Thursday, April 27, 2006

Live Eagle Cam

Live Eagle Cam on Hornby Island, BC

This is pretty neat!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Here we go again!! Targeting yet another breed....

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Column: Pet Advice

Provincial legislation made us say goodbye to the pit bull. Well, now there's a more dangerous dog.

For many owners, it was all about "My pit bull is bigger than your pit bull," and due to the utterly unregulated North American dog breeding industry, the breed degenerated into the mess it became.

Anyone who knows a male dog from a female can be a breeder. Most don't bother to check whether you are half-way qualified to own a high-end dog like a pit bull.

When the ban was being drafted, I asked my MPP, "What do you think the people who are attracted to the image of having a pit bull are going to do when you take away their right to have a pit bull? Do you think they're going to buy hamsters?"

Apparently not. The new status dogs are the Molosser breeds, many of which are, or were, so rare that the average trainer, veterinarian, animal control, humane society, etc. had never heard of them.

Next time you see what looks like a pit bull on steroids, something two to three times the size of a pit bull, you're liking looking at one of the Molosser breeds.

Molossers are mastiffs. You've likely heard of English mastiffs, but they're only one of more than 50 kinds.

Molosser breeds are as different in nature as they are size from pit bulls. For the most part, they originated as war dogs; their roles were not to prove "My dog is bigger than your dog," but "My dog can kill you" -- and they did. This is different from the pit bull, which was originally bred for dog-to-dog aggression and to be a decent family pet.

Bad breeding brought instability to pit bulls and I guarantee the same is coming in the Molosser breeds.

All but one of the Molossers I have assessed in the last six months has ended up being euthanized. They were all perfectly healthy, normal examples of their breeds that, in an enthusiast's hands, would still be alive today. They were just too much dog for the people who adopted them.

A year ago I might have received one call a year about a Molosser. I do at least one phone assessment a week now and see one every other week.

The most dangerous part of my job has always been getting in the front door on house calls, but with a little planning -- whether it's a pugnacious Pomeranian or an irascible Rottweiler -- I've been pretty lucky over the last 20 years.

When the backyard breeders get on the band wagon and mess up the Molossers, I have a feeling my luck is either going to run out or I'm soon going to have to do something I've never had to do and that is tell someone, "I don't feel safe. Sorry, I can't help you."

All Molosser breeds are huge and, just like pit bulls, in the wrong hands, they're guns with brains.

I'd really like to see the provincial government force breeders to regulate themselves in a meaningful way or else do it for them and get away from breed banning.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Another One Needs OUR Help


Knuckles Desperately Needs Your Help

I learned of Tiffany McPherson and her dog Knuckles' via a email I received from a fellow BSL fighter up in Ontario, Canada. Tiffany had emailed her seeking advice from anyone who might help her save the life of her beloved Pittie, Knuckles. My friend forwarded Tiffany's email to me, as both Tiffany and I live in Northern California. Over the last few days, I've come to know Tiffany through the many emails we've exchanged regarding Knuckles' desperate situation.

Knuckles was scheduled to be destroyed today, April 21st, following a string of unfortunate circumstances, combined with the fact that she is an American Pit Bull Terrier. I have no doubt that were Knuckles a Golden Retriever or a Lab or any other non-maligned breed, this tragic situation would never have occurred. But it has, so now on behalf of Knuckles and Tiffany, I'm reaching out to dog lovers everywhere to help us save this sweet Pittie's life.

As I mentioned, Knuckles' execution was scheduled for today but, miraculously, Tiffany found an attorney to take her case. Yesterday afternoon, her attorney filed a court petition for a stay of destruction, giving poor Knuckles' a last-minute reprieve. In addition to the stay, the petition also requests a new hearing for Knuckles, to be held at the Solano County Superior Courthouse. The court date has not been set yet and is not expected to happen for at least another two weeks. It is what we in the dog community do in these next two weeks that may very well determine whether Knuckles lives or dies. I cannot stress the urgency of the situation enough; Knuckles' fate literally hangs in the balance.

As of today, April 21st, Knuckles has been confined for 33 long days to a small cage at the Solano County Animal Services facility, and will continue languishing there for at least another two weeks whilst she awaits her new court date. Most of you probably know how hard long confinement without exercise and social interaction is on a dog's physical and mental well-being. That is why it is so important to win Knuckles' freedom as soon as is humanly possible. I believe we can achieve this through an action plan that will alert both the media and public alike to Knuckles' desperate situation.

I'm proposing a grassroots effort that will not only call attention to Knuckles' personal dilemna, but also to the unfair and discriminatory treatment faced by all Pit Bulls and their guardians.

I have included links at the top of this page which contain contact information for the following:

1. The Solano County Animal Control Services facility. Please call, email and/or write to them to express your support for Knuckles' release and for the fair and unbiased treatment of Pit Bulls and their mixes. Call every day, if you can. We must bombard them with our words and voices in order to force their serious attention to this important issue.

2. The local media. Again, please bombard them with phone calls, emails and letters expressing your support for Knuckles' release and for the fair and unbiased treatment of Pit Bulls and their mixes. If we can get the media to cover Knuckles' story, we gain a better foothold in securing her release and in educating the viewing public about the heartbreak and injustice wrought by breed discrimination.

3. Online petition. Please sign Tiffany's petition declaring Knuckles' innocence and calling for her release. It only takes a minute. Tiffany's attorney will present the petition to the Solano County Superior Court in their upcoming hearing.

