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Dogs

Some of the dogs rescued from a slaughterhouse in South Korea and brought to Elwood. Photo from Little Shelter

By Victoria Espinoza

Ten dogs from South Korea were rescued from certain death this past month after the Little Shelter in Elwood stepped up and gave them a new home.

The dogs arrived at the shelter Monday, Feb. 27, after a long, 14-hour journey by airplane. The dogs were scheduled to be slaughtered for their meat, a common practice in South Korea. However, with the help of a local Korean rescue group, Free Korean Dogs, a transport was arranged for them to come to New York.

Shelter workers carry the dogs into their new home. Photo from Little Shelter

Free Korean Dogs estimates more than 2 million dogs are raised and slaughtered for the Korean meat trade annually. The group often seeks to partner with larger rescue groups like Little Shelter to help get these dogs to safety and give them a chance to be adopted. Little Shelter Executive Director David Ceely said the group has wanted to get involved with this cause for years.

“We knew we wanted to help out with this problem,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s such a growing issue. In the last three to five years it’s really come to light, and as the oldest shelter on Long Island our mission is to help animals locally, however also use our capabilities to help beyond the local level.”

The Little Shelter created a plan called the Passage to Freedom Program, which aims to help dogs throughout the world find a home.

Rowan Daray, marketing coordinator and spokesperson for the Little Shelter said the rescue took a lot of work.

“The rescue was a long process, our team had been working on it for over a month,” he said. “We were communicating with the rescue group and a third party to help us transport the dogs, so responses could be delayed due to time zones, language barriers and just all the steps needed to get the dogs ready for their flight.”

He said once the dogs were on their way everything went smoothly.

The South Korean dogs are between four and 15 pounds, and range in age from 9 months to 3 years. The dogs are mostly small-sized breeds though some are medium. Little Shelter said all of the animals are healthy and friendly dogs that have been socialized prior to receiving their doggie passports.

Ceely said when the dogs first arrived on Long Island they were understandably shaken, but some were more social and resilient than others — for perhaps one specific reason.

“Some people from those countries are not above stealing people’s pets,” Ceely said. “They can easily get a couple of bucks by stealing someone’s dogs … so the dogs that are now licking our hands through the cages, wagging their tails and becoming more outgoing, I suspect they had to be someone’s pet. There’s no way they weren’t.”

Some of the dogs rescued from a slaughterhouse in South Korea and brought to Elwood. Photo from Little Shelter

Before they arrived in New York each dog had a full medical check up and was fixed while in South Korea. As part of the Little Shelter’s protocol the dogs will be kept quarantined for two weeks when they have time to settle down and become familiar with the staff.

So far their adjustment period has been a success, according to Daray.

“The dogs are doing well, many of them are opening up to staff and showing us their personalities,” he said in an email “We have two who love to dance on their hind legs and do ‘happy paws’ for their handlers. Two others are very excited to meet people but will try to walk in between your legs when on leashes, so they can be as close to you as possible.”

Ceely said he expects at least five dogs to be ready to go up for adoption next Monday when the quarantine period is finished.

Little Shelter was asking for donations to help cover the incurred $5,000 of transporting these dogs to safety, and they were able to reach their goal in less than two weeks. If you would like to donate to the cause, go to the Little Shelter, call 631-368-8770 ext. 26 or visit their website at www.littleshelter.com. The Little Shelter is located at 33 Warner Road.

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Sasha and Wookie enjoying their years in Setauket. Photo by Holly Leffhalm.

Two large German shepherd dogs attacked and killed a pet alpaca and severely injured a llama in a pen at the back of a home on Main Street in Setauket Feb. 5. It happened at about 2 a.m., according to Bob Ingram, a neighbor who witnessed the aftermath and found the dogs still at the scene.

“I heard barking coming from the pen,” the next-door neighbor Ingram said. “It was pitch black out and the barking was aggressive. Then I heard a shrill sound and knew one of the llamas was in distress.”

He drove his car onto the grass, toward the pen where he saw the two black-and-brown dogs menacing the llama. It was barely 10 minutes from the time he was awakened to the time he viewed the scene, he said. Ingram said he honked the horn, but the dogs just ignored it. Finally, he rolled down the car window and yelled and the dogs took off. Ingram called 911 and awaited police response. Upon arrival, an officer determined it necessary to euthanize the surviving animal.    

The animals, 17-year-old Sasha the llama and Wookie, the alpaca, rescued eight years ago by Kerri Glynn, were beloved by many in the neighborhood.

