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Motive In Dog Shooting Unknown

18 Feb



SWANZEY, N.H. — Police said they are still trying to figure out why a man in Swanzey shot his neighbor’s dog.


Michael Bailey, 47, has been charged with two felony counts of reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and one felony count of cruelty to animals.  Police said Bailey shot the dog, named Dozer, while the dog was chained in his doghouse. Veterinarians had to amputate one of the dog’s legs.


The dog’s owner, Phil Sherrick, said he’s not sure why Bailey shot his dog, but he said the outpouring of support he has received has been overwhelming.  “The girl down at the Swanzey Diner made him some scrambled eggs and bacon,” Sherrick said of his dog.  Sherrick said Dozer’s personality has changed since he was shot last week.  “People come by and get close to him, and he growls at them,” he said. “He thinks maybe that’s who shot him, I don’t know.”  After the dog was shot, there was some thought Dozer might have to be put down.  “Due to the blood loss he’d experienced, he was pretty passive when he came in,” said veterinarian Donna Harwood.  Harwood said she knew she could save the dog, in part because the bullet had operated much like a surgeon’s scalpel.  “The leg was just dangling by threads,” she said. “There was a total detachment on that bone. He shot right through it.”  Harwood says she was able to stop the bleeding and stitch up the leg, and she said the prognosis for the dog is pretty good.


Sherrick said he no longer feels safe in his home.   “I’ve locked the doors,” he said. “I didn’t know what he would do. He might shoot me.”


Bailey is being held at the Cheshire County Jail on $25,000 cash bail. He declined an interview request.


A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23.


Researchers rediscover one of the world’s most sought-after lost frogs

17 Feb

The Search for Lost Frogs, a global expedition to uncover amphibian species not seen for decades, has uncovered one of the expedition’s most sought-after species: the Pescado stubfoot toad (Atelopus balios). The discovery in Ecuador was one bright spot in a search that revealed more about the crisis and extinctions of frogs than it did about the hopefulness of finding cryptic communities. In total the expedition rediscovered 4 of its 100 targeted species.

The Pescado stubfoot toad was dubbed number 6 in the Search’s Top Ten Amphibians, and was the only species in the Top Ten to be rediscovered.

Researchers had feared that this toad had succumbed to a fungal disease, chytridiomycosis like so many other amphibian species. However, researchers received a tip from a local community where the species, not seen since 1995, may still reside. A single adult toad was then found beside a river in a matrix of farmland and tropical rainforest.

While hopeful, the find does not guarantee the species’ survival. Researchers believe this spot to be the last stand for the Critically Endangered Pescado stubfoot toad, and the area it was rediscovered is not under any form of protection.

The Search for Lost Frogs was an initiative undertaken by Conservation International (CI), the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG), and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).



Dogs Deserve Better Delivers Valentines to 16,880 Dogs in it’s 9th Annual Have a Heart for Chained Dogs Week

16 Feb

The 2011 Dogs Deserve Better Have a Heart for Chained Dogs campaign delivered Valentines to a mind-blowing 16,880 dogs! Although we missed our goal of 17,000 by a mere 120 dogs, we still delivered Valentines to over 2000 more dogs in 2011 than 2010. We’d like to send out a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who contributed addresses, Valentines, and coupons for the 2011 campaign.

A special thank you to HSUS who again put the word out for us. We also give a shout out to everyone who networked the campaign through their social networking sites, facebook, myspace, etc. It’s an excellent way to get the word out!

One aspect of the DDB Area Rep responsibilities is to contribute 10 addresses to the campaign each year, and 2011 marks the fifth year DDB awarded prizes for the top three reps in address contributions. Alicia Schwartz, SC, is first for with a total of 260, Angela Stell, NM, is second with 106, and Sheila Ehler, MO is third with 65. A special thanks to our reps who really put in the effort each year to help make our campaign a success.