4. Tiffany's email. Tiffany has been to hell and back these past days, weeks and months. She is left heartsick each and every day that Knuckles spends her life caged and alone, separated from the only family she knows and loves. If you have some words of solace or encouragement to offer, please drop Tiffany a line; Tiffany would so very much appreciate knowing that she is not alone in her struggle.

I have also included links to the following:

1. The case background. This page details the events and misunderstandings which led to Knuckles' impoundment and death sentence.

2. An explanation of the kennel fees which are accruing daily (nearly $1,000.00 by the time the new hearing commences), and other fees which Tiffany is struggling to bear in order to save her cherished companion. I've also explained how 100% of all donations to The Save Knuckles Fund Paypal account will be collected, allocated and disseminated.

3. Case updates. This page will post updates on Knuckles' case as it progresses. Please bookmark this page and check back often to keep current with the results of the media blitz, the court hearing, and the donations which will be tallied on a regular basis.

4. Petition for Stay of Destruction. A copy of the petition filed yesterday, April 20th, calling for a stay of destruction is available for reading by clicking on the link in the right-hand column on the upper portion of this web page. This file is in PDF format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to open. If you do not have Acrobat Reader on your computer, you can download it for free HERE.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pit Bull Attacked By Toy

Pit bull attacked by 'Toy'

Capone, a 2-year-old pit bull owned by Garry Laffredi of Waukegan, is recovering after being attacked by a Pomeranian.

By Dan Moran
Staff Writer

WAUKEGAN — Animal Warden Tina Fragassi said she was not surprised when her office fielded a report Thursday about a 10-pound Pomeranian attacking an 80-pound pit bull.

"They stand their ground, those little dogs," she said, describing how one of her relatives has a small mixed-breed dog that charges her own pit bull and Labrador every time the three dogs cross paths.

That's basically what happened Thursday afternoon at a Sunset Avenue apartment complex, where Garry Laffredi said he was walking his 2-year-old pit bull Capone when a neighbor's Pomeranian came running at them.

"(Capone's) not a bad guy. He's real friendly. He's people friendly," Laffredi said. "He loves other dogs. (But) this little Pomeranian ran out and starts biting him on the foot."

Pomeranians, which are classified as Toy dogs by the American Kennel Club, can be as small as three pounds and resemble a fox in appearance, generally having a bushy orange coat and pointed ears.

Laffredi said the Pomeranian bit Capone's foot hard enough "to draw blood" also managed to nick Capone on the top of the head as he tried to pull the pit bull away on a leash.

Eventually, Laffredi said, Capone "grabbed the dog and more or less set him off to the side" before the two dogs were separated.

Citations issued

Animal control officers called to the scene reported that Laffredi told them the Pomeranian also bit him on the hand two weeks ago, but he chose not to report it at the time. The owner of the Pomeranian was issued four citations for Thursday's incident — failure to prevent a dog bite, owning a dog running at large, not possessing a dog license and not having updated rabies shots.
Each citation comes with a $25 fine if paid within 30 days. Fragassi said in cases of a first-time animal-to-animal bite with no current rabies shots, the animal is not seized but the owner must have the dog checked by a veterinarian for rabies after 10 days.

The owner of the Pomeranian declined to speak about the incident, describing it as an unfortunate episode that she wanted to put behind her.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Heros come in all shapes and sizes

Rescued Pup Ready For Adoption
April 18, 2006 02:28 PM EDT

Abandoned Dog Looking For Good Home
By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE) -- Three young children are being honored by the Louisville Kennel Club, after they saved the life of a dog left for dead. Unfazed by the horrid conditions, or that the animal abandoned was a pit bull, these three "canine heroes" learned there's more to a dog, than meets the eye. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack has their story.

Ten-year-old Nick Peak, 11-year-old Wyatt Medley, and his 6-year-old brother, Tristen, like to watch out for their neighbors.

"They're always rescuing something whether it be a salamander or a bug," says Wyatt and Tristen's mom, Robin.

So they boys weren't bothered when the animal that needed saving was a pit bull named "Bush."

"It would take a kid to do it honestly," said Lindsay Simmons, a Vet Tech at Stonefield Veterinary Associates in Louisville, which is now caring for Bush. "Because they don't know the hype, they don't know all the misconceptions."

The boys heard the call for help a couple weeks ago, while clearing brush behind their southwest Jefferson County homes.

"It sounded like a screeching kind of bark," Nick remembered.

They followed the howls to a chain link pen four doors down.

"The dog seemed kind of friendly," Wyatt said. "So we went in and there was poop everywhere."

Bush was starving. For food, water -- and attention.

"He was excited," Nick said. "He was jumping all the way up and touching the roof," Wyatt added, touching his hand to the tin roof of the 5-foot pen.

Bush had been abandoned for weeks. His owners moved out and just left him behind.

Knowing the breed, and its reputation, the boys decided their options were limited.

"If the pound would get it, they would kill it because they don't accept those dogs," Nick realized.

So Nick, Wyatt and Tristen decided they would take care of Bush. The water came from a nearby creek. The boys snuck food from homes.

For two weeks, the boys cared for bush behind their parents' back. But the dog was still losing weight -- from worms as it turned out. So the boys finally came clean, with just one request: don't let them put Bush to sleep.

"I mean if I didn't already have two dogs and two cats myself we would probably have the dog," Robin Medley said.

Instead, she called her councilman, who called the Louisville Kennel Club, who called Stonefield last Friday.

"We've all fallen in love with him," Simmons said as she held Bush in her lap.

For sure, Bush, about as calm and docile a pit bull as they come, has a fan club.

