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Dog

President of Strong Island Rescue Frankie Floridia, the Pit Bull Chocolate and SCSPCA Detective Jennifer Pape at the Animal Medical Hospital of Centereach. Photo by Kyle Barr

A dog who was maimed after a knife attack in Brentwood has found safety with a Centereach animal hospital and a North Shore-based animal rescuer.

At about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 20, Suffolk County police responded to a domestic dispute in Brentwood, according to a release put out by SCPD. Malik Fields, 25, was allegedly involved in a dispute with his girlfriend during which police said he stabbed two of the family’s six dogs. Detective Jennifer Pape of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was also brought onto the scene by SCPD when it was discovered one pit bull named Storm had been stabbed and was bleeding profusely, according to Pape. Fields’ family brought Storm to a West Islip animal hospital where he was euthanized.

“Stabbing cases are rare, but in a year we investigate about 3,000 animal cruelty complaints,” Pape said. “It’s heart wrenching — it’s why I do what I do. They’re innocent, it’s why we need to protect them.”

Several hours after the initial disturbance, after authorities had already left, Fields’ family discovered another pit bull named Chocolate had also been stabbed, according to Pape. The family called Frankie Floridia, president of Sound Beach-based Strong Island Animal Rescue League, seeing if he could help take the dog to a veterinarian. Floridia called Pape, who rushed back to the scene. Soon after, the family brought the dog to the Animal Medical Hospital of Centereach at about 1:45 p.m. where Chocolate immediately went into surgery.

“I knew one dog had passed away and so we had to go fast to make sure everything was OK with the [other] dog, that was my main concern,” Floridia said.

Chocolate received a 12 inch laceration across his left shoulder. Photo by Kyle Barr

Veterinarian Dr. Charles Greco said the dog had a 12-inch laceration deep along his shoulder that had cut into his left-side deltoid muscle. After being sedated, Chocolate was out of surgery after approximately 30 minutes. The veterinarian said he performed the surgery pro bono, yet this wasn’t the worst case he’s seen in his career.

“I had one case years ago where a dog was stabbed 40 times,” Greco said. “This dog had nothing to do with this [dispute], he just happened to be there.”

Chocolate is now in stable condition and is in the care of Floridia, who said he had been told by the family the dogs did not instigate or intimidate Fields. Despite the harm inflicted upon the young pit bull, Chocolate is still friendly and calm among strangers, willing to sniff their pants legs and walk around freely.

Fields was charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, according to the SCPD. He was arraigned Nov. 27, though Field’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. An order of protection was issued for the dogs by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, which prevents Fields from interacting with the four other dogs, who were uninjured at the alleged incident and are still living with the family at the Brentwood house. In the meantime, Floridia did not want to give details on his plans for the dog, but he said he will work to make sure Chocolate goes to a caring home.

“We have good plans for him,” he said. “I’m going to do what’s best for the dog.”

Two Suffolk County police officers were injured rescuing a dog from an East Northport fire. Photo from SCPD

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Two Suffolk County police officers were injured after entering a burning home in East Northport to rescue a dog.

Gucci, a 5-year-old Pomeranian, was saved from a Northport home that went up in flames. Photo from SCPD

Officers Joseph Barra and Stephen Caratozzolo responded to the home, located on Meadow Rue Lane, at approximately 1:45 p.m. March 30. As they were circling the fully engulfed house looking for victims, the officers observed a dog through a rear window. The officers entered the burning home through a rear door and rescued the 5-year-old Pomeranian mix named Gucci.

The officers suffered smoke inhalation and were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by East Northport Fire Department ambulance where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Gucci is expected to survive.

Arson section detectives are investigating the fire.

People sometimes ask me if I am going to get another dog. Even people I don’t really know have stopped me in the supermarket or the post office to ask. They know about my dog, Teddy, since I have written about him, described his antics and, at the end, the pain of losing him. Those who ask probably have pets of their own, and they understand the deep relationship we humans have with our animals. They also know what is coming for them because beloved pets die. We are lucky if they keep us company on our journey through life for a decade and a half. And we mourn them as we would mourn the death of any beloved family member.

