Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday's issues -- Dog Poop

Dog Waste ProhibitedImage by ATIS547 via Flickr

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 (AP)
Dog poop has bright side: Powering Mass. park lamp
By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

   (09-22) 02:43 PDT Cambridge, Mass. (AP) --
   It stinks and it's a hazard to walkers everywhere, but
it turns out dog poop has a bright side.

   Dog poop is lighting a lantern at a Cambridge dog park
as part of a months long project that its creator, artist
Matthew Mazzotta, hopes will get people thinking about not
wasting waste.

   The "Park Spark" poop converter is actually two steel,
500-gallon oil tanks painted a golden yellow, connected by
diagonal black piping and attached to an old gaslight-style
street lantern at the Pacific Street Park.

   After the dogs do their business, signs on the tanks
instruct owners to use biodegradable bags supplied on
site to pick up the poop and deposit it into the left tank.
People then turn a wheel to stir its insides, which
contain waste and water. Microbes in the waste give off
methane, an odorless gas that is fed through the tanks to
the lamp and burned off. The park is small but has proven
busy enough to ensure a steady supply of fuel.

   Dog owner Lindsey Leason, a 29-year-old Harvard student,
said she was all for seeing poop in a new light as she watched
her two dogs play at the park.

   "Since I have to pick up dog poop a lot, I think I'd rather have it be
useful," Leason said.

   The project was funded by a $4,000 grant from Council of
the Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where
Mazzotta earned a master's degree in visual studies last year.

   The 33-year-old Mazzotta, who is not a dog owner, got the
idea after he visited the park with a friend in 2009. Mazzotta
had recently traveled to India and saw people there using poop
in so-called "methane digesters" to cook food. As he watched
the park's trash can fill with bags of poop, he remarked to his friend,
"In other countries, they use that."

   A similar idea to use dog poop for power was floated in
San Francisco about four years ago. But that idea fizzled
in the city's bureaucracy and over concerns about safety,
said environmental scientist Will Brinton, who worked with
Mazzotta on Park Spark and was consulted in the San Francisco

   Cambridge Fire Chief Gerry Reardon had his own questions
about "Park Spark," including whether vandalism or poor design
could cause the tank's insides to spill out and how the methane
would be safely contained and vented. But Park Spark's sturdy
build and safety features persuaded the fire department to give
its approval, he said.     "We try to stay progressive here," Reardon

   Mazzotta's project brings welcome visual distraction to the park,
which is bordered by a rutted street, a weed-filled lot and the
beaten-down backsides of a couple of buildings. Dog owner
Louisa Solano, 68, said she loves Park Spark, though she thought
it was "just a wonderful piece of sculpture, you know, modern art"
when she first saw it.

   The dog-poop converter's colors, symmetry and clean lines
are intentional, but Mazzotta said his greater artistic purpose
is to get people thinking differently about what's around them,
including seeing waste as a resource and how to best use the
free power it produces.

   The practical benefits of the exhibit aren't lost on Mazzotta.

   Burning the methane, which is 30 times more potent as a
greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, helps the environment,
he said. And with dogs dropping tons of poop in cities everywhere,
he thinks the idea of using its untapped power has broad appeal.

   Brinton, president of Woods End Laboratories in Maine, which
specializes in biogas energy development, said biogas from
waste is a potentially major and accessible energy source,
and a novel project like Mazzotta's can highlight that.

   Mazzotta said right now he's not planning to start a
dog poop energy business but is instead focusing on the
ideas behind Park Spark, which will be dismantled at month's
end. To him, the dog poop device helps fill a need for clean
energy and better waste disposal, and all people need to
do to fuel it is look around.

   And be careful where they step.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday True Stories -- Michael Vick's dogs

 Remember these dogs?  Whatever  became of them after all the hubbub died down?  There is a new book out called The Lost Dogs that I just purchased to read.  This started me wondering about the dogs I had watched on television being rescued--so pitiful and scared.  I decided to search and see what I could find out.  Below is just some of the sites I found.

