Archive: February, 2009
A California artist set tongues wagging in Berkeley when residents learned the sculptures he made for a pedestrian bridge depicting dogs in various poses were, well, not the poses they thought they should be paying for.
Artist Scott Donahue of Emeryville, Calif., was paid $196,000 by Berkeley's public arts program to create two 28-foot-high statues in fiberglass stone and bronze, which as the artist decibels it, personify the city, its culture and recreation. Along with the birdwatchers and kiteflyers is a series of small medallions depicting dogs doing doggy things - like chasing, sniffing, defecating and yes, copulating. (click here for the full photo show)
Reactions are decidely mixed around Berkeley. Some outraged taxpayers said they think the amount of taxpayer money spent on public art at a time when California faces a major budget crisis was excessive. One resident was unmoved by the controversial subject matter. She told Fox News it was just natural science, "it's what dogs do." Do?
The Monday Morning Wag
- The pet-friendly Loews Hotel chain is offering a "Presidential Pooch" package at many of its locations, including Philadelphia, Washington and Annapolis. The "Indoguration" special -- good for the first 100 days of President Obama's administration (through April 29) - includes one night for guests and their pet, a Stars and Stripes room service meal for your pup and special patriotic bandana. The Philadelphia Loews, located in the beautifully restored PSFS tower on Market Street, is among the many locations offering the deal. That location is also the site of the annual PSPCA's Good Dog Gala fundraiser on Feb. 21.
- Another day another puppy mill bust. This time in Sparta, Tennessee where ASPCA staff rescued more than 250 small breed dogs from undersized, feces encrusted cages and pens on Feb. 11. The dogs are being treated for multiple maladies including sores, mange, bad teeth and severe socialization issues. One ASPCA official said he doubted many of the dogs had ever been outside. The owners of the mill are now facing multiple cruelty charges. You may remember last June when the Humane Society of the United States rescued 700 sick and injured dogs from another puppy mill in Tennessee.
- There's still time to enter your favorite feline in the HSUS annual Spay Day photo contest. Spay Day is HSUS and Humane Society International's annual event to inspire people to save animals' lives by spaying or neutering pets and feral cats.
A celebrity panel of judges including Matt Grant (TV's "The Bachelor"), Tamar Geller (author and dog trainer), Patrick McDonnell ("MUTTS" cartoonist), and Chrisopher Ameruoso (professional photographer) will pick a Grand Prize Winner, 10 Finalists, and 25 Honorable mentions. The top prize winner gets a feature photo and article in the March issue of All Animals magazine plus a $1000 shopping spree at Humane Domain. Finalists get their photo posted on the HSUS Web site and $200 gift certificates. There are also a slew of prizes for top fundraisers. The event is held on Feb. 24, but cat lovers have until Feb. 27 to enter their photos.
Dogs kept in outside pens with ice accumulation, broken fencing and shredded aluminum capping. Holes in pens large enough for a dog to escape. One large dog's only shelter was an airline travel crate in which he could not stand erect.
These were some of the conditions dog wardens found recently at Wolf Den Kennel, the Chester County facility where Vice President Joe Biden purchased a German Shepherd puppy in December.
Since mid-December, kennel operator Linda Brown has racked up five citations for numerous kennel violations and a slew of warnings for other problems including an "immediate grooming" order for a St. Bernard to "prevent the dog from harboring infectious and contagious disease."
Brown was initially warned about the problems in a Jan. 5 inspection, but when investigators returned to the kennel in Spring City in Jan. 22 they found conditions had not improved and they also found incomplete sales and health records.
That's when dog wardens issued her three new citations for violations to the state dog law, one each for records, drainage and maintenance. Brown also received two citations in December - the same week that Biden purchased the six-week-old puppy.
Brown, who also operates as JoLindy's German Shepherds, had 85 dogs on the property on Jan. 22 and reported 188 dogs sold in the past 12 months. She holds the largest state commercial kennel license that allows her to keep or sell an unlimited number of dogs.
The trial date for the five citations is set for March 3 in district court in Chester County.
