Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stop the killing

Some time ago. I'd posted a piece entitled "I'm just saying....." which explored some changes that could be made in  order to protect our valiant K9s from the deadly effects of being left in overheated vehicles.  In my doggy naivete, I'd assumed that deaths of this sort were quite rare and happened only under extraordinary circumstances.    I had also assumed that, to be quite blunt here, the dogs' handlers actually gave a crap about them.
Since that post, I've become aware that this is often not the case.  K9 police officers are routinely roasted in vehicles.  One case that I know of resulted from the fact that the K9 was not allowed in the police station so was left out inside the cruiser on a 90 degree day.  Not allowed in the police station?  Really?  What follows is an article from "The Daily Beast" which is Newsweek's online magazine.  This article examines some recent police dog deaths and the circumstances under which they occurred as well as the consequences.(or lack thereof) incurred by the perpetrator.  The first one happened just recently a couple of towns over from us in Rincon.


08.08.159:35 AM ET

What Happens When Cops Kill K9s? Not Much.

Five K9s have died in hot cars this summer, but their handlers receive little more than a paid vacation as punishment.
If you or I, assuming you’re not a member of the law enforcement community, were to leave our faithful family dog locked in hot car while we went into our houses, had a family dinner, and slept, only to find Fifo dead from the overwhelming summer heat hours later—we could face between one and five years in prison and be fined tens of thousands of dollars.
The public outcry could also ruin our lives, and, potentially, our careers. Who wants to employ someone who can’t even remember to let man’s best friend out of the car?
Police departments, apparently.
In early July, Baston, a seven-year-old German Shepherd and proud member of the Savannah State University police department, died after being forgotten in just such a manner. Reportedly left in a sweltering police car while his human partner brought food into his family and, his belly full, fell asleep.
Several hours later he remembered poor Baston, but it was too late. The windows were rolled up, and the engine was off. Attempts to resuscitate the overheated pup with an ice bath proved unsuccessful.
Ironically, Baston was “awarded” a bullet and stab proof vest for protection just months before his death, and the state of Georgia enacted a new law making it a felony to harm a police dog, at least if you’re a civilian.
Too bad the vest didn’t come with an air conditioner, or, better, a competent handler.
Repeated attempts by The Daily Beast to reach the Savannah State University PD requesting comment on the status of Baston’s handler have been met with weeks of silence or deflections, with calls being routed to various department voicemails, none of whom ever called back.
That was not an isolated response.
Last May in Hialeah, Florida, Officer Nelson Enriquez was suspended with pay after his K9 partners—Hector, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, and Jimmy, a 7-year-old bloodhound—both died when he forgot them overnight in his vehicle. Repeated calls to the Hialeah police department regarding the incident resulted in this reporter being stonewalled or transferred to another extension, at which point the call would be dropped.
Miami has a history of K9 abuse issues. In 2007, Sgt. Allen Cockfield killed his German Shepherd partner by kicking it. Then, in 2008, Officer Rondal Brown let his bloodhound starve to death. Both were charged with animal cruelty, but an expert familiar with the case speculated to the Miami Herald it would be “unusual” for Enriquez to face charges.
Baston was “awarded” a bullet and stab proof vest for protection just months before his death, and the state of Georgia enacted a new law making it a felony to harm a police dog, at least if you’re a civilian.
Last month in Conyers, Georgia, Zane, a five-year-old bloodhound and tracking K9 for the Conyers Police Department, died when forgotten by his handler overnight in a sealed up police vehicle while temperatures were reportedly in the 90s. The handler, Corporal Jerahmy Williams, was suspended with pay while an investigation was conducted, and there was talk initially about disciplinary action, although so far none is imminent. 
“I can’t comment on an ongoing case,” Paul Stalcup, Rockdale County Assistant District Attorney, said when reached by The Daily Beast. “But there certainly have been no formal charges drawn as of yet.” 
Repeated calls to the Conyers Police Department were unreturned. 
Sad. Horrific, even. And there’s more. 
In Gulf Shores, Alabama, Mason, the Gulf Shores PD’s community relations dog also succumbed to the heat when forgotten in a hot car by his human partner, Corporal Josh Coleman. After finally noticing that Mason wasn’t where he should be, Coleman discovered the dog in bad shape inside his oven-like patrol car and rushed him to a vet.
After a protracted fight for his life, Mason succumbed to respiratory failure.
The Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office decided not to bring any charges against Coleman, whose car wasn’t outfitted with the special heat alarms normal K9 cars have. Coleman is still on the force, and faced “internal sanctions,” though—despite repeated calls to Gulf Shores PD—what those may be could not be determined. 
In contrast, 16-year-old Ivins Rosier was sentenced to 23 years in prison for killing a retired police dog during a burglary, a crime he committed when he was 16. Of course, Rosier isn’t a cop, he’s a young black man in the South.
And while negligent homicide, or even animal cruelty via negligence, is far different than intentionally firing a gun into an attacking dog, officers were still given the equivalent of a paid vacation to think about what they’d done. And the thin blue line has appeared to prevent press access to whatever “internal sanctions” they may be facing. 
What does this lack of cooperation say about the state of our police? More frighteningly, what does it say that the people who are tasked with protecting and serving our public can’t even take care of their own animal partners?
Nothing good.