Happy ending for most of Vick’s dogs

 By Dan Wetzel, Sep 21, 12:21 pm ED
The resurrection of Michael Vick(notes) took another swift step forward Sunday when he led the Philadelphia Eagles to victory in his first start in more than three NFL seasons. Now he’s in the middle of a debate about who should be the team’s regular starter. It’s a welcomed type of argument for a man who spent 21 months in federal prison, lost a $100 million contract and became a national pariah for his role in a vicious interstate dogfighting ring.
Jim Gorant was less concerned about Vick’s future than that of Vick’s victims – the 51 dogs authorities recovered on Vick’s property in rural Virginia, 22 of which went to Best Friends animal sanctuary in Utah. If Vick paid his debt to society (as he did, even becoming a Humane Society lecturer), he’d no doubt get a second chance (as he should).

One of the rescued dogs hides in its shelter at Best Friends animal sanctuary, north of Kanab, Utah.
(Douglas C. Pizac/AP Photo)
But what of Michael Vick’s dogs? It turns out there’s a redemption story there as well, one that Gorant, a writer for Sports Illustrated, details in the just-released book “The Lost Dogs”.
It starts with the decision by authorities to raid Vick’s property in April 2007 and carries through the rescue of the animals, the Vick legal proceedings, the groundbreaking decision to not destroy the mostly pit bulls and eventually a series of success stories for many of the dogs.
It’s a book that’s equal parts horrifying and hopeful. And while every person and dog involved would’ve been better served if Bad Newz Kennels never existed, there are plenty of positives coming out of a story that at first seemed to contain only misery.
Forty-seven of the 51 dogs survived. While not all have fully rehabbed, a good number of them live with families. Their new owners view the dogs’ scarred bodies as loveable and marvel at the ability to put years of aggressive training and systematic torture behind them. Four even work in therapy roles – including one in California which is so gentle and peaceful he’s used as a “listener” for self-conscious children trying to work on their reading skills.
Perhaps most remarkably, if it wasn’t for the high-profile nature of the Vick case and the quarterback’s ability to pay for their postrescue care (Vick reportedly spent a court-mandated $1 million on it), each of the dogs would’ve been destroyed. Dogs which came from fighting busts had previously been considered so far gone that trying to retrain them would take a disproportionate amount of already limited resources.
“Ninety percent of the time, they would’ve been put down,” Gorant said. “Even PETA and the Humane Society recommended it. [The theory was] there are already good dogs out there who need care. Why invest time, effort and money to save these few when so many dogs are out there that need help?”
The public outcry over the Vick dogs helped change that. An attempt was made to retrain them, and the success rate was so high that “the Humane Society changed its official policy,” Gorant said.
The major change, according to Gorant, is to evaluate each dog as an individual case rather than make a sweeping ruling on all animals which come from a fighting ring.
“It’s definitely a positive,” he said.
There’s more. The Vick case drew so much public outrage that police across the country have reportedly stepped up efforts to break fighting rings. Where the crime was considered a lower priority in the past, now resources are offered – if only because it often leads to the discovery of other criminal behavior. It’s not cub scouts who operate these things.
“Law enforcement realized that this is something worth their time,” Gorant said.
The book also delves deeply into a look at the pit bull breed, making the case that it is inherently a calm, friendly dog. It was originally bred as a family farm dog. It’s the fighting rings which have ruined the pit bulls’ rep – something that surprised even Gorant.
“All I knew about pit bulls was from the headlines,” he said.

Vick missed all of the ‘2007 and ’08 NFL seasons.
(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The book has its greatest impact in going past the headlines and detailing the recovery process of the individual dogs. The odds for success remained long, but the dogs took to the training at various levels. Seventeen have been deemed adequately adjusted. Seventeen are still in training facilities. The rest are in various spots in between.
The success stories will prove a winner for any dog lover. Consider Hector, a big, brown pit bull whose scarred chest and legs told of a veteran (and thereby successful and vicious) fighter. If there was ever a dog that at first glance would be considered too far gone to save, he was it.
Instead, the shelter found a pleasant demeanor and even a mischievous side (he loves hide-and-seek and is a klutz). He quickly passed his Canine Good Citizen tests and wound up in the Minnesota home of Roo Yori, who is known for training police dogs and flying-disc champions.
Hector now visits schools and nursing homes, offering comfort and entertainment and using his celebrity status as one of “Michael Vick’s dogs” to pound home an anti-fighting message.
Hector didn’t score any touchdowns Sunday. Yet, like Michael Vick, his life has moved forward in ways which few could’ve envisioned three and a half-year ago. Vick is back to being a football player, Hector a normal dog.


