DE: Phony Baloney “Dog Trainer” Steals Pets

Would you give a bunch of money to a dog trainer who called his business “A Bad Dog No More”?  I’m thinking no.  I don’t believe in “bad dogs” in general which makes the whole premise of the business name stink.  I tend to think they are usually untrained dogs with owners in need of education and/or motivation.  But apparently some people would hand over their cash – and their dogs – only to figure out the whole thing was a scam:

Wilmington police say a man who claims to be a dog trainer was swindling unsuspecting pet owners by stealing their dogs and selling them for profit.

While some of the pets have been recovered – not an easy task since unsuspecting buyers on Craigslist presumably bought the dogs in good faith – others are still missing.  The faux trainer, James Whitten, is on the lam:

Wilmington and state police have issued warrants for his arrest on felony charges of theft, two other felonies and two misdemeanors.

But they believe he fled the state.

I wonder which state is the current lucky recipient of Mr. Whittens’ charms?

According to court records, Whitten has a lengthy criminal record that dates back to 1984, when he was a juvenile.

He was convicted in 1990 of unlawful sexual intercourse, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment and unlawful sexual contact. In 1996, he was convicted of resisting arrest, and of stalking the following year. In 2004, he was convicted again of resisting arrest and reckless driving. Theft charges dating from December 2007 are still pending against him in the Court of Common Pleas.

If you spot Mr. Fakey:

Anyone with information about Whitten’s whereabouts may call the Delaware SPCA at [(302)]998-2281 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333.


This is why dogs rule.

A German Shepherd Dog called “Buddy” was hanging with his owner in the workshop next to their home earlier this month when the place caught fire.  The owner suffered minor flash burns on his face and told Buddy to get help.  Buddy dutifully ran out to the nearest main road and flagged down a state trooper responding to a call about the fire.  The officer’s dashboard cam captured Buddy leading him in the dark through the winding back roads to his house.  Today, Buddy will be honored by the Alaskan State Troopers with a special award.

Now don’t get me wrong – I loves me some kittehs – but you don’t see any copper dashboard cam vids of cats in the snow, getting help for their owners.  Just sayin’.

Staffing Trouble at ASPCA?

The NY Daily News says that Animal Precinct star Annemarie Lucas has been “forced off the job“:

The ASPCA would not say why she left, but she’s a defendant in a suit that claims her humane law enforcement unit performed illegal searches and seizures.


Lucas, who earned more than $200,000 in salary and benefits in 2008, was paid more than a year’s salary as part of a buyout agreement, sources told The News.

And then there’s this guy:

Meanwhile, Patrick O’Keefe, a top official at the ASPCA’s Henry Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan, also abruptly resigned.

The ASPCA declined to say why, but a spokeswoman denied it was related to a Daily News report that probers were looking into the death of a Rottweiler allegedly kicked and choked by a vet at the hospital.

I’ll be interested to see if either Ms. Lucas or Mr. O’Keefe decides to release a public statement.

FDA Close to Getting Unfriended

Usually I’m torn between slamming the FDA for their failure to protect consumers in favor of protecting corporations and decrying their inadequate resources to get the job done.  Today though, I’m definitely on the former.

For one thing, I watched Food Inc on PBS last night.  I actually only watched the first hour because I couldn’t take any more.  I’ll go back for the second hour when I’ve gotten my strength back.  Suffice to say the documentary is a graphic reminder that the government agencies mandated to keep our food supply safe are falling down on the job.

For another, FDA is using its scant resources to bring down the hammer on compounding pharmacies – which is an overreaction and a waste of taxpayer money in my view.

And finally, although the FDA did very little during the massive 2007 pet food recalls besides continually tell the public to buy corporate pet food because it’s perfectly safe and you can’t feed your pet on your own, they have now issued a consumer update warning dog owners not to feed bones:

The idea that it’s natural for dogs to chew on bones is a popular one. However, it’s a dangerous practice and can cause serious injury to your pet.

It continues on about how bones may puncture the stomach, get lodged in the intestines, break teeth, etc.  A Veterinarian is quoted as follows:

“There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on.”

Right.  Probably ones that your Vet sells even.  But that’s a total coincidence.

Shame on FDA for making no mention of the differences between raw and cooked bones.  And shame on FDA for leading consumers to believe that the exact same warnings they give about feeding bones don’t also apply to dogs chewing “bone-like products”.  And finally, shame on FDA for perpetuating their beloved myth that it takes a rocket scientist to know how to feed a dog and the general pet owning public is too dumb to ever figure it out.

Trust the professionals, do not try feeding your pet real food, you might kill him.  Also, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Take a Check, Mr. Vick?

When I was a teenager, I sometimes liked to get autographs from bands after the show.  I don’t know where any of those signed ticket stubs and sharpied napkins are now but it seemed important at the time.  I never got a professional athlete’s autograph so maybe that’s why it surprised me to read that Michael Vick will be selling his signature at a VA bookstore this weekend.  At $30 a pop, I assume Vick will make a hefty profit off this – even if he writes reeeeeally slooooowly.

The manager of the bookstore “said the current Philadelphia Eagle will be donating ‘a portion of the proceeds’ to a local charity”, adding that he hopes that local charity will be an animal shelter.

So how much would you be willing to pay for Michael Vick’s autograph, knowing that a portion of your money might be going to a local animal shelter?  I’d rather spend my time and money at the local animal shelter directly, so I know for sure what’s happening with my cash.  Plus the pets at my local shelter let me walk right up and fawn all over them anytime I like – for free.

Should NC Have Mandatory Jail Time for Violent Animal Abusers?

