Author Topic: Wolves & Dogs  (Read 57388 times)


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Wolves & Dogs
« on: July 28, 2003, 10:50:06 AM »
To Kill and Be Killed
The Recovery of the West's Wild Wolves Is the Feel-Good Environmental Story of the Past Decade. To Some, There's Just One Problem: The Program Worked a Little Too Well.

By Jim Robbins, Jim Robbins is a Montana-based freelance writer. His last story for the magazine was about coal-bed methane drilling in Wyoming.

One night last January, wolves stole into a pasture at a ranch near Helena, Mont., and dropped a rust-and-white-colored bull. It's no small task to kill a 1,500-pound steer with teeth alone, and for that reason wolves usually take much smaller prey?calves or sheep. It was the only bull killed since the wolves began returning to Montana in 1979.

No one knows exactly how the drama played out, but biologists say two or three hunters from a wolf pack usually kill large prey while the rest look on. The wolves patiently parry with big animals until the animal tires. When they spot an opening, one or two will seize the hind legs with their massive jaws and a third will clamp on the throat. As the animal staggers, snorts and shakes its head, the wolves simply hang on with their crushing bite until the animal bleeds to death or goes into shock.

Payback was no less brutal. The next night the rancher, using a night-vision scope, shot a wolf feeding on his $1,500 bull, mistaking it for a coyote. When he realized he had killed what at the time was an endangered species, he notified Ed Bangs, who is in charge of the federal government's wolf recovery program in the Northern Rockies. The following night, just after dark, Bangs and an agent from the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services?which, among other things, maintains a SWAT team for predators?drove to the ranch. They climbed a ridge, a vantage from where they could look down through their own night-vision scope and see the bull carcass, to which they correctly assumed the wolves would return. Kraig Glazier, the Wildlife Services agent, trained the crosshairs on an animal and squeezed the trigger. The sharp crack of a rifle shot reverberated through the valley. One wolf fell; the rest scattered.

Within a week, all seven wolves in the Castle Rock pack were destroyed, their whereabouts betrayed by a radio collar that had been affixed to one of their own. About the same time, federal agents wiped out four more wolves, part of the Halfway Pack just a few miles to the north, for the same sin. "Once they start actively hunting livestock, there is no choice?we need to use lethal control," Bangs says. But he adds that shooting wolves is important for other reasons as well.

"A little blood satisfies a lot of anger."

The West is getting wild again, and the speedy recovery of wolves, a once-endangered species, has become one of the most controversial wildlife issues in the country. A half century after the gray wolf was dynamited in its den, hunted, trapped and poisoned out of the West with vengeance, it has reclaimed the northern Rockies in spades. Experts say it could, within the next decade, re-colonize parts of Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and perhaps even California. It's one of the fastest comebacks of an endangered species on record, a testimony to wolf reproduction. Bangs' and Glazier's "wolf removal" at the ranch was only temporary?just one day after the last of the offending predators were finally hunted out, four new wolves showed up to start the game all over again.

Canis lupus arguably is the most charismatic of what biologists refer to as "charismatic megafauna"?wildlife with sex appeal and the fierce public support that seldom materializes when the endangered animal is the Wyoming toad or the short-nosed sucker fish. Wolves touch something unfathomably deep in the reservoir of human emotion. That's partly because the wolf is a social animal that many people feel has human-like qualities, such as the way it mates and rears its young. The wolf's homecoming offers tourists and naturalists the breath-stealing sight of a pack of the long-legged hunters loping across a grassy meadow, or sunning themselves, drunk on meat, on a Yellowstone Park hillside.

"When people start talking about wolves, within seconds they are talking about something else?their children's heritage, the balance of nature, someone else telling you what to do," says Bangs, who has spent the past 15 years traveling around the West, meeting with people passionate about wolves. "A lot of people on both sides get tears in their eyes and start sobbing. Managing the wolf is managing a symbol."

But while a wolf's ululating delights some, it chills others to the bone. The brutality of a wolf kill can test the mettle of even some of the most ardent wolf supporters. For example, a saddle horse in the Ninemile, a valley near Missoula, Mont., was apparently set upon by wolves. It galloped away, so frantic and blinded by fear that it impaled itself on the end of a 4-inch-diameter irrigation pipe. It managed to get loose and run a short way before it collapsed and was eaten. Such killings have meant the return of a raw frontier-style brutality to the Rocky Mountain West?not just on the part of the wolves, but also by the people charged with managing them.

The killing by and of wolves has ratcheted up in recent years as the number of wild wolves has grown from several dozen in the 1990s to nearly 700 today, increasing about 30% each year. The wolf recovery program is at a turning point: Federal biologists now consider the wolf a viable species. After 29 years on the endangered species list, it was down-listed in April to "threatened," a final level of protection that the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has taken steps to remove in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by 2004. Management would be turned over to the states and wolves could be hunted as trophy animals or shot by ranchers and homeowners if they attack.

The wolf's aggression is not its fault?the animal does what it's hard-wired to do. But the species has returned to a Western landscape far different than the one from which it was nearly exterminated. While the northern Rocky Mountain region has millions of acres of federally protected wilderness and parks, much of it is snow and ice for many months. Wolves, like people, want to live in more hospitable valley bottoms. The unchecked spread of rural subdivisions, where people raise everything from llamas to horses to potbellied pigs, and where ranchers graze cattle and sheep, are too tempting a target for some wild wolves.

So the species has been allowed to come back on conditional terms. Wolves can run, for example, but they can't hide. There are 43 packs in the three states, with an average of 10 wolves in each pack, as well as numerous loners and pairs. Lone wolves who take livestock are hunted down and killed almost immediately, and trespassing packs are trapped, drugged and harassed. If they continue to range too close to people and their livestock, the wolves are dispatched with extreme prejudice. More than 150 wolves have been killed by federal agents since 1987, something known as "lethal control."

The government's goal is to have at least one member of every pack wearing a radio collar so that the pack's whereabouts can be monitored and recorded. Federal agents can then, if necessary, track and shoot packs, wolf by wolf. The one wearing the collar becomes known, in the words of its hunters, as the "Judas wolf," even if, in this case, the creature isn't aware of its betrayal. "We're not proud of it," Bangs says. "It's a necessary evil."

With such intensive management, some say the Wild West is less than truly wild. But that may be what it takes to maintain the precarious balance between man and nature, for there are many who did not miss the wolf one bit and consider the renewed possibility of the species' extinction a reasonable idea.

In a cold, cavernous metal barn at the Park County fairgrounds in Livingston, Mont., under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights, a panel of ranchers and wildlife experts sits before an audience that consists of mostly men wearing cowboy hats. These two dozen or so ranchers are from the nearby Shields River Valley. Wolves have not yet colonized their neighborhood so these cattlemen have come to the Paradise Valley, north of Yellowstone National Park?a hotbed of wolf activity with four packs?to drink bad coffee and hear what ranching is like with a new predator roaming the hills.

Bangs is first to speak. A smart, affable guy, he managed wolves for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska and learned long ago that his biggest challenge isn't the wolves. It's the people. He offers reason and fact to those on all sides of the issue who are irrational or fearful or deeply concerned, or sometimes hysterical, or accuse him of being a butcher, even the few who have wandered out of the backwoods wearing guns, stinking of bourbon and screaming about black helicopters and government conspiracies. Bangs' rational demeanor calms most of them down, but there still are hotheads. Threats have come his way?including death threats, especially in some isolated places. "We had a saying in Alaska," he says. "People live at the end of the road for a reason."

Tonight's meeting is tense but relatively tranquil. After Bangs speaks, the meeting becomes the equivalent of "Tales From the Crypt" for the agricultural set. Three ranchers whose livestock have suffered wolf attacks quietly relate stories about howling at night, or coming home to find frightened, bawling, huddled cows at the center of a circle of wolf tracks in the snow, of a desperate feeling when they see buzzards circling over their pasture, and of cows who have trampled calves as they fled approaching wolves. Randy Petrich, a lean, young rancher, has shot four wolves under several shoot-on-sight permits issued because of numerous depredations on his ranch.

It's a return to times past. In the late 1800s, ranchers?some of them the ancestors of those on the land now?hired professional exterminators to kill wolves for a bounty of $2.50 apiece. In a good season those "wolfers" earned $3,000. Between 1883 and 1918, 80,000 wolves were dispatched in Montana alone. By the 1930s all but the occasional lone wolf was gone.

But the species found its way back to the West in two ways. In 1979 the first female wandered from Canada down the untamed northern Rockies into Montana near Glacier National Park. Then, in 1995, the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service reintroduced gray wolves from Canada into Yellowstone and Idaho. When the process began, biologists predicted 450 wolves would be in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming by the end of 2002. Right now there are 660, not counting this year's pups.

That may not sound like many wolves spread over that large a region, but they kill often, because each one needs an average of nine pounds of meat a day. They also travel far; each pack has a home range of 250 to 500 square miles. Wolves that kill livestock, however, are a minority. Most stay with a wild diet. But from 1987, when the first attacks occurred, until the end of 2002, wolves have dropped at least 200 head of cattle, 600 sheep, nine llamas, 50 pet dogs and the one terrified horse.

The challenge for biologists now is not to make the wolf population more robust, but to make the species palatable to those who suddenly find themselves in competition with the deadly efficient predator.

A wall of mountains called the Absarokas shoots heavenward and shadows Jim Melin's cattle and sheep ranch in the heart of south-central Montana's Paradise Valley. These mountains are the source of three problems for the Melins: grizzly bears, mountain lions and now wolves. When Melin comes out to conduct a tour of his ranch, his wife and several of their 11 beautiful, smiling, towheaded children swarm out of the trailer as well. The 53-year-old Melin introduces them warmly. "The last three or four I ain't even had a midwife," he says with pride. "Jus' done it myself."

His eldest daughter, 15-year-old Laura Dale, and a sister, 13-year-old Sarah, come roaring up on a four-wheel ATV with a .22 rifle and announce that they've been out "plinking" ground squirrels. "I shot 20," says a beaming Laura, her long blond hair spilling out from beneath a baseball cap.

Melin and his clan have grown up working hard on this beautiful but hardscrabble place. He drives a snowplow and does custom haying to supplement the income from the ranch. He is far more troubled by wolves than he ever was by the grizzly bears and cougars that made their way out of the mountains and occasionally carved up a cow. One night last year, a pack came down and made a mess. When predators start killing, they sometimes lose themselves in the frenzied bloodlust and keep attacking far beyond what they can eat?something biologists call "surplus killing." On the way to move cattle in the morning, the Melin family saw a flock of magpies feeding on 15 dead or dying sheep, their white wool stained with blood.

"A lot of them, the wolves just grabbed and took a chunk out of, and [those] had to be killed," says Melin's wife, Betsy. One of the dead was Percy, a bum, or motherless lamb, raised by the girls' grandmother. "It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck to hear 75 or 80 cows screaming at the top of their lungs," Melin says. "I never heard a cow scream until the wolves came back."

After the kids leave, Melin says he is worried that they will be attacked by wolves on their way to the bus stop or while sleeping outside at night. "It's like the Wild West around here," he says. "When the girls go to baby-sit, they are handed a rifle and told, 'The wolves were up on the porch last night. Be careful.' " He says he can't send his dogs out with the kids?as he does to protect against bears and mountain lions?because dogs attract wolves. Unlike bears and mountain lions, however, wolves are not known for attacking humans. There is no conclusive evidence of a wolf ever killing a person in North America, but there have been attacks.

Melin is heartsick over the return of the wolf and can't understand why anyone with the sense God gave gophers would bring back so vicious a predator. Yet he seems calm as he complains. Faith in God has gotten Melin through some tough times, and it will, he is fairly certain, get him through the test of the wolves. "I got the Lord," he says, pushing the front brim of his cowboy hat up to reveal narrowed blue eyes. "Otherwise I'd like to kill someone."

Ranchers aren't the only ones hopping mad over wolves in the Paradise Valley. Some hunters and hunting guides are furious. Elk, massive and elegant, are a prized big game species outside the northern border of Yellowstone, home to the world's largest elk herd, and hunters from all over the world come to drop one. In recent years the size of the elk herd has fallen by more than half. In 1991 park officials estimated the herd at more than 20,000, perhaps as much as 24,000. This year the count was between 9,000 and 10,000. How much of that decline can be blamed on wolves?

Robert T. Fanning Jr., Bill Hoppe and Don Laubach, all hunters from the Paradise Valley and founders of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, gather for coffee one afternoon to explain that they think this resource is being wiped out as a result of the reintroduction of wolves. "If this isn't eco-terrorism, I don't know what is," Fanning says. While elk numbers are affected by a variety of factors, from drought to grizzly bears, he believes it is the voracious and growing wolf population, with its surplus killing, that is the primary cause.

Theirs may be an extreme view, but Fanning and the others want the federal government to reduce the number of wolves. "No one foresaw that wolves would reproduce like gerbils," says Fanning, spitting the words out like coffee grounds. If officials don't remove wolves, he warns, "people will only take so much" before they rise up. "They will take strychnine and cyanide to the mountains. Ten men can put 1,000 getters [a deadly device that shoots poison into the mouth of a wolf when it eats bait on top of it] in one day and take care of our problem. But we would rather the government take care of it."

The relationship between elk and wolves in the Yellowstone region is complex and, to date, not fully understood, says Doug Smith, the park's wolf biologist, who bristles at unsubstantiated claims about the reason for the decline of elk. First, he says, the count in the early 1990s was probably a record high. Those numbers were thinned by a severe drought, normal population swings and five other predators that prey on elk calves and/or adults. "Disentangling those things is not straightforward," says Smith. "Wolves are not guiltless. But they are not the sole factor."

The unfolding wolf story isn't just playing out on isolated ranches and in rustic Yellowstone. Residents of rural homes, which have blossomed throughout Montana in the past several decades, have discovered, literally, the wolf at their door, with wildlife savagery sometimes playing out in the front yard. The Ninemile Valley, located 300 miles from Yellowstone, is a small slice of heaven and home to another wolf hot zone. A helicopter pilot flying over it once watched as two wolves chased three deer in circles around a house.

