Posts tagged ‘that was a really stupid idea’

Not so Tasty Bytes


H/T to YesBicuit for leading us to this story for our “Oh Crap!” files about a quail believed to be extinct — that was recently photographed for the first time before being sold as food.  Oops…

Australia’s Heraldreports on cats paralyzed by leukoencephalomyelopathy after eating irradiated food.  Orijen cat food is sold in several other countries, none of which have reported problems with the nerve syndrome associated with the food. In an odd bit of circumstance, none of these countries irradiate imported cat food either.  According to the Herald:

The Government insists on irradiating the pet food at much higher levels than human food imports on the grounds that radiation will kill germs and protect Australia from foreign diseases.

Independent tests on the irradiated food have found “substantial reductions in vitamin A levels” and increased “production of oxidative by-products”.

While the pet food company and the Government argue over the precise cause of the illness, cat owners are complaining that nobody will take responsibility.

Hamilton veterinary surgeon Chris McClelland said more than 60 cats had been affected in Australia by the strange nerve syndrome.

Several had died, but others had recovered, he said.

Australian dogs have not been adversely affected by irradiated Orijen food according to the article.

Consumer Affairsreports that yet more pet foods and treats have been added to the PCA peanut recall list.  These were mostly various formulations of American Health Kennels Bark Bars, Cookie Bars and Peanut Butter Crunch.

The company at the heart of this outbreak — the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) — recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. That action came within days after the company’s president, Stewart Parnell, refused to answer questions about the salmonella outbreak from the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee.

The bankruptcy action also came on the heels of state and federal inspections of the company’s facilities in Georgia and Texas, which revealed PCA shipped products it knew had tested positive for salmonella.

The reports also revealed such unsanitary conditions at PCA’s facilities as dead rodents, roaches, mold, and bird feathers and rodent excrement in a crawl space above the production area at one of the company’s plants.

Sigh.  We’ve got an entire case of peanut butter dog treats that will continue to sit in a closet until I either summon the courage to toss them out or hear definitively that they are not affected by the recall.

In other pet food news the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that animal rendering plants are preparing to comply with a new FDA rule aimed at preventing mad cow disease from reaching the food supply. The rule, which takes effect in April, requires that livestock  producers clearly mark cattle 30 months of age or older before sending them for slaughter or rendering (infectious BSE prions are most likely to be found in cattle 30 months of age or older.)

Prion diseases like BSE have not been documented in dogs, but the rule will affect pet food production as rendered protein meals such as meat and bone meal, poultry by-product meal, and fish meal are used in many pet foods.

How much of these products are incorporated into pet foods? Well, according to a detailed report availabe on the National Rendering Association website, specific information on the amount of rendered animals products used to manufacture pet foods is not available.  But the group estimates that about 25 percent of the total U.S. production of rendered animals materials (or about 2.4 million tons per year) is incorporated into pet foods. The new rules may therefore help prevent potentially BSE-contaminated materials from entering a significant portion of the pet food (and livestock food) stream. It will also make rendered ingredients more expensive, and therefore somewhat less desireable.

February 24, 2009 at 4:11 am 2 comments

An Error of Teutonic Proportions?

From our friend Chaz over at Southern Rockies Nature Blog:

“A German town wants DNA samples from all local dogs so it can fine owners when their pets foul public spaces.

Because of course people, people who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop will not only voluntarily license their dogs but also submit DNA samples for testing.

“Unfortunately, we have to do it voluntarily because there is nothing in the constitution about a dog DNA databank being enforceable,” he said. “But we are proceeding and hope to log every pooch.

Good luck with that!


February 1, 2009 at 2:08 am 6 comments

Odd News from the World of Dogs

From the Ventura Country Star a dog problem for Dr. Phil (or was that Dr. Ruth?):

A 25-year-old woman was arrested for assault in Bremerton, Wash., in December after fighting with her boyfriend in the shower over whether the man’s dog could join them. The woman objected and said the arrangement would be a deal breaker for their relationship, to which the boyfriend replied that he hoped his next girlfriend would appreciate the dog more. At that, according to police, she punched him several times in the face and, in their struggle, he dislocated his shoulder.

