Archive for August, 2010

EPA document points out the inclusion of euthanized shelter animals in dog and cat food

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25th, 2010 by katie – Be the first to comment

The idea that the pet food industry uses the carcasses of euthanized dogs and cats in pet food has been circulating as a rumor for years, but this is the first evidence I’ve seen of it being mentioned by a real government agency. Link to story

I have a pit bull…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23rd, 2010 by katie – Be the first to comment

Since adopting Fred, I’ve noticed a change in the way people react to seeing me walking my dogs. People we encounter on the sidewalk or along the trail have always had mixed reactions to seeing me coming with a big black dog, but now that I have two with me I feel like a higher percentage of people are more wary of our presence than before.

Most people who have dogs of their own immediately see that Fred is a puppy and is friendly by the way he furiously wags his tail and bounces around trying to play with their dog. But it’s the people who don’t have dogs with them that I’m trying to figure out.

Some people just glare and sneer at us and steer completely clear of my dogs. One theory is that they see my dogs pulling and excited and think that I don’t have proper control over them. That or they must absolutely despise dogs or be so deathly afraid of them that they can’t function in our presence. If so, then why are you out walking where there are tons of dogs around?!?

There is one woman we encounter walking every once in a while on the path near our house who is never friendly and just sideways glances at my dogs as she hurries past. This morning there was another dog owner who lets her dog run off leash while she bikes. The dog is very friendly and well behaved (although I still don’t think any dog should be off leash on such a high traffic path like that, ever. Good thing my dogs are friendly as well.) When this lady passed, that dog went up to her and sniffed her leg. Didn’t even touch her, just paused for a moment to sniff with a slight swish of the tail. The woman froze and closed her eyes tight until he trotted on.  This is a grown woman! When we passed she looked like she absolutely despised my dogs. Obviously I knew enough to keep them reined in.

Other people have really annoyed me when they voice their conviction that my dogs are going to bite them or attack them. Here are Fred and Cocoa, with their ears back and relaxed, heads low, tails wagging furiously, tugging at the leash to get close enough to sniff. Their body language reads loud and clear that they are extremely friendly and very happy – they just want to say hi! But I guess all these people see is two big black dogs coming at them and that’s all they can process. Even though I am there holding the leash… it’s this part that gets me even more – sure, so you don’t know how to read a dog’s body language – fine, but really you’re also going to insult my judgment and handling of my dogs by assuming that I would let them bite you? I can see clearly that you are recoiling from them so no, I’m not going to let them come up to you. Jeez.

Finally, there are the people who initially want to greet my dogs but then after they find out that Fred is a pit bull mix, they suddenly recoil. That drives me nuts. In the beginning, I’d just say “they’re both lab mixes” because I didn’t want to deal with people’s reactions. But I’m getting better at saying it straight, that Cocoa is a lab mix and Fred is a pit bull mix. I haven’t yet mastered the follow up when people say “oh” and decide to move on and stop petting him, because I don’t want to be rude… but what I really want to say is, ” do you judge other people by their race the same way?” or, “you seemed perfectly happy petting him before, what happened?” It sure does annoy me. And yet, once there was one women came across the Petco parking lot one day after Fred’s puppy class to greet us and told me that she was “one of the people who understands that pit bulls are great dogs.” How can I get more people to be like her? Fred and I have a mission to be ambassadors of the breed. I’m still getting used to how to go about that, and be proud of it.

Dog shot while playing at a local dog park

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23rd, 2010 by katie – Be the first to comment

On August 2 a husky mix named Bear-Bear was fatally shot by another dog owner who thought that Bear-Bear was being too aggressive with his German Shepherd. Witnesses reported that the man who shot Bear-Bear had entered the dog park with his dog on a leash, and when Bear-Bear ran over to check out the newcomer he called for Bear-Bear’s owner to call him off. Apparently they didn’t act fast enough and he pulled out a gun and shot Bear-Bear, who died a few hours later.

While the thought of someone shooting a dog at a dog park is shocking enough, it later came out that this man was an off duty federal police officer. That made it even worse to consider how easily this man was able to pull out his gun and shoot this dog, when witnesses say there wasn’t any real conflict.

I know that dogs are shot all the time. Bad people shoot dogs when they decide they don’t want them anymore, when they perform poorly in the fighting ring, or when they bite a human and someone decides to get revenge.

There are constantly stories in the news of examples of dogs being shot by policemen – it seems almost commonplace for police to shoot dogs because they get in the way of crime scenes or drug busts, or sometimes for no real apparent reason at all. (Example).

Is it possible that policemen need specific training on how to deal with dogs? Particularly how to recognize aggression? Bear-Bear’s shooter had a dog of his own but obviously didn’t know how to read Bear-Bear’s body language properly… and how could he be so trigger happy? I also noted that witnesses said he brought his dog in on a leash… well, common knowledge says that you *don’t* do this because it can make the leashed dog feel vulnerable in a new space… so clearly this man did not have too much dog sense about him.

Initially, it seemed like all he would receive was a slap on the wrist, but after a huge outcry from the public and overwhelming support from dog lovers across the country, an investigation was held and a few weeks later, charges were pressed against him. He was ultimately charged with animal cruelty and for firing a weapon within 100 yards of an occupied structure.

Whether Bear-Bear was playing or attacking the shooter’s dog is irrelevant in my opinion; you can’t bring a gun to a dog park and fire it unless people are in danger, whether you’re a policeman or not.

See Baltimore’s Unleashed blog for more updates and info.

I love this photo

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23rd, 2010 by katie – Be the first to comment

Fred and Cocoa, giving their interpretation of “puppy dog eyes”