Actress Andie MacDowell lived there for several years in the 1990s when the wolves were first colonizing the valley. She spoke out in support, Bangs says, but her enthusiasm waned after wolves slaughtered the two Great Pyrenees guard dogs she had gotten to protect her children. One was found half eaten under the swing set. "She wasn't against wolves after that," says Joe Fontaine, a wildlife biologist who works for Bangs. "She just didn't speak out in favor of them."

Fontaine tools his white government-issue pickup truck down the Ninemile one day and stops at a tiny maroon house. A license plate on one vehicle reads "lma mgc," and Jeri Ball believes the unusual and imperial-looking llamas in her front yard are, indeed, magical. She dresses them in costumes and takes them into schools and nursing homes for educational and therapeutic purposes.

One night earlier this year, some visitors showed up. "Wolves whacked three llamas there," says Fontaine, pointing through the truck's windshield to a pasture in front of the house. "So we got 'em an electric fence."

He gets out of the truck and begins joshing with Gene, Jeri's husband, who works at the local sawmill. When Gene walked out of his house one night, he came face to face with a wolf feeding on his llama. It stared at him. And then continued eating. And there was nothing Gene could do. An element of trying to ease the effects of the wolf's return has been to make the rancher or homeowner feel as if they are not powerless.

Except in extraordinary cases, when someone is issued a shoot-on-sight permit, citizens until recently could not shoot or otherwise harass a wolf?only federal agents could. But since wolves were down-listed from endangered to threatened, civilians have been allowed to shoot them if they are attacking, and can harass them if they come around. Gene has the full complement of equipment, including a radio transmitter in his living room that picks up wolf radio collars, so he knows when the animals are nearby. The electric fence is hot. And now Fontaine is here to show him and a neighbor how to use rubber bullets, which can go through half-inch plywood at 40 yards, to harass wolves.

The government is trying to make sure wolf management doesn't become a free-for-all. If the number of wolf packs in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming drops below 30, wildlife officials intend to reassert authority. They will not allow the wolf to be driven to the brink of extinction again. But removing the animal from the threatened-species list will not be easy. The Republican-dominated legislature in Wyoming wants to classify the wolf as a predator outside of Yellowstone, not a trophy animal, meaning it can be shot by anyone at any time rather than carefully managed. That outrages the large number of Americans who consider killing wolves a sacrilege.

Bangs steers a middle course. As human development sprawls into every desirable ecological niche in America, he says, wolves need to be carefully managed, but not treated as vermin again. If Westerners are ever to accept wolves as their neighbors, he says, those wolves that offend need to be controlled, with lethal means, by hunters and ranchers?by far the cheapest method. Such aggressive control measures may seem harsh, but they may help dampen the growing outcry against the wolves.

Bangs says it's wrongheaded to focus on the fate of individual animals when whole populations are in trouble. Many wildlife biologists constantly fight the sentimental?but biologically unworkable?portrayals in such Hollywood films as "Free Willy" and "Bambi." Killing individual wolves that attack livestock means the population as a whole will be allowed to stay. Nonetheless, Bangs knows the bloodshed has only just begun.

"If you think shooting wolves is bad, wait until we start shooting pups," he says with a grimace.

Environmentalists do not accept the need to kill wolves as a given. Defenders of Wildlife, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental group, has lobbied for years to return the wolf to the Western wilds. To try to make the wolf politically acceptable, the organization has raised more than $250,000 to reimburse ranchers for dead livestock. But that hasn't satisfied ranchers, who aren't fully reimbursed unless they can prove the calf or sheep was killed by wolves. If the carcass gets gobbled up, so does the evidence about the perpetrator. It can be difficult to tell a wolf kill from a mountain lion kill, and a necropsy, a physical examination of the carcass, is critical.

Wolf protection advocates have found some ranchers willing to test their belief that you don't have to kill wolves to keep them away from cattle and sheep. The lower sheep pasture at the Melin ranch recently looked like the opening of a used-car lot, with hundreds of red flags fluttering in the breeze. This is a European innovation called "fladry" that usually scares wolves away for a month or two, until the wolves realize they have nothing to fear. But it's better than nothing and can be used at critical times, such as lambing season.

The Defenders' Wolf Guardian Program in Boise, Idaho, also takes advantage of wolves' reluctance to approach humans. Volunteers, including students and housewives, pay their own way to camp out in remote mountain pastures when flocks and herds are most vulnerable. They track signals from wolf radio collars and when the animals approach, the volunteers whoop it up?yelling, banging pots and pans, firing off cracker shells, says Laura Jones, coordinator of the program.

There are, however, only so many guardians to go around, so the wolf killing continues. It's usually done by Wildlife Services under the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The activity creates such a public-relations problem that the media, which rode with troops in the Iraq war, aren't allowed to see what Wildlife Services is doing to wolves. Teresa Howes, a public affairs officer with the Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins, Colo., refused a request to accompany an agent on a lethal control action. "It's just too emotional," she says.

Bangs says that after 15 years of helping wolves reclaim a place in the West, he has no doubt it was a good idea, despite the number of angry people and the losses of livestock and wolves. For one thing, the wolf has helped restore a natural balance.

"We make decisions and trade-offs all the time," he says. "With any program there are winners and losers. It's important to have some areas as wild as they can be. This is just a tiny slice of the country, but it will always remind us of what we've lost elsewhere."


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Wolves & Dogs
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2003, 04:53:16 PM »
Injured Dog Amazes By Taking Self To Vet

POSTED: 9:50 a.m. EDT August 8, 2003
UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. EDT August 8, 2003

CORBIN, KY -- A clever canine in Kentucky sought out his own medical care by limping to a local veterinarian's office after getting hit by a car, according to a Local 6 News report.

Injured Dog Takes Self To Vet  

The 6-year-old dog, Scooby, ran away from his owners when his collar ring snapped during a recent thunderstorm. As he was running across a road a vehicle hit him, injuring his leg and tail.

Scooby then somehow walked miles to a local animal clinic and was waiting on the doorstep when employees arrived for work.

"He obviously knew this was the place to get help," Scooby's owner Shirley Farris said. "There are subdivisions with hundreds and hundreds of houses between me and the vets office, there are three lanes and there is a mini mall. How he knew to take himself to the vet, I don't know."

Workers said Scooby followed them inside and walked straight into the operating room.

His owner called the vet to tell him she'd lost her dog and was amazed to learn he had taken himself to the right place.

Everyone involved is amazed at Scooby's ability not only to find his way through yards and across roads, but with an injury.

"Scientists will like to say it was the barking and the smell," Corbin Animal Clinic Dr. Gerald Majors said. "But we'd like to think he was smart enough to be here. He's been here a few times, he is smart, he knew us."

Scooby is expected to recover from his injuries.


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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2003, 01:01:50 PM »
False K-9 Records Land Marines in the Doghouse

Six are court-martialed and 11 receive other punishment for lying about the dogs' training.
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON ? Scandal has taken a bite out of one of the Marine Corps' most celebrated units: the K-9 corps.

Six enlisted Marines here have been court-martialed for faking records involving the training of dogs assigned to security duty. Eleven other Marines have been punished.
The most senior of the Marines to stand trial, a staff sergeant, was sentenced Friday to six months in the brig and a bad-conduct discharge. The staff sergeant was also charged with keeping his personal dogs at the base kennel and smoking marijuana off-base. Another sergeant already had been booted out of the Corps in the case.

The Marines insisted that they faked the records because they were assigned too many other duties, such as putting on demonstrations at local schools, to complete the training of their dogs. The problems surfaced when a review last year found discrepancies in the dogs' files.

"These are very serious things," base spokesman Lt. Dan Rawson said. "This speaks directly to the security of the installation and the safety of the Marines here."

The dogs have been shipped back to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where the Department of Defense runs a dog boot-camp. The Marines have all been reassigned. Many were demoted and given extra duty.

New dogs ? German shepherd and Belgian Malinois ? were brought from other bases to act as guard dogs, bomb- and drug-sniffers, and to make perimeter patrols.

The number of dogs working at the sprawling base is classified.

Rawson said new procedures have been adopted to ensure that the dogs are getting continuous training to keep their skills sharp. At no time was security on the base compromised, he said.

Dogs and dog-training are a high priority in the Marines. While all military services employ dogs, none has taken canines to heart as vigorously as the Corps.

Outside the kennel here is a memorial to two longtime Marine Corps "working dogs." At the Navy base in Guam is a granite monument to 25 Marine dogs killed in the World War II battle for that island. Atop the monument is a bronze statue of Kurt, a Doberman credited with saving the lives of 250 Marines when he sniffed out an ambush.

Marines refer to each other as "Devil dogs," a holdover from World War I when German soldiers spoke admiringly of the Marines at the battle of Belleau Wood as having fought as tenaciously as "hounds of hell."

The English bulldog is the official symbol of the Marine Corps, and three bulldogs, including one at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, have official status, including identification cards, service numbers and uniforms.

When Marines from the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force deployed to Iraq, dogs were part of the force assigned to topple the regime in Baghdad.

"Dogs have a long tradition of service," Rawson said. "Those noses are very good. They have lots of capabilities that human beings don't."


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« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2004, 07:24:29 AM »
February 15, 2004   E-mail story    Print  
Breeders Hope Court Will Defang New Shepherd's Critic
Germany's traditional working dog has been made weak by show standards, one expert says. Others call his argument all bark.
By Jeffrey Fleishman
BERLIN ? Helmut Raiser wants the German shepherd to be plebeian and muscular, not a lithe, curvy creature preening and prancing for blue ribbons at dog shows.

This aesthetic desire sparked a dog war when Raiser ? the beleaguered breed warden for the national German Shepherd Assn. ? criticized some kennels for turning out generations of shepherds that looked less like working dogs and more like weak-backed wimps with no calluses on their paws and no grit to their personalities.
This new shepherd, he said, "is a dog in the front and a frog in the back, walking around with a retracted backside as if a brick-stone is hanging from its testicles?. The worst is the emptiness in the heads of these dogs, and the boring and stupid expressions on their faces."

The ensuing growls have yet to quiet.

"Raiser's acting like a dictator," said Clemens Lux, manager of the German Shepherd Assn. based in Augsburg. "We are very sad about it."

In a sense, this dust-up of ego, politics and science reflects the stoicism and spirit with which many Germans define national identity. Like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Richard Wagner and Martin Luther, the shepherd has a cherished meaning in the wider German culture. The dog ? used by police, rescue teams and the blind ? epitomizes a strict work ethic and shows how perseverance leads to excellence.

The debate has turned into a symbolic struggle of sorts between the working and the well-heeled classes. Wealthier shepherd owners, Raiser says, have flocked to the show dog market, even enticing east German breeders, who before the fall of the Berlin Wall bred utilitarian working dogs for border guards and armies. The result, he says, is a delicate, more urbane shepherd with a slanting back and bad hips that mocks the ideals of Max von Stephanitz, who first organized breeders in the late 1890s.

The most recent storm around the shepherd ? the dog's appearance has been argued over for years ? has veered in and out of court since December 2002, when Raiser was elected breed warden, a post that influences canine guidelines across Germany. Raiser's detractors ? whom he calls "that old show dog mafia" ? have twice attempted to unseat him. A court ruling on Raiser's fate is expected in May.

One of Raiser's critics is show dog breeder Juergen Wicht.

"My shepherds are obedient," said Wicht, manager of Team Fiemereck kennels in Bamberg. "They are good workers. They train hard for their titles. Raiser has no idea about breeding. He likes controversy, and he's hurting the image of the German shepherd around the world. If you have a product, you don't talk badly about it."

Raiser scoffs.

"There's a lot of money in show dogs," he said. "The show people want part of this big cake. They've destroyed a lot in the last 30 years. They're producing a lot of German shepherds not worthy of being called working dogs. These dogs have lost their drive and intellectual capacity."

He added: "The anatomy of this new dog has no function. It's handicapped?. It's like if your name was Mitsubishi or DaimlerChrysler. You can't ruin your product. We had the name of the best working dog in the world, then suddenly we had fashion."

Wicht bristles at the suggestion. "Raiser and his followers are envious. My dogs have no problems with their hips."

Lux said Raiser was exaggerating the problems and draping himself in canine righteousness. The German Shepherd Assn., Lux said, has 80,000 members and recognized in the late 1990s that breeding practices by some kennels had to be curbed because their methods were producing "unnatural" dogs. He said only 5% of breeders fit this category.

A top shepherd show dog can sell for about $250,000, compared with about $5,500 for a pedigree working dog.

"We are working against it," said Lux, adding that show dogs with exaggerated features no longer consistently win honors, which will in turn reduce their stud fees and eventually diminish the breed.

"We saw that these dogs can't go a long time with the severe angulations. In the hind section, they are very weak," he said.

The slanting dogs were a sensation years ago when pictures of them arrived from the U.S. and Britain.

"Germans like things from the outside," Lux said. "Germans said, 'That's wonderful. They're so good-looking.' Many didn't think that the shepherd is a working dog?. It's a question now of [how] to reverse the trend. Mr. Raiser's way is ridiculous and very radical. He wants to put dogs he doesn't like immediately out of breeding. But you have to go slowly with breeding cycles."

Raiser, who says the dog community considers him either the "messiah, or the devil," wants to purify the bloodlines and restore the pedigree in the 20,000 shepherd pups born each year in Germany.

"The danger is the health of the dog," he said. "Today's dogs are old by the time they're 4 or 5 years old. They have problems with their spines, skin and fitness. Ask a policeman. They'll tell you these new shepherds can't walk more than four hours. Blind people won't use them because they're unstable."

