Follow-up: Austin Police issue apology for shooting family dog and release more details

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Before I get into this story more, I want to say that I’m not one to routinely or callously criticize law enforcement officers. I have a high degree of respect for anyone who puts their life on the line to protect innocent people – from law enforcement to firefighters to the brave men and women who serve the nation in our military.

But that being said, this level of service and bravery should not serve as a shield from being exposed for any wrongdoing.

The case in Austin, Texas where the police officer shot a family dog should serve as a call to better train officers across the country in dog behavior. Cases such as the one in Austin have happened enough now – as reported today by the Huffington Post – that it should spark some better training.

The Huff Post piece linked to a Daily Beast article from 2009 that reported dog attacks on US Postal workers have become rare. Why? – Because mail carriers are offered training on how to distract dogs and are “shown a two-hour video and given instruction on how to recognize and read a dog’s body language, how to differentiate between aggressive charging and playful bounding, and how to tell a truly dangerous dog from a merely territorial one.”

The Beast also noted that between 2000 and 2002, the Indianapolis police shot 44 dogs, as reported by the Indianapolis Star.

ABC News filed this video report, which includes interviews with the dog’s guardian in Austin and dash-cam video and audio from the incident in Austin. From the audio, it seems clear to me that the officer is one who should be trained the way postal workers are trained.

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I’ve been approached on numerous occasions by aggressive dogs and in none of these instances, barring one occurrence I recall when I was a small child, did the dogs bite me. And never did I have anything I could use to protect myself, other than my wits.



Romney and Obama? – We need an animal-welfare candidate

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On one side, Mitt and Ann Romney continue to defend the act of riding their dog on top of their car – and with their statements of late are only making the news worse. And on the other side, we have President Obama opening up the Atlantic seaboard to oil and gas exploration.

While I feel the country is slowly but surely becoming more compassionate to animals and I hope – more environmentally aware, there is still a long way to go. And much of the lag seems to be with elected officials at the federal and state levels.

Let’s start with President Obama, who has proposed opening up a huge zone along the east coast to oil and gas exploration.

He is quoted in an NPR article as saying -

There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.”

Huuh? What? So move us away from fossil fuels by opening up more of the ocean floor to get more fossil fuels. Sorry Mr. President; you have always seemed to be on the logical side, but you jumped off the oil rig on this one. Maybe some people will come forward to spin this around in some way. But really, it doesn’t make sense.

And what really doesn’t make sense is opening up more areas to deep-water drilling, fresh off the worst man-made environmental disaster in US history – the BP Gulf Oil Gusher. Have Obama and the Republicans forgotten how bad the equipment proved to be and how bad the oversight was and how long it took to cap the gushing well?

This is important stuff. People died on that oil rig. Untold number of animals suffered to an extreme degree and untold numbers died. The Gulf of Mexico is still being negatively impacted, from the wetlands to the Gulf floor. So in response, we’re going to drill more in deep water?

Clearly, the technology and the level of oversight is far from being where it should be. I am a native of the North Carolina coast and until the age of 5 lived across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t want to see this area spoiled by a spill.

It’s like a county determining that an intersection is the most dangerous, most heavily traveled in the area. So in response, officials decide to divert more traffic to the intersection, without even determining a better road design.

NPR also reports the conservation group Oceana is calling the President’s decision a “wholesale assault” on the oceans.

And then we have the Romneys, who keep trying to defend riding Shamus on the roof of their car on a 12-hour drive to Canada. A Petside post notes Ann Romney is now comparing Shamus’ ride on the roof to riding a roller coaster.

Really? Maybe more like throwing up and being in severe distress from riding on a roller coaster. Oh, that’s what she means. Or no?

The couple still doesn’t seem to understand the severity of this act. They don’t understand why it is illegal to do this. And instead of stepping to the microphone to admit what they did was wrong, they to continue to make light of the story.

We need more candidates and elected officials who are supporters of animal welfare – at every level.

Report: Ticks crawling up wall in kennel at Tucson Greyhound Park

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I’ve read comments of late from defenders of greyhound racing, laying the claim that racing dogs are better cared for than dogs living with families. Even in the face of facts and regular news accounts to the contrary – to the extreme contrary.

And now we have another example of the kind of care racing dogs recieve. An Arizona Department of Racing Stewards Report from March 6, 2012 notes a inspection revealed ticks crawling up the wall inside at kennel at Tucson Greyhound Park.

GREY2K USA co-founder Carey Theil reports on his blog that this far from being the first time this track has faced a report such as this. There are also on-going problems with the conditions on the track.

I can safely report that the greyhounds are far better off in homes with loving families. Of course the sad thing is so many never get even the opportunity to find a loving home.

It’s time to shut greyhound racing down, across the US and worldwide. There are a host of options for people to gamble their dollars away on. Let the people who work in the dog racing industry find jobs in the casinos and release the dogs from this cruelty – now.

Video: A different kind of pack mentality

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Off topic? – Yes. But then again, it is an example of a positive pack mentality:

Burger King announces move to cage-free eggs and cage-free pork products

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Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday morning to announce a major shift in the direction of animal welfare for Burger King.

The No. 2 fast-food giant will by 2017 phase out the use of eggs and pork products from severely confined hens and pigs.

Pacelle was also quoted by the Associated Press as saying – “So many tens of thousands of animals will now be in better living conditions. Numerically this is significant because Burger King is such a big purchaser of these products.”

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The AP also noted Burger King uses hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of millions of pounds of pork each year.

We’ve still got a long road to travel to end suffering, but this news is a positive step in the right direction. The use of gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for chickens is barbaric and if more companies like Burger King would make this call, maybe the factory farming industry will end these practices for good.

