How Not to Deal with a Biting Dog

If a dog bites you, I expect you to do whatever needs to be done in order to prevent the dog from doing any further damage.  Depending on the circumstances, this might include putting a leash on the dog to get control or placing the dog in another room.  Once the bite is over and you have control of the situation, there is no point in fetching your air gun, calling your dog over to you, holding him upside down by the tail and shooting him repeatedly in the face and testicles while he screams and you film the whole thing:

At the prompting of prosecuting attorney Barbara Lachmar. [Judge Thomas] Willmore viewed two videos before the sentencing and called the abuse terrible, noting the dog screeched and squealed while it was tortured repeatedly.

“It comes and sits right down at your feet and you pick it up again and shoot it in its testicles. It wasn’t even doing anything,” Willmore said. “You ought to be ashamed the way you treated that animal.”

Ought to be, but isn’t:

[The owner, Emilio Deshun] Hoy told Willmore on Tuesday that he was sorry but that he still questioned whether his behavior constituted animal cruelty. Hoy said he was only punishing the dog for aggressive behavior after he worked a 12-hour day at his job.  [emphasis added]

Mr. Hoy will get a break from his 12 hour shifts at work while he’s in the pokey:

On April 7, Hoy pleaded guilty to torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony. He was sentenced Tuesday by Logan 1st District Court Judge Thomas Willmore to six months in jail and three years of probation. Hoy must also pay $1,000 to the state and another $1,000 to the Cache Humane Society.

The dog, Bean, has recovered from the physical injuries but is apparently still dealing with some emotional trauma:

Michael Bishop, director of the Cache Humane Society, said Bean was returned recently to the shelter in Logan because he is “showing some post-traumatic-type symptoms and characteristics.” In his sleep, Bean is whimpering and growling, and he sometimes awakens aggressively with a startle, he said.

What have those of you who have dealt with biting dogs done to get control of the situation in the heat of the moment?  What about dealing with the dog afterward?

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!

“Death into the World, and all our woe”

Here is a breakdown of the info contained in this sad story:

  • In July 2009, the owner of a dog called “Angel” in Carson, CA received a citation for failing to feed her dog.
  • A follow-up visit was conducted a week later.  The AC officer advised the owner to take Angel to the Vet.  No follow-up was done.
  • Phone records show that the owner “had made telephone calls in an effort to get medical attention for Angel” – no further details reported.
  • The owner then called AC for help but no one responded for 3 days.  When AC did show up, the owner asked them to take the dog to the shelter because she didn’t want her 9 year old to find Angel dead.
  • AC took Angel to the Carson Animal Shelter and left her to languish in a cage for 10 days without treatment.
  • A rescue group got the dog out at that point and took her to a Vet for care.  Angel was so emaciated, neither her age nor her breed could be determined.  She died a few weeks later.
  • The owner was charged with felony animal cruelty but prosecutors decided to drop the charge in light of the circumstances of the case.

It is presumed the owner could not afford veterinary care and that’s why she was reaching out for assistance.  I can’t help but wonder if someone, anyone involved with Angel prior to the rescue would have stepped up, followed up or done something besides let the dog deteriorate and suffer for all that time, maybe Angel’s life could have been saved.  Even if her medical problems were too overwhelming by the time the call for help went out, at least she could have been made comfortable in her final days.  And if there was no way to bring her comfort, she could have been euthanized to relieve her of her suffering.  All opportunities lost.  We are now a world with one less Angel.

*Title quote from Milton’s “Paradise Lost

The Death of a Cat in Henry Co, IL

At some point, someone had a microchip placed in this beautiful gray cat, perhaps to protect him in the event he was separated from his owner.  We don’t know how the cat got separated from his owner (authorities were unable to locate the owner), but he ended up nailed to a utility pole in Henry Co, IL earlier this month.  Someone had beat the cat’s head in, causing severe brain damage, and nailed one hind paw to a pole, leaving the cat hanging to die.

A good Samaritan rescued the cat and he was taken to a local vet clinic for care.  Sadly, his injuries were too severe and he succumbed after a couple of days.  The Sheriff has pledged to continue working the case until it’s solved and there are large cash rewards being offered:

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Henry County at (800) 227-2324 or (309) 937-2324.

To someone, at some point, this cat had a special value.  I hope the community will honor that by finding the person responsible for this heinous crime before he/she/they prey upon another defenseless pet or person.

More on 98 Dogs Seized in NC

Background here.

Some specifics on the seized dogs have emerged:

  • Two Chihuahuas will require surgery. One has a busted left eye socket, which has left the dog blind. The other has a puncture to her side that allows air to leak from her lungs.
  • A 10- to 12-year-old greyhound is missing much of her lower jaw and nearly all of her teeth from poor dental care. The dog is pregnant. A shelter veterinarian said the dog shouldn’t have been bred after age 2 or 3.
  • An adult Weimaraner is malnourished to the point where the outline of his ribs and hip bones could be seen through his skin. Officials said the dog weighs about 40 pounds, but should weigh about 75 pounds.
  • Other dogs have dozens of ticks — more than 30 on one greyhound; mammary tumors; bloody diarrhea; heartworms; missing teeth; bruising; and open wounds.

This in contrast to the kennel’s web site claims:

On its Web site, Rush Kennel bills itself as “North Carolina’s No. 1 dog kennel,” a place where Weimaraners, Labrador retrievers and other breeds frolic in a fenced play yard before the day ends with a massage, pool bath and pedicure.

18 complaints against the kennel are on file with various agencies.  Among the complaints:

  • A Winston-Salem woman who purchased two poodles last May. One died from worms two days after purchase. The other was diagnosed with glaucoma.
  • A South Carolina woman who said she went to purchase a Weimaraner puppy from the kennel. She asked to see the dog’s parents and but was told “that it wasn’t allowed,” and also told she could not see where the dogs were kept.
  • A man who reported the puppy he picked up from the kennel in January was infected with worms and parasites, and very underweight. The man said he called the kennel to request copies of X-rays and veterinary records, but an employee refused and became defensive before hanging up on him.
  • A woman who purchased a Weimaraner puppy in 2003. At 22 months the dog developed a “terrible cough, began to appear thin and began to tire easily.” The dog was diagnosed with “multiple heart defects and congestive heart failure.” The dog had to be euthanized. The woman wrote that a cardiologist told her the dog’s conditions were hereditary and “a breeder should not have bred a dog with the defect.”
  • A New York woman who said the Yorkshire terrier puppy she bought in June 2008 arrived at her residence “obviously sick, urinating on itself, lethargic, and “it smelled bad” and “it was not moving.” The woman said she received no medical records with the dog and took it to a veterinarian, where the puppy died.

Apparently local AC officers would regularly ferry discarded dogs from the kennel to the local shelter – 40 – 50 of them in the last 8 – 9 years.  The shelter director, Marsha Williams:

“We would have to treat them for whatever illness or other problems they had,” she  said. “They were not in very good shape when they were brought in to us. She said they were tired, like they were too old or she didn’t want to breed them anymore.”

So apparently local animal control, the shelter, the Better Business Bureau and the State Department of Agriculture were all aware of potential problems at this kennel but nobody ever did anything.  NC does have animal cruelty laws on the books but it looks like in this situation, nobody could be bothered to enforce the law.

And now, the HSUS is using the opportunity to again push to get their “puppy mill bill” passed in NC.  Authorities are not enforcing the laws already on the books, why would we add more and where will the funding for enforcement of this new law come from?  It makes no sense to me.  Failure to enforce existing animal welfare laws is not a logical stepping stone to creating new laws.