“Llamas are such lovely animals,” Glynn said. “There’s not an aggressive bone in their bodies. We’d let them out [of the pen] in the backyard and they would never leave the property. They were the easiest animals to care for that I’ve ever owned.”

Ingram reached out on social media to alert Three Village residents of the danger posed by the dogs. The pen abuts the field at Setauket Elementary School, so he called to alert administrators there. He called his veterinarian, to spread the word.

In the wake of vicious maulings in Brookhaven Town last summer, the board unanimously approved a new policy Jan. 24, effective immediately,  intended to keep a tighter leash on dangerous dogs and their owners.

“If there’s a message tonight, it’s to dog owners: Watch your dogs, protect them … and be a responsible owner … if you’re not, the town is putting things in place as a deterrent,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said at the meeting.

Under the new town code amendment, which reflects stricter state law for dealing with “dangerous dogs,” the definition has been expanded to include not just dogs that attack people, as the code was previously written, but other pets or service animals as well.

Now the town, or the person attacked, can present evidence with regard to an attack before a judge or local animal control officers.

Owners of a dog deemed dangerous, who do not properly house their pets, will face large fines. A first-time offender of dog attacks will now pay $500 as opposed to a previous fine of $100; third-time offenders will pay up to $1,000 and must keep their dogs leashed, and in some cases, muzzled, when out in public.

After the Sunday attack, on social media people who travel along Mud Road, Quaker Path and Christian Avenue reported sightings of the two dogs dating back to January.

Save-a-Pet founder Dori Scofield said she had not received any calls about the dogs at either Save-a-Pet or Guardians of Rescue.

“German shepherds are super smart dogs,” Scofield said. “They’re going back to where they’re from.”

Area searches done since Sunday by local residents have not located the dogs.

Roy Gross, who heads the Suffolk County SPCA, said the organization had no knowledge of the Sunday morning incident.

Gross recommended a course of action should anyone see the dogs.

“Do not approach the dogs,” he said. “Dial 911 immediately, tell them you’ve sighted dogs matching the description of the ones that killed the pets on Main Street in Setauket, and give the location. If you are driving and can safely see where the dogs go, do so. A second call should be made to Brookhaven Animal Shelter (631-286-4940) to inform them of the location.”

He also gave advice to pet owners in the area.

“All animal owners should keep tabs on them — do not leave them out alone unattended,” he said, adding that is always good policy.

Ingram said he was devastated by the loss.

“I know these llamas really well,” he said. “They’ve been to my children’s birthday parties. Sasha was here when I moved in … [Those dogs] really scared me. A single person couldn’t handle those two dogs.”

Additional reporting by Kevin Redding.

A beware of dog sign outside Peter Connelly’s home in Rocky Point. He was the owner of the pit bulls involved in last summer’s attacks. Photo from Matt Tuthill

In the wake of vicious dog maulings in the area, Brookhaven Town Board voted unanimously last week to adopt a new policy that will keep a tighter leash on dangerous dogs and their owners.

“If there’s a message tonight, the message is to dog owners: watch your dogs, protect them, protect them against other pets, and be a responsible owner because if you’re not, the town is putting things in place to act as a deterrent,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said during the Jan. 24 town board meeting.

Under the new county code amendment, entitled “Dog Control and Animal Welfare,” which reflects the stricter state law for dealing with dangerous dogs, the definition of “dangerous dogs” has been changed to include not just dogs that attack people, as the code was previously written, but other pets or service animals as well.

Now the town, or the person who was attacked, can present evidence with regard to an attack before a judge or local animal control officers.

“I don’t think anyone who takes a long hard look at the facts of what happened last summer could possibly conclude that the existing town codes did enough to deter negligent dog owners.”

—Matt Tuthill

The owners of a dog deemed dangerous who do not properly house their pets will face large fines. A first-time offender of dog attacks will now pay $500 as opposed to a previous fine of $100, and third-time offenders will pay up to $1,000, and must keep their dogs leashed, and in some cases, muzzled, when out in public.

“It’s an attempt to place the onus on the owner,” Romaine’s chief of staff Emily Pines, who worked closely with town attorneys to craft the revised law, said during the meeting. “If the dog is going to be around in the neighborhood, the owner has a responsibility to keep the neighbors and other people in the community safe.”

The new policy comes after two incidents in Rocky Point last August wherein three loose pit bulls attacked and severely injured a woman and her boxer on a beach. Just a week later, the same pit bulls jumped over a fence onto a resident’s property and killed two Chihuahuas and injured their owner.

The pit bulls, which were returned following the first attack without penalty, were later euthanized by the town.