Seldom at a loss for words, Raiser summed up: "The old show dog camp hope they make me frustrated so I quit. This is war."

and from India one wonders about the offspring of the following alliance:
A five-year-old tribal boy gets married to a female puppy to ward off an evil spell in Kuluptanga Basti in Sarikela-Rajkharsawa district of Jamshedpur. The tribals believe that the ceremony will get rid of evil spell which is supposed to be plaguing the boy. The marriage was solemnised as per tribal-rituals by a female priest. (PTI)


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Wolves & Dogs
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2004, 03:21:40 PM »
This new shepherd, he said, "is a dog in the front and a frog in the back, walking around with a retracted backside as if a brick-stone is hanging from its testicles?. The worst is the emptiness in the heads of these dogs, and the boring and stupid expressions on their faces."

Amen and hallelujah to that, I've had shepards most of my life and when our last one died before christmas, I looked at the skinny hunchbacked creatures that now pass for the breed and decided against getting another one. Instead I have solid little shiba pup who's back does'nt look like a profile of the pyrenees  :D

 It seems that popularity plus the mentality that the show ring develops is a lethal combination for a dog breed.


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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2004, 11:05:32 AM »
A Month After Boat Sinks, Dog Found Alive
From Times Wire Reports

A Labrador retriever was found alive on an isolated cove of a southeast Alaska island more than a month after its owner was given up for dead when his boat sank in rough seas.

Two local fishermen found the dog named Brick on Heceta Island several miles from the accident. The men had known the dog's owner who went down with his boat in late January.
The dog swam to the men's boat and was hauled aboard ? underweight, with an injured leg and matted fur, but wiggling with joy, friends of the fishermen said.

Greg Clark was lost after his 32-foot boat broke apart Jan. 22 on rocks near the west side of the island, within the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest.


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Camp X-Ray's Alsatian
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2004, 07:38:44 AM »
Check out the part about the Dog!
March 12 (Reuters) - A Briton flown home from U.S captivity in Guantanamo Bay says conditions were so inhuman that animals in the prison camp were given better treatment than the detainees, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Friday.

Jamal al Harith, 35, was the first of five men to go free on Tuesday shortly after the group landed at RAF Northolt air base in west London having been handed over to British custody by the United States. The others were released on Wednesday.

"They actually said that -- 'You have no rights here'," Harith, from the northern city of Manchester, told the Daily Mirror. "After a while, we stopped asking for human rights -- we wanted animal rights.

"In Camp X-Ray my cage was right next to a kennel housing an Alsatian dog. He had a wooden house with air conditioning and green grass to exercise on.

"I said to the guards, 'I want his rights' and they replied, "That dog is a member of the U.S army'."

Held in captivity for two years, Harith also said he was assaulted with fists, feet, knees and batons after refusing a mystery injection.

"One of them attacked me really hard and left me with a deep red mark from my backbone down to my knee," he told the Daily Mirror. "I thought I was bleeding, but it was just really bad bruising.

"The whole point of Guantanamo was to get to you psychologically. The beatings were not nearly as bad as the psychological torture -- bruises heal after a week -- but the other stuff stays with you."

A further four Britons remain at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. Washington says they are more dangerous than the five it decided to send home, who have all been released without charge.
C-Bad Dog, Lakan Guro DBMA


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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2004, 11:11:14 AM »
Persevering After a Bloody Attack
 An Orange woman, 91, lost her arms, but not her independent spirit, in a rampage by a family pit bull.

By Jean-Paul Renaud, Times Staff Writer

Her garden has wilted. The flowers Ruby Sharum tended so zealously outside her manila-colored stucco house in Orange have withered away.
And she will never again know the prick of a thorn or feel dirt through her fingers.

A month ago, Sharum, 91, was attacked by her great-grandson's pit bull while she put away groceries. She not only lost both arms, but also much of the independence that her friends and family say she has shown her entire life.

Sharum now lies in a hospital bed at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, flanked by carnations in florists' vases. The great-grandmother of 13 ? who until recently not only took care of her garden but still drove a car ? now needs help for the most basic activities: walking, eating, drinking.

"It's the most terrible thing that can ever happen to a person that has so much independence," said her son Ken Sharum, 71. "I can't imagine ever existing that way."

Still, friends and family say they are amazed at how much she has improved. Her doctors credit her strong religious faith for her ability to cope and move on.

"She's the model for all the rehab patients we have, with the will and the strength that she has," said Sharum's doctor, Michelle Thai.

Sharum said she has accepted her new disability and is eager to learn how to adapt.

"Whatever comes, I feel you have to make the best of it," she said. "I kind of look forward to the therapy because I know it's necessary to help me."

But the memories of that cold night Feb. 13 still haunt her, no matter how much she tries to hide it from her family and friends. Thai said Sharum suffers post-traumatic stress, experiencing flashbacks to the day the pit bull, Zion, lunged at her.

"If I could forget, I would be better off," she said, with only the smallest tremor in her voice. "All I remember is that we were putting away groceries. The next thing I knew, he was tearing into me."

The attack was witnessed by Sharum's granddaughter, who ran to neighbors to summon help. Eventually, family members and neighbors were able to pull the dog away, but by the time police arrived, Sharum was badly hurt.

Sharum was rushed to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where her arms were amputated above the elbow. She remained there for three weeks before being transferred to St. Jude for rehabilitation. Pain medication kept her from understanding much of what had occurred, she said.

And when she regained consciousness and realized her injuries, "it was a terrible shock ? thinking that if I recover, what am I going to do without arms, hands," she said.

Her longtime friends say the stoic response is just like Sharum. They say she never indulges in self-pity and may be going through more pain than she will ever admit.

"Sometimes you visit people and they go on and on about their history, but with Ruby you don't know much," said June Watanabe, who has known Sharum through church for 14 years. "The quieter, the stronger. She'll sit there, grin and bear it."

And it is that reticence that kept friends and family from understanding the danger Sharum faced at home every day. She shared the house with her granddaughter. At times her great-grandson, who kept Zion and a Rottweiler at the address, also was there.

The week after the attack, Orange County Animal Care Services officials said it was not the first time Zion had caused trouble. Neighbors felt constantly threatened by the pit bull, and authorities said it had attacked other dogs in Sharum's house on several occasions. Zion was euthanized the day after the attack on Sharum.

Sharum doesn't acknowledge seeing any of that. Zion had "just been the perfect pet," she said. "We never thought that he'd wind up doing anything like that."

The Orange County district attorney's office has asked Orange police to investigate whether Sharum's great-grandson Ian Buckhard, who owned the dog, should be held criminally responsible. Buckhard could not be reached for comment.

Although Sharum doesn't blame anyone other than the dog for the attack, her son feels very differently.

"I was upset at the great-grandson for having the dogs," said Ken Sharum. He said the family holds Buckhard responsible.

"Maybe this is something I could've prevented, had I been more insistent," he said.

Doctors said they expect Sharum to recover. The family is already looking into getting her prosthetic arms. Doctors believe such devices will restore much of her beloved independence.

Sharum has agreed to move in with her son in southwest Riverside County and is already setting tasks for herself. "I think that carpet needs to be cleaned," she said.


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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2004, 04:52:38 AM »
Press Releases

For More Information, Contact:
Anne Robertson(602) 664-1218

Portable D.A.P.? Now Available to Ease Travel Stress and More

Portable D.A.P.? Now Available to Ease Travel Stress and More

PHOENIX, Ariz. ? (Jan. 12, 2004) Veterinary Products Laboratories (VPL) will introduce the newest addition to its revolutionary canine behavior modification line, D.A.P.? (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) Spray at the North American Veterinary Conference January 17 - 21 in Orlando. VPL debuted its D.A.P.? diffuser and Feliway? cat pheromone spray and diffuser last year.

Owners seeking ways to calm their dogs during travel can look to this spray version of the anti-anxiety pheromone. Now, D.A.P. can be sprayed in the car, in the carrier, in the crate, on bedding and in kennels, or even on a bandana adorning the dog?s neck.

?Now there?s a pheromone for every occasion,? said Audra Boyd, marketing manager for VPL?s pheromone products. ?Dog owners who dread the trip to the vet because their pets become agitated, or who wonder whether their animal will stay calm during visits to friends and relatives, now have a spray that can come along for the ride. And today, with so many pet-friendly hotels and resorts offering options for travelers, more people are opting to bring their dogs along on vacation. The spray version of D.A.P. provides a versatile solution for pet owners.?

The pheromone therapy reduces or stops symptoms of stress that include: barking, house soiling, whining, whimpering, and chewing. It also helps comfort dogs that are newly adopted, moving to new homes, adjusting to new pets, visitors and environments, or those frightened of thunderstorms and fireworks.

Veterinarian-developed D.A.P is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the natural appeasing pheromone released by the lactating female to calm and reassure her puppies. D.A.P. has the same effect on adult dogs, providing a means for managing canine anxiety, fear, stress or phobias. Owners should spray D.A.P at least 20 minutes prior to loading the dog into the car or crate. Once owners arrive at their destination, they should spray D.A.P. twice a day in the area occupied by their pet. In addition to the spray, the D.A.P. diffuser plugs into an electrical outlet, delivering the pheromones 24 hours a day for approximately 30 days.

For more information about Veterinary Products Laboratories - Innovative Products in Veterinary Medicine?, call toll free at (888) 241-9545 or direct at (602) 207-2158 or go to on the Internet.


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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2004, 11:29:57 AM »
Justices: Are Dog Searches Police Searches?
By David G. Savage, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON ? Drug-sniffing dogs are among the most useful weapons in the government's war on drugs, but the Supreme Court said today that it will decide whether the use of a sniffing dog amounts to a search by the police.

The Constitution forbids "unreasonable searches" by the police, and the high court in the past has said officers may not search a car for drugs unless they have some reason to suspect the motorist is breaking the law.

In November, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out drug charges against a motorist who was stopped for speeding on Interstate 80. After one officer had stopped the car, a second police officer arrived and circled the car with a "drug detection dog." When the dog smelled something in the trunk, the officer opened it and found marijuana. The motorist, Ray Caballes, was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In reversing his conviction, the Illinois court in a 4-3 decision said the "canine sniff" amounted to an unjustified search.

Today, however, the Supreme Court said it would hear the state's appeal in Illinois vs. Caballes.

State prosecutors asked the high court to rule that a dog sniffing the air does not amount to a search.

"A canine sniff is not a search under the 4th Amendment," said Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan in her appeal.

She cited decisions involving luggage and highway checkpoints in which the justices said that the use of a drug-sniffing dog did not invalidate a legitimate search.

Moreover, a sniffing dog does not violate anyone's right to privacy, she said, because dogs simply detect odors in the air.

"Drug detection dogs have become an effective and widely used law enforcement tool," she said.

They have been used at airports to sniff baggage and in some high schools to detect drugs in lockers.

Despite approving comments in their past opinions, the justices have not ruled squarely on whether a sniffing dog amounts to a search by police.

In the Illinois case, the state judges said that while officers had the full authority to pull over a speeding motorist and to ask him questions, they did not have the authority to bring in a drug-sniffing dog to check the vehicle. "Calling in a canine unit unjustifiably broadened the scope of an otherwise routine traffic stop into a justification," the state Supreme Court said.

If the high court were to uphold that decision, it could limit the use of drug-sniffing dogs to situations where the police have reason to suspect that drug laws are being violated. However, if the high court disagrees and rules that the use of a drug-sniffing dog is not a search, the decision could give police greater leeway in using canines as drug detectors.

The case will be heard during the fall.


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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2004, 11:35:21 PM »
"In November 1923, a puppy was born in Akita Prefecture which showed great promise of being of true Akita type.  At the age of two months it was sent to Professor Eizaburo Ueno in Tokyo, who had long coveted a fine Akita dog.  The Professor named the puppy Hachi, and called him Hachi-ko.  At that time, Professor's Ueno's residence was in a suburb of Tokyo in the vicinity of Shibuya Station, and he commuted by train from that station to the agricultural experimental station at Nishikebara where he worked.  Hachi-ko accompanied his master in the morning and in the evening as he went to and from work.  On May 21, 1925, when Hachi-ko was one and one-half years old, he was at Shibuya Station as usual, waiting for his master's arrival on the four o'clock train.  Professor Ueno would in fact never arrive, as he had been struck down by a fatal stroke at the University that day.  Hachi-ko was cared for by relatives and friends of the family, but he continued to go to Shibuya Station each day to await his master's arrival.  Hachi-ko's vigil continued until March 8, 1934, when at the age of 11 years and 4 months he died, still waiting in vain for the return of his beloved master."


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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2004, 11:00:46 AM »
Dog Ban Reversal Saves Pit Bulls, Angers City
Denver residents balk at governor's last minute reprieve.
By David Kelly, Times Staff Writer

DENVER ? Freshly sprung from dog pound death row, Buddy the bull terrier sauntered along a rainy sidewalk pausing here and there to sniff a tree or water a lawn.

"Yep, it was curtains for Bud," said Ben Wilson, as he watched his pet savor his newfound freedom. "I'd go to the pound every day and rub his belly and then have to leave. He was so depressed."

Buddy, who resembles a fire plug with legs, was slated for death when he was granted a last minute reprieve by Colorado Gov. Bill Owens who signed a bill April 21 outlawing bans on pit bulls and related breeds, calling such measures "doggy profiling."

But the new law, and Denver's reaction to it, has caused much snapping and snarling between local officials, dog lovers and civil rights advocates.

Denver City Council, which banned pit bulls in 1989 after a series of deadly attacks and maulings, authorized its city attorney on Monday to sue the state for violating the community's home rule responsibilities.

Dog advocacy groups said they would take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court if Denver prevailed. And a local lawyer said that profiling dogs has led to profiling owners.

"I can't complain about the dog law but I can complain about the guy on the other end of the leash," said lawyer David Suro, who represents a Latino whose dog was picked up. "Of the 1,000 people charged with pit bull violations in the last five years, 62% are Hispanic."

He plans to file a motion in municipal court claiming the city is targeting Latino dog owners.

