Thursday, December 17, 2009

Couple hopes dog’s pain makes other pets safer

John and Caren Burton returned from a trip to find that their 6-year-old collie had six rib fractures after staying at a kennel. They also found that they had little recourse, so they’re lobbying the state to create rules to protect pets.

OREGON -- When John and Caren Burton’s 6-year-old collie, Zoe, ended up in the veterinarian’s office in August, she was having trouble breathing and seemed dehydrated and unusually exhausted.

Examinations revealed that the dog had sustained six rib fractures — the kind of injuries veterinarians said could only come from a significant trauma. After they got the veterinarians’ reports, the Bend couple started asking questions about the kennel where Zoe had recently stayed.

Four months later, a Redmond woman who worked at the kennel has been arrested in connection with the case, but it’s still not clear what happened to Zoe. Now, as they wait for the matter to be settled in court, the Burtons are reaching out to lawmakers to gather information about the rules surrounding pet boarding facilities and provide resources to the pet owners who use them.

Oregon laws regarding pet kennels have specific provisions for facilities, including lighting, storage facilities and ventilation. But currently, the state requires no specific kennel license and does not regulate who can work at a kennel, said Dr. Don Hansen, state veterinarian with the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Hansen said the rules for kennels are largely aimed at controlling the spread of disease.

“It’s complaint-driven,” Hansen said. “If we get a complaint, we say, ‘OK, under these rules ....’

From my perspective as state veterinarian, we look at intent and purpose. It puts our emphasis on controlling diseases. If it’s an abuse case, that usually involves state police or local law enforcement.”

Zoe’s case
The Burtons believe Zoe’s injuries stem from her three-day stay at Deschutes Pet Lodge in Redmond in late July. The facility’s owners, however, say they were not aware of any problems with the dog until they received a call from the Burtons several days after they picked her up.

No charges have been filed against Deschutes Pet Lodge.

When the Burtons returned home from a trip out of town, the couple said Zoe seemed lethargic and wobbly on her feet, but they chalked it up to the high temperatures, which were nearing 100 degrees.

In the following days, Zoe continued to appear under the weather, and it seemed like she was struggling to breathe. The Burtons took her to an emergency clinic, where a veterinarian determined she had fractured ribs. Another veterinarian, Dr. Jodi Kettering of the Deschutes Veterinary Clinic in Bend, and Dr. Cassandra Brown, an internal medicine specialist at Northwest Veterinary Specialists in Clackamas, both later confirmed the rib fractures. The fractures had caused pockets of air to get trapped in the dog’s chest, making it difficult for her to breathe.

Both veterinarians said the injuries were severe and likely caused by some kind of substantial trauma.

“My experience has been that it takes extreme force to have this sort of thing happen, especially to have that many ribs fractured,” Kettering said. “The only rib fractures that I’ve ever seen were dogs hit by cars, it takes that kind of force.”

The Burtons called Deschutes Pet Lodge to ask if something had happened to Zoe during her stay.

Gary George, who owns the facility with his wife, Maria, said he immediately started investigating.

“We don’t know whether the dog was injured while it was in our care,” he said. “When they contacted us and said that their dog had been injured, my wife, who is the co-owner, interviewed all of our staff because under no circumstances do we condone any physical force with any animals.”

George said all of the staff members denied abusing or seeing anyone abuse the dog.

The Burtons then contacted the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, which assigned a deputy to look into the situation.

After gathering evidence, officials arrested Martie Davidson, of Redmond, who worked at Deschutes Pet Lodge at the time of Zoe’s stay.

Davidson, 39, was formally charged last month in Deschutes County Circuit Court with one count of first-degree animal abuse and is scheduled to enter a plea on Thursday.

Police records on the case were not available because it has been turned over to the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, said Dana Whitehurst, administrative supervisor of the records division at the Sheriff’s Office. Available court records in the case do not provide any details about the alleged abuse.

Davidson’s attorney, James Dillingham, could not be reached for comment. When reached by phone by The Bulletin, Davidson hung up before she could be asked to comment.

George said Davidson is no longer an employee of Deschutes Pet Lodge, though he is not aware of any wrongdoing on her part. He said Davidson chose not to return to work after her arrest.

“Neither my wife nor I saw her mistreat any animal at any time during her employment,” he said. “If we had, she would have been immediately dismissed. If the dog had been injured, if we saw that, we would seek help for the animal, contact the owners and say, ‘This is what’s going on, we’re filing charges against that person.’ None of that has happened.”