The Vallejo Times-Herald provides this piece for our “that was a really stupid idea” files:

A Pennsylvania woman who was selling “gothic kittens” with ear, neck and tail piercings has been charged with animal cruelty, AP reported.

The 34-year-old dog groomer, who reportedly has her own piercings, says her name, reputation and business has been ruined by the charges, brought by authorities after animal advocates were tipped off.

Canadians nanny state ninnies gone wild! The Reading Eagle tells us:

Robert Christianson, 64, was arrested in October upon his arrival at Tampa International Airport, based on a hold requested by Canadian customs officials. Christianson was being sought only on two warrants: allowing a dog to run at large and having no license for his dog.

From the Battle Creek Enquirer, a bit on British quirkiness:

The British Federation of Herpetologists announced in November that the number of reptiles kept as pets in the U.K. is probably greater than the number of dogs (8.5 million to about 6 million, with cats at 9 million). One benchmark the federation uses for its calculation is the booming sales of reptile food, such as locusts, frozen rodents and crickets (now about 20 million a week).

And last, but not least, the Morning Sun reports on an odd bit of canine heroism:

When Jack Hornbuckle heard a dresser drawer rattling at 3:30 a.m. the morning of Dec. 29, he realized that his dog Heidi was in the room and had bumped the furniture next to the bed.

“I was kind of half-awake and half-asleep, but I knew the dog was there and wondered what had caused the commotion,” Hornbuckle said. “My wife was restless and awake, and I thought I would get up because something just didn’t seem right. When I sat up on the bed, there was Heidi, and she fell right at my feet.”

The couple’s 8-year-old golden retriever/border collie mix gets hyperactive when there is thunder and when Hornbuckle operates his small generator if the power goes out — as it had that night.

“That’s when it hit me,” he said. “I had seen a TV commercial about carbon monoxide detectors that day, and they said the symptoms are an excruciating headache and a burning nose, and I had them both. I was just not thinking straight, but I kept saying to myself, ‘What’s wrong here, what’s wrong?’ and then it hit me.”

While adjusting the generator so that water didn’t drip onto it from the eaves of the home, Hornbuckle had inadvertently adjusted it so that the exhaust was directed right at a vent into the crawl space. The area under the house was filling up with carbon monoxide.

Jack Hornbuckle struggled to wake his wife, to get the dog to move — even to stand up and be steady.

“I was really out of it and struggling to think,” he said. “I called 911 and the operator there did a great job.”

Firefighters soon arrived and within minutes had the couple and Heidi out of the house. After treatment at the scene, everyone was OK.

January 30, 2009 at 9:59 pm 2 comments

The Dogs of Cat Island

Cat Island is an unusual T-shaped barrier island created by currents at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Remains of a unique WWII training camp can still be seen on the island, which is now part of a national wildlife refuge.

In October 1942, a group of 25 soldiers from Company B of the 100th Infantry Battalion Separate (“separate” because its members were of Japanese descent) were selected for a secret training mission on Cat Island, Mississippi.   Transported to adjacent Ship Island under cover of darkness, they were told nothing about their mission.

After spending two weeks on barren, brackish Ship Island the men were finally informed that they’d be taking part in top secret dog training operations.  What they weren’t told was that their role in the operation was to act as… bait.

Today the Biloxi-Gulfport SunHerald reported:

Cat Island was turned over to the dogs in World War II. A year after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor the barrier island 10 miles off the Mississippi Coast was occupied by about 25 dog trainers and an equal number of dogs, many of them giant breeds such as Irish Wolf Hounds and Great Danes.