Denver is not alone in banning the dogs ? Miami, Cincinnati and a number of smaller cities have too. If a pit bull is seen in Denver, the owner is given a warning to move it outside city limits. If it's spotted again, it is taken to the pound where it could be euthanized. Since the ban took effect, hundreds of the dogs have met that fate.

"It's impossible for any species of dog to be genetically dangerous. They can be aggressive due to their environmental conditions," said Glen Bui, vice president of the American Canine Assn. in Seattle which has fought breed bans around the country and wants to do the same in Denver. "This gives Denver a false sense of security. It's the attempted genocide of a breed of dog."

But city officials say everyone else should butt out.

"Tell me please if there is anything more local in government than a dog catcher?" asked Charlie Brown, a city councilman. "We do not have state dog catchers in Colorado, we have city dog catchers that we pay for. We have the right to create our own ordinances based on Denver's dog problems. It's time to draw a line, and I am drawing it in front of the dog pound."

Denver's ban went into effect after pit bulls, in separate attacks, mauled a local minister and killed a 5-year-old boy. Neighborhood groups demanded action from the city, leading to tense debates over whether pit bull behavior was a matter of training or instinct.

"It was very heated on both sides," recalled Cathy Reynolds, a city council member at the time. "These animals had become notorious in the neighborhoods for their attacks."

The ban covers the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier and the Staffordshire bull terrier.

In November, three pit bulls in rural Elbert County south of Denver killed a woman and seriously injured two others before they were shot by sheriff's deputies. The lack of such attacks in Denver, City Council members said, is evidence the ban is working.

Karen Delise, author of the book "Fatal Dog Attacks," said about 20 people a year are killed by dogs nationwide and the chance of it happening again in the same city or county was akin to lightning striking twice in the same place.

Delise, who collects data on dog attacks, said there were at least 2 million pit bulls in the United States. Some are trained to fight but she said there was no evidence that pit bulls in general were inherently vicious or more prone to attack than other dogs.

"When I call around the country and hear the shelters are full of these dogs it gives me the message that there are too many pit bulls and too many irresponsible owners," she said. "Banning a breed puts the focus on the dog and you are ignoring the real factors that contributed to its behavior."

Buddy, the dog pardoned by the governor, is an 8-year-old, 35-pound Staffordshire bull terrier who has not hurt anyone. Wilson would walk him in Denver's Washington Park drawing stares and occasional warnings from locals about the ordinance.

"I couldn't believe the city would actually enforce it," he said.

One day Buddy escaped from the yard and was picked up by animal control. Wilson's dog was returned with a warning to move it out of the city. He put Buddy up for adoption but didn't like the looks of those wanting to take him, suspecting they planned to train him as a fighting or attack dog.

Then two weeks ago, his wife was in the backyard planting flowers when animal control officers showed up and spotted the dog.

"They took him away," Wilson said. "I couldn't believe it."

Wilson, 33, wrote letters, contacted lawyers and e-mailed Republican State Rep. Debbie Stafford from nearby Aurora. Stafford was sponsoring a bill that would stiffen civil penalties on dog owners whose animals attack. It contained a provision forbidding breed bans.

"I think breed bans are horrible," Stafford said. "Denver has killed thousands of innocent family pets. Last year alone, it killed 410 pit bulls that never hurt anyone."

Stafford rushed the bill through the legislature hoping to head off Buddy's scheduled April 30 demise. The governor signed it into law last month, saving Buddy and 21 other dogs.

For now at least, the squat pooch is wallowing in the bosom of his family. He rolled on Wilson's living room floor, shook off the rain and propped up his big square head to be patted.

Wilson happily obliged.

"See," he said. "He's a lover, not a fighter."


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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2004, 11:41:57 AM »
Man's best friend but insurers' foe

Their Assembly bill has failed, but dog lovers continue to rail against breed discrimination.
By Jeff Bertolucci, Special to The Times

In the 1976 apocalyptic horror flick "The Omen," a snarling Rottweiler protects the antichrist child Damien Thorn, allowing him to unleash his devilish proclivities on a naive world. The beast is Damien's pet, and no one in the film questions the wisdom of allowing the menacing canine to roam the halls of the Thorn mansion.

Update the plot to 2004, however, and the family's insurance agent probably would have an opinion. Indeed, two of the five largest in California ? Allstate and the California State Automobile Assn. ? deny homeowner policies to owners of large-breed dogs they deem to be overly aggressive, such as the Akita, boxer, chow, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler, pit bull, Presa Canario and wolf hybrid.

Many other insurers, including the Automobile Club of Southern California, Mercury Insurance Group, Hartford Financial Services Group, Travelers and Wawanesa Insurance, have canine blacklists as well.

The breed-discrimination policies have drawn a backlash from dog enthusiasts and others. A recent bill introduced in the California Assembly to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue a homeowner policy to owners of certain breeds failed in committee.

Both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States believe insurers unfairly target specific breeds without taking into account an individual dog's disposition or whether its owner is a responsible caretaker. They also claim a growing number of dog owners nationwide are being denied homeowners insurance based solely on the breed of their pet.

"It's a growing trend over the past five to 10 years," said Eric Sakach, director of the Humane Society's West Coast office in Sacramento, who has received at least 50 recent letters from Californians whose homeowner insurance wasn't renewed because of their choice of dog.

However, it's difficult to estimate the number of people who, at their insurer's insistence, are surrendering their dogs to animal shelters.

"People aren't bringing in animals and saying, 'Look, I'm getting rid of it for insurance reasons,' " said Kaye Michelson, spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Animal Control, which operates six animal shelters in the county.

Lt. Dennis Carter of the Carson Animal Shelter agrees. "People don't like to admit why they're turning the dog in. They won't say, 'I'm turning this dog in because my insurance is too high.' They just say, 'I've got to get rid of my dog.' "

But at the Burbank Animal Shelter five people have brought in their dogs this year "because the insurance company said they couldn't keep them," reported Lt. Bruce Speirs.

Insurers, for the most part, are upfront about their dog policies. Mercury Insurance steers clear of pit bulls, Presa Canarios and sometimes Rottweilers. Auto Club of Southern California adds a few exotic breeds to its blacklist, including the Karelian Bear Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Russo-European Laika.

Companies look for breeds that "have demonstrated dangerous tendencies," said George Joseph, Mercury Insurance chairman and chief executive. "The pit bull, he's the worst of all. And the Presa Canario shouldn't even be legal."

The Presa Canario, a stocky, barrel-chested breed, gained national notoriety after two Canarios mauled a San Francisco woman to death in the hallway of her apartment building in January 2001.

Dog-bite claims cost the insurance industry more than $345 million in 2002, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit trade group funded by insurers. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites; half of those victims are children. About 12 Americans die each year in dog attacks. And of the 238 dog-attack fatalities in the U.S. between 1979 and 1998, more than half involved three breeds: pit-bull type, 66; Rottweiler, 39; and German shepherd, 17.

Is the dog-bite problem as serious as insurers claim?

"My hunch is that, as always with these insurance mini-crises, the truth lies somewhere in between," said Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group in San Francisco. "There probably are somewhat higher incidences of claims among breeds but not enough to justify the extreme overreaction that insurers are having."

Dog proponents believe that homeowners are being unfairly punished for the handful of horrific dog attacks that make headlines.

"Most bad dogs are the result of irresponsible owners," said Sakach of the Humane Society. "It's important to look at who's in charge of the animal."

Dog owners who wouldn't consider giving up their pet ? an animal they consider a loyal family member ? are left scrambling to find homeowner coverage when an insurer shuts them out.

Gloria Kepler, a resident of La Habra Heights, an upscale, semirural community of ranch homes 25 miles southeast of downtown L.A., was denied homeowner coverage by Mercury Insurance when the company's inspector spotted her four dogs, including three bulldogs and a boxer.

"They're all house dogs. We don't have dogs prowling the property," Kepler said. "We've never had a claim, and we've been in this house for 18 years."

But Mercury Insurance's Joseph supports his firm's policies. "There are breeds that are questionable," he said. "We send somebody out to see what the dogs are like."

Some insurers focus more on the individual dog than the breed itself. State Farm, for instance, doesn't discriminate against certain breeds, according to company spokeswoman Ena Alcaraz. But if a dog-bite claim is filed, a State Farm inspector will come to the house and evaluate the dog. If the animal is deemed aggressive, State Farm can have dog coverage removed from the homeowner's policy.

Farmers Insurance Group takes a similar approach. "If your dog bites someone, we'll ask you to exclude it from the policy," said company spokeswoman Mary Flynn in Los Angeles.

But even insurers without dog blacklists shy away from certain breeds.

"The pit bull is going to raise a red flag, but that doesn't mean an automatic rejection," said Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. spokesman Kevin Craiglow in Columbus, Ohio. Similarly, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. doesn't have an outright prohibition against pit bulls and Rottweilers, but it "tends to avoid issuing policies with those breeds in the house," said spokesman John Kozero in Novato, Calif.

A recent attempt to outlaw dog-breed discrimination in California, Assembly Bill 2399, failed to pass the Assembly's insurance committee in early May. Introduced by Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Ca?ada Flintridge), the bill would have prohibited insurers from refusing to issue a homeowner policy to owners of certain breeds.

It also would have allowed insurers to charge a higher premium for breeds considered dangerous and would have mandated a premium discount for dogs that pass the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen obedience program.

The insurance industry lobbied against AB 2399, strongly objecting to the good citizen discount.

"We don't have any actuarial evidence to justify such a discount. There's nothing in underwriting that would take into account a canine good citizen," said Jerry Davies, spokesman for the Personal Insurance Federation, an industry lobbying group in Sacramento.

The bill isn't dead but will be revised. "It's hit a large obstacle. We're going back to the drawing board," said Liu spokeswoman Candice Chung.

What's a workable alternative to breed discrimination? Dog advocates believe insurers should take into account the actions of a dog's owner. Canines that have been spayed or neutered, that live inside the home with humans, that are licensed, vaccinated and have undergone obedience training, are far less likely to show aggressive behavior, said the Humane Society's Sakach.

"If someone can show they've accomplished these things with their dog, there's no reason they should be penalized," Sakach said. "It's unlikely their dog is ever going to cause a problem."

What can homeowners with blacklisted breeds do?

One option is to shop around for a company that doesn't breed-discriminate. Lying to an insurer about your dog isn't a good idea, because the company's adjuster will probably inspect your property and discover the truth.

"If you have a dog that is specifically excluded under your policy," said Bach of United Policyholders, "I would try to find coverage elsewhere."


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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2004, 10:29:56 PM »
This Dog's Way With Words Turns Fetch Into Child's Play
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer

Dog owners have long suspected it and now German scientists have proved it ? dogs can have a large vocabulary and learn new words in a manner previously thought to be unique to humans.

They can't speak, of course, but dogs can understand much more than previously believed, and can learn and retain new words with a facility nearly equal to that of a 3-year-old toddler, the researchers report in today's edition of the journal Science.

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig studied a border collie named Rico that had a vocabulary of at least 200 words and was adept at using them. While Rico may be the Einstein of dogs, the researchers said, other dogs, and perhaps even other animals, may have a similar ability.

"We wonder what prevents animals from speaking. The limitations are not their capacity to hear or understand," psychologist Julia Fischer told a news conference in Berlin.

Pet owners already know that dogs ? and other animals ? can respond correctly to spoken commands. Research also has shown that other animals, including apes, dolphins and parrots, can understand as many words as Rico does. But those animals typically learn words by repetition and reward.

The new findings suggest that some animals may possess a higher-level language ability that allows them to acquire and process words like humans, eroding the belief that humans are unique in language ability.

Rico appears to use a technique called "fast mapping," which young children use to learn new words by matching them to new objects. Fast mapping had not previously been demonstrated in animals.

"Rico's word-learning abilities surpass those of nonhuman primates such as chimpanzees, who have never demonstrated this sort of fast mapping," said psychologist Paul Bloom of Yale University, who wrote a commentary about the study in the same issue of Science.

Nine-year-old Rico is owned by Witold Krzeslowski and Susanne Baus of Dortmund. Baus told the news conference that she began teaching Rico the names of objects, mostly toys, when he was 10 months old and was laid up for nearly a year after a shoulder operation.

"At the start, it was three to four objects, but it has risen to 200 or 250," she told reporters. "I don't know what the limit might be, but we've now run out of space."

Some of the items have German names, such as Zitrone (lemon) and Kaninchen (bunny). Others have English names, such as Mr. Green, Seahorse and Big Mac, so Rico might be said to be bilingual.

Rico came to Fischer's attention when he appeared on the European television show "Wetten Das?" ("You Want to Bet?") and astounded the audience with his ability to fetch specific items. Fischer received permission to test Rico in the owners' home.

Fischer designed the studies carefully to avoid the possibility that Rico was taking conscious or unconscious cues from his owner. That phenomenon is known as the Clever Hans effect, after an early-20th century horse who was thought to be performing mathematical calculations but was actually picking up subtle cues from his questioner.

In a typical test, the researchers would place 10 items in a room in the house while Rico and his owner waited in another room. Rico would then be told to fetch an item while the humans waited out of sight. Rico retrieved the correct item 37 out of 40 times.

He also responded correctly when told to put the item in a box or deliver it to a specific person, indicating that he understood that the words corresponded to specific objects.

Going one step further, the team then placed a new item that Rico had never seen in the room along with six of his toys and told him to fetch the new toy using a new name. Seven out of every 10 times, Rico returned with the correct object.

"This tells us that he can do simple logic," Fischer said. Rico apparently concluded that the unknown name referred to the unknown object.

When tested again a month later with several of the previously unknown objects, Rico was correct half the time. "This retrieval rate is comparable to the performance of 3-year-old toddlers," the researchers wrote.

"Such fast, one-trial learning in dogs is remarkable," according to Katrina Kelnar, Science's deputy editor for life sciences. "This ability suggests that the brain structures that support this kind of learning are not unique to humans."

But Bloom cautioned that Rico's understanding was still very limited. "Children can understand words used in a range of contexts," he said. "Rico's understanding is manifested in his fetching behavior."