Deschutes County District Attorney Mike Dugan said he couldn’t comment on the case but said his office takes animal abuse cases very seriously. He said animal abuse cases that end up in court often involve dogs and typically some kind of neglect on the part of the owner or other caretaker, such as those who leave their dog in a vehicle on a hot day.

Re-evaluating rules
Shortly after the Burtons discovered Zoe’s injuries and took her to get treatment, they started researching the rules surrounding kennels in the state and the rights of the people who use them.

The Burtons said they were disappointed to find that most of the regulations were focused on preventing the spread of disease, rather than abuse, and confused about where they should turn for advice.

“We turned to the Humane Society, various other areas you think you would go, but we didn’t realize you are supposed to go directly to the Sheriff’s Office,” Caren Burton said.

The couple joined with a few other like-minded people in the community and formed a group they call SAFE — Saving Animals From Endangerment. They contacted state Rep. Judy Stiegler, D-Bend, to see if she could provide any help.

Stiegler said she told the Burtons where to find more information about kennel regulation and said she’d do some research of her own and consider drafting legislation to tighten the rules. She said it’s not likely to come up in the 2010 legislative session but could be a possibility for 2011.


“I understand their situation, and I’m very empathetic,” she said. “We want to be sure when people send their pets off, they can do it with some certainty that their pets are safe.”

Hansen said the topic of more regulations for kennels comes up occasionally at the state level, such as earlier this year when lawmakers passed a bill that outlawed puppy mills. The law signed by the governor limits the number of dogs that can be used for breeding and regulates care standards and the disclosure of puppies’ medical histories by pet stores.

To change or tighten regulations, Hansen said people should start by talking to their local elected officials.

“If they want the kennels and pet shops regulated, then I think they’re going about it the right way: Contact their lawmakers, say, ‘Make it a law, put it in a statute, like they’ve done with the puppy mill.’”

For Caren Burton, the work is about letting people know that animals — and their owners — have rights.

John Burton said his goal is to provide information to members of the public, who he said have limited information about how kennels operate.

“What I want people to know is when they walk into a kennel, they’re pretty much unprotected as a consumer,” he said. “It’s time for people to realize that and to do something about it.”

(Bend Bulletin - December 16. 2009)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ohio: Authorities considering charges against owner of pit bull which mauled and killed neighbor's hound dog named Max

OHIO -- A local family is mourning the loss of man's best friend.

Another dog has terrorized the Montgomery County neighborhood and slaughtered their pet.

Now, authorities are considering charges against the owner of the pit bull.

Neighbors on Albers Avenue are relieved that it was another dog and not a child that was attacked by the dog. They said the pit bull in question gets loose on a regular basis and they are concerned about the safety of their children.

Dawn Jones said, "Whenever I see him running loose, my kids aren't allowed outside. He's on a chain, but he's gets off it."

Deputies said the pit bull viciously killed and mutilated a neighborhood pet, a hound dog named Max. Roy Baker said, "It's my son's dog. He's had him since he was a pup. Eleven years old."

Animal authorities caught the dog before the dog attacked another pet or a person.

Chris Byrd of the Animal Resource Center said, "I've only seen that kind of damage out of coyotes. That was pretty severe."

Max's owners said he didn't have a chance to get away from the pit bull because he was chained to his dog house.

"Our dog's on a chain and everyone else's dog is on a chain," said Baker.

Neighbors said the pit bull killed another dog in the past few weeks.

"Right up the street at the corner. He got that dog too," said Dawn Jones.

Authorities tried to talk to the pit bull's owner, but no one answered the door.

Byrd said, "As far as the owners are concerned, we haven't been able to speak to them. So, we so we don't know what their side of the story is."

Officials are now holding the pit bill at the Animal Resource Center.

They said it is very possible that the pit bull's owner could be liable for the other dog's death. Animal Control authorities said pit bull owners must obey special confinement and insurance rules.

(WHIO - Dec 15, 2009)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

West Virginia: Lowell Bowden, 70, dies two weeks after being attacked by pit bulls

WEST VIRGINIA -- An elderly Monroe County man who was attacked by a pack of dogs near his home Nov. 27 succumbed to his injuries Friday in a Roanoke, Va., hospital.

Lowell E. Bowden, 70, of Lindside, was attacked by four or five dogs, described by Sheriff Michael Gravely as “all of the pit bull breed.”

Four people were charged early last week in connection with the attack.

Justin Ray Blankenship, 18, and his mother, Kimberly Blankenship, 51, both of Lindside, were charged with four counts each of failure to register dogs, keeping vicious dogs and not having dogs vaccinated for rabies.