“Thanks to DDB for the awesome coloring book and certificate of thanks you sent for the V-Day cards my grandson Joel and I made. I totally did not expect anything in return, but he was so tickled when the award arrived!” —Judy Mollus


Girl Scout Troop in Virginia shows off their projects


PA First-graders strut their Valentine stuff

Preparations for the event start in early January, when we send out a media release and e-mail requesting help from students and other groups to make Valentines for the project. You all answered the call, and thanks to a LOT of student help, plus a couple of major printed card donors, we had over 9200 Valentines shipped to the headquarter this year. Fantastic! As our numbers of addresses increase, we need our participation in making the Valentines to increase! Let’s hope we keep up this excellent streak next year!

PA Student concentrating hard on her efforts

NM Students taking their craft seriously

Susan Sammis holds her dog Isis and the book
Buddy Unchained with Boys & Girls Club youth holding books.

Jean Gilbert, educator with the Humane Society of Southern NM holds a display board for the Dogs Deserve Better presentation. Brian Johnson, program director for the Las Cruces Boys & Girls Club, holds a copy of Buddy Unchained.

Sample letter received by DDB: “These Valentine cards have been made by K-3 grade girl scouts in Northern Virginia. Many of the girls wanted to come and adopt a dog to take better care of them! Thank you for allowing us to contribute to the good work you do. Thank you also for allowing me the chance to teach the girls about good pet ownership and responsibility!”—Phyllis Martin, Girl Scout Leader

“Here are some photos of our friends in Mrs. Rehnert’s 1st Grade class at St. Nicholas School in PA. They made these wonderful Valentines to be mailed to chained and penned dogs. These Valentines are sure to melt the hearts of dog owners across the country and convince them to bring their dogs inside!”—Elizabeth Kline, DDB Rep: Arlington, VA

MO Valentine Party

Two PA Stuffing Parties rounded out the event, and we finished all the addresses during the parties, a first!

Never forget, the educational value gained by the children and groups making the Valentines is equal to or greater than the value of those receiving the Valentines! Bottom line, it’s at least as important to have the kids MAKE the Valentines as it is to have the caretakers receive them. This is what makes this campaign so unique and note-worthy; it works from both sides of the equation.


WE apologize, but due to a communication error on our part, most of our wonderful contributor letters were discarded with the packing materials. So sorry . . . We will be back with the excerpts next year, we love them. Don’t stop writing!

Just a small sampling of the creations we received

Of the packages of valentines mailed to Dogs Deserve Better, 65 of the 170 came from school classes and student organizations, 11 from animal welfare groups, and 94 from individuals and DDB reps. We suspect some of what appears to have been sent by individuals was actually from groups or students. Please be sure to drop us a note telling us who made the Valentines next year for accurate analysis.

Some gorgeous Valentines came our way!

Valentines came in from 37 states with the most coming from Pennsylvania and Ohio, where 19 groups or individuals participated in each state. Virginia sent in 11, as did Texas. Valentines also came in from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and DC. Thanks so much to all groups and individuals who sent valentines!

We’ve photographed many of the valentines on this and subsequent pages; if your’s doesn’t appear this year, make sure we know for next year so we can get you featured then. The Valentines were absolutely gorgeous; some of them we didn’t even want to send out they were so precious!

Valentines went to every state in the nation again this year! Pennsylvania dogs received the most Valentines, with a total of 2229, followed by North Carolina with 1529, Ohio with 1384, and Texas with 835.

DDB held three Valentine stuffing parties, one in St. Louis, MO, one in State College, PA and the last in Bellwood, PA, with over 50 volunteers showing up to help stuff envelopes between the three places. Sa-weet! The State College stuffing party was led by DDB veteran Amy Smith, the St. Louis party was led by DDB Reps Dawn Ashby and Melody Whitworth, and the Bellwood stuffing party was led by Tamira Thayne and Elaine Peachey.Special thanks to ALL who gave of their time to help get the Valentines on their way!