He conceded, however, that Rico's feats were impressive.

"Perhaps Rico is doing precisely what a child does, just not as well," he said. "A 2-year-old human knows more than a 9-year-old dog, after all, and has a better memory, and a better ability to understand the minds of adults. Rico's limitations might reflect differences in degree, not in kind."

Biologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh of Georgia State University, who has taught a bonobo ape named Kanzi many symbols that it uses to communicate, said Thursday that she had obtained similar results with two dogs but had not published them.

She thinks that Kanzi, Rico and other animals probably understand words well enough that they could speak if they had the proper vocal apparatus. Rico might already be trying to speak, if only we could understand him, she said.

So dog lovers may have been right about the animals all along.

"Dog owners often boast about the communicative and social abilities of their pets," Bloom said. "This study seems to vindicate them."


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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2004, 10:30:11 AM »
July 26, 2004   E-mail story  
Mexican Puppy Mills Breed Grief in Southland
 Owners learn too late that their new pets are diseased or too young to survive on their own.

By Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO ? Smugglers are flooding the Southern California pet market with disease-ridden puppies from Mexico, prompting law enforcement crackdowns, raising public health concerns and breaking the hearts of owners who watch their dogs die, often within hours of buying them.

Animal control officials estimate that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of puppies have died since an underground market, stretching from puppy mills in Mexico to street corners in San Diego and Los Angeles, was uncovered last year.

The puppies ? usually small breeds like poodles, pugs and Chihuahuas ? are typically sold through newspaper ads to bargain-seeking buyers who pay cash. The dogs, bundled in hand crates, appear healthy.

But some suffer from parvovirus, distemper, scabies and other hard-to-detect ailments. Separated from their mothers too early, some die from starvation because they are so young they lack teeth to chew food. Such very young dogs also often fall prey to diseases because their immune systems are not fully developed.

Marietta Ruttan of Oceanside paid $600 to a Moreno Valley woman for a Maltese puppy that died less than one day after the purchase. "I tried to cuddle and cradle it, and be good to it, but it wouldn't eat, move or do anything," Ruttan said. "I was going to name it China but it didn't live long enough," she said.

The "puppy conspiracy," as some call it, first came to authorities' attention last year when complaints started flooding in to local law enforcement agencies. Officials in the tight-knit community of animal control agencies began hearing similar stories.

After answering ads hawking puppies in local newspapers, buyers meet sellers in out-of-the-way public places. The sellers, carrying the puppies in crates, don't take checks. Sometimes they follow people to their ATM machines before handing over a pup for cash.

Excitement often turns to grief as buyers watch their puppies slow with sickness. Telephone calls to the sellers go unanswered. The sellers, who frequently use disposable cellular telephones, disappear.

U.S. Customs agents, responding to requests from local agencies, have added sick puppies to their list of contraband items, like drugs and weapons, for which they search vehicles crossing the border at San Ysidro. Agents have found puppies stuffed in packing crates and hidden away in spare-tire wheel wells. If puppies appear distressed, agents give them to animal welfare agencies. Drug-sniffing dogs sometimes alert agents to their sick canine cousins.

"We're big fans of dogs, and we hate to see sickly, very young pups crammed into little spaces," said Vince Bond, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Since April, about 50 people trying to bring in puppies have been stopped. Many are let through if they have a few dogs and carry the proper paperwork, which includes proof of vaccination. But others are turned back.

Last week a young man from Tijuana was caught trying to bring in 11 puppies at 4:30 a.m. They were packed in two crates and covered under clothing. He said he planned to give them to relatives. Instead, the puppies were given to the San Diego Humane Society, where six have died of parvo-related illnesses. The man was cited and fined $2,200.

"It's awful that people do this," said Vanessa Frazier, an animal-care attendant, as she cradled a nearly motionless, brown-haired cocker spaniel in the agency's dog isolation room. In the next cage, four Maltese puppies ? their grimy hair shaved clean ? trotted about and seemed to be recovering. The cocker spaniel's prospects, however, appeared bleak.

"I don't think he's going to make it," Frazier said.

The puppy pipeline from Mexico is apparently filling a tremendous demand in a long-maligned industry. Animal control experts discourage people from buying puppies in pet stores because they say many of the animals come from poorly run puppy mills in the Midwest.

Reputable breeders are recommended, but those puppies often cost more than the Mexican puppies, which cost from $300 to $700. Also, small breeds are sometimes hard to find in animal rescue shelters. For the puppy brokers, showing off a fluffy coat seals the deal.

"There is no such thing as an ugly puppy," said John Carlson, director of San Diego County's North Regional Animal Shelter. "It's almost like drug peddling, except that it's not illegal to possess a young puppy. But it is illegal to be selling young puppies that are sick."

Where exactly in Mexico the dogs are bred is a mystery. Some dogs could be from Tijuana, where many people sell puppies from the backs of vans. But many animal control officials suspect that the animals are bred in puppy mills in the interior of Mexico and then flown in to Tijuana.

State law requires retailers to provide documentation of age and medical history of puppies, but the burgeoning underground market is virtually unregulated. Authorities have launched some animal cruelty investigations, but the puppy peddlers have proven difficult to track down.

One of the few cases to result in charges involved a Moreno Valley woman who was cited last spring on 19 counts of animal cruelty. She sold the animals from her Riverside County home, but purchased them from people suspected of bringing them in from Mexico.

Pet stores in Compton and Huntington Beach also purchased sick puppies from people peddling dogs from Mexico, say animal control officials. Three people, including the Tijuana man, have been cited for trying to smuggle ill dogs through the port of entry at San Ysidro.

The situation raises public health concerns because some animals carry diseases contagious to humans. The Dionese family of Lake Elsinore came down with scabies after taking in Chloe, a Maltese puppy they named for a Cabbage Patch doll.

Fearful of passing the skin mites to others, they stayed indoors for four weeks. Kelly Dionese said she lost her job and that her children couldn't go to school. She said the parasite attack caused severe itching, and that it felt like being "eaten alive."

"My children cried for nights," Dionese said. "That is the devil's bug."

Dionese said she saw no signs of sickness when she paid $400 for her puppy from the Moreno Valley woman who was cited. In an ironic twist shared by others, Dionese said she bought the dog from a private party because she had heard horror stories about pet store puppies.

But Chloe was sick. And she grew rapidly sicker until she had to be euthanized.

"Chloe suffered," Dionese said. "It was traumatic for all of us."

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« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2004, 03:32:23 AM »
Dog frees friends for food raids
By Bo Wilson, Evening Standard
4 October 2004
A dog outsmarted staff at Battersea Dogs' Home by breaking out of his kennel on a nightly basis to raid the kitchen.

The lurcher, called Red, unbolted his door before releasing his favourite canine companions.

Mystified staff at the animal shelter arrived in the morning to discover the dogs running amok through the centre. The reason for the breakouts only came to light after video surveillance was installed.

Shown on GMTV today, the footage reveals Red escaping and then pushing back the bolts on the other dogs' kennels to free them too.

Becky Blackmore, from Battersea Dogs' Home, said: "We had come in to chaos in the morning. It happened probably about a dozen times. We would come in to lots of dogs out on their block."

Red arrived at Battersea in June in an emaciated state which, staff believe, is the reason for his urge to seek out food. His kennel has now been made more secure.


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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2004, 07:33:57 AM »


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« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2004, 09:02:06 AM »
Sanctuary for the Wolf Orphans of Apartheid
 The animals were imported for use as guard dogs but proved untamable. Now a lone facility struggles to care for the castoffs.
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer

STORMS RIVER, South Africa ? It is tough being an alpha wolf ? the pack leader ? as Michael McDonald knows too well. It means deciding when they eat, where they live and, sometimes, which ones have to die.

When he is near, the packs at Tsitsikamma Wolf Sanctuary, near the southern coast, jump up and start circling. They know he's the top wolf, but, he says, "I irritate them. I have to take all the harsh decisions. I am always the enemy."

In the apartheid era, scientists at Roodeplaat Breeding Enterprises imported the animals from North America in an attempt to create an attack dog that would have a wolf's stamina and sense of smell to track down insurgents in the harsh border regions. The secretive experiment failed because the wolf hybrids were stubborn and hard to train.

Today, these orphans of apartheid face a troubled future in a land where they will never be at home.

In crime-ridden South Africa, many people believe that no dog is a better deterrent than a hybrid or pure wolf. There's a cachet in owning one, and a brisk trade in wolf dogs advertised in newspapers and on the Internet.

"A lot of people are trying to get rich on these animals," said Colleen O'Carroll, the founder and director of the wolf sanctuary, who disputes breeders' claims that wolves and hybrids make good family pets. She said people were using an endangered species "to create something even more misunderstood than the original."

People who buy pure wolves seeking savage guard dogs are often surprised to find that they make terrible watchdogs.

"You have a supposedly ferocious wolf. But when a burglar comes, do you think it will attack? It will hide behind you, because you are the alpha in the pack. If someone rings the doorbell, they go and hide," O'Carroll said.

Breeders of wolf dogs, as the hybrids are known, publish glowing testimonials from happy clients.

But the wolf sanctuary gets hundreds of calls from wolf or wolf hybrid owners complaining about the odd behaviors of their pets: reducing the yard to a moonscape of holes, digging cavernous dens under the garage, chewing things to pieces, climbing fences and howling to the moon. One man shot his wolf dog after it ate his chickens. A woman telephoned in tears after her wolf hybrid ate her most valuable thoroughbred foal.

"You can't impose your will on it, because it's half wild animal. You can't expect it to act like a dog," O'Carroll said. "People buy them as a status symbol. It's like saying, 'I've got a Bengal tiger.' It's like a man buying a Porsche as opposed to a VW."

It's not clear how many wolves remain in South Africa, or how the original wolves survived after the projects were abandoned.

But the Tsitsikamma sanctuary cares for 35 wolves, has 23 on its waiting list and is expecting to take in a new litter of pure wolf pups next month from someone connected with one of the original breeding programs. The sanctuary estimates that there are about 200 pure wolves in South Africa and tens of thousands of hybrids.

O'Carroll opened the sanctuary in 2000 after tracing wolves left over from various state breeding projects. It accepts only pure wolves.

"I get asked every day, 'Why don't you just put the things down? They don't belong here,' " said O'Carroll, a sentimentalist with a core of steel.

She is the patron of a lost cause. Ask her or McDonald about the future of the wolves at Tsitsikamma, and both look sadly into the distance: "No future," they murmur.

"It's a very sad story," O'Carroll said. "There's nothing we can do with them. We can't send them back to North America. They're animals in exile."

Rescuing the wolves is an undertaking ruinous to one's bank balance: Conservation organizations and sponsors are not interested in helping to save animals in places where they don't belong, so the sanctuary survives on private donations.

O'Carroll emptied her bank account and sold off four apartments to keep the sanctuary going. It was built by hand: They couldn't afford power tools.

"I have to have a screw loose somewhere," she said. "But I have a passion for them."

She forgets the financial stress when she sits near her favorite enclosures in the evenings, watching her beloved wolves playing, swimming and racing around. At night, when the wolves howl, raising their eerie, beautiful music to the stars, nothing else matters.

McDonald, 42, used to work "in security" but won't be more specific. Now he cares for the wolves ? with no salary or even a pension ? often surviving on the same meat the wolves eat: unwanted cow and calf carcasses donated by dairy farmers. He has few belongings and no money for clothes or even a luxury as modest as a cookie. He once had to pawn a watch to pay for the sanctuary's gasoline, and other times walked to collect dead cows with a wheelbarrow.

"It's a seriously hard life," he said.

Ask him why he does it and he sidesteps the question with a flurry of self-deprecating banter: "There was no one else to do it." But he feels the wolves are his destiny, even if they don't always appreciate him.

The wolves, always ready to challenge the alpha, sometimes bite McDonald. But the day a female named Cleo nipped him on the rump, he felt a strange elation.

"It meant she had accepted me," he said. "We were equals."

Many of the sanctuary's wolves are former pets. Cleo, from a family in Durban, tore her former owner's fiberglass boat to pieces, ripped the drainpipes off his house and howled every night before her family ? in her eyes, her pack ? gave up on her.

Another owner handed over his pure wolf, Della ? the only socialized wolf at the sanctuary ? when it dawned on him what a complex, demanding animal she was and how much of his time she was going to need. Storm, one of the sanctuary's alpha males, was abandoned at the sanctuary.

O'Carroll and wolf experts in the United States, such as the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Ind., warn that wolf dogs should not be seen as family pets, and even those socialized to humans can attack children, especially if a child falls and cries. O'Carroll's motive, apart from rescuing the wolves, is to educate the public about wolves and hybrids.

O'Carroll and McDonald feel they're on a mission, and when things get bad they keep each other going.

"At times when I absolutely despair and I cry and I say, 'There's no money, how are we going to make the payments?' he says, 'Look, woman, the spirit always provides,' " O'Carroll said. "And sure enough, someone makes a donation or something happens.' "

McDonald once led an ordinary materialistic life. He had good cars, a family, but now he does not want money or belongings. He wants only the wolves.

"If the wolves weren't here, I wouldn't be here," he said. "The wolves have literally become my life. There's nowhere to go."


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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2004, 11:22:45 PM »
The Nation; 7 Arrested in Hog and Dog Competitions; Raids target rodeos in which canines pin down boars. Law officials call it animal cruelty, but owners say the dogs enjoy the chase.;

Ellen Barry. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Dec 21, 2004. pg. A.15
Full Text (688   words)
(Copyright (c) 2004 Los Angeles Times)

Law enforcement authorities arrested seven people over the weekend on animal cruelty charges stemming from "hog dogging" events, in which pit bulls or bulldogs are placed in a pen with pigs or wild boars and are timed as they pin the squealing animals with their powerful jaws.

Several raids took place in Alabama, Arizona and South Carolina; the events' organizers also were charged with animal fighting. Robert Stewart, chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, said more arrests were expected.