The war dogs and the military trainers were on a top secret mission. The temperate, sandy, sometimes marshy Gulf of Mexico island was picked because of its similarity to Pacific islands, and that’s a hint at the secrecy. The dogs were to become weapons against the Japanese.

According to the SunHerald:

The new four-legged residents moving onto Cat Island were pets patriotically donated for the war cause. Unknown to their previous owners, they were to be trained to recognize Japanese by sight and smell and to viciously attack them in packs.

The failed experiment lasted less than four months and resulted in government investigations, unforgettable stories and misinformation that continue today.

The Hawai’i Nisei Story website has a detailed interview with Roy Nosaka of Company B including graphic descriptions of the training activities.  The men were first told to encourage the dogs to track and chase them.  Then, if the dogs approached them in friendly way, to beat them until they attacked.  Nosaka confesses the guilt he felt about being forced to do this work.  He speaks about having to deal with alligators and swarms of mosquitos in the island’s swamps, and about the loneliness of the place.  He mentions the numerous dog bites he sustained in a matter of fact way that makes it clear he held no grudge for the dogs who, much like him, were forced to do difficult and unpleasant work. reports:

The Nisei were picked because they were loyal U.S. soldiers but Japanese in appearance and, so the theory went, in smell. After the experiment failed and was closed down in five months, an intelligence investigation followed.

The 400 island dogs continued to be trained as sentries, scouts, suicide dogs and to locate wounded soldiers. Americans had donated 18,000 pets to be trained in the country’s four war canine centers.

Amazingly, the vicious attacks did not change Nosaka’s lifelong love of dogs.

After just a few months the project was deemed too controversial to continue. And… it wasn’t the idea that training packs of dogs to attack men solely based on their race that incited the controversy.  It was the military’s concern that the pet owners who had donated their dogs to the war effort would be infuriated when they found out that their pets had been trained to attack men and to act as — suicide bombers. 

Though these more controversial operations were halted, the island continued to be used as a training base for some time.  According to the SunHerald:

Although the Japanese experiment had disbanded, Cat Island continued to be used for secret dog training operations, but now they focused on more sensible tasks. One of the experiments was with the 828th Signal Pigeon Replacement Company, which teamed messenger pigeons with dogs for communication. As historian Lemish put it, “They found the dogs’ true calling, to be able to silently alert when enemy is near, for communication, sentry and to detect explosives.”

The story of Cat Island will be featured in an upcoming episode of PBS’s History Detectives due to air in June of 2009.

January 12, 2009 at 6:13 am 7 comments

More Killing in the Name of “Rescue”

Last month the Amador County Ledger-Dispatch reported on an ugly story that demonstrates some irresponsible and very ugly behavior in the world of purebred dog rescue:

The events that led to the unforgettable meeting at Wal-Mart on Oct. 20 began more than two years before with a different dog, and a different dilemma. Two longtime volunteers with Northern California Golden Retriever Rescue, known as Nor Cal, Lise Manseau and Sandy Baker, were trying to help a golden retriever named Georgia Peach. Georgia had shown mild aggression when her food dish was disturbed. Fearing she wouldn’t be adoptable, they brought her to Irish, who received glowing reviews for his ability to re-program dogs from groups like the California Airedale Terrier Club.

“When I first got Georgia, she had a little problem with snarling if she thought someone was going to take her food,” [trainer Dan] Irish recalled. “I worked with her on it, and she never had an issue again. Everyone who meets her today says she’s one of the sweetest and friendliest dogs they’ve ever seen.”

Irish loved Georgia Peach so much that Nor Cal allowed him to adopt her. The only thing that overshadowed the happy experience for Irish was a comment Baker made about several of her fellow Nor Cal volunteers being adamant that Georgia Peach should be euthanized. Baker even mentioned a name: Jeanne Hanlon. That name would later come back to haunt Irish.