Initially we wouldn’t consider replacing him. Every night, when we arrived home and opened the front door there was no four-legged furry bundle fishtailing with joy to welcome us. The house was just dark and empty. We needed time to grieve. “Just get another dog,” said those who didn’t understand that dogs are not like widgets, one replaceable with another.

So we went through the spring and didn’t see him sniffing at the crocuses and daffodils as if in wonder at how they had gotten there. After all, they hadn’t been there yesterday. In summer, he wasn’t here to dash across the sand and fling himself into the water for an instant cool-down. As the fall came and the beach grass turned russet and gold, he did not run happily along the beach with us, perfectly camouflaged by nature’s backdrop. And this winter, with the first snow, he was not here to roll ecstatically on his back and make snow angels on the front lawn.

It’s coming up on a year now since we have been without a dog. It has also occurred to us that no one has had to get up early to walk the dog on the weekends. We haven’t had to go out in the wind and rain, or the cold and dark for that last walk of the night. There were no elaborate plans that needed to be made for dog care when we left for vacation or a weekend away from home. We didn’t need to dash to the vet for an emerging “hot spot” or note the time on the calendar for a rabies shot. There has not been any sudden despoiling on the most treasured rug in the house. And we have not had to deal with the frantic teething that puts clothing and window sills at risk as a new puppy settles in.

We have thought briefly of different possibilities. We have a friend who has a golden retriever puppy named Chewy with almost identical coloring and inquisitiveness as Teddy, and we have offered our services as sometime babysitters. So far we have done so once. After loving up the pup, the rest was just work and it wasn’t the same. Substitute dogs are like substitute teachers: Happy to have them come and happy to see them go.

It has been 45 years since I have been without a dog in the house, and there is a void that won’t go away. One of my sons and daughters-in-law are thinking of getting a dog. If so, they would come often to visit and bring the dog. Would that replace what is missing? I have my doubts. That would just mean more work without the primary connection.

So profound is that connection that the latest trend in employee benefits for large corporations is “pawternity leave.” That means a couple of days paid time off for an employee to bond with a new four-legged family member or to mourn the death of a beloved pet. Some companies are even encouraging their staffers to bring their pets with them to the office when at work.

So, will we get another dog? There have been four dogs sequentially in my life already, and there is certainly room for more. I just don’t know if l can bear the loss of yet another. As my mother used to say, “We’ll see.”

Two Halesite firefighters were injured responding to a Huntington Bay blaze. Photo from Halesite Fire Department.

Two Halesite firefighters were injured and a dog was killed in a house fire over the weekend.

Halesite Fire Department responded to reports of smoke and flames at a two-story residence on Bay Drive West in Huntington Bay at approximately 12:35 p.m. Feb. 3, department spokeswoman Kate Deegan said. Hose Rescue Company Lieutenant K.C. Anna was on scene first with his son, firefighter Taigue Anna, and reported the fire to Halesite Fire Department Dispatch.  

Upon arriving at the scene, Chief Greg Colonna was advised by neighbors that the building owner was not at home, but had a dog, according to Deegan. The neighbors had attempted to find the petl. The dog was found later by firefighters during fire operations, however it had perished.  

There were about 50 firefighters on the scene under the command of Colonna and Assistant Chief James Magerle, who were able to quickly extinguish the flames on the first and second floors, according to Deegan. Mutual aid at the scene was provided by Centerport, Huntington and Huntington Manor fire departments.

Two Halesite firefighters were transported to Huntington Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released, Deegan said.

The Suffolk County Police Arson Squad is investigating the cause of the fire.

Owners will be required to keep companions on a leash

Stock photo at top; file photo above from Stephen Jimenez; photo at left by Sara-Megan Walsh Dog owners in the Town of Huntington can now walk their dogs on leashes in most parks. Stock photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

The dog days of summer are here as Huntington residents and their canine companions are now welcome to  enjoy a stroll in most local parks.

Huntington Town Board voted unanimously at their Aug. 15 meeting to amend town code to allow on-leash walking of dogs at town parks.