"It's bad enough to put animals of the same species against one another. Now we're staging events with different species in combat," said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. "I shake my head and am disgusted, but I am never entirely surprised."

In hog dog rodeo -- also known as "hog catch trials," "hog dog trials" or "hog baiting" -- a feral pig or hog is thrust into a pen. A dog then chases the hog until it forces the animal to the ground. The practice, said Casey Couturier, editor of American Bulldog Review, began 25 years ago in states with large populations of wild boars -- like Texas, Louisiana and Florida -- and developed into an organized competition for hunting dogs.

In recent years, however, organizers became wary of public perception and stopped advertising openly, Couturier said. But the events still took place. "The people there would be the sheriff and the state police. They'd be running their own dogs," Couturier said.

Tanya Holland, who raises pit bulls in Florida, said that animal- rights activists had misrepresented the events.

The hogs, she said, are removed from the pen quickly and given time to recuperate before the next event; the powerful animals "do put up a fight" and squeal loudly, Holland said, but generally are not seriously injured.

"If you could see the energy in the dog and see how much they enjoy working," said Holland, 32, a veterinary technician. "I know how much my dogs like catching that pig for me."

But Ann Chynoweth, counsel for the Humane Society, said pigs or hogs often were left with serious injuries -- such as torn jaws, ears, or injured groins -- and were sent back into the ring repeatedly.

Organizers distribute videotapes of the events, sometimes with music playing in the background, and fill the seats with families and children.

"It's a bizarre form of animal fighting, because it's for entertainment purposes," Chynoweth said. "We've seen people cheering in the stands."

Although authorities in individual states long have monitored dog- and chicken-fighting events, this is the first major interstate crackdown on hog dogging. Last summer, Louisiana legislators passed a law banning hog dog events in which "it is foreseeable that the canines or hogs would be injured, maimed, mutilated or killed."

"Hog dog baying," a variant in which the dog corners the other animal but does not attack it, is still legal. Uncle Earl's Hog Dog Trials, a baying event held in Winnfield, is a major tourist attraction in Louisiana.

Law enforcement authorities were reluctant to investigate and prosecute hog dogging, Chynoweth said, until animal rights advocates began circulating videotapes of events -- especially one report by an NBC affiliate in Mobile, Ala. Authorities in South Carolina arrested Arthur Parker, 47, the president of the International Catchdog Assn.; his wife, Mary Evans Luther, 50; and their son, Arthur Parker Jr., 20, and confiscated 95 dogs and 15 hogs. A woman who answered the phone at Parker's residence Monday would not comment on the case.

In Warrior, Ala. police arrested Richard and Shina Landers, and confiscated seven dogs. The couple has been charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, said Sgt. Randy Christian of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

A third couple, James Curry and his wife, Jodi Curry-Liesberg, was arrested in Yavapai County, Ariz. Authorities there confiscated 17 dogs and 32 boars. The couple's children were taken into custody by Child Protective Services.

Couturier, the bulldog enthusiast, said the arrests could mark a shift in a traditional hunters' practice.

"It's just going to run it underground completely," he said.

Credit: Times Staff Writer


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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2005, 10:01:04 AM »
Pit Bull Rehab:
Rio Woman Teaches
Tough Dogs New Tricks

Retired From Fighting, They
Try Swimming, Sprints;
Training With 'Stallone'
April 4, 2005; Page A1

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Renata Bitencourt says the problem with "Bin Laden" was that he'd been fighting since a very tender age. "Capone," she says, wasn't loved by the family that raised him. "Hitler" suffered from toothaches.

They are among 150 pit bulls Ms. Bitencourt has rescued from Rio's illegal dog-fighting rings and retrained as competitors in the canine olympic games she organizes. Instead of fighting to the death for the entertainment of drug traffickers and other high rollers, the pit bulls now soar 12 feet in high-jump competitions or haul half a ton of concrete in weight-pulling contests.

Ms. Bitencourt, 32 years old and barely 5 feet tall, has won awards from animal activists, but also raised the ire of some Rio politicians who want to restrict pit bulls. In the favelas, slums set on the hills above the city's glittering condos and hotels, the woman fondly known as "Renata Pit Bull" is something of a legend.

"The guys with dogs pay attention to her because they know that little woman isn't afraid of anything," says pit-bull owner Gilberto Moreira de Oliveira.

Before he met Ms. Bitencourt, Mr. Moreira had managed his dog, Saddam, to an undefeated record in eight fights. The fights, which took place in a pit or enclosure, would last until one dog was dead or incapacitated. Sometimes it would take an hour or longer before a dog was beaten. Spectators included local gang members, as well as visitors from outside the slum looking for a little adventure. Crowd members laid down thousands of dollars in bets.

Though the dog gave him status in the favela, Mr. Moreira, a 26-year-old truck driver, says he never had much money to wager. And he would get stuck with the veterinary bills for treating Saddam's battle wounds.

Mr. Moreira had a change of heart after he watched the owner of a dog that had been mauled by Saddam dump the injured animal off a highway overpass. "Sometimes it takes a shock to make people see the light," says Ms. Bitencourt.

Mr. Moreira says he and Ms. Bitencourt had to "brain wash" Saddam to perform in nonviolent sports after he abandoned the fighting ring. They trained the pit bull for the high jump by slipping a motorcycle tire on the end of a broom stick and raising it higher and higher above his head.

"Now, Saddam is much calmer and even kids love him," Mr. Moreira says, pointing to a clutch of youths surrounding the golden-haired pit bull. Up to a point. The kids, who aren't much bigger than the dog, keep a safe distance while staring transfixed as Saddam shreds a coconut with his iron jaws.

Renata Bitencourt teaches the high jump to a pit bull she rescued from the dog-fighting rings.

Ms. Bitencourt, a tour operator by day, bought her first pit bull 10 years ago after she'd been robbed several times in her middle-class neighborhood. Partly due to rising crime, the number of the macho dogs in Rio has exploded to about 20,000 from 1,000 since the mid-1990s, says Ms. Bitencourt, who is president of the Pit Bull Club of Brazil. Dog-fighting grew along with the pit-bull population. To offer dog owners an alternative to fighting, Ms. Bitencourt launched her olympics about five years ago.

She holds four or five major athletic meets per year in favelas, each drawing about 70 dogs and as many as 400 spectators. The price of admission is a bag of rice or beans for a local food bank.

Pit-bull owners vie for several trophies. In the long jump, dogs make a running start, bound off a wooden platform and fly more than 20 feet, trying to snare a tire dangled in front of them. Dogs also compete in 10-meter sprints while pulling a man on roller skates. There are pit-bull beauty contests and swim meets. "Dogs, Animals & Co.," a magazine in Rio, gave Ms. Bitencourt its highest award a few years ago, citing her work for "advancement of the breed."

But Carlos Minc, a Rio de Janeiro state legislator, says pit-bull enthusiasts aren't focusing enough on protecting humans from vicious pit bulls. He receives about 10 complaints a month from people who have been attacked or menaced by pit bulls. In one 2003 case, in which a pit bull killed a 72-year-old woman, Rio police had to pump nine bullets into the dog to bring it down. Mr. Minc says Ms. Bitencourt exaggerates her capacity to curb pit bulls' violent instincts.

"Let's say that a child tugs the ear of a supposedly docile pit bull," says Mr. Minc. "Who can guarantee that he'll react peacefully?"

Other Brazilian officials consider Ms. Bitencourt an ally. When authorities in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul seized 19 pit bulls in a dog-fighting bust last year, they asked for her help in finding homes for the animals. It was a delicate task because police expected the previous owners to come looking for the confiscated dogs once they got out of jail. Ms. Bitencourt had to sign a confidentiality agreement, vowing not to reveal identities of the dogs' new owners. "It was kind of like a witness protection program for pit bulls," she says.

Before Ms. Bitencourt can enter a Rio favela, she has to have an intermediary seek authorization from the dono do morro, or "owner of the hill," invariably a criminal. That doesn't eliminate danger. Once, while on a visit to train dogs, she got pinned down for seven hours in a gun battle between police and traffickers. Another time, police with weapons drawn broke up one of her competitions, she says, mistaking it for a dog fight. Maj. Milton Fernandes, of Rio's military police, is unaware of that incident, but praises Ms. Bitencourt for "discouraging dog fighting and introducing healthy recreational activities to poor communities."

On a recent visit to a favela to recruit dogs for her competitions, Ms. Bitencourt found traffickers had put up tall metal stakes on both sides of the roadway, to keep out wide-bodied police vehicles. While she was working out a dog named "Stallone," a motorcyclist pulled up, making no effort to conceal a pistol on his lap. The rider watched wordlessly, then rode away.

Much of Ms. Bitencourt's work involves reaching out to young men whose fight dogs have made them figures of respect in the Darwinian favela culture. Sandro Pereira, 23, says his father used to organize cockfights. So he felt he was carrying on a family tradition when, at age 12, he bought his fighting pit bull, "Bruce," named for Bruce Lee. By pricking Mr. Pereira's conscience about the pain Bruce was enduring, Ms. Bitencourt persuaded him to end the dog's fighting days. "Renata changed my point of view," he says.

Well, sort of. Though he's sworn off dog-fighting, Mr. Pereira says he continues to lay bets on fights involving vicious Asian betta fish.

Ms. Bitencourt applied some tough love to another of her prot?g?s, 21-year-old Giovanni Barbosa. She once took back the pit bull she had given Mr. Barbosa after discovering the dog had been fighting. But she also raced Mr. Barbosa to the hospital when he was struck by a stray bullet from a gang shootout.

Mr. Barbosa's dog, "Braddock," named for a Chuck Norris character, is such a legend in the favelas that there are T-shirts honoring him. The 60-pound Braddock can pull a four-door car a city block.

What finally turned Mr. Barbosa away from fighting was finding out that women, including the one he eventually married, were attracted to men whose dogs had prowess in nonviolent events. "A dog that talented gets you noticed," he says. But Mr. Barbosa's habit of sleeping with Braddock nearly nipped the romance in the bud. "I told him that at bedtime he would have to choose between me or Braddock," says his wife, Luciene, who eventually got her way.

Write to Matt Moffett at


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« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2005, 10:22:02 AM »
This boy is of a different breed!

IANS[ WEDNESDAY, APRIL 06, 2005 02:58:07 PM ]

PATNA, INDIA: An 11-year-old boy in Bihar bites and kills dogs according to an unbelievable, but true, stomach-churning report.

Mohammed Hashib, a resident of Nawada, too has been bitten by dogs. But nothing ever happens to him.

His parents - Mohammed Serajuddin, a local musician, and Noorjahan Khatoon - say Hashib spent most of his life with dogs - playing, sleeping and even eating in their company.

"In fact, some dogs die when Hashib bites them. Some lose their senses for four to five hours but survive," Serajuddin says.

His mother accepts that Hashib, who had started literally living with dogs
since he was five, had never been vaccinated against rabies.

"We are poor people. We cannot afford rabies injections from time to time," she said, accepting that her son preferred to eat and drink with the local dogs like one among them.

He had even been fed milk by a bitch as a child, she said.

Since Hashib does not go to school, the dogs reportedly linger outside his
house every morning waiting for him to come and play.

The dogs love him and start barking if he is delayed, Serajuddin says.

Guard Dog

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« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2005, 01:55:55 AM »
  If I may ask . . Where did you find this!? :shock:

Ryan “Guard Dog” Gruhn
Guro / DBMAA Business Director
Dog Brothers Martial Arts Association
"Smuggling Concepts Across the Frontiers of Style” |


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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2005, 08:45:51 AM »

This breed is new to me-- a South African protection dog.


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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2005, 07:50:59 PM »

PETA Employees Face 31 Felony Animal-Cruelty Charges for Killing, Dumping Dogs

Ahoskie, NC ? Last night, one month after the launch of, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were arrested on 31 felony animal-cruelty charges for killing and disposing of dogs and puppies in a dumpster. Today the Center for Consumer Freedom is calling on Americans to stop making donations to support PETA and its grim-reaper program.

When Ahoskie police arrested PETA employees Andrew Cook and Adria Hinkle last night, they found 18 dead dogs in a nearby shopping-center dumpster (including a bag containing seven dead puppies), and 13 more dead dogs in the PETA-owned van the two were driving. Police observed them throwing several dark-colored bags into the dumpster before the arrests were made.

This is not the first public mention of PETA?s large-scale euthanasia program. In May 2005 the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) unveiled a giant Times Square billboard and a new website ( CCF had obtained official records from the state of Virginia showing the militant animal-rights group had put over 10,000 dogs and cats to death since 1998.

In 2003 PETA euthanized over 85 percent of the animals it took in, finding adoptive homes for just 14 percent. By comparison, the Norfolk SPCA found adoptive homes for 73 percent of its animals and the Virginia Beach SPCA adopted out 66 percent. PETA?s required report documenting its 2004 record is currently over 4 weeks late.

A Bertie County (NC) Deputy Sheriff told The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that Cook and Hinkle assured the Bertie Animal Shelter ?they were picking up the dogs to take them back to Norfolk where they would find them good homes.? Pittman added that persons identifying themselves as PETA representatives have picked up live dogs from that shelter during the last two months.

?This is disturbing behavior on the part of self-professed animal lovers, and I hope the public takes notice,? said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. ?PETA raked in nearly $29 million last year alone, but apparently it couldn?t spare any money to care for the flesh-and-blood animals entrusted to its employees. It?s ironic -- If anyone else were caught red-handed with 31 dead dogs, PETA would be holding a press conference to denounce them.?

Martosko added: ?Last month when we launched, we warned the public that PETA was not the warm and kind group it claimed to be. Now it?s clearer than ever that Americans who truly want to help animals should donate to their local animal shelter, not to PETA


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« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2005, 03:49:31 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog

PETA Employees Face 31 Felony Animal-Cruelty Charges for Killing, Dumping Dogs

Ahoskie, NC ? Last night, one month after the launch of, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were arrested on 31 felony animal-cruelty charges for killing and disposing of dogs and puppies in a dumpster. Today the Center for Consumer Freedom is calling on Americans to stop making donations to support PETA and its grim-reaper program.