"He's really awesome. He loves everybody," Simmons said. "He's a happy boy."

Dr. Curt Oliver and his staff nursed Bush back to health. All he needs now is a good home.

"And after what he's been through," Dr. Oliver said, "he deserves it."

You don't have to be a doctor to figure that out.

"We hope it gets a good home and nobody treats it like it used to be treated," Wyatt said.

If you are interested in adopting Bush, call Royalton Kennels at 502-239-7317.

For their efforts, all three boys were given memberships to the Louisville Zoo for kindness to an animal in distress.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Will the legislation stop dog fighting?

Pit bull ban won’t stop dog fighting, experts say
Jillian Van Acker

Some of the items used in underground dog fighting

Dog fighting is more of a problem in central and southwestern Ontario than the rest of the province, says the Society for the Protection of Cruelty against Animals.

Mike Draper, chief of investigations with the Ontario SPCA, attributes this to the proximity of Michigan where there is a significant problem.

The problem in Ontario

“The problem is that training dogs for fighting isn’t illegal, but fighting is,” says Draper. The prison time is more lengthy in the States for crimes against animals. Dog fighters travel across the border to Southwestern Ontario because the penalities are less severe.

The legislation being presented on a provincial level has a clause to make training illegal, but it’s limited, says Ed Small, manager of investigations with the London Humane Society.

“It’s restrictive to pit bulls,” says Small. “The legislation will make it illegal to train pit bulls to fight, but not other dogs.”

Pit bulls and mastiffs are the predominates but other dogs are used too, like the presa canario and dogo argentino.
“If we target one breed, fighters will just switch," says Small. "It will make other dogs more aggressive.”

Another concern about the proposed pit bull ban is that it doesn’t address the punishments of offenders. The maximum penalty for dog fighting is either six months in jail or a $2000 fine.

“We really need to increase the severity (of the punishments),” says Small. “The biggest thing is to increase offences against animals and not just ban the training of pit bulls, but all dogs.”

According to Small, the main problem in the London area is younger groups of people dog fighting on a smaller scale. He says it’s been awhile since any arrests have been made, but there have been numerous investigations.

Aggressive dogs

While dogs used in fights are bred for aggression, Small says these dogs pose only a small threat to people.

“Those dogs are bred for aggression against other animals, not humans. Owners are usually in the ring with the dogs so that they can stop the fight and treat wounds,” says Small.

Cathy Crawford, branch manager of the Chatham-Kent SPCA, is concerned that aggressive dogs are getting out into the community.

“There is the concern that dogs bred for aggression have gotten away from their owners,” she says. “There’s also the issue of puppies. People contact breeders for puppies that have been bred specifically for aggression.”

Crawford says authorities became aware of the dog-fighting problem in the Chatham-Kent area around 1993. They started seeing wounds on some dogs and got phone calls about dead dogs that were being found in garbage bags or dumpsters.

“In 1998, with the assistance of police, we were able to execute a search warrant and found fighting dogs and paraphernalia for fighting,” says Crawford.

Crawford says there are still signs that dog fighting is an ongoing problem in the Chatham area, but it has mainly gone underground and is hard to get evidence. She’s worried the proposed legislation will only make things worse.

“People are going to still fight dogs, and it doesn’t address the issue of irresponsible owners."

What about smaller breeds?

Fear of dangerous dogs, not dangerous breeds
Small dogs are among some of the most feared

Josée Guillemette

Claudio, mixed terrier

With all this talk about big dogs endangering our children and our letter carriers, has the hostility against small breeds of nipping dogs been forgotten? Or has this city-wide dog watch actually generated a bigger fear of all pooches, big and small?

The public and critics agree that canine enforcement should target all dangerous dogs on a case-by-case basis, rather than only keeping a close eye on pit bulls.

In fact, some fear small dogs more than they do big dogs.

“I definitely don’t think small dogs will ever have to be banned from any city, but I think there should be muzzling laws against small dogs,” said Fay Donnelly, a jogger at West Lions Park. “I find they nip more than, say, a golden retriever. They have nasty little tempers, those things. I stay away from them.”

Donnelly admits that she doesn’t tiptoe around all types of small dogs. She’s only afraid of a few.

“Some are cute, like (pugs), but I never go near poodles or any little terrier,” she said. “Unless you’re their owner, those things are big time bitters.”

Vets concerned with small dogs

Carrie Greenslade, an employee at the Talbot Animal Hospital, said the staff there takes precautions when giving treatment to small dogs, terriers especially.

“We actually muzzle a lot of the small ones before we start any treatment on them," she said. “Any of the terrier breeds have the predisposition to sort of attack because they already have it in them to automatically go after something like a critter.”

Greenslade said the staff protects itself against some of the more temperamental large dogs that come in, but that generally, bigger means tamer.

“Many of the big dogs are trained because people don’t tolerate a big dog that bites,” she said. “Owners of bigger dogs, most of the time, train them better because they just know they have to.”

If only it were that simple – that all owners of big and small dogs felt the responsibility to properly train their pet because they just knew they had to. But alas, this isn’t the case. The suggested pit bull ban is evidence of that.

"It will not stop bites"

Vanessa McMain at the Humane Society’s head office said while a province-wide ban might minimize attacks on humans, it will never completely solve the problem of dangerous dogs. “The problem with this legislation is that it will not stop bites,” said the wildlife program officer from her Toronto office. “It doesn’t consider the implications with other breeds.”

She said the government should start acknowledging that dangerous dogs are not a result of bad genes, but rather bad breeders.

