March 10, 2010

Damn sad news [x3]

A wolf may have killed a young woman in Alaska. Operative word: "may."
Authorities were in an Alaska Peninsula village Tuesday investigating whether a 32-year-old schoolteacher, found dead off a road leading out of town, was killed in a wolf attack, according to state and local officials.
Read the rest here, at the Iditarod-covering ADN.


This next item is so stupid and so hateful that I can barely comprehend it. Former UK pol Kenneth Baker explains how he came to introduce the execrable legislation known as the Dangerous Dog Act, with a few yuks along the way:
The animal lobbies were very divided on the issue of controlling dangerous dogs. The Kennel Club supported the idea of pit bulls being put down. They did not register pit bulls as one of their recognized breeds and felt that as fighting dogs they have no place in our society. The RSPCA, while having no love of pit bulls, shrank from the physical elimination of the breed, preferring instead that the dogs should be neutered and then die out over time as the breed became extinct. Furthermore the RSPCA used the opportunity to raise its cherished aim of the introduction of a dog licensing system - which I opposed. I was not in the business of legislating to control chihuahuas when I wanted to rid the country of pit bulls. The vets were also reluctant to destroy pit bulls en masse, believing that this went against their version of the Hippocratic Oath. But one dog expert assured me that "All pit bulls go mad". Unlike any other recognized breed they were unpredictable and could not reliably trained. Steering a course acceptable to all these differing viewpoints strained patience as well as imagination, and I knew that whatever course of action I took I would be attacked by one group or another.

On May 22 I announced to the House of Commons my intention to introduce legislation to ban the breeding and ownership of pit bull terriers and other dogs bred especially for fighting. I then embarked on further meetings with the animal interest group which, in addition to the RSPCA and the Kennel Club, included the Joint Advisory Committee on Pets in Society, the Canine Defence League (now Dogs Trust), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the British Veterinary Association. The issues we debated included whether to identify dogs by implanting Micro-chips under their skin, or by tattooing them. This led to humorous exchanges about exactly who would volunteer to tattoo a pit bull's inside leg, and whether the dog's tattoo should match that of the owner. Would pit bulls have 'love' and 'hate' inscribed on each knuckle.

On 10 June I introduced the Dangerous Dogs Bill in the House of Commons.
Ignorance, prejudice and stereotypes — and as always, it really isn't about the dogs, is it? Wonder who the cretin was who told Baker that "all pit bulls go mad." Wonder whether that "dog expert" even existed. Most of all, I wonder how a hack as stupid and vicious as Baker gets elected in the first place. Read more at Beverley Cuddy's Cold Wet Nose Blog.


This story is just heartbreaking
A do-it-yourself animal rescuer keeping 60 dogs penned inside her 750-square-foot East County house was arrested today on suspicion of animal cruelty and neglect.

Authorities found the canines — mostly boxers and Chihuahuas, along with a few small terriers — in dirty cages stacked throughout 65-year-old Alice Via’s two-bedroom Moreno Avenue home, Dan DeSousa of San Diego County Animal Services said.

“Many of the dogs have skin conditions, upper respiratory disease or other illnesses,” DeSousa said. “In addition, most … have injuries to their feet and noses from trying to escape from their crates.”
Animal Control Officer Mitchell Levy says the dogs were stacked in crates at least two high throughout the home. "A lot of them had no water. A lot of them had feces, a lot of them had two-, three-day old vomit in them. It's an unusual situation."

The news comes as a big shock to others in the rescue community. They say Via had such a good reputation for rescuing dogs, that she was allowed to take animals from local shelters.

"They start with the best of intentions. They think they can provide the best home for these dogs, but obviously this person got overwhelmed," says Lt. Dan DeSousa.
Operators with other rescues say Via had recently contacted them asking for help and wanting foster homes for some of her dogs. [source]

On the one hand, this woman is a textbook example of a 501(c)(3) rescue that is indistinguishable from a case of hoarding. On the other hand, if comments on news sites can be believed, she placed a number of dogs in loving homes and no doubt saved many from death, though what will happen to the dogs now remains to be seen. She's not a Michael Vick. I don't think she belongs in prison. Bad enough that she might be prevented from keeping a dog or cat for the rest of her life. “'She got way in over her head,' [Dan DeSousa of San Diego County Animal Services said, in a masterpiece of understatement]. 'She had nobody to help her.'” Maybe the rescues she contacted will step in and help her now.


Heather Houlahan said...

I've taken a lot of hits for warning about this very kind of thing (the boxer rescuer/hoarder, not the British asshat politician) as an unintended consequence of hastily enacting a poorly-thought-out "Oreo's Law."

"Oh, in California they have the Hayden Law, and all is sunshine and roses."

No, it's not.

Now, I'm not saying that someone couldn't get herself, and a lot of innocent animals, into the same kind of misery in a state without mandated release to any 501(c)3. It does happen.

But I'd also be willing to bet that at least some shelter workers or other rescue workers had misgivings about this rescue. But shelter and pound staff literally had no choice but to hand over dogs -- asking skeptical questions would have done nothing.

The first thing that struck me about her website, which is still up, is that there is no description of the adoption process or list of the requirements to adopt on the site. Not even the unpleasant matter of the fee. Pictures of available dogs, a phone number, instructions to keep calling if your call is not returned, and some highly unrealistic breed descriptions.

Seriously, a page on "boxer health" that never once mentions CANCER? For reals? Or cardiomyopathy?

As for the bunny wabbit temperament page.

No, I will NOT show you the scars I still carry on what we shall call my "body core" from the boxer dog adopted from a breed rescue organization that had a similar take on the behavioral possibilities open to the breed.

Suffice it to say that some of the bunnies have nasty fangs.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Heather - especially about the shelter worker's having doubts.

Believing the comments on new sites is a pretty big if - one that I won't believe until Alice Via has witnesses with evidence in court. While I'm sure this did come as "a shock to many," based on my local hoarding cases, I'm willing to be there were plenty of folks in San Diego who saw this and thought "FINALLY!" and started calling and emailing their fiends with the news. (And prepping to see who might be able to take in the dogs.)

And even if she did save a many from death - how many intact dogs might she placed in the wrong homes where they either ran out in the road and were killed, or had a litter and then ran out in the road and were killed? How many of these dogs are going to make it? How many bodies were in the house? How many has she dumped in the last few months?

For what it's worth, between fostering rescue dogs and being a go-between, I may have saved a dog or two myself. But, what with my job and the rest of my life, that's all I do. For other reasons all I think I can do. The situation in Alice Via’s home has to gone on for quite some time, probably months, before the smell or whatever alerted the neighbors so that's a disturbing period of time where she was either not in her right mind or not actually concerned about dogs. There's no other way to understand believing that the dogs in home with no water and inadequate food were better off.

I'm sorry - the fact the someone claims to love dogs cuts no ice with me and, in fact, tends to get my hackles up. It's been 15 years since an animal control officer told me there's a fine line between a rescue and a hoarder, and I've seen it proven over and over. For Ms. Via's sake, let's hope she's truly crazy instead of merely a deluded and alienated.

(Since you moderate, if you see reason to delete, I will not take it personally.)