Monday, August 31, 2009

Poop Happens! Decision on Bull Creek dog leash law to come after public hearing tonight: for rest of story be sure to read blog comments at story end

Dogs to be allowed at Bull Creek for now

billybob wrote:
People who let their dogs run off-leash have to be right up there with bicyclists in their arrogance in thinking that the law applies to everyone but them. I have lived near several parks over the years, mostly those requiring dogs to be on a leash. Many dog owners flat ignored the law, allowing to their to roam free, chasing wildlife, otheer dogs and people. They also rarely clean up after their dogs. I have not been to Bull Creek park in a while because last time I was there it was chaos with dogs running everywhere and after everything. Lots of dog poop. Too many of these dog people have no respect for others or for the parks. The city either needs to begin fining these scofflaws, or quit pretending we have laws agains dogs running wild and pooping anywhere they please.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Think Halloween in Austin's a Big Deal: Check Out Dog Costumes at Cirque Du Pawrade in Cedar Park September 12

Saturday, September 12 at the
Cedar Park Regional Medical Center Campus
1401 Medical Parkway, Cedar Park, TX 78613
east of 183A toll road and 1431 - behind Target

11:30 - Parade and Dog Costume Contest
$5 entry fee includes event t-shirt

Prizes awarded in these categories:

  • Most original
  • scariest
  • best interpretation of circus theme
  • prettiest and
  • best owner/dog theme
Registration opens at 11:00

Noon - 4:00 - FREE entry

Paws in the Park is an event designed to celebrate dogs in our community. It will feature five Circus rings of activity designed for every member of the family, including your dog.

To obtain a booth permit or sponsor the event, please Download Our Sponsor Packet

To see the schedule, please Click Here!

New this year: Dog Health information at our Dog Health Booth. Pets America will be presenting on Dog CPR and First Aide. Local vets will discuss a variety of health topics.

New this year: Live Bands!!!!!! Come enjoy the music of Double R Nothin, the Detentions, Backtrax and others.

New this year: Austin Dog Alliance Bow Wow Reading Dog tent – Enjoy storytime and dog themed crafts with our Bow Wow Reading Dogs.

Dogs Prance Pretty on the Cat Walk

for more info:

Price Lowered for Austin Pet First Aid Class offered in South Austin Sept. 19 and Oct. 17

Did you know... ...

...that, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), one out of four more pets would survive an emergency if just one pet first aid teqnique was applied before getting them to an emergency veterinarian?

Austin Pet First Aid will provide you with the skills to help you give your pet a better chance of survival should an emergency occur.

For more info click here.

Toy Need at EMR Levels at Town Lake Animal Shelter

From TLAC:

Animals need toys for comfort, emotional enrichment and de-stressing.

Right now-TLAC has run very low on toys for the cats and dogs.

What we need:

Stuffed toys for puppies and kittens to cuddle with.

Cat/kitten toys that can be washed (plastic balls are GREAT)

Dog/puppy toys-squeaky chew toys, (washable ones are the best!)

Please put out the word to your co - workers, neighborhood associations, yoga classes, etc.

Toys can be left in the big yellow receptable in front of the receiving area or in the Davenport building.

Thanks for all you do for the animals!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time Magazine Reports It's a Rough Rough World Out There: Texas Police Dogs Sniff Out the Guilty and the Innocent

Police dogs stand with their partners
Police dogs stand with their partners
Joe Raedle / Getty

Dogs and the Scent of a Crime: Science or Shaky Evidence?

By Hilary Hylton / Austin Monday, Aug. 03, 2009

In detective dramas, a dog's powerful sense of smell has become a predictable crime solver: the trusty canine takes a sniff of a suspect object and follows the scent, eventually arriving at the perpetrator of the evil deed. But in real life, is this reliable evidence — or is it junk science that has helped put away innocent people?

In mid-August, the Innocence Project of Texas plans to unveil a detailed study focusing primarily on the extensive work of one Texas dog handler whose use of scent-ID techniques is under fire in the federal courts. At the heart of the study is the work of Deputy Keith Pikett, a canine officer with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, just southwest of Houston. The first case studied involves Calvin Lee Miller, who was charged with robbery and sexual assault after Pikett's bloodhounds alerted police to a scent on sheets that Pikett said matched a scent swipe from Miller's cheek. DNA evidence later cleared Miller, but only after he served 62 days in jail. In a second case, former Victoria County Sheriff's Department Captain Michael Buchanek was named as a "person of interest" in a murder case after Pikett's bloodhounds sped 5.5 miles from a crime scene, tracking a scent to Buchanek's home. Another man later confessed to the murder. (See pictures of puppies behind bars.)

Both cases have resulted in lawsuits seeking damages from the municipalities and law-enforcement agencies that used Pikett's work. They could be costly. In a separate case, a California man, Jeffrey Allen Grant, served three months in jail in 1999 after TinkerBelle, a bloodhound, mistakenly identified him in a rape case. He won $1.7 million in damages. (See pictures from the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club dog show.)

Jeff Blackburn, head of the Innocence Project of Texas, has labeled the dog-scent evidence as "junk, not even junk science." He adds, "We are working on a very intense, independent investigation of Pikett's activities." Pikett, who through his lawyer has declined public comment, is being sued for civil-rights violations in federal court by Miller and Buchanek. Blackburn says the innocence team is combing Texas public records to assess Pikett's impact on other cases. In the meantime, the Innocence Project of Texas study is being supported by canine-law-enforcement experts who, while not going so far as to call dog-scent evidence junk, fear that misapplication of the undisputed canine talent for recognizing smells will discredit good cases along with the bad. (See pictures of a real-life hotel for dogs.)

The notion of a crime-busting dog can be appealing, not to mention a break for jurors from mind-numbing expert-forensic-witness testimony. But experts caution that it is not the dog who testifies but rather the handler. "The animal knows what he is smelling, and everyone else has theories of what he's smelling," says Russ Hess, executive director of the U.S. Police Canine Association. For hundreds of years, humans have relied on the ability of dogs to distinguish scents to track prey, whether in the hunt for food or the search for a prison escapee. Bloodhounds are the recognized experts in supersensitivity to odors (some states allow scent evidence only from bloodhounds to be admitted). But even the best-trained scent dog — and Hess says the dogs require constant training — can make mistakes. "They are fallible, just like a person," says Charles Mesloh, a former canine officer and criminologist at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Dogs, he adds, respond to handlers, perhaps for reward or praise, or simply because of emotional connections, wanting to please their human partner. "Dogs aren't stupid — they cheat," Mesloh says. "What goes down the leash, comes up the leash." In the Netherlands, where tough evidence protocols are in place, a suspect scent is taken to a lab, where the dog's reactions are tested without a handler present.

Dogs have proved their value to both the military and law enforcement, Hess says, detecting explosives, working with narcotics officers and locating missing persons and bodies. But the alleged misuse of dog-scent evidence could cast a shadow over its value to law enforcement. In the 1980s, polygraph tests came into fashion and were hailed as an important forensic tool, but their misuse and overuse prompted a negative public reaction; Mesloh fears the same could befall the use of scent evidence. "The hammer fell on polygraphy, and it never really recovered," Mesloh says. "Now, [for dog scent], the blood is in the water."

It Stinks: City to Close Poopular Bull Creek Leash Free Dog Park to Clean it Up

Park may close in less than a month. Public hearings will be held Aug. 19 and 25. See full story in Austin American-Statesman and check out the chatter in the comments area.