“If your dog is acting in a menacing way, it’s often the fault the breeder,” she said. “They’re breeding dogs, but they’re not breeding a good pet . . . and that’s the case with many popular breeds.”

McMain said popular breeds of dogs are often recognized as the most violent simply because there are more of them.

So, which popular small dogs are statistically more dangerous?

“I have known cocker spaniels to bite,” said McMain. “I saw it when I worked in a hospital, but again, it’s also because they’re a popular breed.”

According to a report issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the cocker spaniel - which rarely tops twenty pounds - is second only to the german shepherd in sending children to hospital.

Number of Bites Percent Injuries
German Shepherd - 40 14.4%
Cocker Spaniel - 16 5.8%
Rottweiler - 16 5.8%
Golden Retriever - 15 5.4%
Other - 191 68.7%

Total - 278 100%

Source: CHIRPP Report, July 1997

Michelle Beattie of the Blue Cross Animal Hospital said that the most vicious small dogs - cocker spaniels, chihuahuas and yorkshire terriers - bite because they are poorly trained. She said the main problem is that people who choose a small dog over a big one often do so because they see such ownership as less responsibility.

“The people who buy them often do so because they don’t want to be bothered with the training that goes into having a bigger dog,” she said. “And turns out to be a big problem because the doggie ends up being the dominant member of the house.”

Beattie said these are the kind of spoiled dogs that nip at strangers. “You don’t hear of small dog bites very much because they heal pretty fast, but they do happen quite a bit.”

McMain said that statistics showing severe bites caused by a wide range of breeds should motivate better dog training.

“There needs to be better education for owners because all dogs can bite,” she said. “We would like to see mandatory training.” Such training is available in London.

And she’s not only talking about training for dogs. Owners alike, she said, should undergo training, too.

“You, too, need to be trained in order to learn how to properly train your dog."

Here are some suggestions on what owners can do when their dog is aggressive or needs training.

Why is backyard breeding a problem?

Backyard breeding major concern
Trevor Pritchard

The sleepy-eyed dachshund on Helen MacPherson’s armchair pokes his nose up, looks around lazily, and slumps back into the cushions.

“We’re getting old,” laughs the 72-year-old MacPherson, trying unsuccessfully to coax ten-year-old Texas off his comfortable perch.

Today, MacPherson has only two dogs – the purebred Texas and Prudence, a half-blind Cairn terrier. But for almost twenty years, MacPherson was one of the top rottweiler breeders in Southern Ontario.

Now retired, MacPherson has scrapbooks filled with mementos from those days, when she and her husband bred and raised the dogs on their pig farm in Ankona. Along with dozens of photographs, she also has the certifications from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) for all of her purebred rottweilers.

For two decades, Helen MacPherson was a registered rottweiler breeder. But many breeders are not certified by the CKC, and it’s these “backyard breeders” who are now causing concern – both to legitimate breeders and the public alike.

Irresponsible breeding

In most cases, irresponsible backyard breeding means that litters of unwanted puppies end up in pounds and animal shelters.

But when it comes to rottweilers, akitas, and other so-called “dangerous dogs,” backyard breeding can turn into a deadly problem.

Link: Pit bull ban won’t stop dog fighting, experts say

The CKC has a stern code of ethics designed to curtail unregistered backyard breeding.

"It shall be the aim of every breeder to breed dogs that are healthy and sound in both mind and body, to ensure that the dogs are true to their heritage and that they meet the requirements of the CKC Breed Standards." - CKC Code of Ethics "Very dangerous"

Don French is a professional rottweiler breeder and trainer in Ingersoll, and the former Ontario director of the Rottweiler Club of Canada. He wants to see governments at the provincial and municipal levels come down hard on unlicensed breeders.

“We as professional breeders really look down on backyard breeding,” says French. “It’s very dangerous . . . We’ve got dogs of unknown origin being bred, producing puppies whose temperaments may be uncertain, (and) whose ability to be trained or be socialized (as) a good dog in society is sometimes hampered.”

"They have no responsibility!" French says the problem with backyard breeders is that they’re usually more concerned about profiting from their dogs’ litters than making sure the puppies are properly trained.

And often, it’s the new owner who’s left to deal with the consequences - like finding someone who can train an unruly, unresponsive animal.

“They have no responsibility to the people who buy the puppies,” says French. “A lot of times if people have problems with the puppies, the breeder doesn’t give them any follow-up.”

If breed bans won't work, what will?

Canadian vets and humane societies oppose breed bans
Francis Henville

Many Canadian municipalities already have breed-specific dog bans in place. While this legislation is popular in a number of communities, what many people don’t know is that the National Companion Animal Coalition (NCAC) is strongly opposed to these bans.

The NCAC represents many Canadian professionals:

the Canadian Kennel Club
the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies
the Canadian Veterinary Medicical Association
the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

In March 2004, the NCAC released a statement explaining its position on breed-specific bans. The greatest fault it finds with such bans is that it is difficult to objectively determine the breed of a dog. The NCAC points out that “many municipalities do not have access to qualified persons that could accurately perform breed identification.” The NCAC believes that dogs become dangerous for a variety of reasons. Poor training, lack of exercise and mistreatment are responsible in some cases. In other cases, a certain dog may not fit an owner’s lifestyle. Of course, the NCAC also recognizes that some dogs are dangerous because they are specifically bred to be aggressive.

According to the NCAC, rather than imposing breed-specific bans, municipalities should impose hefty fines on owners of dogs that bite. They should also enforce confinement laws to keep dogs under control, and offer incentives to encourage dog owners to be responsible.