The term negligent homicide seems to reverberate throughout  the article doesn't it?  These dogs are Police Officers..  For a civilian to kill a cop, one can pretty well guarantee that the killer's life will take a serious turn for the worse.  It'll most likely be shorter too.  The fact that the police are not held accountable is nothing but a shameful double standard that allows them to use the dog with no more respect for it than a car jack or tire iron.  Shame on you!  Shame on Y'all!
I find it necessary for me in this post to reverse my previously-stated position of seeking a more humane means of treating K9s  to that of advocating the elimination of this inhumane practice.  After my :I'm just sayin..." post, I'd emailed the article to our local police and sheriffs offices seeking their input on K9 heat safety and got 0 response.  In retrospect, this does not surprise me.
Nowadays when we're out and about and see a K9 locked in a vehicle we will not make the mistake of assuming that its handler is taking reasonable precautions to ensure its health and longevity   As I have encouraged others in the past to do what ever they deem necessary to save the life of an innocent creature endangered by ignorance and/or callousness, I would urge you all to keep an eye out for the safety of our K9 officers as well.  It's the least we can do for a valiant creature that may well take a bullet for his partner.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Hi, Philip here.  I just wanted to quickly piggyback on Cocopuff’s post of 22 Jan 13 entitled “What Would You Do?”.

I just recently went through this scenario with a Miniature Schnauzer who had been left in a car with the windows cracked about one inch on a 90 degree day.  Noticing the dog and his plight, I pointed the situation out to a young woman who was just getting into her vehicle and conveyed my intentions of saving his life.  He did not appear to be in any obvious distress yet and she kindly stayed on the scene while I went back to the store and apologetically interrupted a couple of transactions to apprise them of the situation.  Had to raise a little hell at first to get assigned an appropriate priority but I quickly was able to return to the scene of the crime with the store manager following shortly afterward.  When he took stock of the situation and I informed him that I would do whatever was necessary to keep this dog from dying he replied that he was not allowed to call the police in this sort of situation.  The young lady who had stayed to assist told him that she had already done that herself and I requested that he simply make an announcement over their system to alert the culprit.

Although it was only several minutes, it seemed like an eternity in which I looked for alternatives to the unpleasant business of smashing out a window.  Fortunately, there was a slight intermittent breeze and I was able to get enough of my hand into the vehicle to get an idea of how warm it actually was in there, all the while assessing the victim’s health.  Finally, an older woman approached and I asked her if that was her dog in the car.  I guess it was her intention to merely blow me off with the curt reply, “I was only in there for 10 minutes.”.  At this point, all the pent-up adrenaline chose this moment to seek its way out and the conversation became very much more one-sided as I proceeded to explain to her the stupidity of her actions and the potential and actual ramifications of her ignorance and callousness.  In the process, I let her know that the police had been called and the only reason that I hadn’t already smashed out a window is was that I was hoping that they would arrive in time to do it before I had to.  I wasn’t abusive of her but I probably am guilty of humiliating her in front of what had become about a dozen onlookers and she was left with little doubt of my disgust for her poor treatment of that little dog.   She drove off to my stern warning to never put her pet in that dangerous situation again.