Dog owners in the Town of Huntington can now walk their dogs on leashes in most local parks, like those at Frazer Drive Park in Greenlawn. File photo from Stephen Jimenez

“It is the highlight of my day to take my dog for a long walk,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of the Huntington-based Long Island Dog Owners Group. “I don’t want to do it just in my neighborhood on the street, but I want to be able to walk my dog in a beautiful public park. It’s been frustrating over the years on Long Island as many towns don’t allow it.”

The town code changes now permit on-leash walking of dogs in town parks and trails on a leash that’s 4-to-6 feet in length.

Dog owners are required to immediately pick up and dispose of any waste. It will remain illegal for dog owners to bring their canine companions into the more developed areas of town parks: all playgrounds, picnic areas, courts and sports fields, campgrounds, near educational area programs and all town beaches with the exception of paved areas and boardwalks.

The exceptions to the new changes are that no dogs will be allowed at Huntington’s Heckscher Park or Centerport’s Betty Allen Twin Ponds Nature Park.

Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter said that based on recommendations made by the Huntington Greenway Trails Advisory Committee in a letter dated May 24, town board members excluded  Heckscher Park due to its continuous public events and the nature park due to  its primary use as a fishing site, as casting of lures could pose  safety risks.

A sign at Frazer Drive Park in Greenlawn tells visitors a list of rules for walking dogs in Huntington parks. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The decision to exclude Heckscher Park, one of the more widely used town parks, was not unanimous.

“We thought that Heckscher Park would greatly benefit from the presence of leashed dogs as it would deter the geese from fouling the grass there,” Munger Kahn said. “Unfortunately, the town was not ready to make that change yet.”

She pointed out that Northport Village had similar issues with a population of Canadian geese making a mess of Northport Village Park, which based on her personal experience has been largely resolved by allowing on-leash canines and their companions to stroll the grounds.

“We hope that once the policy is put into effect and proven successful that we will be able to revisit the issue with the town,” Munger Kahn said.

The push for changes to Huntington’s park regulations started as a request made by the trails committee in early 2016 for uniform park standards.

“It was kind of crazy to have some parks in the Town of Huntington allow on-leash dogs and the vast majority of town-owned parks not to allow dogs on a leash,” Munger Kahn said. “This was confusing to people. The thought was if we adopted standards, a policy more closely aligned with Suffolk County’s policy, it would make enforcement easier.”

The town co-owns 10 parks with Suffolk County, including Knolls Park, Hilaire Woods Park, Fuchs Pond Preserve, Paumanok Wetlands Preserve, Elwood-Greenlawn Woods, Breezy Park and Lewis Oliver Farm. Under county code, licensed dogs were permitted on trails in all county parks on a leash not more than 6 feet in length. The new laws approved by Huntington now fall more in line with the county code.

Suffolk County Executive presents Setauket pet with proclamation

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone presents Storm, an English golden retriever, with a proclamation for rescuing a drowning deer from Port Jeff Harbor. Photo by Kevin Redding

A local English golden retriever has earned a lifetime of “Good boy!” declarations and belly rubs, but Suffolk County recently threw him another bone to add to the accolades.

Suffolk County’s newest hero Storm, the brave, 6-year-old dog, who became a national celebrity last week after a video of him pulling a drowning fawn from Port Jefferson Harbor Sunday, July 16, spread like wildfire online, rolled around in the grass outside the Save the Animal Rescue Foundation in Middle Island July 19 as he and local animal rescue members were honored for their efforts to save the baby deer.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) presented proclamations to East Setauket resident and injury attorney Mark Freeley, Storm’s owner who captured the heroics on his cellphone, Strong Island Animal Rescue League co-founder Frankie Floridia, who aided in the rescue, and Save the Animal Rescue Foundation Director Lori Ketcham, who is rehabilitating the 3-month-old male fawn now referred to as Water. He is currently in stable condition.

Storm, an English golden retriever from East Setauket, became famous for saving a drowning deer from Port Jeff Harbor last week. Photo by Kevin Redding

Despite an attempt to present an official proclamation to the man’s best friend of the hour, Storm seemed much more interested in a large bone provided by the county executive’s staff.

“We’re here to talk about some of the heroes we have here, both canine and human, for what they’ve done to really remind us of the importance of compassion and giving to others and helping others,” Bellone said, acknowledging the selfless initiatives of the animal rescue groups.

