Saturday, January 31, 2009

Illinois: Boy's spirit survives pit bull mauling

ILLINOIS -- Nick Foley is coolly approaching the milestone of starting high school, but the 8th grader knows his mother worries how he will handle the inevitable questions about the scars left from a pit bull attack.

"I really don't have fears about starting high school other than stress and stuff that every kid worries about," he said, turning to his mom, Polly, in the kitchen of their Cary home. "You're more nervous than me."

Nick was 10 years old in November of 2005 when he was dragged and his flesh ripped by a neighbor's three pit bulls as he and a friend were going door to door selling candy and magazines.

Initially, he was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. He spent six weeks in a hospital. Since then he has had 17 surgeries, many of them plastic surgery. So much flesh was shredded from his right forearm that he could wrap a finger and thumb around it.

His mother said she is concerned about her 13-year-old son's first step toward adulthood. She and her husband, Brooks, will be in the background this fall as he navigates the turbulent social life of high school. He now attends Cary Junior High School.

Nick, she realizes, undoubtedly will be the subject of questions and maybe some stares as he forges relationships with a new group of boys and girls.

"In some ways, I feel like it will be his first challenge," Polly Foley said.

Nick will attend Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, where his older sister and brother, Maureen and Alex, are students.

His siblings will help make the transition easier. But Nick understands that he will be leaving the comfort zone he found in Cary, where he rarely had to explain what happened because so many knew the story. The attack and his fight to recover were the subject of a series of articles in the Chicago Tribune.

"Now he's going to Marian, and most kids probably don't know what happened to him," Polly Foley said. "He's going to be undressing for gym, they'll see his arms and legs, and there will be questions."

Nick seems bemused by her concerns, showing flashes of his trademark resilience.

"You worry too much," he said.

These days the teen is more apt to chat with adults than he was in the months after the attack. He makes eye contact and is willing to listen and reflect. He has grown expert at fending off questions about what happened with a wise-cracking "shark attack" response.

At 5-feet-7, Nick now is almost as tall as his parents.

"I have a little anxiety, but it's not as much as I had," he said of the fears that haunted him after the attack. "If I see a pit bull or another dog and I feel anxious, I calm myself down and tell myself the chances of it happening again are really slim to none."

His childhood dreams have changed, too. Once he envisioned himself as a professional baseball player. Now he dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon, perhaps a nod to the surgeon who helped reconstruct his body.

"I just think it's interesting," he said. "I want to know what it's like to be on the other side of the operating table."

Nick is almost fully recovered. He has difficulty jumping because the dogs tore his hamstring muscles. His right fingers were bent because of nerve damage, but surgery has straightened them, which has helped him sharpen his basketball skills.

On Sunday, he scored four points in a tight basketball game that his team won by one point.

"He just has this amazing resilience to everything he has been through," said his coach, Scott Hamann. "He doesn't want anyone to feel sorry for him, and he doesn't feel sorry for himself."

Now that their focus has turned away from helping him heal, his parents are trying to draw attention to the danger of vicious dogs.

Nick was invited to tell his story before the Chicago City Council last year to help champion a spay and neuter proposal that would require dogs and cats to be fixed by the time they are 6 months old.

But after talking it over with their son, Polly and Brooks Foley thought he was too young. Nick said he would be willing to speak to aldermen privately if the proposal resurfaces.

"Nick has a story to tell, and we can use it for advocacy without exploiting him," Polly Foley said.

Each time a pit bull attack is reported, the Foleys say they feel the urgency to tell their story.

They have connected with several animal welfare groups to help focus the issue on vicious dogs, not necessarily on a specific breed.

When Polly Foley learned that the pit bulls of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick were being rehabilitated, she canceled her subscription to the magazine that featured them on the cover.

Vick, who played with the Atlanta Falcons, was sentenced to 23 months in prison in December 2007 for operating a dogfighting compound in Virginia and lying about it to authorities. Four pit bulls, which were abused, were seized by authorities.

Polly Foley said she thinks often about the damage the pit bulls did to Nick, dogs that were the beloved pets of a neighbor and were not abused.

Police shot all three of the animals during the attack.

"I just don't know how anyone could be comfortable with rehabilitating them," Polly Foley said. "Look at Nick. Is it worth the risk?"

As for her son, he's focusing on what's in front of him: homework, friends, basketball, and spring break.

Asked how he'll handle whatever challenges might come his way in high school, he calmly said, "I just like to wing it."

(Chicago Tribune - January 30, 2009)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Orland Park man fatally shoots neighbor's pit bull

ILLINOIS -- Orland Park police are investigating a [dog attack] last week that led to a local man fatally shooting his neighbor's pit bull.