As a result of the campaign, we’ve already had calls for help and some rescue cases are in the early phases; we will post as we get more information.

For Example:

From Vicki—”The family’s address I turned in that has been keeping their dog kenneled 24/7 in the far back corner of their yard has had their dog out and in the main part of their fenced yard. Just saw the beautiful pup being walked around the neighborhood. Hooray!!!!!!!!”

If you sent in addresses and see any success, please send us the story so we can continue to update our listings and remove them from our database; they really help motivate us to continue!

Stats from the event:

Groups/Individuals who created and mailed Valentines: 170

States in which Valentines were created: 37

Volunteers who stuffed Valentines: 50+

Dogs receiving Valentines, total: 16,880
Broken down by state/country

AL: 1
BC: 5
MB: 2
ON: 20
QB: 1

United States
Alaska: 134
Alabama: 275
Arkansas: 189
Arizona: 78
California: 264
Colorado: 88
Connecticut: 49
Delaware: 90
Florida: 598
Georgia: 772
Hawaii: 4
Iowa: 77
Idaho: 69
Illinois: 404
Indiana: 684
Kansas: 595
Kentucky: 219
Louisiana: 92
Massachusetts: 110
Maryland: 323
Maine: 60

Michigan: 307
Minnesota: 181
Mississippi: 131
Missouri: 608
Montana: 6
Nebraska: 73
Nevada: 28
New Hampshire: 25
New Jersey: 168
New Mexico: 534
New York: 676
North Carolina: 1384
North Dakota: 3
Ohio: 1384
Oklahoma: 66
Oregon: 199
Pennsylvania: 2229
Rhode Island: 24
South Carolina: 624
South Dakota: 15
Tennessee: 806
Texas: 835
Utah: 48
Virginia: 678
Vermont: 25
Washington: 169
Wisconsin: 103
West Virginia: 195
Wyoming: 3

DC: 4
Puerto Rico: 1

If you are in a state where you know there are a lot of chained or penned dogs, but you see hardly any Valentines mailed there, please get addresses right now, and we will mail them letters and brochures. It’s important to start the educational process as soon as possible.

Thanks so much to all who participated, we are making a difference in those dogs lives!


Please help our work to continue!
Any donations you make will be tax deductible.

If you’d like to donate via regular USPS mail, you may print out this form in.pdf format, and send to P.O. Box 23, Tipton, PA 16684

Want to see more photos? Click here.




Monarch butterfly count bounces back from bad year

15 Feb
MEXICO CITY | Tue Feb 15, 2011

(Reuters) – Monarch butterfly colonies in Mexico more than doubled in size this winter after bad storms devastated their numbers a year ago, conservationists said on Monday although the migrating insect remains under threat.

Millions of butterflies make a 2,000-mile journey each year from Canada to winter in central Mexico’s warmer weather but the size of that migration can vary wildly.

Fewer of the orange and black insects arrived in Mexico last year than ever before, researchers said, but the butterfly colonies increased by 109 percent this year to cover roughly 10 acres of forest. Researchers estimate the size of the butterfly colonies based on the area they occupy in a forest.

“Certainly this is good news and indicates a recovering trend,” said Omar Vidal, director of the Mexico branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

But while the monarch colonies rebounded this winter, it is still the fourth-lowest year for the butterfly since researchers started census-taking in 1993.

Illegal loggers have picked away roughly 3 percent of a 138,000 acre reserve since it was created in 2000 but officials say they now have that illicit harvest under control.

Severe winter weather linked to climate change is more of a long-term threat, along with large-scale farming that crowds out the milkweed that the butterflies dine on during their cross-continental flight.

“The caterpillars feed on milkweed so changing soil use in the United States and Canada is definitely having an impact on the butterflies,” said Vidal, who helps manage the authoritative study on monarch populations in Mexico.