Rocky Point resident Matt Tuthill, who lives close to where the attacks occurred, spoke in support of the stricter rules on dog owners during the public hearing on the amendments.

Since the attacks last summer, Tuthill said he and his wife keep a knife in their 9-month-old son’s stroller whenever they take a walk around the neighborhood.

“It’s a huge concern to go outside with our son, and we even stopped going outside for a while,” Tuthill said. “I don’t think anyone who takes a long hard look at the facts of what happened last summer could possibly conclude that the existing town codes did enough to deter negligent dog owners. A loose dog that’s allowed to roam a neighborhood is as much a danger to other children and pets as it is to itself.”

He asked that dog owners in opposition to the proposed policy “please support common sense.”

Colin Goldberg, another Rocky Point resident, who founded the website Brookhaven Bites directly following the attack on his neighbor’s Chihuahuas, echoed Tuthill’s call for enforcement on dog owners.

“Let’s not forget that five dogs were killed,” Goldberg said. “If you care about the welfare of dogs, you will choose to support these changes as well as look more deeply into a real solution to this issue.”

“If the dog is going to be around in the neighborhood, the owner has a responsibility to keep the neighbors and other people in the community safe.”

—Emily Pines

Medford resident Rick Palomo said he’s been dealing with loose pit bulls and their negligent owners for the last few years. A year and a half ago, two pit bulls charged up his front deck and killed his cat, which he said was handicapped and “never had a chance” against the dogs. About two months ago, one of the pit bulls attacked and pinned down another cat of his, but his son was able to save it in time.

He said that with town’s previous policy of capturing dangerous dogs and releasing them back to the owner after a small fine, the dogs are back in the streets running rampant and “terrorizing the neighborhood” within days.

“We don’t know what to do; we finally set up traps in my backyard last Friday and police came and captured the dogs,” Palomo said. “We’re doing everything by the book … I’m afraid they’re going to kill a kid or attack somebody and really mess them up. We have to put a stop to it. I don’t want to see the dogs get killed.”

Palomo’s son, Joseph, said the pit bull owners would just laugh at the old legislation.

“It’s time to get legal action involved, they won’t listen to anybody anymore,” he said. “They said ‘Our dogs don’t bite people, they just don’t like cats,’ and that’s very evil.”

While none of the dangerous dog owners were present at the meeting to make a statement against the proposed codes, Laurette Richin, founder of Long Island Bulldog Rescue, told board members that creating strict laws is not the solution.

“I’ve been rescuing and placing bulldogs and pit bulls in [the Town of Brookhaven] for 17 years and I think people need to be responsible with each other and mind their neighborhood by reporting these things,” Richin said. “I don’t think this should be legislated more.”

In response, Councilman Michael Loguercio (R-Middle Island) said that “sometimes you have to pass a law to protect people from themselves, so not only does this law emulate the state’s law but it helps protect the dog owners as well.”

The new policy will be in effect immediately.

Two German shepherds are joining the force.

15-month-old Dallas V and 19-month-old Maverick, who were bred in Europe, have been training with the Suffolk County Police Department for one month and are close to graduation.

The two new patrol dogs are expected to complete training in November, which covers criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, obedience and tracking. These new additions to the team were announced recently at a press conference held at the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters in Yaphank.

A beautiful lawn can also be a danger to your pet. Stock photo

By Dr. Matthew Kearns, DVM

Everyone wants a yard to be proud of (me included). However, what really gives the yard some “pop” can also be very dangerous to our pets. Here’s a short list of hazardous items commonly used to make are yards look beautiful.

Fertilizers

Fertilizer that is spread on grass rarely leads to symptoms of poisoning. Those cases that do only show mild gastrointestinal, or GI, upset (mild diarrhea, decreased appetite). However, if a patient ingests a large quantity (literally eats into a bag) of fertilizer, the GI symptoms are worse (severe vomiting, diarrhea) and may require hospitalization for IV fluids to avoid complications of dehydration and shock.

Mulch

Regular mulch is not usually too much of a problem, but cocoa mulch can be dangerous. Cocoa mulch smells delicious not only to us humans but also to our pets. This is why many try it. If there is a large amount of cocoa beans and hulls in the mulch, a dog can ingest the same two products as in chocolate: theobromine and caffeine. These two products not only cause an upset stomach (vomiting, diarrhea) but also are powerful stimulants. In large enough quantities pets can develop symptoms of tachycardia (accelerated heart rate), tachypnea (accelerated breathing) and, potentially, seizures. These symptoms usually require hospitalization and can (with large exposures) be life threatening.

