L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Category: Rescue

Patrick the pit bull: Judge decides abused dog should stay at animal hospital for now

NEWARK, N.J. -- Accusations of greedy motives and arguments over visitation rights made it easy to forget that a recent court hearing centered not on the child of warring parents but on a four-legged animal, albeit one with his own Facebook page and thousands of fans worldwide.

When the rancor had subsided, state Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini III on Thursday ruled that Patrick the pit bull, the popular pooch found nearly starved to death in a Newark trash chute in March, will stay at an animal hospital while the criminal case against his owner proceeds.

The ruling ended -- for now -- a custody battle that has raged since the end of April, when Cassini issued an order that Patrick would stay at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, the Tinton Falls facility where he underwent surgery after he was discovered in mid-March at Newark's Garden Spires apartment complex.

"The judge considered the law and the evidence and ruled accordingly, and that means justice for Patrick," hospital administrator Patricia Smillie-Scavelli, who has been overseeing the dog's recovery, said outside court.

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Fat cats up for adoption -- at a discount -- at Ohio shelter

A central Ohio animal shelter with an abundance of chubby cats is having a sale on its fattest felines, hoping a discount entices potential owners to take one home.

The Capital Area Humane Society says the fat cats are on sale this summer for $15 each or two for $20, instead of the usual $70 adoption price.

Development manager Mary Hiser says the cats packed on the pounds before arriving at the shelter, and the extra weight can cause them health problems.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that nine of the shelter's 55 cats are overweight. Volunteers keep them in an area that offers extra room to run and burn off calories.

The largest cat is a 6-year-old black-and-brown shorthair named Zebe, who weighs 23 pounds.

RELATED PET RESCUE NEWS:
Animal lovers clamor to adopt Oklahoma puppy that survived euthanasia attempt
OK Go's new music video features talented dogs (and raises money for homeless animals)

-- Associated Press

Nico, Facebook-famous rescue dog from L.A. shelter, faces another adversity: cancer

Guest blogger Janet Kinosian first shared the story of Nico, a deaf shelter dog who was saved through the efforts of California rescuers and a community of animal-loving Facebook users, in 2009. Since then, Nico has found a home with devoted owners in the Midwest and lived in the lap of luxury, but has weathered more than his share of health problems. Now, Kinosian offers an update:

When we last left Nico SwanGarris — the deaf, abused Dogo Argentino whose hopeless and forlorn shelter photograph sparked a far-and-wide effort to get him safely into a loving home — he had made the transition into a wonderful family and was thriving. He managed to beat the cancer that was found on his ear before he arrived at his new home in Indiana and that part of his life seemed to be firmly in the past. He was loving life with his new sister Brisby, another deaf, white dog, and being spoiled by international attention from Facebook and local television.

I'm sad to report that Nico is facing yet another large and unfair hurdle. He has an aggressive cancer — in fact, four different types — and is currently taking chemotherapy medication by pill until his two moms can afford the highly expensive IV chemotherapy treatments at the Purdue Veterinary Teaching Hospital. His prognosis is guarded.

"We all know life is unfair, but this is the so utterly unfair," says Bridget Swan, one of his owners. "Having been forced to live the life of a fighting dog, and then to finally get to live so contentedly — well, it breaks my heart." Swan says she gets words of comfort daily from Nico's global community of Facebook friends, from as far away as Turkey, Iceland and Australia.

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Pet rescue transports give hope, worry to animal shelters

Shelter Dogs

KINSTON, N.C. — Every day, hundreds of animals are taken in trucks, vans and cars from overcrowded Southern shelters, where euthanasia rates sometimes reach 70%, to states in the North, where puppies and kittens are not as plentiful.

It's a labor of love for those whose main goal is getting the animals off death row, but it can also have a dark side ranging from unscrupulous operators looking to make a quick buck to well-meaning incompetence.

Animal advocates say the transports are here to stay, thanks to a supply and demand imbalance between the South and the North, where spay and neuter programs are far more widespread. These advocates want to create standards to ensure pets aren't taken from overburdened shelters to an even worse fate.

"If you could take a truckload of dogs and cats up to Connecticut, and somebody is going to pay you $100 a dog, you're going to get as many animals as you can on that truck," said Kimberly Alboum, director of the North Carolina chapter of the Humane Society of the United States.

"It's quite a market at this point, and it's really creating problems as far as unscrupulous transporters and unscrupulous rescuers," she said.

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Animal lovers clamor to adopt Oklahoma puppy that survived euthanasia attempt

OKLAHOMA CITY — Hundreds of people from the United States and Canada want to adopt an Oklahoma dog that survived an attempt to euthanize it.

The puppy was one of five stray dogs that Sulphur animal control officer Scott Prall put to sleep Friday -- or so he thought. Prall found one of the dogs alive Saturday in a trash bin set aside for dead animals and took it to veterinarian technician Amanda Kloski.

"He was prancing around. He heard me drive up, and he looked up and saw me," Prall said Wednesday.

He said he initially found the stray dog near the animal shelter Friday and tried to kill it by injecting the dog with two lethal doses of a sedative in a foreleg and the heart. Each dose should have been enough to kill the dog, and the second injection was meant to ensure it worked.

Kloski noted the dog's survival on a pet adoption website, drawing the attention of Marcia Machtiger of Pittsburgh, who donated $100 so Kloski could board the dog for a week.

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Happy Valentine's Day! Is your pet neutered?