To answer more questions on the issue of breed-specific bans, we have some answers from a Canadian Federation of Humane Societies representative, which you can explore through text or audio.

What is London doing about Dangerous Dogs??

Breed-specific bans criticized at city hall meeting
Dana Grimaldi

Almost everyone at Tuesday's public feedback meeting opposed a breed-specific ban on pit bulls in London.

The meeting, held Nov. 16, 2004, gave people a chance to voice their opinions on whether London should create a new dangerous dog bylaw.

November 16 city council meeting

The majority of those who attended the meeting had one thing to say to London’s Environment and Transportation committee: "Ban the deed, not the breed."

The phrase was repeated throughout the night by people opposed to breed-specific bans in London.

The meeting was scheduled to run from 4-6 p.m. By 4 p.m. the room was filled with over 120 people and late-comers were turned away.

Councillor Roger Caranci, chair of the ETC, made sure everyone who came to the meeting had a chance to speak. By 8 p.m, at the meeting's close, many Londoners had spoken out against breed-specific bans.

Link: An interview with Roger Caranci

Many say it wouldn't work

Most people were against the ban because they did not think it would be an effective means of solving the city’s problem.

Annette Sackrider, an Ingersoll dog breeder, said she didn’t believe breed-specific bans had been successful anywhere else.

Others made emotional appeals, asking that the council not ban their ‘friends’.

Drucilla Robb told the crowd that one of her pit bulls prevented her grandson from falling down the stairs.

Some in the audience asked whether London even needs a new bylaw.

Kelley Wilkinson, director of public relations for the London Canine Association, said that London should focus on enforcing the bylaws already in place.

Many Londoners protested the council’s inclusion of other dog breeds like akitas, rottweilers and presa canarios in their two draft bylaws.

One woman who works with rottweilers said the dogs are not vicious. Pat McKenzie and her
rottweiler teach kids how to act around dogs. She said educating people, rather than eradicating a particular breed, will help alleviate the problem.

Another man was worried that the council wanted to ban golden retrievers, the breed of his guide dog.

Angry outbursts

When Ivan Kasuriak said he supported a ban on pit bulls, telling the council his neighbor’s dog had recently lunged at him, he drew cries of protest from the crowd.

“Let's muzzle you!” one man yelled, prompting Coun. Caranci to warn the man that if he made another outburst he’d be asked to leave.

Some people at the meeting wanted Caranci to leave the decision to the province. Attorney General Michael Byrant has put a bill to ban pit bulls through a first reading in parliament.

The fate of pit bulls and other "dangerous dogs" has not been decided yet. Caranci repeatedly told the crowd that the meeting was for public input, which the Environment and Transportation Committee would take into consideration at their next meeting.

Although the issue was not resolved the meeting did have one concrete result. Other ways of dealing with dangerous dogs were brought to the attention of the committee.

"Tonight the overriding issues were education, licencing and enforcement and those are issues...that we are looking at putting forward in our bylaws," said Caranci.

"The message was loud and clear that that’s what they want to see done and that’s probably where we will end up going," he said.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The truth about PETA

What a crock of POOP! (Hence the brown text)

Controlling an animal as deadly as a weapon

Ingrid Newkirk
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Most people have no idea that at many animal shelters across the country, any pit bull that comes through the front door doesn't go out the back door alive. From California to New York, many shelters have enacted policies requiring the automatic destruction of the huge and ever-growing number of "pits" they encounter. This news shocks and outrages the compassionate dog-lover.

Here's another shocker: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the very organization that is trying to get you to denounce the killing of chickens for the table, foxes for fur or frogs for dissection, supports the shelters' pit-bull policy, albeit with reluctance. We further encourage a ban on breeding pit bulls.

The pit bull's ancestor, the Staffordshire terrier, is a human concoction, bred in my native England, I'm ashamed to say, as a weapon. These dogs were designed specifically to fight other animals and kill them, for sport. Hence the barrel chest, the thick hammer-like head, the strong jaws, the perseverance and the stamina. Pits can take down a bull weighing in at over a thousand pounds, so a human being a tenth of that weight can easily be seriously hurt or killed.

Pit bulls are perhaps the most abused dogs on the planet. These days, they are kept for protection by almost every drug dealer and pimp in every major city and beyond. You can drive into any depressed area and see them being used as cheap burglar alarms, wearing heavy logging chains around their necks (they easily break regular collars and harnesses), attached to a stake or metal drum or rundown doghouse without a floor and with holes in the roof. Bored juveniles sic them on cats, neighbors' small dogs and even children.

In the PETA office, we have a file drawer chock-full of accounts of attacks in which these ill-treated dogs with names like "Murder" and "Homicide" have torn the faces and fingers off infants and even police officers trying to serve warrants. Before I co-founded PETA, I served as the chief of animal-disease control and director of the animal shelter in the District of Columbia for many years. Over and over again, I waded into ugly situations and pulled pit bulls from people who beat and starved them, or chained them to metal drums as "guard" dogs, or trained them to attack people and other animals. It is this abuse, and the tragedy that comes from it, that motivates me.

Those who argue against a breeding ban and the shelter euthanasia policy for pit bulls are naive, as shown by the horrifying death of Nicholas Faibish, the San Francisco 12-year-old who was mauled by his family's pit bulls.

Tales like this abound. I have scars on my leg and arm from my own encounter with a pit. Many are loving and will kiss on sight, but many are unpredictable. An unpredictable Chihuahua is one thing, an unpredictable pit another.