Michoacan state is home to the country’s monarch butterfly reserve as well as many violent drug gangs that have carved smuggling routes through the often-arid terrain.

While the government is confronting drug gangs on many fronts, smugglers are not inhibiting conservation work, one official said.

“We are being a bit more careful but have not had any security incident to date,” said Humberto Gabriel Reyes, who oversees the butterfly reserve for the federal commission for protected areas.

While the uptick in butterfly numbers is heartening, U.S. researcher Lincoln Brower said the insects are still susceptible to harsh conditions.

“The weather conditions we saw last year were among our worst-case scenario,” said Brower, 79, of Sweet Briar College in Virginia who has studied the monarch butterflies since the 1950s.

“If there were more harsh weather in Texas or more forest loss in the Mexican reserves, the butterflies could be tested even more severely,” said Brower who was one of the first researchers to see the Mexican overwinter sites after they were identified by scientists in 1975.

(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)



Woman makes it her life’s mission to feed stray dogs, cats — every day

14 Feb
BY WALLY SPIERS – News-Democrat
P.J. Hightower is so much of an animal lover that she drives every day through southwestern East St. Louis, feeding stray dogs and cats.

Last week, the St. Louis woman provided a look at one of her mornings. Bundled in coveralls and a stocking cap, she braved the cold and wind that whistled through her Honda Fit when she opened the back hatch to get to the bags of dog and cat food she carried.

Her car crunched along the rough streets which weren’t improved by the layers of ice and snow. She patrols neighborhoods where burned out, abandoned houses and open expanses bordered by ditches filled with brush often hide the dogs.

Jamie Case, executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians and a Belleville native, rides along on some days. Together, the two women look for tracks in the snow near places where they have found dogs before.

Last week, they spotted Sassy, who came running toward the car, dragging about 6 feet of a chain behind her.

“She had puppies three weeks ago,” Case said. “Even her owner can’t get close to her.”

Gateway Guardians rescued the litter, and the puppies were adopted.

One gray cat came to the road to be fed. Catlike, at first it retreated from the food, but that apparently was only because the cat was keeping a wary eye on Sassy, who had trailed along to check for more goodies.

Usually, Hightower sees her regulars, anywhere from 15 to 20 dogs. Sometimes, there are new ones. Last week, she never did find Humphrey, a dog which has an injured front foot which dangles uselessly. That worried Hightower, who has named many of the dogs. Despite repeated passes through several neighborhoods, he was a no-show. Probably not a good omen.

Some of the dogs were born wild, mongrel mixes. Some are dogs that people let run loose. Some are fed by people who live in the area, while others get food from people who drive through on their way to work every day, carrying food with them to put out, Case said.

One thing the dogs all share is a wariness toward humans.

“We’re the only people they’re exposed to. They are used to people throwing things at them and yelling,” Hightower said. “These dogs do not attack people. They do not attack other animals. They stay away from everyone if possible.”

Hightower was born in East St. Louis and grew up in Collinsville. She lives in St. Louis in the Lafayette Square area. She says she is a corporate dropout who is a professional dog walker.

She said her sister was building a house in Freeburg back around 1995 and she often drove to see it. On her way, she would see stray dogs. She started feeding a few of them and it took off from there.

“I haven’t missed a day in 10 years,” she said.

Many of the dogs run toward her car when they see it approach. The dogs stand warily nearby until Hightower pours piles of food on the ground for the animals.

After she retreats, the dogs eat. Sometimes, after the dogs retreat, the birds eat whatever is left.

Nigel watched from across the street as his sister Nigella and Mr. Pit ate their food. Hightower was thrilled when Mr. Pit came close enough to give her a high five.

But when it came time to feed Nigel, he was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is Nigel?” Hightower asked, looking all around.

Nigel was running alongside the car, looking for his food.

Hightower said she used to pay for her own animal food.

“Now I get donations from Gateway,” she said.