Study shows baboons have rudimentary reading skills

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A French university study has found baboons could very well have rudimentary reading skills. The baboons have been able to distinguish between actual words and scrambled letters.

Four-year-old Dan has an 80-percent success rate in identifying words and has reportedly learned 308 four-letter words.

An Associated Press reports makes this assertion -

“” The study shows that reading’s early steps are far more instinctive than scientists first thought and it also indicates that non-human primates may be smarter than we give them credit for. “”

The results of the study were published earlier this month in the journal Science.

And the best aspect of this story involves the testing methods used. The baboons were not locked in rooms and forced to engage in the testing. They could go into 10 computer booths any time they wanted to. Some worked more than others.

The damage from the BP Gulf Oil Gusher goes on and on and on and ….

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Despite the BP TV ads that paint a rosy picture, the Gulf Oil Gusher continues to wreak havoc under the surface of the water and in the adjacent wetlands.

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The National Wildlife Federation issued a new report earlier this month, noting it may take years to decades to overcome the damage done by the huge spill. The suffering and deaths of dolphins and sea turtles are highlighted in the report.

National Wildlife Federation Senior Scientist Dr. Doug Inkley was quoted on the NWF website as saying – “Little action has been taken to address the long-term species threats and wetlands habitat degradation exacerbated by the oil disaster. Much more needs to be done to ensure a complete recovery.”

26th Genesis Awards to air 4 p.m. May 5 on Animal Planet

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The Humane Society of the United States’ 26th Genesis Awards Television Special will be televised on Animal Planet – at 4.00 p.m. ET/PT May 5, with an encore presentation at 8.00 a.m. Sunday, May 6.

From the press release -


Hosted by dedicated animal advocate Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba, with a little help from Uggie, the canine hero from the Academy Award-winning film The Artist, The HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards is the only major awards show in which animals are the front and center, and the honors go to those in the news and entertainment media who call attention to the numerous welfare issues affecting animals the world over.

Opening with a fun, “revealing” interview between Carrie Ann and Uggie, who talks about his new-found fame as an A-lister, the show moves easily from consciousness-raiser to a unique celebration of the place animals hold in people’s lives.

Must-see TV for the millions of animal lovers who want to make a difference, The HSUS’ 26th Genesis Awards brings together many Hollywood celebrities known for their support of animal protection, including Bill Maher, Kaley Cuoco, Kesha, Moby, Deepak Chopra, Wendie Malick, Sophia Bush, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Pauley Perrette, Jason Ritter and Jon Bernthal.

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Police officer directed to wrong home shoots innocent family dog

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An Austin, Texas police officer was sent to the wrong address in responding to a recent 911 call about a woman being held against her will in the front yard of a home. When the officer arrived at the wrong address, he reportedly found a man outside with his dog.

The officer told the man to hold up his hands and as the dog approached, barking, the officer then shot the Australian Cattle Dog named Cisco. The shot killed the dog.

First, it is terrible that the officer was sent the wrong address and he was no doubt expecting trouble when he arrived. We all should understand that. But we’ve seen enough of these cases now where dogs are being shot by law enforcement officers – to prompt better training on dog behavior and how to react to an approaching canine. For example, why didn’t the officer use his spray in this case?

Over the years, I recall a number of cases where I encountered dogs showing a degree of aggression – in neighborhood walks or on visits to homes, etc. I merely faced the dog in each case and began talking to it in a calm voice, with something like, “Oh now, what are you doing.”

I’m not saying that will work every time, but usually the dog will stop and show some restraint in getting any closer.

I’m sure local dog behaviorists or trainers would be willing to work with local law enforcement offices in training sessions.


Supporters of pet store puppy sales call the rest of us “anti-pets”

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We have a double-winner this week. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) gets both a Wacky Mentality Award and a Pack of Putrid Punditry Award for calling the movement to end the sale of puppy mill puppies – an “anti-pet movement.”

The reference is actually to the banning of the sale of puppies in pet stores, which is really, basically the same thing.

The statement and others were highlighted in an article posted on

I thought I’d heard it all in watching political debates over the past decades. But this one has to take a special place in the annals of idiocy. It would be like calling laws to protect kids from child abuse – an “anti-child-birth movement.”

So let’s get this straight. Some people think that an effort to ensure that breeders take proper care of their breeding dogs and cats means people who love dogs and cats don’t want people to include dogs and cats in their families? – Huuh?

But the article does shine the light on why some in the “pet industry” don’t want to shut down the sale of puppy mill dogs. Michael Maddox, PIJAC’s vice president of governmental affairs was quoted as saying – “Clearly, if we have fewer pets, you’re going to see the industry adversely affected because we’re going to see less demand for pet products and see less sales.”

So some industry insiders equate fewer puppy mill puppies being sold with fewer sales of pet products. That’s an important admission. What these people don’t understand or don’t have the capacity to understand is the fact that millions of dogs and cats are dying EVERY YEAR in shelters across the nation.

Millions of available pets – from pure bred dogs and cats of all varieties to the great and wonderful mutt and standard stray cat – never find homes each year. We are VERY far from having a supply problem for pets in this economic equation.

What we do have is suffering problem and anyone fighting against legislation to ease this suffering is either completely uninformed, guided only by profit or is lacking in a compassion gene.

In the article noted about, Maddox was also quoted as saying – “There is no single best place to get an animal.”

Wow. Unbelievable. To call this one-dimensional and out of touch would be an understatement. The top two places “to get” a pet are shelters and rescue organizations.