The homeowner told police that he shot the dog, killing it, after it attacked his yellow Labrador retriever in the backyard of his house in the 16600 block of Robinhood Drive, police said.

The Labrador was taken to a veterinarian where it had a neck wound and a paw sutured to stop the bleeding, police said.

(Chicago Tribune - January 29, 2009)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Minnesota: Five animal cruelty charges against breeder Kathy Bauck dropped

MINNESOTA -- An Otter Tail County District Court judge has dismissed over half the charges against a New York Mills kennel owner accused of animal abuse.


At a hearing Monday, Judge Waldemar Senyk dismissed five of the nine charges against Kathy Jo Bauck, 52, owner of Pick of the Litter Kennels. Bauck was charged over the summer with multiple counts of animal cruelty, torture and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.


In late September, Bauck’s attorney filed a motion asking all nine charges be dismissed due to lack of probable cause.

At a hearing in late November, the attorney, Zenas Baer, questioned the credibility of his client’s accuser, a former Pick of the Litter employee with connections to a national animal welfare organization.


Baer argued that without testimony from the employee, who lives on the East Coast, or an examination of the employee’s computer, the court could not confirm the validity of his accusations.

Senyk dismissed five charges against Bauck: two counts of cruelty to animals, two counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and one count of torture.


The decision leaves Bauck with four remaining charges: three counts of cruelty to animals and one count of torture.

Another hearing is scheduled for today and a jury trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 10.

(The Daily journal - Jan 28, 2009)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Police: 13-Year Old Mauled by Pit Bulls, Dogs Killed

OHIO -- A 13-year old girl is in the hospital after police say she mauled by two pit bulls.
It happened Saturday night at a house on Spruce Street in Gallipolis.

Police say they were forced to shoot and kill both dogs in order to get them to release the girl.

The girl was first taken to Holzer Medical Center, and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Columbus where she is being treated for several severe injuries.

Gallipolis Police say they expect to file charges against owner of the dogs in the near future.

Police have not released any names at this time.

(WSAZ - Jan 26, 2009)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mississippi: School board president Michael Jackson charged with animal cruelty after horse, left tied up with a chain, dies

MISSISSIPPI -- The president of the Aberdeen School Board has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in the death of a horse, authorities said.

Board president Michael Jackson turned himself in to authorities Saturday morning and was released after posting a $244 bond, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brent Swann.

Nettleton Alderman Willie Brandon had accused Jackson of being responsible for the death of his horse, according to police records. Brandon signed an affidavit against Jackson on Tuesday.

Brandon claims his horse died while being studded by one of Jackson’s horses.

“I went to Mr. Jackson’s to check on my horse,” Brandon said. “When I arrived, I saw the horse on the ground. Mr. Jackson kept assuring me that everything was OK and that there was nothing to worry about. When I walked closer to the horse, I noticed it was chained to a pole with a short chain and the chain was wrapped around its neck and mouth. I saw fluids coming out of the horse and I knew that it was dead.”

It’s not clear if Jackson has hired a lawyer. A call Sunday to the number listed for Jackson went unanswered. The voicemail was full.

Brandon said after finding the horse dead, he immediately left and called 911.

Brandon claims that the horse had been moved when he got back.

“I found it several feet away and Mr. Jackson was no longer around,” he said. “A deputy arrived and took some pictures of my horse and I filed a report.”

Swann said Brandon had attempted to have Jackson charged with a felony death of an animal charge, but he said the value of the animal could be disputed in court.

According to Mississippi statute, Jackson, if found guilty, could face restitution and also could be banned from keeping and handling animals.


(Picayune Item - Jan 14, 2009)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oklahoma: Army serviceman Cody Hahn appears in court, accused of animal torture

OKLAHOMA -- More than a dozen animal-rights supporters took front-row seats in court Tuesday in the case of a Sapulpa man who is accused of dragging a dog behind an SUV.

"We're here because it's important that people see and care what happens to animals," said Ruth Steinberger, state outreach coordinator for the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals. "Animal abuse is a serious crime, and everyone wants to see justice done here."


Steinberger was joined by 14 other animal-rights supporters Tuesday morning at the initial Creek County District Court appearance of Cody Wayne Hahn, 20, who is charged with three felony counts of animal abuse.

Several witnesses reported seeing a black SUV dragging a dog behind the vehicle along 161st Street on Oct. 16.

At one point, witnesses said, the dog came free of its collar. The SUV stopped, and the driver got out, put the leash back in the SUV and then sped off, they said.

The dog, which now goes by the name of Sammy, survived and has since been adopted.

 

The Creek County Sheriff's Office found the SUV the next day and questioned Hahn, who denied any knowledge of the incident.

Witnesses picked Hahn from a photo lineup as the man who was driving the SUV, authorities said.