In August 2009, a 3 month old mixed breed puppy named “Susie” jumped on the couch in her NC home.  This, to anyone who has ever owned a puppy or at least has reasonable expectations of puppy behavior, is not in any way surprising.  What is outright shocking is the reaction of the then 20 year old owner, Lashawn Whitehead.

The man severely beat the puppy, breaking her jaw and teeth, tied her up and set her on fire.  Susie had burns covering more than 60% of her body and her ears were burned off completely.  She was abandoned, left for dead in a park, but managed to survive for two weeks even while maggots infested her wounds.  Susie was found by a good Samaritan and the Guilford Co Animal Shelter cared for the dog while she made an amazing recovery with a foster family.  Susie has since been adopted permanently (by a dog bite victim!) and is doing well.

Mr. Whitehead turned himself in to authorities in November:

Whitehead has been charged with felony animal cruelty and burning personal property. If convicted on both charges, he faces almost four years in prison.

His mother claimed Mr. Whitehead had explained his actions as being protective of his infant child who he said was on the couch at the time Susie jumped on it.  The mother also claimed he was in need of mental health treatment.

Last month, Mr. Whitehead was sentenced to probation:

Under North Carolina law, the maximum penalty for animal abuse is probation.

[Susie’s new owner, Donna] Lawrence has developed a team to push the state legislature to make animal abuse carry a prison sentence.

I hope Mr. Whitehead is receiving the mental health care he needs and that his baby and everyone in his household remains safe. And I hope he never, ever gets another pet.

Is Criminalizing Animal Cruelty Videos Wise?

OK, I get the SCOTUS decision on the animal cruelty videos.  The law was written too broadly and criminalized videos likely not intended to fall under the law.

So what’s the best way forward?  Do we ask Congress to draft a new law that specifically names the types of animal cruelty depictions that do not constitute freedom of expression?  Or should the law say something else?  Or would any law intended to prevent the making and distribution of cruelty-vids-as-porn infringe too much on the 1st Amendment?

Updated: SCOTUS Says Animal Cruelty Videos are Protected

You know how we all love freedom of expression until somebody expresses themselves in a way we don’t like?  SCOTUS just wanted to remind us about that:

The Supreme Court struck down a federal law Tuesday aimed at banning videos that show graphic violence against animals, saying it violates the right to free speech.

The weirdest thing about this ruling, which I disagree with on ethical grounds, is that of the nine Supremes, only one ruled in favor of protecting the animals – Samuel Alito.  Go figure.

Added – I am not a legal scholar by any means and the ruling may be technically correct – I don’t know.  But I contend that animal cruelty videos should fall under the obscenity exceptions made for other types of “expression”.  The videos have no “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value” to my mind.  Further, the videos at issue are those featuring live animals being tortured – not computer generated images of animals – therefore the acts depicted are crimes in and of themselves, like child pornography.

What do you think?  Weigh in, and mos def if you are a Constitutional scholar!

Treats on the Internets

PA rescue group pulls dogs from kill shelters in the South and gets them to foster homes

A group called Missourians for Animal Care has posted a video titled The Truth about HSUS on YouTube.

The VA proposal submitted by Gov. McDonnell (R) – which would legally forbid the killing of shelter dogs solely because of breed – would throw a huge monkey wrench into the killing practices of Loudon Co which has historically been an enthusiastic supporter of killing Pitbulls for no reason.

Two Pitbulls reportedly “crashed through” the front door of a GA home and one of the dogs killed the family pet.  Authorities were initially going to return both dogs to their owners but the owner of the dog who did the killing voluntarily surrendered his dog to the local shelter.  That dog is set to be killed.

A CA woman charged with felony animal cruelty after starving her German Shepherd Dog has been suspended from her job at a veterinary clinic.  Many moons ago when I worked in veterinary medicine, we could bring our own pets in for free care – it was a benefit of the job.  If that is the case here (I don’t know), it sort of boggles the mind that she didn’t get care for the dog.  Or at least put part of her paycheck toward dog food which she may have gotten a discount on if she bought it from her clinic (another perk).

MA is getting on board with states (such as Colorado) who recognize that pets are often used and victimized in domestic violence cases:

House Bill 1499, filed by Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Watertown), would allow judges to include animals in restraining orders in cases of domestic abuse.

Anyone caring for the animals while the victim is in a shelter or seeking help also would be protected.

Check out this awesome guide to snakes you may encounter while out and about with your dog

Robeson Co Animal Shelter – Good News and Bad News

North Carolina:  If you’ve been following the Robeson County Animal Shelter’s fight to keep the “heartstick” as its main method of killing pets, you will probably be as surprised as I was to learn that they have suddenly given it up:

The Health Department last week quietly changed its euthanasia policy at the Robeson County Animal Shelter, conceding to animal rights advocates’ demands to euthanize intravenously rather than with heart stick.

This is good news although the shelter is still threatening to open hours later than its usual time of 10am (yo, that’s already late) to allow for extra killing time needed for IV injections.

Then there’s this troubling bit:

The intravenous method will cost less: The Health Department will no longer have to purchase ketamine, a sedative.

An animal cannot be sedated during intravenous euthanization because sedation reduces blood flow, which collapses veins so they’re more difficult to find. Instead, one worker holds the animal, and another finds a vein to inject a shot sodium pentobarbital.

I’m not a Vet but I thought one of the advantages of ketamine was that “[i]t can block nerve paths without depressing respiratory and circulatory functions” – is this incorrect?  Also, what about all the Vets and shelters who give a sedative prior to the IV injection – are they doing it wrong?

We have been lead to believe that sedation followed by IV injection is the most humane method of relieving suffering via euthanasia.  If the Robeson County Animal Shelter knows different, I wish they’d share with the class.