After thanking the woman who had stayed with me, I went back to the store with the intention of both thanking the manager for his help and apologizing for the abruptness on my part that the situation had required as well as wait for the local constabulary so that I could tell them that the situation had been resolved.  I don’t know if they ever did show up because after 20 more minutes or so they still hadn’t arrived.  The takeaway here is that if you are dealing with a similar situation, keep in mind that there is a good likelihood that help will not show up in time to be of any use, if at all.  You’re probably on your own.  Knowing where your support is and isn’t can be crucial in decisions involving life and death situations.

The up side is that the Schnauzer survived his ordeal and at least one ignoramus will be too terrified of ever running into me again to leave her dog in a poorly ventilated vehicle.  The less obvious benefit, which occurred to me when the store staff had thanked me for my intervention, is that by store owners and staff realizing that their customers care about animal abuse that occurs on their premises and will take steps to intervene, they are much more likely to become active tin preventing it, or at least responding to it when they become aware of it.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Cocopuff Chronicles

I'm pleased to say that I've started a new blog as a complement to this one in order to explore a specific quality-of-life issue independent of this more generally themed one.  Please check out my new posts at The Cocopuff Chronicles and please let me hear from you if you'd care to share.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Munch got Adopted!!!

From time to time, Dad and I have been known to take on a bit of a condemnatory tone in reaction to callous, inhumane and downright cruel behavior toward companion animals. We will certainly not apologize for that for it is normally the product of great provocation and outrage. To be real, we tone it down a good bit to avoid putting our readers in the position of having to dwell upon all of the misery and mistreatment that we witness all too regularly but sometimes we cannot help but speak our minds. Fortunately, there are bright spots illuminating the good in people who just want to unselfishly do something to help others.. Dad and I are largely responsible for sending out acknowledgement letters for donations to the shelter and we always try to include the sentiment that; “As important as these donations are to providing for the necessities required by the shelter, the knowledge that there are other loving individuals out there who value companion animals and what we do for them is beyond measure in worth”. We’ve, over the years, gotten to meet some pretty wonderful, caring people who, in great measure, help to offset the ugliness that so often accompanies animal rescue. We recently had some local folks express interest in a little Shitzu in our shelter but during conversation with Mom they became aware of our little Prissy who also uses Dad’s office as her home base. Prissy is a very delicate little 11 year old Shitzu who came to us after her human, who’d had her since she was a puppy, found out she was dying of cancer. Her loving husband told her that when she died, he was going to get rid of that dog in what ever manner he could (surely there’s a special place reserved for this chivalrous gent). The poor woman had to wait until she was having a good day and could get out of bed to bring her here to relinquish her beloved pet before she died in order to spare her being put down or just thrown out to die (we’ve seen a lot of that this past winter). Once talk about Prissy came about, these folks who had just recently lost their two senior companions decided that, although they did not feel that they were emotionally ready to have another dog that they would probably lose to old age before long, decided that they were, however, in all other respects in a good position to care for her in her old age. Being that Prissy and Munch (see two previous posts about how he came here to die a year and a half ago) have both used our office as a refuge from the craziness that pervades the rest of our house, it didn’t take long for him to also be included in the conversation with the result that these dear folks decided that they had room in their home and hearts for him too. They have nobly accepted this mission of charity knowing full well that they will, before too long, have their hearts twice broken again when they lose them. Their only goal is to do something good and generous. Surely there’s got to be a special place for them too. I’m sure that Prissy’s former “dad” and Munch’s “family” that dumped him when his teeth went bad won’t be bumping into them there. Even though I really don’t like to share my office (I mean, Dad has me. Why would he need any other dog in there?), it is certainly gratifying to see these two old dogs who didn’t have a lot of other options retire in style. Munch and Prissy will spend their remaining days spoiled, happy and loved.  They’ll even get to go on holiday.  Sure, we’ll miss them but there are so many others that need help, it’s not real practical to dwell on. I know that it is guaranteed that I’ll be well cared for until my last breath and even after, don’t even need to worry about that but. y’know what?  It just makes you feel good to help someone else.  I’m glad I let them stay.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What are you feeding your dog? ( or What is your best friend worth?)