Never has a group of pit bulls received as much media attention as the dogs from former NFL player Michael Vick's yard. While it's certain nobody would've known about these victimized dogs had they not been part of a fallen sports figure's dog fighting venture, they earned celebrity in their own right by surviving two certain deaths, thanks to a large scale rescue effort led, in part, by the federal government - a first of its kind.
Public opinion fell strongly in favor of helping the dogs. In this landmark animal welfare case, federal prosecuting attorneys, federal agents, the USDA, six Virginia animal shelters, a court appointed animal law expert and several rescue organizations including BAD RAP all teamed together to reach the goal of evaluating 49 fight bust victims and then sending them to new and better lives with rescue organizations around the country.
In the past, shelters have been encouraged to put all fight bust dogs to their deaths because it was assumed that they were each going to be dangerous, uncontrollable animals. They’ve been called ‘Kennel Trash’ and accused of taking up space normally reserved for other dogs. Evaluating them as individuals revealed new information about dogs from fight busts and helped shatter old myths previously used to condemn them.

If you visit this link,  , you can view videos from DogTown that show all the work that went into saving these horribly abused dogs.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Moody Monday

Well, after working all weekend on night shift, I have to say that today is not one of my better days.  I came home and, of course, had to walk the dogs.  I was so tired and all they wanted to do was sniff and bark and run around me to wrap me up.  After about 15 minutes that seemed like an hour, we made it back inside, safe and sound.  I thought about eating, but decided I was too tired. But, of course the boys were not too tired to get their breakfast. 

I finally got to bed and to sleep after about an hour.  However, Satchmo felt like I needed to get up at 12:30.  He came up and started licking my face and scratching at me until I woke up.  Of course, he wanted to go "outside" so I put on my robe and took him.  Needless to say, I have not been worth anything at all today and I really hate losing a whole day just because I worked those night shifts.

So, today my mood is frustrated and tired.  How's yours?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Here's an article I wrote that deals with dog aggression

Dog Bites -- The Ultimate in Dog Aggression 

by S. Williams

Dog aggression is a serious problem. Every year thousands of people are injured or killed in a dog attack. Millions of dollars are spent annually on treatment for dog bites from aggressive dogs. This article will give you information on how to avoid being bitten and what to do if you are bitten.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, $317.2 million was issued in claims for dog bites and dog attacks in the year 2005. That is a lot of money, but more importantly, that is a lot of trauma and pain.

Dog attacks and bites that are reported occur about 4.5 million times a year per reports of the CDC. That is a staggering figure, but there are approximately 75 million dogs in the US as pets so the number becomes more believable.

Here are some ways to prevent being a statistic and what to do if you become one.

Who are the most likely victims of a dog attack or other form of dog aggression? Children are the primary victims in dog attacks. Unfortunately, small children don't understand that all dogs are not friendly. They also don't understand that quick, unpredictable movements can cause a dog bite.

Adults also can be the victims of attacks when they forget those two facts also. However, we adults believe that we "can handle" dogs so we show less fear and can forget that dogs are animals and will act like an animal when frightened, hurt, afraid, or hungry.  Women make up a large percentage of the number of dog bites in adults. Women are smaller, more hesitant, and can be seen as vulnerable to an aggressive dog.

What to do if confronted by an aggressive dog:

1. First and foremost, in preventing an attack you must avoid contact with strange or unfamiliar animals. As I said before, not every dog is friendly and not every dog wants to be touched.

2. If a confrontation appears imminent, do not move or make any noise at all. Movement of any type can be perceived as threatening to a fearful dog and will cause an attack.

3. Avoid making eye contact with the aggressive dog. In the animal world, a direct stare is interpreted as a challenge and can provoke an attack.