Uh, if this actually happened, it's pretty clear that it's due to the actions of these two individuals and not official PETA policy, yet the CCF here wants all PETA donations to stop?  Curious.

A little digging reveals that this "Center for Consumer Freedom" is nothing but a front group for the tobacco, alcohol and restaurant industries.  The guy that heads it, Rick Berman, owns a PR firm in DC that represents the tobacco industry and large fast food chains among others.  It's completely untrustworthy.  Now there's an unbiased source!



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« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2005, 03:23:18 PM »
Washington Post

Witnesses said yesterday that two men who killed each other in a gun battle in Fairmount Heights on Saturday afternoon had been feuding since their pit bull dogs got in a fight several weeks ago.

Prince George's County police are investigating the killings, which took place around 4:15 p.m. in the 1300 block of Early Oaks Lane, the Chapel Oaks area. Police have not identified the men.

Neither of the men lived in the neighborhood, but they had close ties to it, according to three residents who knew them and witnessed portions of the gun fight. The residents spoke on the condition of anonymity.

According to the witnesses, the shooting began shortly after one of the men arrived in the neighborhood and traded words with the other. Neighbors who knew them said the two had had several exchanges over the past three months after their pit bulls fought. This time, though, tempers escalated and each went after guns, according to the witnesses.

Some questions occur to me:

1) Are the dogs OK

2) How can this be?  DC has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the country!


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« Reply #27 on: June 30, 2005, 05:08:25 PM »
Following up on the PETA dog killing story:


PETA at a Crossroads
Coming soon -- Stratfor will introduce a weekly article on topical public policy issues that we believe you will find timely and relevant to your interests. Following is a sneak preview of what you can expect from this column, written by Bart Mongoven, Stratfor's Vice President, Public Policy. Please watch for more details in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we look forward to hearing your feedback.

By Bart Mongoven

Two staff members of the Norfolk, Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were arrested in late June, accused of improperly disposing carcasses of animals the organization had euthanized. The incident has generated a swirl of controversy around PETA that carries significant implications for the organization and its cause.

As an animal-rights group, the mere suspicion that PETA might be killing animals is cause enough for attention: One of the group's tenets is that animals enjoy the same right to life as humans do. This position was best summed up by PETA President Ingrid Newkirk, who famously stated: "A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." Like militant opponents of abortion, animal rights activists take an absolutist position and view themselves as warriors in a fight against murder.

But despite its unceasing promotion of animal rights, PETA has now admitted to euthanizing animals -- saying it was the most humane course of action possible in an area where unwanted shelter animals frequently are gassed or shot with rifles.

In contrast to the animal-rights position, euthanasia for animals taken from shelters is a common and accepted practice among animal-welfare activists -- who argue that animals should be treated with dignity, compassion and respect, but do not share the animal-rights groups' position on an animal's "right to life." The United States is home to many large animal-welfare groups that are dedicated to numerous concerns, ranging from the treatment of farm animals, to shelters for unwanted animals, to advocating laws against animal cruelty. Many animal-welfare organizations take pride in the fact that they euthanize some animals when they have determined that methods used by a shelter are less humane than other available options. This approach, however, is offensive to orthodox animal rights activists, who view it as "playing God."

The situation PETA faces is serious. It represents a difficult setback for the group, which is struggling to retain its credibility and relevance amid the growing popularity of more radical -- and sometimes violent -- activist groups. PETA's reaction therefore will ripple throughout the animal-rights activist community and affect the public's view of animal-rights groups and issues.

In styling itself as the country's leading animal-rights organization, PETA has brought animal rights from the farthest fringe of American culture to a place of such prominence that most people know, at least generally, what animal-rights activists believe. PETA achieved this through an array of creative media stunts and by recruiting high-profile celebrities to speak on the organization's behalf. The group hoped that its publicity stunts and occasionally outrageous statements would bring attention to PETA and its message. And its message has always been clear: It is neither moral nor necessary to kill animals for research purposes or to raise them for food, fur or any other form of human consumption -- and society needs to change fundamentally to reflect this truth.

This message has spurred thousands of Americans to embrace animal rights, and for a long time, PETA was the focal organization for these activists. Some fringe groups also were active, but their memberships paled in comparison with PETA's. Most notable among the fringe groups has been the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), which maintains a number of small cells that specialize in breaking into laboratories and freeing the animals used in scientific experiments. Despite repeated investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, PETA has never been tied to illegal ALF activities. More to the point, PETA has been careful to avoid endorsing ALF activities or those of other radical groups, choosing instead to steer a difficult middle course.

The recent arrests in North Carolina bring into focus the hazards of this middle course. PETA's traditional message -- "killing is wrong" -- was effective in its simplicity and at the same time neither advocated nor condemned any particular tactical approaches. However, in the immediate wake of the euthanasia discovery, PETA's message (at least for now) is far more nuanced: "Killing animals for human use, food, research or sport is wrong, and killing is acceptable only if it is in the interest of the animal, not convenience." Though this is still a strong message, it lacks the simplicity and clarity that has made PETA so successful -- and it concedes the main point that divides animal-rights groups from the animal-welfare movement.

And here is the crux of the issue for the animal-rights movement as a whole. Even though the euthanasia solution adopted by PETA is characteristic of animal-welfare organizations -- and contrary to animal-rights orthodoxy -- PETA is not an animal-welfare organization and does not want to become one. There are hundreds of animal-welfare organizations vying for a limited pool of donors and members. Each of these groups benefits from the intense light that PETA shines on issues relating to animal cruelty -- but PETA is able to focus this light only by its advocacy of animal rights, not animal welfare.

Even if its work at times reflects animal-welfare values, PETA has carved out a space separate from animal-welfare groups. This delicate position remained tenable so long as PETA's claims to be the nation's foremost animal-rights group went unchallenged. But today, activists who claim they are taking their beliefs in animal rights to a logical extension by using violent tactics are mounting a bid for leadership of the broader movement.

This new style of activism was brought to the United States by a British group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. SHAC focuses its efforts solely on the animal testing firm Huntingdon Life Sciences and employs a campaigning style that is a hybrid between ALF's vandalism-and-violence strategy and the very sophisticated, peaceful market campaigns that have worked well for labor unions, timber activists and others. For instance, SHAC -- whose members compare their work to that of Civil War abolitionist John Brown -- intimidates, and occasionally physically accosts, executives from Huntingdon and companies that do business with it. The group forced Huntingdon to leave the United Kingdom, single-handedly got the company's stock de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and has cost Huntingdon millions of dollars in cancelled contracts.

SHAC makes PETA uneasy. The group certainly is acting out a philosophy consistent with animal-rights beliefs. PETA advocates the same philosophy, but its most visible tactics -- typified by having models strip naked on New York's Fifth Avenue to protest fashion designers' use of fur -- offer a light alternative. PETA, therefore, has been facing a bit of an identity crisis.

Rather than join the crowded field of animal-welfare groups or cede the crown of animal-rights activism, PETA has responded to the rise of SHAC by initiating a campaign using a SHAC-like market approach to the chicken industry. Thus, a more strident PETA campaign now is focusing on the KFC restaurant chain, with activists harassing executives at their homes and launching protests at events meant to improve KFC's brand and image or to introduce new products. In short, it bears all the hallmarks of a SHAC campaign, but without the physical violence or threats of violence.

At the same time, however, PETA remains attached to the controversial media stunts on which it made its name. Animal-welfare organizations view these stunts as counterproductive and silly, and SHAC-style activists see them as as affronts because they trivialize important issues. These criticisms notwithstanding, the media ploys are mother's milk for PETA because they bring attention to the animal rights cause, anger or amuse the mainstream public, and encourage donations.

Now, into PETA's difficult re-branding effort, comes the discovery that the group is euthanizing animals. While the full impact of this controversy is difficult to predict, it cannot help the organization on any front. PETA does not want to join the long list of animal-welfare organizations: It is unlikely to find many new donors among the animal-welfare crowd, and in any case PETA is not built to act as an animal-welfare organization. The more likely response would be for the group to differentiated itself from animal-welfare organizations by appearing every bit the angry, motivated animal rights group that SHAC is. This change will not take place overnight -- but if it was important for PETA to react to SHAC's rise with the KFC campaign several months ago, it is critical now that it re-establish its animal-rights credentials.

Whatever direction PETA takes, SHAC will be the chief beneficiary of this controversy. If PETA comes to be viewed by the movement as a "soft" animal-rights group, the core of the movement will turn to SHAC and similar organizations. And if PETA tries to compete with SHAC, it will pull the entire movement toward the tactics for which SHAC is known -- and which the more radical group long has argued are the only coherent response to animal abuses.

Should SHAC emerge at the fore of the movement, the public's impression of animal-rights activism will change markedly: It will come to be seen as a threat to the status quo, as encouraging home-grown terrorism and as extremely radical. The public's perception of animal rights would shift from a view of the movement as a quixotic stage through which many young people go, to a dangerous, alluring ideology that must be addressed.

Whether this would be good or bad for the movement itself is difficult to predict.
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« Reply #28 on: October 06, 2005, 09:32:03 PM »
4 cases of dog virus detected in South Bay
New, 4:55 p.m. Veterinarians issue warnings as California's first confirmed cases of highly contagious and potentially fatal dog virus show up here. Virus worries pet owners nationwide.
By Josh Grossberg
Daily Breeze

The first confirmed cases in California of a highly contagious and potentially fatal dog virus have been found in the South Bay, officials said.

Inglewood veterinarian Jon Bernstein said he became suspicious in August when he treated four dogs that had similar symptoms and had all been housed in the same nearby boarding facility. He sent blood samples to a laboratory in Florida, which confirmed his fear this week.  

"All came up positive for this canine influenza," Bernstein said.

Since then, 31 suspected cases have been found in Los Angeles County, health officials said. They are waiting for test results to confirm their findings.

The virus has caused concern among dog owners nationwide since the first outbreak last year among greyhounds in Florida last year. It is not been shown to be contagious to humans or other animals.

Symptoms include coughing, runny nose and fever.

"This is a highly contagious virus," Bernstein said. "Most dogs will get exposed to it. There's no prevention and no vaccination."

While there is no treatment available and the disease can be fatal in 1 to 10 percent of the time, animal health officials believe that the figure could actually be much lower because many dogs have come down with benign cases of the disease and recover without seeing a vet.

"Most of the time, it's a mild respiratory ailment," Bernstein said. "In a much less common situation, dogs can get pneumonia."

In some cases, the symptoms are the same as those of the fairly common kennel cough, which is easily treated. It also can resemble distemper, which can be more serious for the animal.

"People should make sure their pets are healthy and up to date on (kennel cough) and distemper vaccines to avoid confusion," said Emily Beeler, a veterinarian with the county public health and rabies control program.

Beeler said owners should keep their dogs away from other dogs.

"Because there are no dogs considered immune and there is no vaccine, if your dog is coughing, don't take it to the dog park. And don't take it to a kennel. Do everyone else a favor and keep your dog at home if you hear it coughing, even a little."


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« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2006, 04:32:23 AM »
FOB McHenry Gets Dogged
Army News Service | Barbara Ospina | March 15, 2006
Kirkuk, Iraq - With a modified ballistic vest, a Screaming Eagle combat patch and a Combat Action Badge, Zeko still may not look like the average Soldier, but he has become a valuable asset to the troops of Forward Operating Base McHenry.

The explosive detection dog has found improvised bombs buried several feet in the hard desert ground.

Zeko has brought new meaning to the phrase ?man?s best friend,? said Bastogne Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, stationed at FOB McHenry.

?He?s got a good rapport with the Soldiers,? said Staff Sgt. David Silberman, Zeko?s kennel master and partner for nearly two and a half years now.

?Our missions are really broad; we support everything,? Silberman reflected. ?Every day we are learning something different for us to do.?

When it comes to his job, Zeko may be at the top of his game, but Silberman says he trains on a regular basis, just like Soldiers.

Silberman said it takes on average two and a half years to get an explosive dog certified, but it does not end there; each dog must also go through an annual certification. Each dog must have a minimum 95-percent success rate on explosive detection or the dog is decertified.

?Explosive dogs are trained in nine different explosive odors,? Silberman stated confidently, while petting his partner. ?He?s got to find every single one; he can?t miss them.?

Although Zeko is currently tested at 98.7 percent, and trained in desert warfare, Silberman takes it upon himself to keep their team up to the task by training everyday.

Using a newly built training course, Zeko practices many different obstacles.

Zeko warms up, walking through a small jump, followed by stairs and tunnels.

The real workout starts when shouts echo through the air, followed by yelping. Silberman holds Zeko tightly, while a volunteer Soldier wearing a protective sleeve runs. Then, at the right moment, Silberman releases the now vicious dog. Zeko sprints after the man, leaping into the air and locking his jaw on the Soldier?s protected arm.

Attempts to shake him off fail as Zeko just bites harder. Then with a single command from his handler, Zeko releases the Soldier and returns to sit next to Silberman. A few seconds later, Zeko is rewarded with playful hugs and praises.

Not only does this furry four-legged Soldier pull his weight in the fight against improvised explosive devices, he has become very protective of his new Bastogne comrades.

?We get to spend a lot of time with [Soldiers], he?s really close, and really protective of them,? Silberman said. ?When we are taking rounds, he?s watching and really alert of his Soldiers, so he?s got a pretty good rapport with those guys.?


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« Reply #30 on: May 24, 2006, 04:07:20 PM »
Bee attack kills dog in Sand Springs
By MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer

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Officials investigate whether Africanized 'killer bees' stung the Great Dane to death.
SAND SPRINGS -- State agricultural officials will try to determine whether the death of a Sand Springs dog resulted from an attack of Africanized bees.

Gary Phillips, field officer for the state Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry, said an agent will travel to Sand Springs on Wednesday to collect two bee specimens to determine whether they are the so-called "killer bees."