People who genuinely care about dogs won't be affected by a ban on pit- bull breeding. They can go to the shelter and save one of the countless other breeds and lovable mutts sitting on death row. We can only stop killing pits if we stop creating new ones. Legislators, please take note.

Ingrid Newkirk is president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( and the author of "Making Kind Choices" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2005).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Meet the Family

So, I've had some pictures of the dogs.....But what about the rest of the family? I do have more than just my two dogs.....

I will begin from the oldest to youngest pets that I've had with me over the years.

This is Dana. She's 7 years old. She is the nicest of all the cats I have met. She sleeps on one of the bullies heads. Anyone and anything can pet her and she is the happiest kitty for that. Dana was born a barn cat and was given to me through strange circumstances. She, as a kitten ran up to someone that had visited the farm and jumped in their arms. After that, she wasn't put back on the ground of the barn and came to live with me a short time after.

We all know about Brutus and Sadie, but I will reintroduce them for those of you that don't.

Brutus is a little over 2. We got him from a friend that just HAD to breed his bitch. He was an absolute must. We saw him when he was only a week old or so. His mom had 8 puppies and Brutus was the biggest of them all. We would see him every day until it was time to bring him home. A short while after he was brought home, he became terribly sick. We were worried because he was getting sick uncontrolably and I tried every home remedy to stop it, but to no avail. I took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with Parvo. The evil, evil disease that some puppies contract. So, the vet kept him for the weekend and he was treated, cured, and released.

Sadie is a much different story. She was with her sister and lived next door to my friend. She and her sister were in a family with 4 small children that walked them constantly. When they would get tired and try to lie down, the kids would make them walk some more. I don't know how many times I got mad and yelled at the kids to treat their dogs better, but I was looking out for the dogs. Anyways, a short time after the dogs were brought there, the family left the home and left the dogs. Since these were Staffie mixes, I didn't want to call the Humane Society out of fear with the new pit bull ban and there was NO WAY that I was calling Animal Care and Control to report them as strays. They would have been killed instantly. So, I brought them home to my house. I was able to find a home for them, but Sadie's home needed some time before they could take her in. It was a few months, and then I couldn't part with her. She's so special to me. She just couldn't leave me then.

Now there's Lenny. He's 2 and a great pet. I got him as a baby at the pet store that I used to work at. He "apparently" bit the woman in the small animal department, so she was hesitant to show people what a great little guy he was. I brought him home because I felt that he wasn't getting enough interaction there and I could give him all the time in the world at home. Lenny will come for car rides with me in the warmer months of the year. My friend's child, who is now 6 absolutely loves him and wants him to come out whenever we are going anywhere in the car. Lenny is very content to ride on his shoulder, or run around the back seat of the car. He likes, like all rats, to be held and played with all the time. I tried to introduce Lenny to other rats, but that didn't work. He is much happier as a lone rat. I know that doesn't make ANY sence, but it's true. I had a pair of rats that he wanted nothing to do with. He prefers human interaction any day of the week.

Next is Nala. She's almost 2 and a ball of fun. Nala came to me from a friend who couldn't keep her because she only got along with one of the other cats that lived with her. There were 5 cats in total, and Nala was miserable. She knew that I could give her a home and was sure that Nala and Dana would get along great. Well, she was right! Nala LOVES Dana. She even calls for her when Dana isn't in eye sight.

Next is my beautiful Kaori. I have no idea how old she is. A friend of mine has 3 rabbits and I met them and fell in love. I got Kaori from Animal Care and Control. She cost me a whole $5 and I think it was the best $5 that I've ever spent. She's great. I have built her a huge enclosure in the spare room where she spends most of her time running loose, but is locked up at night and while I'm at work. She's one friendly girl and really gets along with all the pets in my home. I haven't introduced the cats to her, but I don't think that I will. She did see Dana while I had her running around in the living room, but they didn't get close to each other.

And last, but certainly not least is Chester. I have no idea how old Chester is either. I adoped him from the Humane Society and brought him home a few weeks ago. He was stuck in the cage there for almost 6 months. He's having a great time at my house. He's got a huge enclosure that he doesn't know what to do with. I put the igloo in there, but I think I might take it out as he is hiding in there most of the time. I think it's probably better for him to be booting around the pen, but I don't like that he hides all the time. I'll proabaly keep the igloo in there for a while longer and see what happens. Before I built him the pen, there was no room in the cage that I had him in for the igloo, so I didn't have it in there.

Well, I think that's enough from me for a while.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Close call

I'm going to use "Lynn" and "Buster and Sheeba" to tell this story in case any unlawful people decide to read it. This happened to my "friend" last week.......

On a warm sunny afternoon, Lynn had brought over a friend to play with her new rabbit. No, was a hamster. Well, while they were upstairs, she heard the dogs barking and barking and barking. They weren't stopping. Lynn yelled down the stairs that it was okay and they could stop barking, and they did. A minute or two later, she thought that it was quiet, too quiet in the house for having two little yappy dogs. They hadn't spoken, so she called them and they didn't come running. Panicing, Lynn ran down the stairs to find no dogs in her house. She immediately ran out the front door where Buster was across the street sniffing the grass. Sheeba was no where in sight. She called Buster over and he came darting in the house. Then she was calling for Sheeba. She came running too. Whew. There were people across the street, but I, whoops, I mean Lynn didn't think that the dogs even bothered saying hi to them.