Lilies

Not all lilies are toxic but those that are can be quite lethal. Oxalates from the poisonous lilies will chelate, or bind, to calcium in the bloodstream and deposit into the tissues. Cat’s kidneys are particularly sensitive to this process, and as little as a few leaves or petals can lead to acute kidney failure. Acute kidney failure secondary to lily ingestion is heartbreaking because most times the damage is done when one begins showing symptoms and either the patient passes on their own or must be humanely euthanized.

Bone or blood meal

Bone meal or blood meal are by-products from the meat packing industry that are commonly used as an organic alternative in fertilizer components or as deer, rabbit and wildlife repellants. These products (because they are bone or blood meal) are very palatable and pets (especially dogs) tend to ingest them in large quantities. Exposure in large quantities can lead to GI obstructions (which can lead to surgery), pancreatitis or generalized GI irritation (vomiting, diarrhea). Dogs also tend to dig up flower bulbs planted in soil dusted with bone or blood meal, and this is a double whammy: the complications of bone/blood meal and ingestion of flower bulbs (flower bulbs also cause GI upset), not to mention your flowers never bloom if the bulbs are destroyed.

Compost pile

Another way to recycle and make your flower gardens look beautiful is to use a compost pile. During decomposition, molds grow and mold can produce a poisonous waste called mycotoxins. Ingestion of large quantities of moldy material from compost piles can lead to neurologic symptoms (weakness, tremors, even full-blown seizures). There is no true antidote, so many patients need to be hospitalized until the toxins clear their systems. Limiting access to these substances is the best option, but that is not always possible (dogs are more at risk than cats). If limiting access is not possible, it is best to choose another option to beautify the yard.

Dr. Matthew Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office.

Residents from all over Long Island flocked to parades and firework celebrations happening in from Brookhaven to Huntington, in honor of Independence Day.

Nunu wants a home outside the town animal shelter. Photo from Brookhaven Town

The town animal shelter is now open every day as part of an effort to get more dogs and cats adopted.

Supervisor Ed Romaine said the expanded hours would make it more convenient for people to visit the shelter in Brookhaven hamlet, which is located on Horseblock Road.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center is now open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-451-6950 or visit www.brookhaven.org/animalshelter.

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When we hug our dog, we are removing their instinct to flee, which can lead to significant stress. Stock photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I was somewhat taken aback when I saw plastered all over the internet that a hug is stressful to dogs. This hullabaloo came from an article published in Psychology Today. I didn’t have access to the entire article but the author, Stanley Coren, stated that in a review of over 250 images on the internet of dog owners hugging their dogs, he noted signs of stress in four out of five dogs. 

Coren is a psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, as well as an award-winning author. He has dedicated his career to researching dog behavior, so I truly believe he knows what he is talking about. 

Coren states that dogs are cursorial by nature. What does this mean? It means that dogs have limbs adapted for running and, as much as they will use their teeth to defend themselves if necessary, their first instinct is to flee. When we hug our dogs, what are we doing in their eyes? We are removing that first instinct to flee. This can lead to significant stress, even the potential for the dog’s perceived need to defend themselves. 

Now, I know that dogs are social beings and do like contact. However, I do agree that their idea of acceptable contact may not be the same as our own.  As much as we see dogs as part of the family, they see us as part of the pack. We may talk to a dog, but a dog will communicate with us as they would other dogs and this communication is mostly through body cues. If these cues are ignored by humans (particularly children who cannot understand the differences between human and canine behavior) or other dogs, the risk of aggression and bodily harm becomes very real. 

When we hug our dogs, we are removing their instinct to flee, which can lead to significant stress.

My own dog Jasmine loves to sleep in bed with my son Matthew. However, much to Matty’s chagrin, she will only sleep by his feet. Jasmine will tolerate Matty pulling her up to sleep next to him but always eventually moves back to his feet. If he tries too many times to change her position, she will jump off the bed and find another place to sleep. 

Jasmine’s reaction is nonconfrontational, but what if she were not of such a laid back temperament?  She would be face to face with my son where he is restraining her movement. Therefore, I think it is important to look for more subtle cues so we can intervene before disaster occurs. 

What are cues of stress in dogs?  In general terms a relaxed dog will have its ears forward, mouth open and a general look of happiness. A worried dog has its mouth closed, ears back or down, wrinkles around the eyes or forehead and is usually shrinking back.