In the meantime, another golden retriever, who would come to be known as Buddy, was also in trouble. It was thought that either Buddy or his brother had killed a Chihuahua that had intruded into their yard. Left in a shelter, Buddy was temporarily taken by Nor Cal volunteer Jill Morgan. Morgan was among those who had believed Georgia Peach should have been euthanized rather than adopted. She quickly came to the same conclusion about Buddy.

“That dog was extremely aggressive with my other dogs,” she said of Buddy. “He viciously went after my Newfoundland several times and then pinned one of my golden retrievers on the ground.”

Due to Morgan’s complaints, Nor Cal took Buddy to be evaluated by Trish King of the Marin Humane Society. King determined that, with enough training, Buddy might still be adoptable. Nor Cal sent Buddy to a dog trainer in Petaluma, where he got off to a bad start. Hearing that Buddy was still struggling after a month, Nor Cal’s president at the time, Laurel Stanley, decided it was time to try a different behaviorist.

“I didn’t know Dan Irish at the time, but I’d heard good things about him from some of our volunteers,” Stanley explained. “I knew he’d been a longtime employee of the Animal Rescue Foundation. As an independent behaviorist, he had a reputation for helping adopt out dogs who needed major attention.”

Stanley asked a Nor Cal volunteer to pick Buddy up and drive him to Irish’s home in West Point.

When the volunteer finally arrived and toured Irish’s kennels and property, he felt very comfortable. “Irish’s place was clean and his dogs all looked good and healthy,” remembered the man, who asked not to be identified. “On the way up, I’d contacted his vet and gotten a good report. I felt totally fine putting him there.”

Before leaving, the volunteer had a chance to spend some time with the first golden retriever Nor Cal had sent Irish, Georgia Peach. “Oh, she’s a great dog,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind owning her myself.”

Unfortunately a situation that started out like a heart-warming story of rescue and redemption turned into a convoluted tale of subterfuge and — death.

… Without getting permission from Nor Cal, Ormond called Irish and told him she was with The Golden Retriever Club and was looking for a trainer to work with puppies the group was breeding.

Ormond and Hanlon drove out to West Point, touring Irish’s home without revealing they were there to observe Buddy. Irish claims that when Hanlon saw Buddy and Georgia Peach playing rowdily, she began shouting, “Why don’t you just have them killed!” At this point, Irish grew suspicious of the two and asked, “Who are you really?” When the women came clean about why they were there, Irish asked them to get off his property. Hanlon made no comment on the actual words she used that afternoon, but told the Ledger Dispatch she thought Buddy should be euthanized.

The way Irish explained it, it took him a few weeks to realize that Hanlon was the same person Baker had mentioned, the one who wanted his first golden retriever, Georgia Peach, euthanized. Between that and the false pretenses the women had come under, Irish said he lost his temper. He obtained Ormond’s phone number and left a voice message that has become the topic of considerable debate among those involved.


Not long after, Irish said he felt Buddy was doing well enough that he could be adopted out to a good family. A friend helped him place an online ad. When Morgan discovered the ad, she decided it was time for Buddy to come under her control again. Using a false identity, she contacted Morgan and painted the picture of having the perfect home for Buddy. To ensure the plan would work, Morgan used a false address, a false phone number and arrived without license plates on her car.

When Irish and Morgan met in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Morgan kept the deception going until she drove away with Buddy. “She told me she had a husband who always wanted a golden retriever,” Irish recalled. “She walked Buddy around with her friend. She matched up pretty good with what she’d claimed.”

To make sure nothing would go wrong for Buddy, Irish had Morgan sign a hand-written contract saying he could visit Buddy whenever he wanted. It also said that if there were any problems with Buddy’s behavior, she could return the dog to Irish. The Ledger Dispatch obtained a copy of that contract, though Morgan signed it with her false identity. That night, without permission from Nor Cal’s Veterinary Committee, Morgan had Buddy euthanized.