The good thing about this story is that Animal Care and Control didn't come, or wasn't called, so Lynn and her pit bulls, I mean Yorkies are safe and it felt good for her dogs to have a two minute run of freedom. :)

Those of you that know Lynn, will understand totally. :)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Another Greenies - Near Death

On Tuesday April 4, 2006 my 6 yr old Border Collie Meg became ill shortly after eating her dinner and was taken to the Veterinary Emergency Clinic. She was trembling, lethargic, disoriented, her eyes were dull, her gums were pale and her extremities were cold and clammy. By the time we got there she was dribbling urine and seemed to be straining. It appeared to me that she had ingested something toxic, although she had either been in my home or my van and had been supervised when in the park. I had not seen her eat anything outside, and we were interacting the whole time playing fetch. The clinic kept her overnight, put her on an i.v. and did some tests. By early the next morning she was looking better and at 7am the VEC released her to me with instructions to take her directly to my local vet and leave her there for observation. The lab tests had come back showing nothing remarkable. My own vet released her to me that afternoon and she seemed much better but tired. That evening, after her dinner, she started to tremble again, but it did not progress to where it had the previous night. Then she started barking. Lying on the bed initially, then pacing constantly barking non-stop. I could not shut her up. She then went down into the basement and appeared to be hiding. I called her back up and when I went down she had pooped there, which is unusual for her. The poop was a glutinous artificial green colour, with white mucous threaded through it. It finally hit me - I had given all my dogs a Greenie the afternoon before Meg got sick. I called the Vet Emergency Clinic and asked if this was a possibility and they responded that it certainly was, and they saw dogs regularly that had Gastro problems because of Greenies. I had not even bought them, they were giving them away by the bagful at the All About Pets Show, they asked me what type of dog I had (I had her with me) and this was what I was given by the Greenies vendor. This was the first time I'd given them to my dog. I spent $700 at the Vet Emergency because of a Greenie and spent a sleepless night thinking my dog might have organ failure.

I am not a happy camper. I feel that I am entitled to compensation for the vet bill. This dog happens to be a meticulous chewer, she carefully and thoroughly chews her kibble at meal times. She is not given to swallowing items whole or even in chunks. If I do not get a response, I am quite capable of picketing the Woofstock Festival and any other event that your product is being promoted at. While I am grateful that my dog appears to have no long term effects from this incident, a Google search shows that this is not always the case. I think that it is time to discontinue this product. No animal, not even a small percentage, should be put at risk by a treat.

Luan Egan - Toronto, ON Canada

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pit Bull Mothers New Kittens

Pit Bull Mothers New Kittens
Owner Says Dog Sheltering Little Cats

BOSTON -- A local pit bull's motherly behavior is belying the fierce stereotype that often characterizes her breed.

A dog named Ramona in Stoughton, Mass., has become the mom for three orphaned kittens.
Ramona's owner is fostering the kittens until they can be placed for adoption.

She said since they arrived, Ramona takes care of them like they were her own.

She cleans them, watches over them and showers them with affection.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Farmer KILLS Tennant's Dogs

Farmer shoots pesky dogs

PORT PERRY -- It is, indeed, a tangled web, spun from a mixture of small town fact and rumour, its storyline replete with the prerequisite twists and turns, and its complicated plot supported by a cast of characters that need no Hollywood scriptwriter to bring them to life.

There is Katie Barker, age 21, who bartends at the local Duke of Durham, a pub owned by her parents, Wayne and Monica Barker. She had three pit bulls, one she owned, and the other two she was about to adopt.


Those two dogs belonged to her neighbour, Craig Godman, age 31, who lived beside her and her boyfriend, separated by an adjoining wall in an old farmhouse-cum-duplex situated outside of town on Harper Rd.

All three dogs are now dead and buried in a manure pile

Indeed, the plot thickens.

William Cohoon is the landlord who owns the old farmhouse. He is a retired doctor, a surgeon by trade, as well as one of the coroners for the region.

He is also a farmer who raises beef cattle and chickens on a spread that backs on to that old farmhouse.

Longhaired, and with thick sideburns, the 67-year-old physician, respected for his years of medical practice as well as his success in recruiting new doctors to the area, was described by one local as looking like "someone who went to Woodstock back in '69 and never left."


It is a description of Cohoon that is not far from the truth -- he declined to have his picture taken.

Dr. Cohoon is also the landlord who shot those three dogs one day when Katie Barker was away from home, and then buried them in the manure pile behind one of his barns -- all which goes a long way to explaining the posters that once adorned a number of telephone poles here.

"Doctor Cohoon is a pet killer," they read.

This is not to say, however, that Dr. Cohoon makes any bones about what he did.

Because he doesn't.

"The dogs were out running my cattle, and on more than one occasion," he explains.

"I advised the kid that if she didn't keep her dogs locked up or chained that they would have to answer to what they were doing.

"They were shot with good reason."

Sgt. Al Brouwer was the duty officer in charge of Durham Regional Police's Port Perry detachment on the day he was asked about the shooting of three dogs, and whether all was on the up and up, and that's exclusive of the newish legislation that demands all pit bulls in Ontario be leashed and muzzled when outside their domicile.

"Dr. Cohoon is a farmer here, and he has every right to protect his livestock from those dogs or any dog. As far as we're concerned, he did no wrong," says Brouwer, indicating that the gun the doctor used was also properly registered.

He suggests, however, that there is perhaps more to that Harper Rd. farmhouse than meets the eye.

"Check your own newspaper," he says.

There wasn't much in the Sun about the drug bust that went down two weeks before three pit bulls met their end, but the local Scugog Standard had the matter covered like a blanket.