Lately you humans seem to have been developing an ever-increasing awareness of how the quality of your food supply has devolved over the last 50 or so years.  Dad says that he used to eat a lot better when he didn’t have any money and had to grow, pick, shoot or catch much of what he ate.  In concert with this thought process, there is a parallel ever-growing movement in this country to tighten up some on the quality of the food that you put in your bodies, avoiding the highly processed fare that your body doesn’t recognize,as food, an overabundance of sugar and fat as well as some very nasty chemicals.  Now, of course you’ve got your GMO thing trying to take over agribusiness and the world at large.  While a lot of folks don’t seem overly concerned, those that have researched what these bio-engineers are actually doing, how they are doing it and how very little they know about what it is they’re actually doing, it’s downright scary.  Heck, just the word “bio-engineer” scares me!  Okay, so what’s the point of all this?
Well, your faithful companion has to eat too and most manufacturers are just a little less particular about ingredients that go into dog food than food for human consumption.  You can see why I might take umbrage at that!  The old adage “You get what you pay for” certainly works here to some degree but not entirely.  A lot of manufacturers have cashed in on your heightened awareness to present products that appear to have healthy, nutritious ingredients.  The picture shows what appears to be a healthful combination of meat, vegetable and grain when the truth of what’s in the bag is far different.  There’s also the quality of ingredients.  Did you know that they’re allowed to call ground up chicken feathers “chicken”?  I wouldn’t be totally averse to getting a chicken or maybe a duck feather in my mouth from time to time but seeing as how they are totally indigestible, I don’t think I want to rely on them as my main source of protein.  You’d be surprised,  Even the stuff you find for sale as top-shelf products at your vet’s office is mostly junk, even the stuff that sounds like it was cooked up in a nutritional expert’s lab.   As important as the ingredients are, where they come from is equally important.  Nothing personal against the Chinese who supply a great majority of the ingredients in even premium foods but they have a serious quality control if not an integrity issue ( Please see my post "Howling Mad" from May 2010 ).  Heck, they even put melamine (a toxic industrial waste) into the baby formula for their own kids just to turn a profit.  The government made them pull it off the shelves and six months later it was back on the market again putting tens of thousands of human infants at risk of renal failure.  I remember the big dog food scare we had back when I was a young.  They were putting melamine in the dog food (it fools the assay test so as to show a higher protein content) and I remember that we lost several dogs to unknown causes, normally a very rare event here, during that time period. 
Coincidentally, it was around this time that Dad began to do some research on dog food quality, not just ingredients but their sourcing as well.  This can be very daunting, particularly when sourcing is not generally made very obvious and price can be a huge factor but he did manage to wean us from the “eye candy” that we preferred and started rotating between several top quality brands.  I’ve got to be honest, we loved our eye candy, would nut up as soon as we saw the bag but I will say that since we’ve been eating better, I spend a lot less time digging myself raw.  I wonder what other good effects it’s been having.  Nowadays our palates are a little more sophisticated.  We will turn our noses up at the eye candy that we once so loved as well as anything less that the best.  I’m not here to endorse any particular product but I will say that we all love our Blue Buffalo and Merrick.  Yes, it’s pricey but not as much as you think.  As it is nutrient dense, we eat (and poop) less so the cost has to be looked at in this light.  Sure, there’s some really good food out there that we won’t touch either.  It’s all a matter of personal taste much like how a lot of humans love lobster and others wouldn’t eat it on a bet.  I’m glad Dad loves us enough to take the time to find some really good food that we like to make the most of the few short years that are given to us.
As I said, the process of ciphering through all of the information, then going back to the manufacturers website and trying to get information there can be more than daunting but fortunately there are others who, with no vested interest, have already done much of the research and are willing to share their findings.  Dog Food Advisor is one such entity that can help to make some sense of all that is out there.  Given that the results can be somewhat subjective, it is always good to compare several ratings and a quick Google will get you there without a problem.  Then it’s just a matter of figuring our what, within your budget, are the best foods that your pet enjoys.  It’s always good to have 2 or 3 to rotate through as no one food is perfect and rotating them will help balance that out.
I have always considered it a great unfairness that, as mans’ best friend, dogs only get to enjoy 10 + – years of that.  If you value your companion, wouldn’t it be best to make the most of those years, possible extending them and certainly improving their quality.  A rule of paw here, if you are feeding your pet from the grocery store or, dog forbid, the dollar store, you could do soooo much better.  What is your best friend worth?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy New Year