Beyond these body cues are what are called “stress signals.”  Stress signals are signs that a dog is very worried and trying to communicate to others (another dog, a human) that, “I am not a threat.” However, if these stress signals are ignored (by other dogs or children), the dog may feel it has no option other than act aggressively to defend itself.

Stress signals include: a raised paw, yawning (when they are not tired), licking their nose, tail tucked, slouching or slinking, barking and retreating or hiding. If a dog is restrained (hugged) when showing these body signals or cues, things could get out of control quickly. 

I hope this article is helpful in not only explaining the differences between how dogs view certain behaviors compared to how we humans view them, as well as signs of stress to avoid conflict.  Now go give your dog a . . . scratch behind the ears!

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office.

Melissa Buchanan mugshot from SCPD

A woman was charged with animal cruelty after police found a dog dead and several other animals that had not been cared for in her home.

Officers responded to an apartment on Beverly Road in South Huntington on Thursday night after a landlord reported hearing a dog excessively barking and “realizing she had not seen her tenant for a few days,” the Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement. The responders found two miniature Australian shepherd dogs, one of them dead, as well as two lizards and a cat — all of which had not been cared for, police said.

The tenant, 27-year-old Melissa Buchanan, returned while police were at the scene and “admitted to police she had not been home for several days.”

She was charged with six counts of animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning the animals.

Attorney information for Buchanan was not immediately available Friday morning.

Huntington Town’s animal control department took possession of the surviving dog and cat, while the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which worked with the police to bring charges against Buchanan, made arrangements for the lizards.

A young Huntington resident gets acquainted with some of the smaller dogs up for adoption from the Huntington Animal Shelter at Huntington Honda this past Saturday. Photo by Alex Petroski

Huntington Town is trying a new approach to care for homeless and abused dogs. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) announced last week the launch of Give a Dog a Dream, a not-for-profit foundation the town formed to raise money for dogs in Huntington’s municipal animal shelter.

“For some time, people have asked how they can help improve the lives of dogs entrusted to our animal shelter’s care,” Petrone said in a statement. The foundation is a new “vehicle through which residents can help provide the extras and specialized care beyond the basics [that] public funding provides.”

Residents are encouraged to donate money, food, beds or other supplies.

A young Huntington resident gets acquainted with some of the smaller dogs up for adoption from the Huntington Animal Shelter at Huntington Honda this past Saturday. Photo by Alex Petroski
A young Huntington resident gets acquainted with some of the smaller dogs up for adoption from the Huntington Animal Shelter at Huntington Honda this past Saturday. Photo by Alex Petroski

Gerald Mosca, the head of the Huntington Animal Shelter, said the town has worked to change the image of the dog refuge.

“What we wanted to do when I took over in 2010 was change the perception of municipal shelters,” that they’re a place where dogs go to die, Mosca said. “That was not what we wanted to portray, and it’s obviously not what we wanted to do.”

The shelter housed nearly 80 dogs when he took over, he said, and now, many adoptions later, they’re down to seven. He credited his dedicated volunteer staff for training the dogs and preparing them to be adopted.

Michael Costa, the assistant executive director of Give a Dog a Dream, stressed the importance of helping the municipal shelter not only be a “no-kill” shelter, but also to give the dogs living there a good quality of life.

“You end up with a dog that sits in a kennel for four, five years,” Costa said. “In most shelters they’re only getting out for maybe 15 to 20 minutes a day if they’re lucky. They’re confined to three-foot by five-foot kennels most of that time. It’s not adequate care. It’s not adequate compassion. These dogs physically may be fine, though mentally they tend to suffer. By working within the community and pushing the way we’ve pushed to get these dogs where they need to be — in homes — we help to make sure they get the care that they really need.”

A dog up for adoption from the Huntington Animal Shelter at Huntington Honda Saturday. Photo by Alex Petroski
A dog up for adoption from the Huntington Animal Shelter at Huntington Honda Saturday. Photo by Alex Petroski

To kick off the foundation, Huntington Honda hosted a special adoption event on Saturday. Members of the community passed through from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to meet the seven dogs currently being cared for at the town shelter.

“These dogs are all well prepared to go into every house,” Mosca said. “Most of these dogs are very well behaved.”

Huntington Honda’s Marketing Director Jeffrey Hindla talked about the business’ commitment to be part of the community.

“We can really make these dogs’ lives better,” Hindla said Saturday. “We’re super excited to be working with the Town of Huntington and I can’t wait to do more with them.”

Give a Dog a Dream is planning to host more adoption events in the near future. To donate to the foundation or to learn more, visit www.giveadogadream.org.