Mose Christian and Anna Hughes, believed to be residents of Mercer County, were charged with one count each of failure to register a dog and not having a dog vaccinated for rabies.

Monday, the sheriff said, “With Mr. Bowden’s death, we do anticipate filing additional charges, but none have been filed yet.”

The four dogs confirmed by authorities to have been involved in the attack were euthanized last Tuesday. A fifth dog awaits disposition.

Bowden’s obituary, printed in Monday’s edition of The Register-Herald, referred friends to the Web site, an address owned by a national dog bite victims’ group launched in October 2007.

(Register Herald - Dec 7, 2009)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Former Petland worker given probation in drowned-rabbit case

OHIO -- After initially pleading not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty, former pet-store employee and Kent State University student Liz Carlisle (aka Elizabeth Carlisle) -- whose admission on Facebook that she'd drowned two injured rabbits at an Ohio Petland franchise drew the ire of animal lovers across the country and led to the store being closed -- changed her mind last month and instead pleaded guilty to the charges. 

Carlisle, 20, apparently drowned the rabbits after they were both badly injured during a fight with each other.  She later posted a photo, in which she smiled while holding the dead rabbits, on her Facebook page.

Carlisle's attorney, Ron Gatts, suggested that his client was not getting a fair shake, implying that store policy may have played a role in the incident and insisting that Carlisle was in fact "an avid animal lover." 

For its part, Petland was quick to distance itself from Carlisle and her case, noting in a statement that the Akron store "was individually owned and operated by a local franchisee" whose agreement with the company had been terminated in light of the animal-cruelty allegations.  "Petland will in no way, shape or form tolerate any abuse of animals in its care," the statement continued. "We are outraged at this gross violation of Petland's animal care standards."

Last month, Carlisle abruptly changed her plea to guilty, despite Gatts' inclination to bring the case to trial.

"As much as I wanted to try the case, [Carlisle] said, 'I did it,' which I think she has said from the beginning, and she said, 'I just want it to be over with','' the attorney told the Akron Beacon Journal. 

Carlisle said she has gotten death threats and there were protests at her home and school after she was arrested for drowning two injured rabbits at the former Petland store in the Chapel Hill Mall. She had no criminal record.

"I asked her why she was smiling in the photograph of herself holding the dead rabbits," said Akron Municipal Judge Stephen Fallis. "She said her boss at the pet store told her to hold up the rabbits and smile, so she did. She said she knew she had done something horrible, but that her psychology classes taught her to smile when you're having a bad day."

Fallis said the woman explained that she found two injured rabbits in the cage that had been fighting. She asked her supervisor what to do.

"She said the supervisor told her to 'baptize them, and made up and down motions' which she believed meant to drown them," Fallis said. "She said she drowned them in a bucket."

Carlisle told Fallis the supervisor snapped the photo and then sent it to Carlisle's cell phone. Carlisle said she was upset over what she had done and tried to send it to a friend but accidentally posted it on his Facebook page.
[So did she also accidentally post the comments that were included with the photo? How does that happen? You accidentally post a photo along with the following comments:

On Carlisle's Facebook page, she confirmed a friend's guess that she had drowned these two rabbits and wrote, "[T]he manager took the pic for me. [S]he reminded me that there were people outside as [I] was swearing at them to just hurry up and die but then she was so kind as to take this picture."

Although a judge could have sentenced her to up to 180 days in jail, Carlisle received probation.  She'll also have to pay a $250 fine and serve 120 hours of community service, the Beacon Journal reported.

(LA Times Blogs - Dec 4, 2009)


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wade Patterson, Animal Control Officer, Hit With 92 Cruelty Counts

SOUTH CAROLINA -- Wade Patterson, an animal control officer for Anderson County, South Carolina, has been charged along with his wife Faith with 92 counts each of animal cruelty.

The couple operated Bird Dog Pet Rescue out of their home. But they were apparently much better at rescuing animals than keeping them in good health.

Investigators found dead dogs on their property near Liberty, South Carolina. A vet determined that of the 177 seized, 92 had been mistreated, poorly fed or abused. Others were malnourished...
"This is a shock to all of us," Taylor Jones, director of Anderson County Public Safety, told the Independent Mail. "Faith and Wade both had a reputation of being animal lovers. Wade always seemed particularly outraged when he'd come across an abused animal, or a neglected animal, which is why this seems so amazing."
(True Crime Report - Dec 1, 2009)