It told of how Durham Regional's drug enforcement unit, supported by heavily armed members of the tactical support unit, as well as uniformed officers, took down the side of the old farmhouse where one Craig Godman lived -- he being the person who resided on the other side of the wall of the duplex where Katie Barker lived with her boyfriend -- and allege they found a marijuana grow-op with an estimated street value of $50,000.

That, and a loaded shotgun.

Pit bulls and grow-ops have all the optics of one plus one equalling two. But, in this case, the three pit bulls in the farmhouse's breezeway appear to have presented no problem to the police, which explains how Katie Barker came home to suddenly become the additional caregiver of her neighbour Craig Godman's two dogs -- he was in custody on drug and weapons charges, and three of his friends who were with him at the time of the bust were also facing an assortment of drug charges.

"I thought something might have been going on next door," she says.

"But it was none of my business."

The old farmhouse is vacant now. Katie Barker says Dr. Cohoon turned off the heat and water, forcing her and her boyfriend to move out.

Dr. Cohoon says not only was the rent in arrears, but that the place had been "trashed."


She said; he said, yes. But the farmhouse, judging by what could be seen through a window, did not appear imminently rentable on the day it was visited -- and that's includes either side of the duplex's separating wall.

"You want a story? Then look at landlord-tenant issues," Cohoon says. "There's no story in shooting three dogs."

William Cohoon says, quite matter of factly, that he has no idea whether the three pit bulls were vicious or not.

"They weren't to me," he says. "But they're pit bulls, aren't they? They're subject to change immediately.

"Sweet one minute, not the next."


He put them down -- "cleanly shot and euthanized," he says -- not because they were vicious, but because they were chasing and endangering his livestock, a herd of 70 beef cattle with a value of about $1,100 per head.

"Like I said, I had warned the kid about those dogs," he says. "When she came home, I told her what I had done.

"But it is not as if they were shot without good reason.

"And, yes, they're in the manure pile," he admits.

"Composting," as he puts it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Abandoned Pups

The only luck these guys have had so far is that they were abandoned at a Humane Society that sits on an American border and that there are some who know that the first two letters of BSL says it all.

They are at the Niagara Falls Humane Society. They are getting a lot of support.

Help us become American Citizens!

Our owner abandoned us six Pit bull puppies in this garbage pail in the parking lot of the shelter.

Ontario law now says we have to either be euthanzied or leave the Province. Erie County SPCA has kindly said they would take us but we need to be vaccinated for rabies along with making sure we are healthy and this is where you can help.

To help cover the costs we are asking for your help. So if you would like to make sure we get to our new home safe and healthy please make a donation today. You can do this by coming to the shelter, mailing your donation or make your donation online or visit us at

Pit Bull Test

Do you fear or suspect you may be harbouring one of these fearsome beasts in your home? Take this test to find out the definitive answer!


Test 1- Keep the suspected pit bull dogs in another room of your average home. Wait until they are asleep. The evaluator, in the formal living room of the home, will take an expensive, small-sized throw pillow from the sofa, and toss it into the middle of the floor. Within two minutes, a pit bull type dog will appear, and will circle and mash the pillow with its feet. Grunting noises of satisfaction in making the pillow just so may occur the more full-blooded the dog is. The dog will then lie down on the pillow, trying to make itself as small as possible, so that it fits as much of its body on the pillow as possible. A snort or whiffle of contentment is a definite sign that it's a pibull you're dealing with.

Test 2- Confine the suspected pit bull dogs in another room. This test will take place in the master bedroom of an average home. You need a queen or king sized bed, immaculately made up. Place a small, fresh out of the dryer personal garment, such as a sock or underwear on the edge of a corner of the bed. Within two minutes a pitbull will show up, jump up on the bed and lay down on the item.

Test 3- This test takes place in the bathroom of an average home. The evaluator will enter the bathroom, closing the door firmly but not completely. As soon as the evaluator sits down on the john, a pitbull will smoosh the door open with their face and come on in. They will stare at you pointedly as you go about your business. Some will lurk behind the door, with one eyeball staring at you in a disconcerting way (assuming the evaluator is shy).

Test 4- The evaluator will sit on a sofa or chair. The suspected pit bull will be placed across the room. The evaluator will hold their hand, all fingers facing forward, palm down, and reach out toward the dog. As they reach, they will rotate their hand about 30 degrees from left to right (like the queens wave, only facing the ground). A proper pitbull will immediately understand that this is the universal, non-verbal signal for petting, and will proceed to cross the room, and place their big, fat head under your hand. Grinning by the dog or evaluator is optional. Leaning on the evaluator or trying to ooze into their lap is a sure sign that it's a pitbull.

Test 5- The evaluator will allow the dog to lick his or her face. If the dog tries to lick the inside of your eyeball, ear, or nostril, it's a pitbull.

Test 6- This test will take place in a spacious area. The evaluator will wait until the suspected pitbull is lounging comfortably on a sofa or bed, and appears disinterested in the evaluator. The evaluator will casually sit on the floor, and begin to either do excercise type stretches or attempt to use their 'Ab- Roller". A true bull breed will ooze off the sofa, and come and stand on your hair, or stick their very cold nose into your eye, or lay down on you, thus negating the exercise you were going to do, in favor of petting the dog.

Remember, this test has been developed to allow law enforcement and the justice system to fairly and accurately determine which dogs should be unfairly punished for being the breed that they are. This six step test is an ideal way to address these issues in your community- be sure to ask for it!