In the past, she has used donations to get surgical help for injured animals.

Some people support what she is doing. Others don’t think it is so great. Hightower said she spent about 45 minutes one day talking to a police officer about what she was doing.

“She seemed to think it was wrong,” Hightower said. “I think I changed her mind, but I don’t know.”

She said people think ignoring the dogs and letting them starve would end the problem, but that won’t work.

“They will find food,” Case said.

And they will give birth. Every six months, the strays produce a new generation. When a stray female goes into heat, males come from miles around for the chance to mate. That results in fights, injuries to the males and sometimes to the females.

Another result is puppies. Some people sell the puppies as a source of income, Case said. Others abandon them. Case said her group rescues from 120 to 150 dogs a year, mostly puppies, just from the area Hightower patrols.

“We rescue when we know they are no one’s dogs,” she said.

They can rescue adult dogs when they know they have a foster home.

“Not everyone can handle a feral dog,” she said.

Like Malcom, for instance. Malcom hangs out on a vacant lot near downtown. His lot has several feeding bowls sitting around. Workers in a nearby office building feed him as do some people from the Federal Courthouse. A woman wants to adopt him, but the group will have to catch him.

“It’s a tricky thing to rescue a feral dog,” Case said.

Proposed law

The problem spurred state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, to introduce legislation in the Illinois House to make it easier for people to take care of the stray animals. House Bill 240 will amend the state’s Humane Care of Animals Act to allow caretakers to pick up an animal, spay or neuter it and return it to its habitat.

“People are afraid that if they pick up an animal, spay or neuter it and return it to its habitat they could be charged with abandonment,” Holbrook said.

The proposed legislation will be amended to include inoculations and to specify only dogs and cats. It has been assigned to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

“This could help end some of the suffering and bring an end to overpopulation. It’s a good starting point,” Holbrook said.

Gateway Pet Guardians is solidly behind the legislation. The group also is attempting to buy a piece of property in East St. Louis and raise money to build a spay and neuter clinic.

“We need to stop the reproduction,” Case said.


For more information on how to donate or to view a documentary about the group, you can visit its website,

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Kitten saved from trash compactor

8 Feb

By: Dan Ivers

MERIDEN – A 4-month-old kitten rescued from a trash compactor last week was recuperating at the Humane Society Monday.
The kitten, which is almost totally blind, was found by Dainty Rubbish Service employees during regular pickup in Middletown Thursday morning. Mike Armetta, a manager at the firm, said he and a mechanic were shoveling trash from a truck and loading it into the compactor when they spotted the kitten inside a small box among the garbage.
“It was behind the blade. It’s a miracle that the animal didn’t end up in there,” he said.
Armetta, a self-described animal lover, said animals often seek a bit of warmth in the company’s trucks during the winter, although most discoveries involve raccoons or skunks. When he spotted the kitten, however, he scooped it out, cleaned it and contacted the local humane society in Meriden.
Humane Society Director Marlena DiBianco said the cat, which has been named Pacman due to his close encounter with the trash compactor, is recovering well and “eating like a horse,” although it will likely require major surgery to save one of its eyes.
Despite the cost the no-kill shelter will incur to help Pacman retain some of his vision, DiBianco said she couldn’t be more thankful to Armetta and the other employees who helped save his life.
“They saved it … I was really happy that they did that,” she said Monday.
Neither Armetta nor DiBianco could be sure if the cat was a stray that climbed into the garbage or if it had been intentionally placed in a dumpster. However, it is being cared for both at DiBianco’s home and at the Humane Society, on Murdock Avenue, where regular volunteer Ann Trinkaus has been watching over him since he arrived.
Once his health has been restored the organization will begin searching for a suitable home, although one candidate has already emerged – Armetta said he would like to eventually bring the kitten home himself.
“This animal would have been crushed” if not for Armetta, said Trinkaus. “It would have been a terrible death … it would be a wonderful ending.”
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