Category Archives: News & Media

Dog Body Language: Preventing a Bite

It’s becoming far to reoccurring a theme as more and more photos are surfacing on social media of a child sitting, standing, kissing or generally making a dog uncomfortable with their behaviors. These photos are often taken as “cute” or “sweet” actions on the part of the child to the dog but all too often these types of behaviors lead to what is often classified as an unprovoked bite to the child despite the warning signs given by the dog in the form of a growl, stiffened body posture or other behaviors that humans often mistake as acceptance of the child’s behavior.

Recently, a photo was published by Coeur d’Alene Press on Facebook (click link here to view theunhappydog original) where the caption reads “Boston Wolfinger, 2, gives his dog a kiss. “I took the photo after Boston wanted to ‘share’ his bunny ears with his best buddy,” said Boston’s mom, Kelly Wolfinger.

The dog in it has hard eyes, a stiff posture and the obvious snarl with teeth bared. In a nut shell, the dog looks very, very uncomfortable. Many of the commenters on the thread state their concern only to be rebuffed by others who state that they’re blowing it out of proportion and it’s just a cute “smile” from the dog.

Personally, that photo and many of the others I see on a day to day basis make me cringe as both a dog owner, future parent (if Mother Nature would cooperate!) and doting aunt of a bunch of rambunctious nieces and nephews who have had me repeatedly drill how to behave around a dog into their tiny, knowledge-soaking skulls. Far too many pets are put into situations that cause outcomes that end tragically for the family and the reacting pet – typically in the form of the dog being euthanized.


Dogs bite a child or adult for a plethora of reasons. These reasons vary from dog to dog and day to day because dogs are living breathing beings that do have feelings and those feelings can mean a bad day or a good day. These reasons range from protecting a possession or resting spot, being startled or spooked or to a medical condition that causes the pet to be in pain – which will often cause a bite if accidentally (or on purpose in the case of some mean-spirited children/adults) stepped on, kicked or touched in an uncomfortable manner.


To prevent incidents like this, it is important to realize and learn the signs of what will cause a dog to bite. Below are links below show a more in depth view into many of the behaviors that are often seen prior to a bite incident that may lead to a severe bite or even a dog bite-related fatality (DBRF).

Patricia McConnell, PhD. said it best in her book “For the Love of a Dog” with this quote:

I don’t know how many times broken-hearted clients have told me that Barney had been doing so well; he’d handled the noise and chaos of the family picnic all day long, but just when everyone was about to leave, he fell apart and snapped, or nipped, or bit…If people could just see the signs of exhaustion or worry on their dogs’ faces, there’d be a lot fewer bites in the world, a lot fewer tears, and a lot more dogs living to old age.


Breed Specific Legislation: Being a Breed Steward at a City Council Meeting


So you’ve just heard your local city, town or village is going to look into a breed specific ordinance after a dog-on-dog or dog-on-human incident causing a knee jerk reaction in an attempt with preemptive public safety measures because of said incident. This isn’t a pretty situation to be involved in no matter how you spin it. Emotions on both sides are high – both for the victim and/or the victim’s family and for the public who is being unfairly targeted due to the irresponsible actions of one individual/family who allowed their dog to run amok – especially if that dog had shown aggressive behaviors prior to the incident leading to breed specific legislation. For the reason above, one must tread carefully when considering working with a city council to find a solution that benefits public safety, satisfies the victim’s need for justice for those who could potentially be harmed in the future by potentially dangerous dogs and doesn’t single out a particular breed – thus satisfying bull breed dogs and other targeted breed owners.

Being a breed steward isn’t an easy task. Bully breed owners are targeted especially hard by those who loathe and fear the breed and one must hold themselves above reproach by those who would sink to drag the battle to a lower level that would allow derogatory remarks, unprofessional behavior and even wishing harm on the hate-filled party who spews such vitriol aimed at a passionate pet owner who is only seeking to keep their pets protected in the face of adversity.

These individuals would like to stomp any potentially non-breed specific legislation because of their fear of these dogs. It is not, however, to say that these fears from are unfounded because the sheer number of instances where a bully breed-type dog that has severely harmed or killed another pet, livestock animal or even human being is astounding and utterly abhorrent. These instances are becoming far too frequent as particular breeds and breed types rise in popularity and it is the responsibility of those who hold these breeds near and dear to their hearts to fiercely guard them through responsible canine husbandry and not let them run amok in polite society.

