Posted By elaine on November 1, 2012
WASHINGTON(AP) – Can you trust what a dog’s nose knows? Police do, but the Supreme Court on Wednesday considered curbing the use of drug-sniffing dogs in investigations after complaints of illegal searches and insufficient proof of a dog’s reliability.
In court papers, the Justice Department said it does not oppose allowing a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., that the law violates the school’s religious freedoms.
A federal district judge has already rejected Liberty’s claims, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the lawsuit was premature and never dealt with the substance of the school’s arguments. The Supreme Court upheld the health care law in June in a ruling that also said the appeals court was wrong not to decide the issues.
The justices used lawsuits filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business to uphold the health care law by a 5-4 vote, then rejected all other pending appeals, including Liberty’s.
The school made a new filing with the court over the summer to argue that its claims should be fully evaluated in light of the high court decision. If the justices agree, they probably would formally throw out the 4th Circuit’s ruling and order it to take a new look at Liberty’s case.
Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.
The appeals court would have the option of asking the government and the college for new legal briefs before rendering a decision.
Justices seemed concerned about allowing police to bring their narcotic-detecting dogs to sniff around the outside of homes without a warrant, and seemed willing to allow defense attorneys to question at trial how well drug dogs have been trained and how well they have been doing their job in the field.
“Dogs make mistakes. Dogs err,” lawyer Glen P. Gifford told the justices. “Dogs get excited and will alert to things like tennis balls in trunks or animals, that sort of thing.”
But Justice Department lawyer Joseph R. Palmore warned justices not to let the questioning of dog skills go too far, because they also are used to detect bombs, protect federal officials and in search and rescue operations. “I think it’s critical … that the courts not constitutionalize dog training methodologies or hold mini-trials with expert witnesses on what makes for a successful dog training program,” he said.
“There are 32 K-9 teams in the field right now in New York and New Jersey looking for survivors of Hurricane Sandy,” Palmore noted. “So, in situation after situation, the government has in a sense put its money where its mouth is, and it believes at an institutional level that these dogs are quite reliable.”
The arguments on Wednesday revolved around the work of Franky and Aldo, two drug-sniffing dogs used by police departments in Florida.
Franky’s case arose from the December 2006 arrest of Joelis Jardines at a Miami-area house where 179 marijuana plants were confiscated. Miami-Dade police officers obtained a search warrant after Franky detected the odor of pot from outside the front door. The trial judge agreed with Jardines’ attorney that the dog’s sniff was an unconstitutional intrusion into the home and threw out the evidence.
A Florida appeals court reversed that ruling, but the state Supreme Court sided with the original judge.
The Florida Supreme Court also threw out work done by Aldo, a drug-sniffing dog used by the Liberty County sheriff. Aldo alerted his officer to the scent of drugs used to make methamphetamine inside a truck during a 2006 traffic stop, and Clayton Harris was arrested. But two months later, Harris was stopped again. Aldo again alerted his officer to the presence of drugs, but none were found.
The Florida Supreme Court justices ruled that saying a drug dog has been trained and certified to detect narcotics is not enough to establish the dog’s reliability in court.
The state of Florida appealed both cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Harris’ lawyer Gifford asked the court to uphold the ruling against Aldo and require police to provide proof that the dog is able to do its job correctly. “There is no canine exception to the totality of the circumstances test for probable cause to conduct a warrantless search,” Gifford said. “If that is true, as it must be, any fact that bears on a dog’s reliability as a detector of the presence of drugs comes within the purview of the courts.”
Lawyer Gregory Garre, who represented the state of Florida in both cases, said they shouldn’t have to prove what kind of training and classes Aldo had, “the same way that when an officer provides evidence for a search warrant, we don’t demand the training of the officer, what schools he went to or what specific courses he had in probable cause.”
In Franky’s case, Garre argued that since it wouldn’t be illegal for a police officer to sniff for marijuana outside a door, it shouldn’t be illegal for a dog like Franky to do the same thing.
If that’s true, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then police could just walk down a street with drug-sniffing dogs in “a neighborhood that’s known to be a drug-dealing neighborhood, just go down the street, have the dog sniff in front of every door, or go into an apartment building? I gather that that is your position.”
