I know hundreds, if not tens of thousands, share my lack of understanding of those who are cruel to dogs, or any other animal come to that! I cannot get into the head of someone who does cruel acts towards dogs.
If Joe had shed any tears over his fate — tied to a fence in a New York City park — it would have been hard to notice for the puddle of water he sat shivering in.
In fact, it was hard to notice the 11-month-old pit-bull mix at all on that cold December day in Betsy Head Park. The rush of people hurrying to get to where they were going must have seemed endless, all the while oblivious to the tragedy unfolding at their feet.
But while on a routine patrol in the area, NYPD officer Michael Pascale caught a glimpse of the abandoned dog.
“Just out of the corner of my eye I saw him,” he told the New York Post. “I jumped out of the car before the car even stopped.”
He found him scarcely moving, but still managing a whimper.
The officer wrapped the near-frozen dog in a towel.
“He was just looking up at me with these eyes … sitting in this puddle of water,” Pascale added. “I knew I had to get him out of there.”
Pascale and his partner wasted no time in ushering Joe to a local shelter. A triumphant photo of the pair was taken and later tweeted by NYPD Special Ops.
And that’s where you might think the chance encounter between Pascale and Joe would end.
But three weeks would pass and Joe was still at the shelter looking for a family. So Pascale, who had been keeping tabs on the dog, came to his rescue once again.
And this rescue would last a lifetime. Last week, after filling out the adoption papers, Pascale took Joe home for good.
“I felt a connection,” he told News 12. “I felt responsibility to make sure that he was going to have a good home, especially after what he experienced that day.”
Officer Michael Pascale, you are a very good person. And I know Joe will be very happy with you.
While thousands of lost and abandoned pets have come and gone from the gates of the Denver Animal Shelter, there’s one dog that hasn’t budged an inch since arriving in 2011.
And the people who work and volunteer at the city-run shelter wouldn’t have it any other way.
That “dog” — a gleaming 20-foot tall sculpture that looms over the shelter entrance — is a towering inspiration to everyone who sees it.
In fact, the statue dubbed “Sun Spot” can even be seen by passing motorists on Interstate 25, thanks in no small part to the 90,000 steel pet tags that cover its surface.
It all adds up to a bright beacon of hope for all who see it.
A beacon of hope — and a promise to help
“‘Sun Spot’ is an inspiration to the staff at Denver Animal Protection and to the many visitors who visit the Denver Animal Shelter daily,” explains Alice Nightengale, director of Denver Animal Protection, the city agency that runs the shelter. “Working in animal welfare can be incredibly rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. We are proud of the work we do for Denver’s animals and for our community, and that keeps us going.”
But while the dog’s head — bent ears and all — is the first thing visitors see at the shelter, there are actually two more equally epic components to the installation.
In the shelter lobby, a massive collar, some 6 feet in diameter, is suspended in the air. And that collar is adorned with an ever-growing collection of tags, etched with the names of adopted dogs.
And the third component? A boulevard of tags along the riverbank running past the shelter. Each of those tags identifies native plants — and also gives them pet names.
But with all those stainless steel pet tags covering its giant frame — from ear to tail — it’s the dog that draws the biggest crowd.
The dog gives the impression that it’s chasing the biggest, brightest prize of all: the sun. But LED bulbs also make “Sun Spot” shine at night, exchanging sun for moon — and giving the statue a sense of permanence.
“‘Sun Spot’ is a reminder to all that our organization is a safe haven, a place providing respite for the animals who need care, love and shelter, and a wealth of resources for humans wanting to help them,” Nightengale adds. “Every year, the staff at Denver Animal Protection cares for over 7,000 lost, abandoned and injured pets, and we’ll continue to do so, with ‘Sun Spot’ serving as a ‘north star,’ guiding those animals and people who need us to our doors.”
Indeed, “Sun Spot” is more than just an inspiration to humans; it’s a symbol of hope for the anxious, frightened, heartbroken animals who wash up there.
And like that iconic statue that stands tall in New York Harbor, it offers a world of hope to new arrivals.
Although the Denver Animal Shelter is a municipal shelter, it relies heavily on donations for treating and fostering the thousands of animals that arrive here every year. You can support those efforts by making a donation here, and then see “Sun Spot” come into existence in the video below.
You all have a very peaceful and, hopefully, a smoke-free weekend.
Although it seems that we’ve always been sure that our dogs are emotionally tuned into us, this study represents the first time that empathy has been clinically tested.
And the dogs didn’t let down researchers, either.
When scientists were seemingly trapped behind a door that was magnetically locked, their cries of distress brought the test dogs over in a hurry. In fact, the dogs hustled to the scene three times faster when they heard the cries, than they did when researchers hummed “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
“It’s really cool for us to know that dogs are so sensitive to human emotional states,” study co-author Emily Sanford, from Johns Hopkins University, explains in a press release. “It is interesting to think that all these anecdotes of dogs rescuing humans, they could be grounded in truth, and this study is a step toward understanding how those kinds of mechanisms work.”