That being said, you must now prepare for that inevitable ‘battle’ with those who would wish your personal canine companions ill will because of the actions of another. This battle is more so a battle of reasoning and logic than it is of emotionally charged feelings. When one approaches city council one must do so as a professional on their level. Here are some tips to remember when thinking of attending a meeting in terms of presentation:

  • It is a serious social faux pas in a situation like this to come into a meeting like you’re going to the local bar on a Friday night. A pair of clean, hole-free jeans or khakis and a dress shirt or a skirt and blouse are far more appropriate attire than your favorite pro-breed shirt that reads something along the lines of “If it ain’t pit, it ain’t shit” type of phrase. All of your fellow breed stewards share the same passion but it isn’t them who you are seeking to impress with your attire.
  • Come prepared with facts and solutions and make sure you have copies for each city council person so that they are able to browse through it at their leisure. This could include a sample breed neutral law like the one that the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) has on their website (Click here for a copy of this ordinance for your files) or other anti-breed specific legislation factoids – including cost analysis, current copy of the state dog statutes, etc.
  • If you intend to get up and speak in front of city council, remember that you must be polite and professional. Speak with conviction but without emotion. (This isn’t an easy thing to do, believe me. I’ve had to learn over the years to put on a professional air despite the fact I am quaking in my boots because I utterly loathe speaking in front of large groups of people.)
  • If at all possible, have a short speech prepared that highlights the key points of interest – especially if you have done your research on the incident(s) leading up to this action. Make sure it is under three minutes in length as this is typically how long city council gives each person to speak because of the sheer volume of people that typically attend these meetings when such a heated topic is brought forward.
  • Do not, for any reason, bring your dog to the meeting. The only exception to this rule is if you require the use of a service or assistance dog. Not only is your canine companion not welcome but it could detract from the issue at hand – especially if your dog has a lapse in manners and does something foolish and out of character.
  • If you are a resident, please remember your voice carries more weight in this situation than those who are from out of town – even if they represent a business or other organization. You are, ultimately, the person or family who will be tossed into the middle of this situation and your voice must politely be heard regardless of what breed you own because it isn’t just bull breeds that are targeted in many US cities.

The above suggestions will help to provide the stepping stones away from breed specific legislation if you and your fellow protestors act accordingly and maintain your aura of professionalism. Do not allow yourself to be dragged into a petty he said, she said battle of emotions no matter how angry, frustrated or upset some of the commentary makes you. You aren’t there for a bar fight but for the right to protect your canine family member and help the city find a solution that positively impacts on all of its citizens to keep them and their companion animals safe from harassment and harm.

Veterinary Betrayal: Where Compassion Turns To Cruelty

Cruelty in the veterinary community is becoming less and less unusual to see as awareness is toward pets as family members rises by the day.  As pet owners, there is a certain understanding and trust in one’s veterinarian that the animal in their care will receive the lou-tiercebest possible medical care that can be provided within the confines of the owner’s ability.  More often than not, this is not a difficult nor unreasonably obtained but a recent case in Fort Worth, Texas has brought concern to the forefront of every pet owner’s mind when it comes to the services their veterinarian may be providing – especially during those last, saddening moments of a pet’s life when an owner is faced with the decision of humane euthanasia.

The highly publicized case of veterinary cruelty involving a long-standing veterinarian named Dr. Millard ‘Lou’ Tierce started after a former employee, Mary Brewer, contacted Jamie and Marian Harris on April 21, 2014 in regard to their beloved Leonberger, Sid, whom they believed had been euthanized in September 2013 after being diagnosed by Dr. Tierce as having a ‘congenital spinal defect’ that would destroy his quality of life.

The Harris’ were told by Ms. Brewer that Sid had been living in a cage 24 hours a day in hissid-ftworth own urine and feces and had also been injured by another employee during his imprisonment by Dr. Tierce.  Ms. Brewer told the Harris’ that she had not come forward sooner because she was concerned for her employment and the paychecks that it provided.  Ms. Brewer quit her job, however, the day that she told the Harris’ about Sid and what he had been through.

The Harris’ sought to free Sid from his imprisonment and went to the clinic, Camp Bowie Animal Clinic.  With Jamie distracting the receptionist and a friend watching the rear entrance, Marian was able to free Sid from his cage and walk Sid out of the clinic without any apparent lameness.  Dr. Tierce followed them out of the clinic and attempted to explain bowieclinicto the Harris’ that he did not euthanize Sid because some of his employees threatened to quit if he did.

Sid was taken to another veterinary clinic after being freed from the clinic.  The second veterinarian performed and MRI and confirmed that Sid had no congenital spinal defect and had been used repeatedly for blood draws – possibly for transfusions or plasma treatments for other dogs in his clinic.  After receiving these findings, the Harris’ filed a complaint with the police and state veterinary board which lead to a raid by police and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on Tuesday, May 29, 2014.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Tierce turned himself into the police for a charge of cruelty to animals, non-livestock and was released on a $10,000 bond.  He was also notified by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that his license was suspended because of sid1the allegations and charges filed against him.