Since it's Valentine's Day, we couldn't resist sharing the latest video from the Best Friends Animal Society's strangely hypnotic series featuring dogs with human hands. Is it funny? Is it creepy? It's a little of both, and we're trying our best to be OK with that.

The previous pet-adoption-themed installment featured dogs wrapping holiday gifts, decorating Christmas cookies and hanging ornaments on a tiny tree to illustrate the point that all pets deserve a home for the holidays. This Valentine's Day-themed edition points out the importance of spaying and neutering companion animals in order to reduce the pet overpopulation problem.

For help finding low-cost options to have your pet spayed or neutered here in Southern California, Clinico, the Amanda Foundation, the Sam Simon Foundation and Actors and Others for Animals are all good places to start. Like noted animal advocate Bob Barker says, "Help control the pet population: Have your pet spayed or neutered!"

You wouldn't want to let Bob Barker down, would you? We thought not.

RELATED PET-THEMED PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS:
New ad campaign aims to dispel myths about shelter pets
'Twilight' actress Rachelle Lefevre films PSA for Best Friends Animal Society

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Best Friends Animal Society

Caption this: Donkey kicks up its heels at UK sanctuary

DonkeyRoll

Don't worry -- nothing bad has happened to this donkey. In fact, something very good has happened to it: Once in need of rescue, it now resides at a virtual paradise for equines, England's Donkey Sanctuary, which is one of the largest charities of its kind in the world.

The sanctuary consists of eight farms across Devon and Dorset that have collectively housed more than 14,000 needy donkeys and mules, many of which were rescued from abusive or neglectful situations. Better still: Some of the sanctuary's rescued donkeys participate in a riding program for children with special needs. Others perform different types of outreach work, including visiting hospice facilities.

RELATED FUNNY ANIMAL PHOTOS:
Caption this: Goat intruder chases German couple out of their own flat
Reader photos: Busted! Pets behaving badly (and caught on camera)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Pennsylvania airport with feral-cat problem announces plans to trap, neuter and release cats

Feral Cats

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — An airport in eastern Pennsylvania that is dealing with a feral cat problem has announced plans to trap the felines and send them to a farm -- not euthanize them.

Lehigh Valley International Airport has reached an agreement with the Allentown group No Nonsense Neutering.

The Morning Call of Allentown reports the airport plans to have the cats trapped, spayed or neutered and then sent to a farm.

Animal lovers were upset last month when the airport said it would consider killing the cats.

Martha Kahan, president of No Nonsense Neutering, says the new agreement is a "win-win."

On Saturday, she trapped three of the cats and she says she plans to keep trapping them until she gets them all.

RELATED FERAL CAT NEWS:
A catfight over neutering program (January 2010 story by Times reporter Kimi Yoshino)
Feral cats to be evicted from future site of George W. Bush's presidential library

-- Associated Press

Photo: Feral cats eat at a Stockton, Calif., park in 2008. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

Video goodness: Girl talks about her love for her 'best friend in the world,' a rescue dog

For every bad story out there about a member of a so-called "bully breed" of dog (pit bulls, American Staffordshire terriers, American bulldogs and the like), we have found there is an equally good story about such a dog to counteract it.

Like Louis Vuitton, who wagged his tail and allowed himself to be petted by those assembled at a recent parole hearing for the man convicted of spraying him with lighter fluid, lighting him on fire and beating him with a shovel. Or Karma, a pit bull who helps her owner care for tiny foster kittens. Or the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels, whose inspiring stories of redemption were recently chronicled in the book "The Lost Dogs."

The video above shows another such story of a gentle, loving member of a much-maligned breed.

We don't want to give too much away -- you'll just have to watch it yourself (particularly if you're a pit bull fan tired of negative publicity) -- but it features a little girl describing her dog, a rescue who, she explains, "used to live with bad people and now he only has one eye. Some people think he's scary, but I think he's beautiful!" We recommend you keep tissues within reach while watching.

RELATED CUTE DOG VIDEOS:
Video goodness: Escalators are a foreign concept to Jack the terrier mix. Hilarity results
OK Go's new music video features talented dogs (and raises money for homeless animals)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: tammyclewley via YouTube

OK Go's new music video for 'White Knuckles' features talented dogs (and raises money for homeless animals)

When animal trainer Roland Sonnenburg of Talented Animals met director and choreographer Trish Sie in a meeting about a TV show several years ago, he had no idea that it would lead to the production of the music video above, for OK Go's "White Knuckles."

Sie mentioned that her brother was a musician and that she was interested in making a video for his band that featured animal actors. Sonnenburg agreed to discuss the idea, "knowing that everybody in Los Angeles has a relative in a band, and the odds of anything ever coming of that conversation were slim," he wrote on Talented Animals' blog.

What Sie neglected to mention was that her brother was Damian Kulash, the frontman of OK Go, a band known for its impressive music videos. (Kulash, a dog lover in his own right, has two rescue dogs of his own named Bunny Carlos and Dora. He talked about them and the importance of rescuing homeless pets in a video for PETA's youth-oriented sibling, PETA2.)

Eventually, Sonnenburg, Sie and Kulash met in person and decided to move forward with the idea for a dog-centric video. But Sonnenburg was dismayed to learn that Kulash's vision was to use a single take for the video, with no cuts.

"Now for those of you who have never worked an animal on film, we use cuts and optimal camera angles for everything," Sonnenburg wrote on the blog. "They are the tools that let us succeed. Without cuts, the animals would have to all work at the same time with their trainers far away, and we would need to get each dog and trainer and [band member] and [crew member] to nail every single behavior all in the same take." In other words: Hard.

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