Two of my dog heroes are:
• A Great Dane service dog named George is one of five recipients for this year’s AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence, which honors dogs that have had a significant impact on their owners and communities.
He is the service dog for 11-year-old Bella Burton Bella, who suffers from the genetic disorder Morquio syndrome (A rare type of birth defect with serious consequences. In the US, the incidence rate for Morquio is estimated at between 1 in 200,000 and 1 in 300,000).
Bella received George a year ago to help her with mobility. Her family says he’s helped her tremendously and she has a newfound independence.
George was bred and trained by the Service Dog Project of Ipswich, Massachusetts. The organization provides Great Dane service dogs and has placed more than 100 dogs with individuals who have balance and mobility issues. The Project’s founder, Carlene White, says that Great Danes make excellent service dogs due to their intelligence and patient nature.
• For victims of domestic violence, facing their abuser to testify in court can be terrifying and stressful, which is why the role Penny plays is so important.
Penny is the first dog in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to provide canine-assisted court services and therapy through the Crisis Center North in Pittsburgh.
Penny’s handler, Rachel Olszewski, explains that Penny plays a crucial role in helping victims feel calm and stress while testifying or during counseling sessions. When victims have to confront their attackers, Olszewski explains, Penny will often place herself between the victim and the defendant, helping the victim feel protected. According to Olszewski, her presence in court leads to more victims showing up for court hearings and higher prosecution rates for abusers. She also lends an ear to victims as they practice telling their story prior to the hearing.
Penny has been on the job officially since 2011, but her talent for helping others has been apparent to her human, Grace Coleman, for much longer.
“When I looked into her warm brown eyes and nuzzled her cold nose, I knew she had a special destiny, but I wasn’t sure what it was yet, ” says Coleman, who is the executive director of the CCN.
Coleman realized how Penny’s personality could be beneficial to the individuals served at the center in 2010 when a young boy bonded with Grace on his way to a counseling appointment. He told Coleman he didn’t want to go to his appointment, so she suggested that he bring Penny in with him. The counselor later reported that the boy made more progress during that appointment than during the previous six months of counseling.
According to the American Bar Association, the effectiveness of dogs in the courtroom first became apparent in the 1990s in Mississippi when a German Shepherd named Vachss began helping abused children testify against sex offenders.
Canine court programs have become more widespread in recent years. One organization, Courthouse Dogs, estimates that there are 95 dogs working 29 states through their program alone.
The calming effect dogs like Penny have on victims is invaluable in prosecuting offenders. I’m afraid that my only calming effect is letting Savana think that she runs the household
• Written by my friend Victoria Usher
The city of Los Angeles might be changing the number of cats you’re allowed to have in your home from three to five. City officials want this change to happen for a few reasons, the biggest reason being that they’re hoping by making this change people will start adopting more cats and therefore lowering the number of cats being euthanized. Recently, the city’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee collectively backed a proposal to raise the number of cats that is allowed per household from three to five. The Los Angeles City Council now has to vote on the proposal. Cats are at risk of being euthanized in city shelters because of limited space and this proposal could help lower the number of cats that are euthanized.
“We determined that a small increase would allow more cats’ lives to be saved in the community,” said Dana Brown, assistant general manager for the Department of Animal Services. There will always be people who are hesitant or don’t agree. But by making this change we will be able to save some of these cats’ lives and give them a good home as well.”
There’s a new dog park in the works that will be opening in the RiverPark community in Oxnard. Once finished, this specific new area for dogs to play around in will be at Windrow Park which is located at RiverPark’s western edge at Ventura Road and Owens River Drive. The dog park will take up about three quarters of the 5-acre park. There will be an area built for large dogs, an area built for small dogs, double gates, shade structure, and also an agility course. The Oxnard City Council gave their approval for the dog park to be built and they have people who support them on their decision and people who don’t. Apparently there are already two other dog parks in the Oxnard area, there is no parking lot at Windrow Park, and parking in their community is already a serious problem. Aside from that there have been many people who are very supportive of the decision. It’s a safe place for the dogs to be free and have fun.
• On Dec. 5, at 8:30pm two Ventura Police Officers were patrolling the Downtown Ventura Wine Walk when they were summoned by a motorist of a vehicle near the intersection of Main St. and Palm. The driver indicated that she and her boyfriend had come downtown from their home on the east end of Ventura and were leaving, when she heard the sounds a meowing cat coming from the engine compartment area of her vehicle.
Checking the vehicle, the motorist discovered that her pet cat, Koi, at some point before leaving home had climbed its way into the engine compartment of the vehicle and was sitting in a space between the bumper and engine, directly behind the front license plate.
Given the location of Koi, it presented a problem on trying to free the cat from the vehicle. Several passerby’s were trying to assist in the rescue, but none were successful. Fortunately, the owner of a local towing company, Double R Towing, was passing by and stopped to help. He assessed the situation and having the right tools, jacked the vehicle up and removed several parts of the undercarriage.
This freed Koi, who was found to be safe, was removed from the vehicle and allowed the owner to safely return the cat home.
This is too funny, if dogs could laugh I certainly would have. Am glad that the cat is okay though.