4. If all of the above fails and the aggressive dog lunges at you, roll yourself into as tight a ball as possible making sure to cover your head, neck and face with your hands and arms. Tuck your chin into your chest to give more protection to the soft tissue at your throat.

5. Lie perfectly still, even if the dog is biting you. Stay tucked as tight as possible and remain as calm as you can. If you are in a public place, it is possible that help will arrive shortly. If you are in an isolated place, you want the dog to lose interest in you by being very still. Once it appears that the dog is satisfied that you are no longer a threat, it may move away on its own. Only when that occurs do you want to unfold and go for help.

What to do if you are bitten by an aggressive dog:

Always, in any skin break incident, get the wound as clean as possible. This doesn't mean you have to scrub the area, but you do need to have running water applied to the area for a lengthy period. The movement of the water will draw bacteria and particles out of the wound and leave it clean. If water is not available, wipe the area clear of debris and dirt, use whatever you have available to try to cleanse the wound.
Try to stop the bleeding quickly by applying a tourniquet if necessary.

Apply any first aid that is available--topical antibiotic ointment, bandages, etc.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dog bites are serious and can be fatal.

Additional complications from dog bites:

There are several potential threats besides the actual wound itself. Once the skin is broken, the body's protective covering is infiltrated by all different types of organisims. These are all around us daily and cannot be avoided, however they are going to take advantage of a "way into" your body once the skin is torn.

A dog bite puts you at risk of both a Staph and a Strep infection. Both will require medical attention and intervention. Both organisms are dangerous and can cause permanent and serious problems.

Another issue to consider is the potential for tetanus to enter the bloodstream. We all forget about getting our shots on time as adults, and this is one shot you will want to get soon if you cannot remember when you last had one.

The final additional complication is the advent of rabies in an aggressive dog or animal. If the dog is not captured or identified, you will want to be treated for the possibility of acquiring rabies. Fortunately, the treatment has improved over the years and is not quite as traumatic as it once was.

Dog bites are not trivial incidents. Of the 4.5 million bites a year, 800,000 will require medical attention and approximately 31,000 will require reconstructive surgery. There are at least 12-20 dog bite deaths per year. So, don't take dog aggression lightly. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

D.C. Dog Shooting and the Need for a Canine Force Continuum

I seem to have fallen off the wagon when it comes to posting here on my blog.  I went on vacation and apparently never returned.  Anyway, I have recommitted myself to keeping Satchmo's blog updated regularly and in that vein I am posting an article about a dog shooting in D.C.. 

As a pet owner, I am offended by the unnecessary use of guns by police when dealing with stray or loose dogs.  Most dogs are pets.  Most dogs have a family that loves them.  Most dogs respond to verbal commands.  In those incidents where verbal commands don't work, either due to excitement or fear, then I believe that officers need to really have to be critical in determining threat.  I believe that a dog should not be shot unless that is the absolute last resort--like the dog in lunging in the air at the officer.  Shooting first and figuring out the situation last is totally unacceptable.  In most of these incidents, there are people around and the very real possibility of secondary damage to them is present.  Just because you have a gun doesn't mean you can use it whenever you want to.

Here is the article from

by Ledy VanKavage  
September 16, 2010  
06:28 AM

Last weekend, at the Adams Morgan festival in Washington, D.C., a dog named Parrot got into an altercation with a poodle. The caretakers had broken up the fight when police arrived on the scene. According to witnesses and photographs, the officer pinned Parrot to the ground with his knee, then hurled him down a concrete stairwell, and finally pulled out his weapon and shot him. Given that photographs showed he had the dog contained, isn't this a likely case of excessive force?
And it's far from being the only one. Thousands of dogs are gunned down each year by police officers. Canine shootings have to stop. We have a force continuum that sets guidelines for how much force may be used in situations involving humans, so why not one for canines?
It's not always just the dogs who are in danger. In early September, for example, a Michigan animal anti-cruelty officer was shot by a Detroit police officer while responding to a complaint of dogs running loose. The officer shot and killed a pit-bull-type dog whose only offense had been running at large; the anti-cruelty officer was wounded in the process.  [ more here...]
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