Looking down at Storm, he said, “And this dog here is no ordinary golden retriever. He really did something important and special for us. The inspiration that Storm has given to all of us should inspire us to support the work of people like this that is happening each and every day. If that happens, then what Storm did will not only help save one fawn but will help save countless other animals here and others that will be here in the future.”

It was just another normal Sunday morning walk out to Pirate’s Cove for Freeley, 53, and his dogs, Storm and Sarah, a rescued Border collie, when he said the golden retriever suddenly got ahead of him on the empty beach.

The next thing Freeley knew, Storm was paddling out into the water about 100 feet offshore toward “a brown head bobbing” he quickly realized was a drowning fawn. As captured in the video seen around the world, Storm held the deer in his mouth and carried it towards the beach “like a lifeguard would with their arm,” Freeley said.

After the fawn got on the sand, it ran around wildly before collapsing. Storm gently nudged the deer’s face and belly and pawed his leg.

“He won’t even play fetch with a tennis ball,” Freeley said, laughing. “I just feel like he thought he had to do something for this deer. Storm’s a very well-adjusted and socialized dog. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and he gets along with all animals. People on Facebook were saying he was going to kill the deer, but if you meet this dog, you know that was not going to happen. He’s not prey-driven.”

Freeley quickly posted the video to his Facebook and then called the nonprofit Strong Island Animal Rescue League to inform its members of the fawn.

Floridia, the group’s leader, said when he and his colleague Erica Kutzing tried to approach the deer with leashes and nets, “it totally went AWOL” and ran back into the water and paddled more than 200 feet out. Floridia said it was a do-or-die situation and it didn’t take long before he was swimming out to save the deer.

“He went into the water and followed the example that Storm set earlier and brought that fawn back in and brought it to safety,” Bellone said of Floridia, who he called the animal rescue cowboy.

Storm, an English golden retriever from East Setauket, became famous for saving a drowning deer from Port Jeff Harbor last week. Photo by Kevin Redding

The deer was then transported to the Middle Island animal rescue center.

“The deer was saved and that’s really the best part of the whole thing,” Floridia said. “It’s wonderful that this is bringing awareness to what really happens behind the scenes. Of course I want to thank Storm for helping us ride this wave to get awareness for what we do every day.”

Since the video was posted, the courageous canine’s heroics has accumulated nearly 5.5 million views on Facebook, has been the top story on several talk shows, including ones overseas.

“We’ve been going from one interview to the next and Storm’s been a champ at everything,” Freeley said. “Yesterday, a lady out of the blue called me to tell me just how much of an impact the video had on her, and I could hear her crying a little bit. It’s just amazing and I think people just want to see a simple, basic act of kindness by a dog because news is so hostile today.”

Ketcham said she appreciates the attention her center has been getting from this, which she admitted she isn’t used to.

“It’s been a crazy couple of days since the fawn came here,” Ketcham said. “We have several hundred animals here in our care all being taken care of by a dedicated bunch of volunteers. We hope to get the fawn outside with the rest that are there in a couple days and then back out into the wild in September.”

Freeley, who fosters rescue dogs, provides pro bono legal work for a local animal rescue group, and runs adoption events every Saturday with his daughter, reiterated the biggest takeaway from this.

“It’s really important to support people like Frankie and [these foundations] because they’re the front lines of animal rescue and everybody wants animal rescue, but without your support, there can’t be animal rescue,” he said. “So if Storm has one thing to ask you today it’s to donate to Strong Island and Save the Animal Rescue Foundation to help them continue to save the lives of animals in Suffolk County and on Long Island.”

Dear Teddy,

First I want to tell you how heartsick I am to have put you down. I know that is the final act of love for a responsible pet owner when a beloved animal is suffering and no longer functioning. Nonetheless I ask your forgiveness for this ultimate act that ended our 12-year relationship. Little consolation but just know that I miss you every day.

As I think back on your life with us, there are so many vignettes that come to mind. We selected you from a litter of 11 fuzzy golden puppies because you suddenly stretched your neck and quickly licked the tip of my son’s chin with your tiny tongue. It was the winning gesture.