It sounds like Morgan learned much of what she knows about “rescue” from the folks at PETA.  You know them.  They’re the friendly “animal-lovers” who kill over 90% of the pets that they “rescue” each year.

Morgan was asked why – if she believed Nor Cal still legally owned Buddy and she was worried about meeting Irish in person – she didn’t have the organization’s leadership ask for Buddy back through normal channels. “There wasn’t time for that,” Morgan answered. “He’d already placed the dog up for adoption and I didn’t want him to find a home. I had to protect Nor Cal from the liability.”

Now while I admit that I have concerns about some rescue groups that adopt out dogs with known aggression problems to unwitting pet owners — I also know that with time and effort, many of these problems can be fixed. In almost a decade of experience as a dog trainer, I’ve only come across a small handful of dogs that had behavior problems that I felt warranted euthanasia.  Add to that the fact that the folks in charge of the Nor Cal didn’t share her concerns or authorize her behavior and it’s clear that (much like the folks at PETA) she’s more concerned about protecting and defending  her own self-definitional beliefs than in saving dogs.

But… Irish doesn’t escape this little melodrama unscathed either.  What kind of person meets a stranger in a Wal-Mart parking lot and passes off a dog with no home visit, no background check — without so much as verifying the person’s phone number or home address?

When Nor Cal board members failed to kick Morgan out of the group, Stanley resigned as the organization’s president. “A nonprofit should never do this kind of stuff,” she said of the activities Morgan, Hanlon and Ormond had participated in. “There are many great volunteers in Nor Cal who love dogs and help them, but condoning Jill Morgan’s actions makes us all look like nut cases.”

So here we have one, very lonely, voice for sanity.  Morgan, Hanlon and Ormond apparently thought that their radical opinions entitled them to resort to lies, subterfuge and possibely even fraud.  Irish, who seems to have at least had good intentions, neglected to conduct even a very minimal background check on someone before he gave her a dog he says he cared very much for.

And once again it’s the dogs who lose.  The Ledger reports that the number of dogs being surrendered to Nor Cal have dropped significantly since this story hit the press.  Perhaps their owners feel that a dog they need to re-home has a better chance now with local shelters — and perhaps they’re right.  Unfortunately, these kinds of controlling dysfunctional people all too often find their way to rescue groups where they are far more effective at sowing dissent and creating unnecessary obstacles than in helping dogs.

January 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm 2 comments

Dogs in the News

First from our That Was a Really Stupid Idea files the Waseca County News reports:


A little over a week has passed since a dog was discovered inside a Dumpster on a cold Waseca night.

While Precious, a female rat-terrier mix, is doing well at the Animal Medical Center of Waseca, her owner faces a misdemeanor charge relating to the incident.

The dog was discovered by a Subway employee at the bottom of a Dumpster behind the restaurant around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28.


According to Police Chief Keith Hiller, Precious was intended to be in the trash bin only temporarily.

Hiller said it appeared as though there may have been an issue of having a dog in a home where pets were prohibited.

He said that the owner told police that the dog was put into the trash temporarily as a way of hiding her from the landlord.

While the owner will make her first court appearance later this month, a number of things can happen with Precious down the road.

She could be returned to the owner, or someone who knows the owner and can provide a good home for her. The other option would be to put the dog up for adoption.

Hiller said that if a pet owner is unable to take care of their animal, there are a number of options available to them, but abandonment is not one of them.

Uh yeah.  How bright do you have to be to understand that stashing your dog in a restaurant dumpster, even on a temporary basis, is a bad idea? 

Newsday features the story of a Vicious Pit Bull Attack — sadly, this is the story of an innocent dog attacked and killed by its owner.

A Middle Island man was arrested after he called police and told them he stabbed the family dog to death in self-defense Tuesday morning, Suffolk police said.

Lamont Yarborough, 36, of Wilson Ave., was charged with felony animal cruelty after he used a knife to stab the 80-pound pit bull named Buster three times at his family’s home, police said.