Unfortunately, the Harris’ aren’t the only family coming forward in this case.  According to, Ms. Jennifer Braden told investigators that Mr. Tierce may have taken one of the dogs he is charged with supposedly having euthanized and keeping it as his personal pet.  That dog, a miniature dachshund named Temperance Bones, was taken into Camp Bowie in October 2012 after Tierce told Ms. Braden the dog needed surgery and that if the family couldn’t afford the surgery they could euthanize the dog.  He told the family that he euthanized their dog but after he was arrested, Ms. Braden went door to door in Tierce’s neighborhood looking for her dog.  One of the neighbors gave her some startling news that she had seen Mr. Tierce walking that dog only a few months prior.  Ms. Braden firmly believes that her dog was kidnapped because Mr. Tierce had taken a liking to the dog.

The state veterinary board will be meeting within the next two weeks to decide the fate of Mr. Tierce’s veterinary medical license and if it should be revoked.  He has, when asked by the media for comment, declined requests for a statement claiming that the allegations are “all a bunch of hooey” from a disgruntled employee.

National Pit Bull Awareness Month 2013

21423_10151223420059828_576419650_nEvery year the month of October is hailed in as a month of awareness for one of the most misunderstood, mistreated and maligned breeds of dog in modern history – the pit bull.  There are many who would wish to see this breed’s future annihilated and sent into extinction but there are even greater numbers of breed advocates and aficionados who work tirelessly against the opposing side in an effort to reverse breed specific legislation that is aimed to eventually destroy the breed that is affectionately called ‘America’s Dog’ by its followers.

National Pit Bull Awareness Month is only a couple of years into its conception.  The creator founded this month in an effort to show the love and dedication of one very special American Pit Bull Terrier named Tiffin who had crossed the bridge earlier in the year.  This wonderful tribute allowed for the extension of the original National Pit Bull Awareness Day (which was started in 2007) into thirty-one days of advocacy and affection for an incredibly diverse and resilient breed.  This month will allow shelters, breed clubs, other individuals and groups to spotlight the breed through events geared toward education and responsible ownership of this often demonized breed to show that, with a little elbow grease,  this breed can and should remain a part of the heart and soul of so many fanciers across the globe.

 So, the question remains – what can you do to be a responsible advocate for this years National Pit Bull Awareness Month to raise awareness and celebrate your love for this breed?  Well, hereriverouge-september2013-2787 are a few suggestions that may get your creative juices flowing that will not only help the breed but also the community with your positive actions:

– Use the power of social media to share positive images, stories and events involving pit bulls.

– Volunteer at your local shelters and rescues.  These dogs wait for their forever homes and time spent working with them enables them to get closer to the highly sought after end result of that forever home.

– If you’re looking for a new canine companion and can responsibly care for a pit bull, check out those same shelters and rescue groups for your next best friend.  (If a rescue isn’t your cup of tea, which we understand, and you’re still looking for a pit bull, make sure you work with a breeder who is ethical and responsible!)

– Get involved in breed specific activities and events.  Group walks/hikes, dog sports, etc. are excellent ways to network, keep updated on local issues and provide opportunities to passively socialize your dog or to solve a current issue with someone who has one through it already.

– Sign up for that Canine Good Citizenship or Therapy Dog class you’ve been putting off.  Everyone appreciates a well behaved dog no matter what the breed is and eventual therapy dog work will be beneficial to the community as well!

227875_10150183839839828_1098159_nMost importantly, no matter what activities you do this month, make sure you enjoy your dog(s) and be an advocate who acts professionally and politely without being too overzealous.  It is, after all, a hard pill to swallow if one is proved wrong (and something I’ve personally learned from experience many times over!).

Have a wonderful National Pit Bull Awareness Month and don’t forget to celebrate National Pit Bull Awareness Day 2013 on October 26th!

I Am The Majority

Animal Farm Foundation announced a casting call for their “I Am The Majority” project to show that pit bull owners aren’t all thugs and the scum of the earth.  Normally, I don’t get involved in PR projects like this but I felt that this was a nice way to showcase the dogs that come from everyday homes and aren’t just status symbols, lawn ornaments or possessions to be had.  I hope that each of my dear blog readers will go out and do the same with their beloved pit bulls and show the world that there are people out there who are responsible, everyday citizens.

Veterinarian Speaks Out on PETA and Westminister

The information contained below is written by Libbye Miller; DVM and is reprinted with permission.