You started life in our home in the kitchen, where we had a tile floor and a crate for you. In what seemed like record time, you were housebroken and we decided that you were smart. On the advice of a neighboring dog owner, we hired a dog trainer for a short while, and he confirmed our judgment. “This is one of the smartest dogs I have ever trained,” he said to our delight, although it did cross my mind that he was probably telling us what we wanted to hear. As time went by, however, you showed yourself quick at understanding what was expected of you. Or was it you who trained us to do what you needed when you needed it done?

Anyway, we have a lot to thank you for. Thank you for teething on the windowsills, the moldings, the bottoms of the kitchen cabinets and anything else you could fit your little mouth around. Thank you for grabbing the hem of a favorite cashmere sweater in your tiny teeth and giving it a good rip. Thank you for finding a sheepskin glove carelessly left on the chair and digesting the index finger. And throughout that first year and the years thereafter, you always delighted us with your puppy-like curiosity.

You were growing at a prodigious rate, and by the following year, you made clear your preference for the beach. Because you were a retriever, we would throw a tennis ball along the sand and wait expectantly for you to fetch and bring it back. Proving that you were not simply one of the pack but to be appreciated for your individuality, you looked after the ball with a bored expression. “Give me a real challenge,” we read in your eyes. So we picked up a stone about the size of a squash ball and threw it half a block. You were after it like a shot, went directly to it among the thousands of rocks on the beach and carried it back to us. But you didn’t give it up. Instead you preferred to chew it, which eventually ground down your front teeth. That was not so smart, I will concede, but it seemed never to hamper you in any way. You also loved to chew sticks and went clamming for rocks with attached seaweed. These you pulled out and brought to the high-water line then tore off the seaweed.

You had a mind of your own, we realized early on, as you ran into the water and would not come out when we wanted to return home. You would turn to face us, water up to your knees, and dare us to come in after you. That was acceptable in summer, but not so much in the midst of winter. And you certainly had a mischievous streak, being selectively deaf when you disagreed with a command. So much for the trainer.

You were interested in people, even more than you were in other dogs. And you were absolutely democratic, going up to each person in a room or on the road, skipping no one, and greeting him or her. Some were uncertain, since you were rather a large dog. “He just wants to say, ‘Hello!’” I would try to be reassuring, and you would wait patiently until each gave you at least a perfunctory pat. Satisfied, you would move on. You were like the neighborhood mayor.

Our family members, friends and neighbors miss you. At least some of our neighbors do. The rest can probably manage just as well without your tearing across their lawns, looking for a “sweet” spot. Most especially, we miss you in the evenings, when you would wiggle and wag with pleasure at our homecoming. And you would flatten yourself across our knees seeking and giving affection, as we relaxed in the living room after dinner.

Goodbye, my sweet dog. Thank you for filling our home and our lives with your love. The memory will not die.

File photo

An animal rights group has a bone to pick with Stony Brook University.

The Beagle Freedom Project, a national laboratory animal advocacy group, has filed a petition in the state Supreme Court against Stony Brook University with hopes of compelling the school to provide documents relating to Quinn, a dog being housed at the university for animal testing and research. The group, alongside supporter Melissa Andrews, made a Freedom of Information Law request to Stony Brook for documents as part of their “identity campaign,” which allows individuals to virtually adopt dogs or cats being held or used in experiments.

The petition accused Stony Brook University of failing to provide a full response to the FOIL request, providing only five pages of heavily redacted documents. Among the five pages provided was a form appearing to indicate that Quinn and his littermates had been purchased from Covance Research Products, Inc., the group said.

Currently, most universities routinely euthanize all such “purpose-bred for research” animals, the group said. In a statement, a spokesman for the Beagle Freedom Project said the group hopes that the documents help to identify opportunities to provoke post-research adoptions of healthy laboratory dogs and cats.

The petition also challenged Stony Brook University’s claim that it has no further documentation relating to Quinn, pointing out that certain documents are required to be maintained by the Animal Welfare Act and that other publicly funded universities responding to similar requests had produced hundreds of pages of documents. In the petition, BFP and Andrews argued that Stony Brook University and the other respondents did not articulate a particularized or specific justification for denying access, as required, and that there is no such justification.