“Your Honor, they could do that,” Garre said.
But if someone invented a machine called the “smell-o-matic” that could do the same thing as Franky, police would not be able to use it outside of doors without a warrant, Justice Elena Kagan said.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the deciding vote when the court is closely divided in a case, came down hard on both sides in Franky’s case. He told Garre, the attorney for Florida, that he didn’t agree with his argument that people with contraband inside their home don’t have an expectation of privacy. “Don’t ask me to write an opinion and say, ‘Oh, we’re dealing with contraband here so we don’t need to worry about expectation of privacy,’” Kennedy said.
But Kennedy also told defense lawyer Blumberg that he won’t agree with his theory that it should always be considered a search when police try to find out what people are trying to keep secret.
To say “our decisions establish that police action which reveals any detail an individual seeks to keep private is a search — that is just a sweeping proposition that in my view, at least, cannot be accepted in this case. I think it’s just too sweeping and wrong,” Kennedy said.
“I would add a few words to the end of that statement: Anything that an individual seeks to keep private in the home, and that’s the difference,” Blumberg replied.
One Australian study found that a dog only correctly identified drugs 12 percent of the time, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “I’m deeply troubled” by that, she said.
Garre argued that the numbers in that study could be read differently to raise that number as high as 70 percent, counting instances in which — even though drugs weren’t found — the person that the dog alerted to had used or been in proximity of drugs before the dog’s alert.
The justices will rule in the cases sometime next year.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on October 26, 2012
Many people love them and many people fear them, but a local group says that if the folks that fear Pit Bulls got to know the dogs, they would change their mind about the controversial “bully” breeds, so they are having a rally.
Tomorrow is Pit Bull Awareness Day, and Pit Bull owners and other advocates of the breed will be gathering for a walks around the country to raise awareness of the breed and breed specific legislation (BSL) that could prevent them from owning the dogs they love.
A group called Southern Colorado Pit Bull Advocates is hosting an event in honor of the day at Monument Valley Park, and say that hundreds are planning to attend. The day was created in hopes of changing the negative stereotypes that plague the breed and lead to communities creating laws that make certain breeds illegal to own. Many people have joined a Facebook group to show support of the event.
The local group says that anyone can attend and all well behaved, friendly dogs are welcome to attend no matter what the breed, or even if they don’t have a dog. They are encouraging people to carry signs promoting positive Pit Bull images and dog costumes.
Sign in is at 1pm and the walk starts at 1:30pm at the Monument Valley Park South.
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Posted By elaine on September 11, 2012
FORT COLLINS – Animal Protection and Control has opened an investigation against a Fort Collins boarding and training facility following a complaint from a Fort Collins family.
Tiffany Brown of Fort Collins said her 13-week-old purebred German shepherd puppy, Baron, suffered blunt force trauma and injuries that resulted in the surgical removal of the dog’s eye after boarding at American Dog School, in Fort Collins, over the weekend. Animal Protection and Control confirmed Monday it is investigating the incident.
When Brown picked up Baron from the facility Sunday after a weekend stay, she said the puppy’s right eye was “bulging from the socket and looked dead.”
Brown said American Dog School owner, Tami Carrasco had told her the dog had been fine a few hours before and that she hadn’t seen any sign of trauma.
Carrasco told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that she had been with or near Baron all weekend and did not notice any signs of trauma or injury until 5 p.m. Sunday, when she retrieved him for the Browns.
“He was running and rooting around all weekend,” she said. “He’s a great puppy. I would have rushed him to the hospital if I had seen anything wrong.”
She’s owned American Dog School for 20 years.
“I have this business because I love dogs,” she said. “I would never, never hurt a puppy … I feel horrible. I love that puppy. I brag about him all the time.”
When Brown took Baron to Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Sunday evening, she was told Baron’s injuries were at least 24 hours old.
A veterinarian with the hospital told the Coloradoan that Baron’s injuries were a minimum of 24 hours old and that the puppy had suffered blunt force trauma similar to the severity a dog would experience in a “head-on collision with a car.”
“Medical records do not lie,” Brown said.