Around 5:13 a.m., Yarborough called 911 and told responding officers that he killed the dog after being attacked in a bedroom, according to Det. Sgt. James Madden at a news conference in Selden Tuesday.
Yarborough went to the kitchen for a six-inch knife and stabbed the dog three times — once in the head, once in the groin and a fatal wound to the left rib cage, puncturing the dog’s left lung, Madden said.


Madden called Yarborough’s response excessive, noting that he had a “superficial” scratch on one hand.

“I believe Mr. Yarborough could have confined his dog in a room and if he thought he was a threat, he could have called 911,” Madden said. “The results are over the top.” A woman at Yarborough’s house declined to comment. A neighbor described hearing the dog screaming and howling Tuesday morning.

I’m quite sure that there’s a special place in Hell for Yarborough…

Good Intentions Gone Terribly WrongZooToo reports the sad story of a woman who, unfortunately, provides a graphic illustration of why you must always make sure conditions are safe before trying to rescue a loved one, whether they’re on two legs or four.


A New Jersey woman sacrificed her life for that of her grandson’s dog on Saturday, when she fell into a frozen pond after trying to rescue Apollo, a German Shepherd puppy.

Though the 6-month-old dog survived the icy incident, the woman, Janet Howard, 61, drowned in the Plainsboro Pond, in Plainsboro, N.J.


The tragic incident generated double acts of heroism, as a Plainsboro resident witnessed Howard’s fall, and plunged into the frigid waters after her.

The resident, Austin Hearn, told police he was riding his bike along a nearby trail when he saw Howard and Apollo struggling to stay afloat.

“The woman was barely keeping her head above water and appeared to be growing weaker by the second,” the Plaisnboro police department said in a news release. “She was separated from the bank by a solid sheet of ice; the dog was also floundering in the water.”

Hearn first attempted to pull Howard from the pond with a branch, veering off about 15 feet away from the water’s edge.

“It’s impossible for me to imagine leaving someone there and abandoning her,” Hearn told NY 4 News. “My first priority was to get her to safety. That’s why I got the branch.”

Yet the initial rescue attempt “didn’t work out,” Hearn said, after the ice caved in under him, too.

Despite his 15 years of experience as a lifeguard, Hearn recognized that the circumstances were challenging, at best.

Note: when I searched for information on emergency scene safety to link to this story (as a former HAZMAT responder and trainer, this is something I’ve drilled into many people’s heads) I found that more EMS providers are injured or killed from motor vehicle collisions and roadside incidents than from violence each year.  Violence is a very real threat to first responders — and so are drowning, being overcome by toxic fumes, falling — and back injuries.  Dying or getting severely injured is a bad idea under any circumstances.  Don’t go there.

Last, A Bit of Heart-Warming NewsDallas News writes that:


David Hartwig’s beloved dog, Skidboot, had died, but the phone kept ringing with performance requests.

Bring your other dogs and do your routine, they told him. We love it.

But Hartwig wasn’t in the mood. His new batch of Australian blue heelers were just “average dogs of average intelligence.”


Fans kept calling, however, and Hartwig eventually caved in. Now his trio of doggies – Tiedown, Bois’d’arc and Little Skidboot – entertain audiences in the spirit of Skidboot, who died in 2007.

“I had to let the public convince me it was still worthy,” he said. “They said, ‘You have something, and we want it.’ “


“If you had never seen Skidboot, you’d think this was a real smart dog,” he said, talking about one of his new charges. “But compared to Skidboot, this dog has a bad case of dumbworms.”

But the new dogs are talented, and audiences can’t get enough of them.

In a time when the main message behind the top-rated movie in the U.S. is that dogs are furry, lovable members of the family especially when they’re undisciplined and obnoxious — and that it’s perfectly acceptable to raise enable them in an utterly passive way; a story celebrating trained dogs and the people who love them truly warms my heart!

January 7, 2009 at 12:54 am 4 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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