UPDATE: A Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement spokesman tells us that Autumnbriar kennel owner Lauren Wolfe surrendered 27 dogs last Thursday to the Luzerne County SPCA. When the Pennsylvania State Police arrived the next day to investigate possible cruelty charges, Wolfe had fled with the remaining 20 dogs.
Pennsylvania dog breeders have done some strange - even horrific - things when they come under scrutiny by authorities.
In Lancaster County, breeder Ervin Zimmerman led humane officers on a foot chase around his Ephrata farm last year while they were trying to investigate cruelty charges.
In the shots-heard-round-the-world incident last August, Berks County breeder Elmer Zimmerman killed his entire kennel - 80 small breed dogs - rather than get flea treatment as ordered by dog wardens.
Now there's the strange case of Autumnbriar kennel owner Lauren Wolfe in Dumore, in the northeastern section of the state.
Wolfe was under orders to surrender 20 Jack Russell dogs to an area SPCA on Thursday, but, according to the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice newspaper, when dog wardens and the Pennsylvania State Police returned on Friday she had fled with the dogs.
The SPCA of Luzerne County was expecting to receive the dogs after the raid at the Sullivan County kennel, but the raid went awry and the owner and the dogs are now at large, executive director Vince Sweeney told the newspaper.
Word of Wolfe's fugitive status had not apparently reached Harrisburg. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement which revoked her kennel license after a series of unsatisfactory inspections, used the new dog law to obtain a search warrant and seize the dogs, said spokesman Chris Ryder yesterday.
It was unclear exactly how many dogs Wolfe fled with. Ryder said she voluntarily turned over 27 dogs, leaving her with 21 dogs. (A kennel license is required if a breeder has more than 25 dogs.)
Four inspection reports in 2008 reveal widespread problems at the kennel, including pens with sharp wire edges, filthy water and food bowls, feces-filled cages, poor drainage and no health or sales records. Inspection reports also indicate Wolfe had housed unneutered and unspayed dogs together.
In November, inspection reports show, there were 91 dogs on the property.
Wolfe is facing multiple citations for operating an unlicensed kennel and is under investigation on cruelty charges, said Ryder.
Philly Dawg wonders if there are fugitive provisions under the new dog law as well.
Howard Nelson, the chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania SPCA, has taken an abrupt leave of absence.
Nelson, who many advocates credit with dramatically improving the landscape of animal welfare in the state, initially issued a resignation letter late yesterday, but after discussion with the board agreed to a temporary leave, said spokesman Kevin Feeley.
Nelson, 45, who took over PSPCA in 2007 and had late last year won the vied-for $3 million animal control contract from the city, said in an email to board members:
A world class beauty with an AARP card?
Yes, indeed. When 10-year-old Stump the Sussex Terrier won the top prize at the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week, seniors everywhere - human and dog alike - took notice.
Here was a formerly retired competitor who should have been curled up by a fire somewhere trotting across the ring to take the crown Best in Show. (click here for Ten Fun Facts about Stump) The message wasn't lost on animal shelters across the country which quickly reminded us that many senior dogs and cats are surrendered or found as strays every year.
With the focus on cleaning up the puppy mills in Pennsylvania, we sometimes forget about the other companion animals that are mass produced for pet stores.
Now more bird lovers are taking a stand for exotic birds.
A friend alerted me to an unusual citizen bust of a "parrot mill" recently in a Washington D.C. suburb. A determined gang of bird fanciers descended on a house in Gaithersburg and plucked 81 parrots from filthy conditions.
Legislation making it illegal for non-veterinarians to perform certain surgical procedures on animals passed the state House unanimously today.
House bill 39 - sponsored by House Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D. Berks) - would make it a summary offense for a breeder or other animal owners who are not vets to perform ear cropping, debarking (or cutting of vocal cords) Cesarean sections and tail docking (after five days of age).
If the bill becomes law, dog wardens would be responsible for ensuring that kennel operators have proof these procedures were performed by a vet and would be instructed to report evidence of injury or health problems related to amateur operations.