a mutually-exclusive proposition.

Downtown Miami Adoption Event

Today and tomorrow, if you drop by the Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1st St., you'll see a playpen with six adorable, adoptable puppies from the Miami-Dade Animal Services shelter, along with six cute kitties in a crate.

They're the stars of a County Employee Mobile Adoption Pet Event, aimed at placing homeless animals in loving homes. Hours are 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days.

Today through July 29, Animal Services will be collecting clean crates and carriers in preparation for hurricane season. If you can donate one, please bring it to the Clark Center lobby.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Must-Watch Videos

I got an e-mail the other day directing me to a website featuring video clips by an animal-welfare activitist and documentarian. I have to admit, when I saw the content, I stalled. Who wants to think about euthanasia, much less watch it?

But we can't help solve a problem unless we really face it. Every year in this country, an estimated 9 million animals are euthanized. NINE MILLION! That's more than the entire human population of New York, the nation's largest city.

So I recommend going to the website of Joanie Spina, who decided to do something about it. Her production company, Roxie Video Productions of Las Vegas (named for her one-eyed rescue dog Roxie), has made two films about euthanasia. They're heartbreaking, but deserve wide exposure.

Click here to go to the video site to watch short clips. And brace yourself.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pet Pix

The rest of the week, I'll be catching up on the pet photos you've been sending. Here's Ernie, a Hungarian Vizsla. Now, doesn't he just look THRILLED to be wearing antlers? Such enthusiasm.

In his first incarnation, he was Rocky, according to his mom, Shar, who rescued him from the Greater Miami Humane Society.

"Ernie LOVES the water and thinks he's one of the ducks," she wrote. "He's swum across the lake 4 times...and I live on a BIG lake...not connected to any other water and totally surrounded by homes, so I don't worry about gators."

If I were a gator and saw THAT coming toward me, I think I'd make other dinner plans...

Now here's Barlie, a 10-year-old Cairn terrier, enjoying the beach."She is the love of our household," writes Janice Smith. "She has two kids, my 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, whom she has raised."

Hmm. Could be a tv show: Nanny K9-11.

Looks Like the Miami Beach Woof Patrol is Here to Stay

From Yvonne Conza of Woof Patrol - worshipful human of the adorable Pomo - the news that the patrollers' efforts to keep the beachwalk poop-free are paying off.

She'd written to Mayor David Dermer and the Miami Beach commissioners, thanking them for their "continued support of pet owners. Voting in favor of a dog beach at the Land Use & Development Committee meeting was another way of supporting families and tourists so they can enjoy the unique and inspiring setting of Miami Beach.

"Next, we need to be certain that a pet-friendly beach walk becomes a permanent feature of Miami Beach. Therefore, WOOF Patrol is requesting that the expired pet-friendly beach walk program be placed on the Commissioner’s agenda. We’ve created a successful model that assures both the city and non-dog owners that dogs can be on the beach walk without sanitary concerns. Additionally, because of our efforts, the overall cleanliness and maintenance of the beach walk has been greatly improved...

"WOOF Patrol hasn’t stopped there. On top of patrolling the beach walk, we’ve grown to understand that other beach-front critters need to be heard from. Working with the Environmental Division of Miami Beach we developed a sea turtle poster. Animal Fair Magazine will be featuring an article that recognizes Miami Beach and their sea turtle initiatives. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to inform us of your position regarding request to make the pet-friendly beach walk a permanent feature of Miami Beach."

Which, apparently, it will be.

Here's a memo, copied to Yvonne, from Miami Beach Commissioner Saul Gross to Jorge M. Gonzalez, city manager, dated July 17:

Please refer to the September 27 Neighborhoods Committee meeting the issue of making permanent the pet friendly beachwalk.

Based on the excellent job done by the community, spearheaded by the Woof Patrol, in keeping the beachwalk clean during the trial period, I think this pet friendly policy should now be made permanent. Thank you.

Congrats to everyone who's been so dedicated to this cause.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thank You, Thank You

To everyone who sent sympathy and good wishes following my mom's death: I am so, so touched. You can't imagine how comforting I found the messages and e-mails that awaited me this morning when I returned to the office. You also can't imagine how wonderful it was coming home to my pups, who greeted me as if I'd been on another planet for decades.

Among them: Moose (see July 6 posting). Everyone who knows me knew this would happen, but we just can't let him go. Just look at that face and you'll know why. So now we're back up to six. I guess that's the natural order of things.

There's a lot of catching up to do here, which I'll start tomorrow. Again, many thanks for all your kind thoughts.