Phillips said DNA testing will be used to make the final determination.

"If they are Africanized bees, it will be the furthest north they've traveled" in Oklahoma, Phillips said Tuesday.

Since Aug. 6, 2004, when Africanized bees were first spotted in the state, 29 counties -- mostly in the south and west -- have reported swarms of the bees, he said.

The northernmost county to report the bees was McIntosh County last year.

"We've been getting lots of calls on them swarming during the last 14 to 20 days," Phillips said.

The Sand Springs dog attacked by bees Monday night was a 140-pound Great Dane named Stormy.

Dog owner Thomas Forbes of 816 N. Grant Ave. said he and his wife, Judy, were at home  
about 6:30 p.m. when all of a sudden she heard the dog bark, followed by yelping cries of pain.

"She ran to the back door and screamed that something was covering the dog's head and back," Forbes said.

"The dog's head was completely engulfed with bees," Forbes said, "and they were covering her back, too."

Forbes said he is allergic to bee stings, so there was little he could do.

However, he said a neighbor he identified as Bobby jumped the fence and used a fire extinguisher, plus water from a garden hose, to disperse the bees.

Forbes said Stormy was stung up to 400 times.

"We cleaned out 100 stingers alone just from her right ear," Forbes said.

He said the dog died within 30 minutes of the attack.

Forbes said it was the first time he and his family had seen bees in their backyard, noting they were in the yard, sitting around the pool, about a half-hour before the attack occurred.

"They came out of the blue," Forbes said.

He said the bees were in the backyard again Tuesday afternoon.

"We think they might be taking water from the pool," he said.

Forbes said he hasn't spotted a nest yet.

He said Stormy was 2 1/2 years old, "and I've had her since she was a puppy."

The dog was a close companion to the Forbes family, in particular to the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Kaia.

Sand Springs Assistant Police Chief Mike Carter said multiple bee stings have been reported before in the city, but never this massive.

He said city animal control Officer Jimmy Taber told him that bees tend to be rather protective this time of year.

Africanized bees look much like regular honeybees.

However, they tend to nest closer to the ground and are less tolerant of any activity near their nest.

Its sting is no worse than any other bee, except that Africanized bees attack in swarms up to 10 times larger than other bees do, according to experts.

The Africanized bee migrated northward from South America, where some of them got loose in a shipment from Africa 40 years ago.

Last June, several Tulsa residents in the 2700 block of 28th Street North were attacked by bees which had taken up massive nests in trees. They turned out to be Italian honeybees.

For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know


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« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2006, 04:21:47 AM »
lose encounter raises concerns about wolvesBy Scott Richards - For the Idaho Press-Tribune

Warning: Picture may not be suitable for some viewers. Click here to continue.

GRANGEVILLE ? Hello. My name is Scott Richards. I have lived in Grangeville for the last 17 years. I have enjoyed training my hunting dogs for the past 34 years.
To do this it takes a great deal of love for your dogs and for the great outdoors. I have always prided myself in the manner of which I train my dogs and take care of them. When I choose a new pup, he or she spends the first 6 months in my house. He or she is loved and a bond is there forever.

I do not believe there are bad dogs, just inexperienced owners. I have spent the last four years trying to introduce this sport to as many young people as I can. My photo albums are full of pictures with children sitting under a tree with the dogs, telling them they did a good job.
That has all changed now.

The reason I am writing this story is not to debate whether the Canadian gray wolf should be or should not be here. I am not going to debate anyone about how many wolves are really in the state of Idaho. I will say our elk, moose and deer populations are in serious trouble now.

The real reason I am telling this story is that I have a conscience, and what happened to my dogs and me Wednesday, May 24, at 9:45 a.m. might open a few eyes.

It?s been a few days now, and the shock has turned from fear to disbelief to anger, and now the major concern for the safety of anyone who lives in or visits our state. My life that I have loved raising and training these special working dogs is now over.

Crying wolf

This Wednesday morning started like most days when I train dogs. I was a few miles from my house and turned up the hill on the Service Flats Road. I let my dogs out of the box, jumped into my truck and followed them up the road for a mile, letting them clean out. I had eight dogs with me, and seven of them were very experienced 2, 3 and 4-year-olds. I had one five-month-old pup.

I loaded four dogs on top of the box and four inside the box. I did not have to drive far, and the dogs sounded off, letting me know a bear had crossed the road.

My friend, Bryon, had driven up from Lewiston to train some of his young dogs.

I turned out a 4-year-old named Jasper. He left the road and let me know the track was fresh. I told Bryon to turn his dogs loose as did I. They quickly dropped into a canyon, where bears hang in the brushy bottoms in daylight hours.

When all the dogs reached the bottom, five went up the other side of the canyon headed toward Fish Creek campground. The other group of dogs came right back up the hill to us. They put the bears in a tree 20 minutes later.

The other group of dogs treed about the same time about 1 1/2 miles away. Bryon and I went to the nearest dogs first. When we were under the tree, we found they had a mature sow and a 2-year-old cub. We took a few pictures and were back in the trucks ready to go to the other dogs.

We drove back up to where we heard the group of five dogs top over and shortly thereafter tree the bear. We checked where the dogs still had the bear treed. We drove as close as we could and stopped and listened.

They were about 400 yards away, treeing solid. I made the decision to move the truck 200 yards to the low side of the saddle; this would be an easy way back with the dogs. When Bryon and I crested the hill, instead of hearing a roar of barking dogs treeing, we heard nothing. We were looking at each other like, ?Where did they go? We just heard them there five minutes ago.?

One dog barked, and another barked just 50 yards away. I said to Bryon that neither of the dogs we heard sounded like any of our dogs. He agreed. Then I heard a dog bark that I knew was mine, but at the end of his bark there was a sharp yelp. Bryon and I headed down the hill in a hurry about 75 yards apart.

About 300 yards down the hill I was stopped dead in my tracks by a big dark-colored wolf. Blackey, my dog, was getting attacked; I was 20 yards away now and closing fast, screaming and yelling as I ran. I stopped at about 12 feet from the wolf, and even though I was screaming and waving my arms, the wolf did not break from the attack. Every time Blackey tried to run, the wolf would sink his teeth into Blackey?s hindquarters.

All the while I was screaming louder than I ever screamed in my life. Without any thought I picked up a 4-foot stick, stepped toward the wolf, swung and hit a tree. When the branch went crack and the tree went thud, the wolf instantly lunged at me.

I remember thinking I was going to die.

I ran from tree to tree straight up hill toward my truck. When that wolf lunged at me, I believed I would have been seriously hurt or dead if not for Blackey. I did not see what took place, but what I heard was my dog giving his life to save me.

As I reached the truck, Bryon was digging around in his truck for a gun. As I ran up he started yelling, ?We got wolves.? I was trying to listen to him as I was searching for a gun as I took my pistol in my hand and turned toward Bryon.

When I looked into his eyes I realized I was not the only one threatened by wolves. We headed back down to see if we could save Blackey, Lady or Halley, but there was no sound. I wanted to hear a bell dingle or a bark, but nothing. As Bryon and I hurried back to the truck to get my tracking box, I finally understood that Bryon was able to fight off three wolves and save two dogs. Snyper and Bullet were safe in the dog box with no life-threatening injuries.

With the tracking box in hand, I tuned in on Lady?s tracking collar and said to Bryon, ?Not Lady, not Lady,? but I knew she was dead. Then I tuned to Blackey and told Bryon that Blackey was dead, and then I tuned in Halley?s collar. One beep every four seconds ? that means all three dogs had not moved for at least five minutes. All dead.

I was just standing there in shock.

We decided to look for Halley first. We were getting real close; the receiver was pegging the needle. I knew that with a few more steps I would be looking at one of my babies.

My heart skipped a beat when Halley?s tree switch went off. I didn?t know if she was alive or if a wolf was dragging her off. We ran the direction the needle was pointing, and in a few yards there she was.

She was trying to get up; her stomach was ripped open and her guts were hanging out a foot. She had more than 60 bite marks and deep gashes all over her body. Her stomach was torn in multiple spots.

Bryon went into action. Of came his shirt, and we wrapped it tightly around her stomach. I carried her back to Bryon?s truck and put her in the front seat; Brian headed for the vets. I remember thinking I wouldn?t see Halley alive again.

I started tracking Blackey next; it did not take long to find him. He wasn?t far from where the wolf came after me. He was dead and lying in a pool of his own blood. He was bit and torn so full of holes that I just fell to the ground bawling and crying. I could not quit thinking, ?He gave his life to save me.?

I was sitting there when it hit me: ?Lady! I?d better get to Lady.? When I tuned her in, I knew she was within a 100 yards. I lined up with her collar, and the next thing I knew there she was in a heap, her eyes wide open, looking straight into my eyes. For one second I thought she might be alive. When I knelt down beside her, I knew she was dead.

It?s very difficult to describe the type of death these dogs were handed. It was easy to see that the wolves want to cripple their prey, torture it and then kill it. I have never seen a worse way for any animal or person to die.

I made it back to town and took care of my dogs who made it through this nightmare that happened in the light of day. Then I headed to see if Halley needed to be buried.

When I walked into the veterinarian?s office, I was greeted with, ?Did you find the rest of your dogs?? I tried to say they were all dead, but I could not get the words out; all I could do was cry.

After a few minutes standing alone, I heard a voice behind me say, ?Halley is still alive; do you want to see her?? I instantly headed for the back room, and when I turned the corner I saw this little black ball covered in stitches ? swollen twice her normal size.

I stopped and said out loud, ?Oh my God, Halley, what have they done to you?? When she heard me say her name, she lifted her head, whined and waged her tail. I kneeled down, held her and comforted her ? the whole time wondering if she was the lucky one, or were Blackey and Lady the lucky ones? When I looked into her eyes it was easy to see the only reason she was still alive: the wolf had choked her out.

Her eyes were full of blood; they had left her for dead. The doctor said it was a miracle she was alive at all. Her lungs were badly damaged, but what most concerned us all was infection from all the tears and bites.

I knew this little dog had more heart and desire than a 1,200-pound grizzly bear, and yet was as gentle with my granddaughters as my chocolate lab. If it were just a fight with infection, she would win.

On the way home I called the Idaho Fish and Game to report what had happened. They were very understanding, and I could tell they were sincere when they said they were sorry for my loss. They also made it clear there was nothing they could do for me and that their hands were tied. They said they would write the report and call a federal agent.

Justin, the government trapper, contacted me by phone and arranged to meet me at first light. We were at the site of the attack early the next morning. We went to the site where I had laid Lady in the shade.

She was gone without a trace.

I took Justin to where Blackey was laying, and he had also disappeared. We searched around and found nothing. About that time a crow down below me called three times, so we walked toward the sound.

It did not take long before we were standing over the remains of the dog that saved me from harm. All that was left of him was his head and backbone. Had we been an hour later, there would have been nothing left of him.

We had spooked the wolves off while they were finishing their prey. In five hours all we found of Lady was a pile of fresh wolf scat full of white, brown and black dog hair. Lady was a tri-colored walker ? that color.

Justin and I buried what was left of Blackey. We piled heavy stones on his grave, and I walked away thinking that it could have been me. I could have been just a pile of wolf scat lying on the ground and leaving people to wonder where I had disappeared to.

I couldn?t help but think of the 22-year-old man who was killed and eaten by wolves in Canada this winter. There?s been a slaughter on hound dogs and pets in Idaho, and it is getting worse daily. I have been assured that if these wolves kill any cows, sheep, goats, pigs or horses, they will become a problem and will be dealt with, and the owners will be compensated.

That?s a relief.

Dogs have no value to anyone in the government, it seems.

So what I love to do is over; I will not send another dog to slaughter or feed another starving wolf pack. My concerns now are that the wolves are running out of easy prey and are now eating dogs.

In wet, muddy areas where elk and moose have always been plentiful, I no longer can find even a track.

Perhaps aliens took them off to a safer planet. I hope you did not find that funny.

This is the first documented case in Idaho where wolves have eaten a dog after killing it. The real reason I had to write this story is public safety.

The general public is unaware of the danger that awaits them. Since I retired, I have spent no less than four days a week in the mountains. What has amazed me are how many of these wolves are right around people?s homes. When they are out of easy prey, be ready.

For as long as I can remember, when you were in the mountains for any reason, a dog by your side was a great defense to warn you of predators. I used to believe in this. But now a dog is nothing more than bait to lure wolves.

Recently, while cougar hunting, an associate of mine, who is a licensed guide like myself, had a wolf encounter. He was cougar hunting with a dog on a leash when three wolves charged up on him. With waving arms and a screaming voice, he was able to persuade them to leave, but what if they had been a little hungrier? Your natural instinct will be to defend your companion. I am not saying you should leave your friend at home, but be prepared.

Put a bell or a beeper on him or her so you know where they are at all times.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to pack a firearm. I personally believe pepper spray will not work in a pack attack. Keep your dogs quiet when you are walking ? no barking. If they are tied up in camp, no barking. And don?t let your children play with your pets and have them barking while they?re playing.

My personal belief is that the war has been lost. It?s too late to save our big-game herds in my lifetime.

What I have loved to do for most of my life is over, so enjoy it while you still can. Be prepared. I pray you never encounter a pack of Canadian gray wolves.

Copyright 2005 Idaho Press-Tribune.


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Wolves & Dogs
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2006, 10:07:38 PM »
about the previous story. it's always sad to lose a good dog, many could relate it to the loss of a family member.

saddly stories like these reinforce in my mind the reason to carry a sidearm or atleast a blade in rural areas for four and two footed predators.


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« Reply #34 on: August 25, 2012, 07:55:42 PM »

Posted on behalf of Crafty Dog
by Spartan Dog


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« Reply #35 on: December 16, 2013, 05:56:52 AM »
Matt Larsen, founder of the Modern Army Combatives Program, just shared this with me.


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« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2014, 09:28:30 AM »
Posted on behalf of Crafty Dog
by Spartan Dog