Carrasco said she’s already received multiple prank calls since the story broke Monday evening and fears what publicity about the incident will do to her business – which she maintains is not at fault.
“I’m worried that people will throw me in with the abusive dog trainer,” Carrasco said, referring to the case of Ryan Matthews, the former Loveland dog trainer who pleaded guilty to animal abuse at his training facility. “I would never hurt a dog. This scares me. I feel like I’m going to wake up with a burning cross in my yard.”
“We are heartbroken but committed to bringing justice,” Lindsey Jensen, the sister of the puppy’s owner told News 5. “As we have shared our story over the last 12 hours, others have come out with horrifying stories that happened at this place to their pets.”
In 2009 Carrasco was charged with Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty in Larimer County, but the charges were eventually dropped.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on August 30, 2012
FAIRBANKS — Life has returned to normal for Scrappy, the puppy who was left for dead in a suitcase inside a Fairbanks Dumpster earlier this month.Wednesday afternoon found the 4-month-old Labrador-pit bull mix playing with siblings Sativa, Brutus and Little One in a North Pole area yard.
He looked happy and energetic as he worked with one of his smaller siblings to pin down big brother Brutus.
After spending an unknown amount of time inside the suitcase and more than a week in protective custody at the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter, Scrappy was returned to his owners, Lyndsey Moeller and Austin Warnke, on Friday. He was not obviously affected by his ordeal, though they’ve had to stop him from over-indulging in food, Moeller said.
Scrappy was one of 11 puppies in a litter delivered by a dog owned by Moeller’s stepmother. He was given to Moeller as a gift for her birthday. The man who rescued Scrappy thought he was part great Dane, but Moeller said he is a mix of Labrador, pit bull and redbone coon hound. He’s named for a dog in the Adam Sandler movie “Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”
Scrappy went missing one night earlier this month. Moeller suspects that someone she knows took him because they believed she might have stolen something from them and wanted to retaliate. As of Wednesday no one has been charged or arrested for taking the puppy, and Moeller did not want to publicly identify the people she believes took the dog until they are formally charged.
Moeller has moved to a different home to protect Scrappy from being kidnapped again.
Whoever had Scrappy must have intended to give him a death sentence. Dennis Preslan happened to notice an out-of-place blue suitcase late one night while inspecting a private Dumpster at Growden Memorial Park for his janitorial business. Inside, he found Scrappy, who he said was gagged with a bandanna.
Scrappy was taken to the animal shelter, where he lived until Moeller and Warnke heard about him on the news and verified he was their dog with veterinary records and an old Polaroid photo.
Preslan was one of several volunteers who offered to adopt Scrappy while his original owners were being identified. He came by Wednesday to visit the puppy.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on August 23, 2012
Has your dog done something terrible… so terrible you want to out him or her? Well apparently you are not alone.
“Dog shaming ” is the latest craze to hit the Internet on a site in which canines are forced to confess their sins while looking guilty.
There are two rules when it comes to “shaming” your dog. First, post a picture of your dog looking remorseful with a handwritten confession to some shameful behavior, whether it be biting the mailman or eating something they shouldn’t. Then go to this “dog shaming” website and post it for the world to see.
Even if you don’t have a dog you will literally laugh out loud while reading these “confessions”. It’s unclear how dog shaming got started, but the photos are a hit.
My dogs are so going to get “shamed” this weekend after sneaking into the kitty litter box.. That’ll teach ‘em.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on August 16, 2012
Looking for something totally annoying that will irritate you co-workers to no end? Well here it is…
Video director Hai-Lam Phan wrote in an e-mail to The Huffington Post that the video shoot lasted three days, and they took an additional week for post-production.
It took a day to construct the candy set, which ended up weighing about 30 pounds. According to Phan, “Being real candy, it started to melt on shoot day! So we had to do some cosmetic upkeep to make sure it looked good under the lights. The animals didn’t have interaction with actual candy, except for the doberman, who plays ‘Snoop Dog,’ and he didn’t seem to have much of a sweet tooth — possibly, that’s because of the hairspray that we had to apply over the whole set to help preserve it.”