“Stony Brook is either lying about the records they are keeping or they are in violation of federal recordkeeping requirements,” said Jeremy Beckham, research specialist for the Beagle Freedom Project. “Either way this is troubling and the taxpaying public, forced to fund these experiments, have a right to hold this school to account.”

Lauren Sheprow, a spokesman for Stony Brook University, said the university was unable to comment at this time.

The petition asked the Supreme Court of the State of New York to compel Stony Brook University and the other respondents to provide complete, unaltered documentation concerning Quinn. The Manhattan-based law firm Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP is representing BFP and Andrews in connection with the petition, through its pro bono program.

Through the Identity Campaign, the Beagle Freedom Project has uncovered a troubling pattern of laboratories using animals redundantly or unnecessarily for research or experimentation, providing these animals with poor veterinary care, and other abuses, a spokesman for the group said.

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By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I recently authored a two-part series entitled “A Long (and Fat) Winter’s Night,” with ideas on the management of the obese patient. However, if your pet is not obese but the long winter has affected them, what do we do? Stiff, creaky joints may make it difficult for him or her to rise. Just doesn’t seem to be able to finish those long walks (or even have the willingness to take them).  These are difficult to see in our aging babies but are also something that can be addressed. Physical therapy along with low-impact exercise can be helpful in not only improving our pet’s mobility and stamina but also has a positive effect on their sense of well-being.

Before I discuss physical therapy and low-impact exercise specifically, I would recommend that all pet owners visit their veterinarian’s office to rule out possible underlying or concurrent disease. This may be something that you already do during an annual wellness exam. However, if you’ve missed a few years, please do make an appointment to have your four-legged family member examined and consider some basic diagnostics (if warranted) such as blood work, X-rays, etc. If all is well, then let’s get started.

The one good thing about physical therapy (unlike missing a dose of medication) is every little bit helps. If you can perform certain exercises and therapies only once daily instead or more often, remember every little bit helps.

Heat Therapy and Massage: It has been shown that heat therapy causes vasodilation and improves circulation to tissues. This increases tissue oxygenation and transportation of metabolites. It has been proven that five to 10 minutes of heat before physical therapy and exercise can reduce joint stiffness and increase range of motion. Make sure to use a blanket or towel as an insulating layer between your pet’s skin to prevent burns. After heat therapy, gentle massage therapy manipulates muscles and tissues around joints to reduce pain, stiffness, muscle knots/spasms, increase blood flow and promote relaxation.

Range of Motion and Stretching Exercises: This type of exercise helps improve joint motion and flexibility in patients. Simple flexion and extension exercises are excellent. Find a part of the house where your pet will feel most relaxed and least likely to try to get up and move around. Manipulate each affected joint only as far as your pet will tolerate initially but hold for 15 to 30 seconds at full flexion and again at full extension. Repeat the process for three to five repetitions.

Low-Impact Exercise: The most accessible (and most commonly used) low-impact exercise is controlled leash walks.Controlled leash walks (slowly at first) will help to achieve the most normal gait possible. Slow walks increase flexibility, strength and weight bearing. After slow walks have been mastered, then we can increase the pace, incorporate gentle inclines or different surfaces (e.g., sand) to further develop endurance, strength, balance and coordination.

Swimming: Swimming is somewhat controversial in veterinary medicine. Some believe swimming (because of the non-weight-bearing component) is the ideal at-home exercise for older patients. Others believe the movements are too “herky-jerkey” and could lead to hyperextension of already arthritic joints. First, access to a pool that has stairs that the pet can walk in and out of is important (this eliminates swimming in the ocean or above-ground pools). Make sure active swimming only continues for five minutes before taking a break. It would also be a good idea to purchase a pet-specific life jacket to ensure that if your pet does tire there is no risk of drowning.

There are other physical therapy modalities such as therapeutic ultrasound, therapeutic laser, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), underwater treadmills, etc. Unfortunately, these modalities are neither readily available nor inexpensive so I thought I would concentrate on therapies one could do at home. If interested in more advanced therapies, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss them.

Dr. Kearns has been in practice for 19 years.