                                                I couldn’t resist posting this picture!
found dog
The weather was really bad the other day when dad went to work and I wanted to check the weather to make sure he didn’t have to deal with anything too bad.  If he doesn’t want me to hack into his computer, he really should stop using my name in his password.  Duh!  Anyway, I came across this picture on  The gentleman in the photo had just found his dog buried alive under rubble after one of the major tornados that have plagued the country in the past year.  One look at his face ‘bout says it all doesn’t it?  The image is almost haunting as you can feel the broad array of emotions he is experiencing.  I know that if that had happened to me, dad wouldn’t rest ‘til he found me.
So what is it behind this great love between man and dog and the other way ‘round?  Nobody really seems to know.  It exists nowhere else in nature.  Think about it for a minute, a mama dog wouldn’t expend half the energy looking for her lost puppies as did this gentleman looking for his faithful companion.  On the other side of the coin, you have your stories such as Greyfriars Bobby that typify the devotion that dogs have for their humans.  Whatever it is, it’s a wondrous thing and I’d hate to go my whole life without ever experiencing it as much as I pity the human who exists without the benefit of a faithful dog.
If you happen to be up for some light reading, there are a couple of wonderful books by W. Bruce Cameron called: A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey that explore this relationship with a whimsical yet thoughtful style and even delve somewhat into the notion of a doggy soul-mate.  They’re a great read.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry and you’ll find yourself hurrying through the sad parts knowing that you’ll be laughing again in no time.
I’ll holler at ya later, I’ve gotta go make my rounds now and you probably need to go hug your dog just in case a tornado comes through.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Munch revisited

It was just about a year ago that our little Munch came to us ( see post: A Heart to Heart, Species to Species posted 12/24/12) in a pitiful state and almost died on Christmas eve.  We felt that an update 1 year later would be appropriate so we are very happy to tell you that little Munch is thriving.  He’s absolutely spoiled rotten, thinks he should have a “hamburger” (our name for his special dinner) every time dad’s feet hit the floor.  Dad often tells him that he’ll have to wait some of he’ll pop.  Some supervision is required when he and Grandma (an ancient Min Pin) get their treats but Munch will staunchly ward off any interlopers, setting them straight in short order on treat ownership issues.  He’s still a very old dog, no getting past that but he enjoys life and still takes himself out to enjoy sunny days on the deck and has actually been seen to run around and cavort with some of the other dogs.  He’s got his own little spot in dad’s office but sometimes asks to sleep on the bed in his special corner.

I’m so glad we have been able to help him enjoy another year of “a life worth living” and he has certainly repaid us several times over with love and laughter.  When he does leave us, it will be as a member of the family, not a piece of trash.  Merry Christmas y’all!  Please remember to be supervise your doggies with all of the holiday treats, gift wrappings, small toys etc.