Although they weren’t rewarded with hairsprayed candy, The Pet Collective producer Michelle Davis reassured HuffPost that the group works closely with the American Humane Society, adding “The owners are present, and the animals do not work long hours or under difficult conditions.”
The video features Billie, a Chihuahua, Ariana, a Doberman, Spaceship, a Russian Blue cat and Pizza, a Domestic Shorthair “Tuxedo” cat. Pizza is currently living with foster parents and looking for a permanent home.
The Pet Collective has shown past “petodies,” such as “Corgi Rae Jepsen” in “Corgi Maybe,” and it also offers original content focused on animal welfare issues, including “The Unadoptables,” a series highlighting the plight of animals in need of a “forever home.”
As much as I love dogs, I myself couldn’t make it through to the end, and if I had my fellow reporters here in the newsroom may have taken matters in their own hands, and thrown my computer right out the window.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on August 16, 2012
CLEVELAND — A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction for whoever tied three dogs to railroad tracks in Ohio. Two dogs were killed by a train and one survived by crouching off the rails.
The reward was offered Wednesday by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The dog-tying happened last week in an industrial area overlooking downtown Cleveland. A railroad bridge monitor found the surviving dog Friday night and called police.
After a mandated waiting period to allow the owner to reclaim the dog, the survivor will be offered for adoption after Friday. The Cuyahoga (ky-uh-HOH’-guh) County animal shelter has been getting about three inquiries an hour about adopting the mixed breed dog.Share this Post[?]
Posted By elaine on August 15, 2012
Denver – They didn’t know each other, but they were brought together by a dog they had seen in a photograph.
The picture of the dog, a female German shepherd named Missy, was posted on a website along with a message about the dog being injured and stranded near Mt. Bierstadt at around 13,000 feet.
The photo was taken by a hiker who located the dog, but was unable to get her off the mountain by himself.
Almost immediately, hikers and climbers started to organize a plan to go up and rescue the dog. At 5:30 in the morning on August 6 eight men met at the trailhead and began the climb up Mt. Bierstadt.
Just the thought of a dog being left up there, I mean I figured it is worth a chance to try to go find it,” hase Lindell, one of the rescuers told our sister station in Denver, KUSA.
Around 8 a.m. the rescue group reached the Sawtooth ridge and spotted the dog.
“The dog seemed really weak and it couldn’t move much at all,” Lindell said. “And given the terrain there was no way the dog was walking out of there. So, we were able to get the dog into a backpack.”
The group started giving Missy some food and water.
“A very sweet dog, I mean you could tell she was worn out, but she was happy,” said Alex Gelb, one of the rescuers.
They carried Missy off the mountain through a snow squall and got her to a veterinarian, where she is being treated for injuries to her paws and dehydration.
The story of the rescue quickly spread on the 14ers.com website. The owner of the dog, Anthony Ortalani, also posted the story of how the dog became stranded.
Ortalani says he was hiking with the dog when her paws became blistered and were too sore for her to continue walking. With the dog unable to walk, Ortalani says he tried to carry the dog off the mountain, but was unable. He says that attempts to lower the dog with ropes were injuring the dog even more, and with a storm approaching he was forced to leave the dog behind.
Once down the mountain Ortalani says he contacted a search and rescue group and the Sheriff’s department, but was told it was too risky to send a rescue crew up for the dog.
When Missy was eventually located, she had been on the mountain for eight days without food or water.
In his posting on 14ers.com the dog owner said, “I am at a complete loss of words. My gratitude for the people involved in this is without measure.”
He went on to say, “I humbly beg the forgiveness of the community and most of all my Missy Girl. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
At issue now is where Missy will live once she recovers from her injured paws. The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s department is currently investigating the case and it may not be a simple one.
“This does not sound like a black and white case to me,” said Jennifer Edwards, an attorney and founder of the Animal Law Center. “Certainly with the facts that I’ve read, this is going to be a very emotional and maybe even litigious case.”
Edwards says the dog owner’s efforts to rescue the dog during that eight day time period will be a factor.
“This may be an animal welfare case, more than it is an animal legal case or property case. This is a case about an animal’s welfare and it may come down to what are the best interests of what the dogs standard would be,” Edwards saidShare this Post[?]