Hahn was on leave from the Army at the time of the abuse. By the time he was charged, he had returned to his station in Korea.

Local authorities notified the Army about his arrest warrants, and Hahn was put under military arrest in Korea and returned to Sapulpa on Dec. 23 to be booked into jail.

He was released on $6,000 bond in a matter of hours.


This case has outraged animal-rights activists across the country. Perhaps most disturbing to them was Hahn's jail booking mug shot, which shows him with a beaming smile.

Steinberger said Tuesday: "We're hoping to get that smile off his face. He's not taking any of this seriously."

Hahn, dressed in Army fatigues, sat behind most of the animal-rights supporters during the hearing and was impassive for most of the proceedings.
His lawyer, Creekmore Wallace, entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf, and the judge continued Hahn's bail.


After the hearing, Wallace spoke with the Tulsa World and questioned the witnesses' identification of his client.

He said witnesses saw the driver of the SUV from a "bizarre angle" and from a distance.

Sammy suffered gruesome injuries, but his life was saved by Drs. William Mitchell and Agniellis Feliciano of the Bristow Veterinary Hospital.

Hahn faces more than possible prison time if convicted. He also could be booted from the Army, said Robert Don Gifford, an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City and an Army major specializing in military criminal law.


Even before Hahn is adjudicated, Gifford said, the military can begin an "administrative discharge" proceeding to remove him from the Army.

That hearing could result in an honorable discharge, a general discharge, or an "other-than-honorable" discharge, he said.

(Tulsa World - Jan 7, 2009)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Jersey: Geresa Vaccaro found guilty of abandoning her pets

NEW JERSEY -- Geresa Vaccaro (also spelled Geresa Vaccarro in this article), of North Cape May, was found guilty of abandonment and failure to provide food and water for her dog and cat in Lower Township Municipal Court.

According to Lower Township Animal control officer Don Montgomery, Vaccaro left a dog and a cat alone in her house for one week with no food or water.

She told Judge DeWeese she left her house to care for her sick mother.

Vaccaro was fined $4,567. She must reimburse the county Animal shelter $1,506 for the expense of boarding her dog and cat and pay vet bills of $366. The judge also ordered Vaccaro to undertake two days of community service.

Vaccaro was ordered to surrender both the cat and the dog, which are residing at the county animal shelter.



(Cape May County Herald - Jan 4, 2009)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Venezuela: Man bleeds to death after being attacked by his neighbor's two pit bulls

VENEZUELA -- Marcelino Castellanos, 75, went off duty as a night watchman at a workshop in La Aguada, a non-descript industrial zone in Santa Lucia in Valles del Tuy south of Caracas.

On getting home, he discovered he'd left his keys behind. So, his wife being hard of hearing, he reached up and tried to call her through the window to let him in.

At this point, all agree, he became the target of two large dogs belonging to his neighbors. Unfortunately for him, they were Pit Bull Terriers, a notoriously ferocious breed subject to strict controls in Western Europe including outright bans in some instances.

The beasts leaped on Castellanos, biting, scratching and tearing at his legs, arms and face. They are said to have ripped off an ear and damaged an eye in the process. His family gave the alarm.

The owners came out and tried to restrain the dogs, in the end soaking them in oil in order to do so.

But by then, the old-timer was in deep trouble, Somehow or other he was gotten to a hospital. But, there was nobody to treat him, so he was sent to the capital.

Castellanos was taken to Domingo Luciani, a state hospital in south-east Caracas that was once renowned as one of the most advanced on the continent but is now a shadow of its former self (as he who writes once discovered to his cost some years ago).

But neither could Castellanos find anybody to look after him there. He was sent on to another hospital, Pérez Carreño, where he ran into the same result. He was sent back at Domingo Luciani.

Unattended and in an increasingly grave medical condition, the old man literally bled to death around two in the morning on the first day of 2009.

Not surprisingly, the family is unpleased with what they see as inhumane treatment at the hands of the state health service.

That said, doctors at state hospitals are very poorly paid, and when they are it's often in arrears. They've been in dispute with the Health Ministry about this for months, and many moonlight in the private sector to make ends meet.

But if the relatives have a real beef with anybody, it's the neighbors. The dogs, it seems, are not just a nuisance, but also qualify as a public menace.

Alejandro Castellano, a son of the late victim said that he and his family went to his father's home to celebrate Christmas. At one point, he wandered out on the patio – only for the two brooding pit bulls next door to launch into him.

The son says he was strong enough to fight them off, not least by throwing stones. But what he wants to know is what happens if the dogs, having mauled the old man, then turn on somebody's children.

The scientific and investigative police, Cicpc, are said to be investigating the case.

(Latin American Herald Tribune - Jan 3, 2009)