What’s more, the dogs demonstrated an uncanny knack for suppressing their emotions when there was a life-saving job to be done. Although their stress levels spiked when they heard crying behind the door, dogs managed to master their emotions and quietly, efficiently push it open with their nose.
A minority of the test dogs, however, did show a very human response: Their stress levels were so high that they were effectively too paralyzed to help.
Sure, it isn’t the biggest study — researchers looked at just 34 dogs — but it does confirm what we’ve always known in our hearts from living with dogs: dogs get us.
That’s because, the researchers suggest, they’ve been studying the human heart for a very long time.
The Lassie effect
“Dogs have been by the side of humans for tens of thousands of years and they’ve learned to read our social cues,” Sanford explains in the release. “Dog owners can tell that their dogs sense their feelings. Our findings reinforce that idea, and show that, like Lassie, dogs who know their people are in trouble might spring into action.”
But sometime during that panicked retreat from the house on Wikiup Bridge Way, the family dog, Izzy, bolted away.
Trying to find her amid the chaos of fire proved too dangerous.
And so this family, like countless others in California’s wine country, left more than just their home behind. When they drove through sheer walls of flame and across an uncertain wooden bridge to get to safety — they left their hearts back on Wikiup Bridge Way.
It turned out, it was the one thing they couldn’t leave behind.
A day and a half later, while the area was still smoldering and roads were still closed, Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen made the nearly-three-mile trek back to the house.
“It was incredibly important,” Weaver, who grew up in that house, tells MNN. “My mother was a wreck for having gone through that. Nobody wanted us to go back because they were worried we would get injured.”
‘I can see …’
In a video of their return, posted on Facebook and shared below, you can hear the men laboring to catch their breath amid blackened trees and still-crackling ruins.
“Izzy!” Weaver is heard calling into the smoky veil. Over and over again.
They push farther and farther ahead. “Izzy!”
“Almost to the house,” Weaver says in the video. “I can see … the gate. The gate’s still standing.”
A moment later, he adds, “I don’t see the house at all. F$#k.”
It had burned to the ground.
But someone was still standing.
“Izzy’s here!” Weaver calls, his voice choked with emotion. “Izzy!”
“Oh my God! Come here, baby!”
The giant dog bounces into view, her tail whirring like a helicopter.
“When she same running around — you can probably hear it in my voice — we were shocked and ecstatic,” Weaver says later. “I wish I could have filmed longer, the happy reunion, but I was so happy I dropped my phone.”
Since the family posted the video, it’s been shared more than 4,000 times. Maybe it’s a testament to the need for all of us to find a happy ending amid heartache.
In any case, Izzy is where she belongs now — in the arms of her family — a testament to faith under fire.
“She didn’t have a burn on her,” Weaver says. “It definitely lifted my family’s spirits.”
YouTube also carried a video:
Well done, Izzy, and Jean and I send you fondest hugs!
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, hundreds of dogs, as well as cats, horses and even a few pigs, are getting off the island.
Several rescue groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, have waded into the breach to rescue some of the island’s most defenseless residents: its burgeoning population of stray dogs, as well as those currently in shelters.
HSUS has a history with the territory, helping with law enforcement training and horse care, and working closely with animal shelters across the island.
“Since the storm hit, we’ve been doing our best to stay in contact, given the communication challenges, with all of our shelter partners and other partners on the island,” Inga Fricke, director of pet retention programs for HSUS, tells MNN.
This week, the organization — with help from partners like Wings of Rescue and St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center — began airlifting dogs from stressed island shelters to a processing center in New Jersey.
“They get vetted there, get the care they need and then get parceled out to other partners around the country,” Fricke says.
Not every animal survived Maria’s onslaught. Notably, a southeast corner of the island once teeming with strays — nicknamed “Dead Dog Beach” — was found to be desolate when rescuers arrived.
“We’re hearing from our rescuers who have a feeding area where they go every day and we are hearing that most of those dogs have perished,” Twig Mowatt, co-founder of All Sato Rescue, tells MNN.
While the organization is based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mowatt is just outside of Boston, coordinating with the Humane Society of Puerto Rico to get vulnerable dogs airlifted to the mainland.
“I’m kind of like an air traffic controller these days,” she says. “My group is largely rescue and transport but we partner with the humane society for those really badly affected.”
“We were able to get dogs out on Friday and then yesterday,” Mowatt adds.
Described as “apocalyptic,” the hurricane left much of the island in the dark, without electricity or communications. And while the humanitarian relief effort is ongoing — much of the island was still without power in early October — the search for animals in distress may be even more complicated.
With an estimated 150,000 dogs in Puerto Rico and not enough animal shelters, there’s no space for dogs found roaming at large. As a result, many of them are put down immediately.
“We have even done several transports, even just this year, to try and alleviate some of the overcrowding and the pressures on the shelters across the island,” Fricke explains.
“But certainly our focus now, after the hurricane, is to try and remove as many of the sheltered animals as possible so we can allow them to make room for animals that unfortunately have been affected by the storm and can’t be kept by their families any more for any reason.”