“Adorable mixed breeds” get cancer, epilepsy, allergies, heart disease, and orthopedic problems just like purebreds. I see it every day in my veterinary practice but mixed breed dogs aren’t tracked like the purebreds so they have a reputation as “healthier” that is actually undeserved in many cases. “ It is so sad that a lot of folks, including young veterinarians these days, buy into the “hybrid vigor” baloney. The vet schools have been infiltrated by the Animal Rights Extremists, who are teaching them this junk science in order to push their agenda. All animals have a certain amount of genetic load, which is to say there is absolutely no animal without some genetic problem of some sort of another.

Know anyone who wears glasses?
Has allergies? Thyroid problems?
Weak knees?
Flat feet?
A skin condition?
A gap between their front teeth?

These are all genetic imperfections. No human is genetically “clean.” Neither is any individual of any species on earth. So this idea that dogs should not be bred because they might have a genetic problem, and that breeders are somehow “evil” for breeding them, is ridiculous. Every single individual of every single species has at least a few genetic conditions. To use PeTA’s logic, all breeding of all kinds (including having human babies) should halt immediately. And to be honest, Ingrid Newkirk (the woman who founded PeTA) does believe exactly that. She thinks that humans should become extinct, along with dogs, cats, etc. This ridiculous scenario is precisely what she would like to see happen. So folks, if that is what you want…if you agree with Ingrid Newkirk’s whacky views, send your hard earned money to PeTA. They will help to ensure you are not able to own a dog or cat or hamster or any other pet in the future. They will see to it that you can’t eat meat or fish or eggs or any type of animal-based nutrition. They will work to shut down places like Sea World, the zoos, etc. so you cannot observe the many wonderful animals on the Earth. Eventually, once they accomplish these things, they may turn their efforts to making it illegal for humans to procreate. If you don’t agree with their extremist views, wise up and start supporting those who truly do love, care for and enjoy interaction with other species here on our little blue planet. The fanciers of the breeds, those you see exhibiting their dogs at Westminster and other dog shows, work very hard to eliminate serious genetic conditions. They screen their breeding stock with every available test. They research pedigrees before breeding into other lines, to check for similar clearances in those animals. They contribute money to research organizations to further the work being done to track down genetic problems. They contribute blood, cell samples, etc. from their own animals to help with DNA and genome studies. They have made great progress so far, and they continue to work hard at it.

Are there unethical breeders? Certainly, there are. Just as in any group of humans, you will find the good and the bad. United States VP Elect Joe Biden, for example, managed to find a not so good one when he got his new German Shepherd puppy. I don’t know who did his research for him, but they obviously didn’t do their homework if they were looking for a responsible breeder. Joe has the right to get his dog from whomever he wishes, but if he was trying to set an example of purchasing from a responsible hobby breeder he went off the track this time. That’s too bad, but it was his choice. Unfortunately, breeders like that may be a lot easier to find because of their high volume and high profile. If you are looking for a nice family pet from a breeder who will be there for you forever, you need to do due diligence. You won’t get that from a pet store. You won’t get that from the guy selling dogs out of his pickup truck in the WalMart parking lot. You won’t get that support from a high-volume breeder, either. Yes, it takes a little more time and effort to find someone who really cares and does all the work to breed the healthiest, happiest puppies possible and then stands behind those puppies. This is a living being that will be part of your family, hopefully, for many years. Isn’t it worth a bit of effort to find a breeder who will be there for you and that puppy forever? And guess what? Shows like Westminster are a very valuable resource for finding breeders who do care and who use the best possible practices, as well as for learning more about the various breeds. Bravo to USA Network for broadcasting the Westminster Kennel Club show all these years. May they enjoy continued success through the ongoing inclusion of such programs. I will be eagerly watching this year’s show!”

Snickers and Officer Sak to Be Reunited

Officer Sak & Snickers


Officer Sak, a former Chicago police officer who suffered a debilitating stroke, was forced to be apart from his service dog, Snickers, because of the breed of the dog.  Snickers, you see, is a pit bull mix.  After a federal court date, which occurred today, an Iowa judge ruled in favor of the injunction to allow Snickers back with his handler and partner.

The Animal Farm Foundation was kind enough to make sure Snickers was boarded and cared for during the seperation from Mr. Sak – which occurred on December 14th after the city of Aurelia city council said that the service dog had to go regardless of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This is one more chip in the armor that Breed Specific Legislation once held.  With cities relying on an entire genre of dogs being labeled as inherently dangerous to prove their point of view that banning these animals is the right thing to do for the safety of the public.  Congratulations Officer Sak and service dog Snickers.  You’ve done well for disabled handlers everywhere and helped with a positive breed image.

To read more on the story, click here.