Restaurant owner admits to hunting dogs with crossbow after being chased down by “vigilante”

A restaurant owner in Hubei’s Yichang city who hunted and killed neighborhood dogs for use in his signature dish was caught by police on Wednesday after being chased down by one vengeful pet owner.

On Wednesday morning, police in Yichang received a call from one man who said that his dog had been killed and that he was currently in a vehicle pursuing the culprit. When police arrived in the area, they found a black car abandoned on the sidewalk with one wheel missing and a severely dented back bumper.

Later in the day, shocking video began circulating on Chinese social media showing how the car came to be there at the end of a dramatic car chase with an SUV bumping the vehicle from behind, sending it spinning onto the sidewalk. The vigilante told police that afterward the driver had quickly fled the scene. Officers inspected the car, finding its trunk and back seat lined with eight dog carcasses, many of which were later identified to have been pets of local residents.

The driver did not get far and turned himself into police a short time later. According to the Chutian Metropolis Daily, he admitted that he was the owner of a small local restaurant which was known for its dog hot pot. In order to provide this specialty for his customers, the man went out hunting for dogs early in the morning with a crossbow. His wife came along with him to collect the carcasses after he shot them.

Police are currently investigating the case. It’s not clear if the man will face any repercussions for his actions, China has infamously loose laws when it comes to the protection of domestic animals.

This incident comes shortly after Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers, an American EDM duo, ignited outrage online after implying that he would not bring his dog to China for fear that it would be eatenin a promotional interview with a Chinese reporter in China. Pall later issued a half-apology for his comments while also pointing towards a petition to stop the infamous Yulin Dog Meat Festival, where thousands of canines are slaughtered each summer for food in southern China.

[Images via Chutian Metropolis Daily]

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As Snow Disappears, A Family of Dogsled Racers in Wisconsin Can’t Agree Why

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/21122017/climate-change-no-snow-sled-dogs-dryland-racing-politics-wisconsin

A father and daughter have been running sled dogs for more than 25 years. It’s easier for them to talk dogs than politics, weather than climate.

A version of this story and video were published by The New Yorker.

As dog musher Mel Omernick slipped nylon harnesses over her Alaskan huskies’ lithe bodies, the dogs were already straining with forward momentum. Pogo pressed her paws into the ground below, the sound of her yelps joining with those of the three other dogs that Mel and her husband, Keith, were hooking up to their tuglines. The cries melded with the barking of a hundred other dogs at the Redpaws Dirty Dog Dryland Derby in northern Wisconsin.

It was the first weekend of November, and race participants had come from all over Wisconsin and neighboring states, and as far away as New Hampshire and Quebec, to run their dogs. All year, they had fed and watered and trained and cleaned up after their teams, awaiting the moment they could let their dogs loose across the starting line.

Now the race weekend had finally arrived, though it had gotten off to a rocky start. Once again, the weather was to blame.

Gleason, Wisconsin, locator map

Northern Wisconsin is still a frigid place come winter. But as the state has warmed, the certainty of snow gradually vanished, leaving the traditional winter dogsledding races frequently cancelled for lack of good powder. Organizers responded by adapting the sport itself, from dogsledding to “dryland” racing.

The Dirty Dog Derby was the first of its kind in the area, started in 2006 to extend the racing season into spring and fall so that mushers like Mel and Keith could have more chances to compete, and dogs like Pogo more chances to run. Swapping out sleds, dogs instead pull mushers on unmotorized rigs or a cart with four to 10 dogs or modified bicycles (bikejoring) pulled by two dogs: in some cases, a single musher simply lashes herself by bungee cord to a single dog and runs behind him in an event called canicross. Dryland variations tend to be shorter events, sprints of a few miles instead of the hundreds of miles of the iconic long-distance sled races often associated with the sport.

With snow becoming less reliable, many sled dog racers have turned to dryland racing, with rigs on wheels replacing traditional sleds. Credit: Meera Subramanian

With snow becoming less reliable, many dogsled racers have turned to dryland racing, with rigs on wheels replacing traditional sleds. Credit: Meera Subramanian

In the weeks before their race, the Dirty Dog organizers had been worried they’d have to cancel it if the warm weather they were experiencing into late October—still hitting 70 on some days—continued. Since dogs can’t sweat—the only means they have to release heat from their bodies is through their tongues and the pads of their paws—mushers won’t run their dogs if there’s a risk they’ll get “fried” by overheating.

But by the time the derby arrived on Nov. 4, race organizers were pining for a little heat. The race grounds—and the carefully groomed trails—were blanketed in nearly three inches of snow. The day’s races were cancelled. Mushers kept their spirits up but weren’t finding much humor in the irony: a dryland race, the sport’s creative solution to a paucity of snowfall, cancelled because of snow. Some mushers loaded up their trailers with their pent-up dogs and made their way back home, while others—usually those who had traveled greater distances—hung around, eating chili from the Dirty Dog Diner set up in the open-air lodge and taking shifts by the fireplace as they waited to see if the weather would change.

By the second day, the snow had melted just enough to turn the trails into a muddy, but navigable, quagmire. When the organizers announced early Sunday morning that the race was on, the grounds erupted in excitement and movement. Mel and Keith headed to their truck to get the team hooked up, and soon the dogs were pulling on their lines, amped to do what they seemed born to do: run.

Dogsledding, Without the Sleds

Today, dogsledding is undergoing a transformation. Or threat, depending on your viewpoint.

The first hit came with the advent of snowmobiles in the 1960s, when dogsledding began slipping away as the standard form of transportation for many of the world’s northernmost inhabitants. Instead it became recreational, one of those activities that meld sport, hobby and lifestyle into one expensive, obsessive pastime.

Jan Bootz-Dittmar has been racing dogsleds for four decades and has several sponsors. She took up dryland racing, too, but finds the loss of reliably snowy winters frustrating. Credit: Meera Subramanian/InsideClimate News

Champion sprint musher Jan Bootz-Dittmar has been racing dogsleds for four decades and has several sponsors. She took up dryland racing, but finds the loss of reliably snowy winters frustrating. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Now the ideal image of dogs, humans and a sled careening silently across snow is facing a new challenge as the climate warms and the weather weirds. The Iditarod, a thousand-mile race across Alaska that is the most famous of sled dog races, had to be rerouted two of the last three years as its organizers chased snow-covered terrain. In Wisconsin, since 2001, about one-third of the sled races failed to happen, primarily because of lack of snow.

“I definitely see a trend where things are not like they used to be,” said Jan Bootz-Dittmar, a champion sprint musher on snow and dry land who’s been running dogs for 40 years. Last year, insufficient snowfall caused half of the snow races in Wisconsin to be cancelled.

“That affects me,” she said in the cafe as she munched on potato chips in lieu of lunch, “and it pisses me off.”

The Accidental Life

Mel races drylands, but skijoring is what she loves most: the quiet “shwooosh shwooosh” of her skis gliding through a snow-silenced world but for the sound of her dog’s movement.

She lives in Lincoln County, in north-central Wisconsin, and we were talking in the kitchen of the home she and Keith share, a long green metal building divided into a utilitarian shop and a capacious, wood-ceilinged living space with a wall of windows looking out upon a stand of trees. Her parents’ home lies just beyond. Mel, 40, sees both of her parents nearly daily, but when it comes to dogsledding, she’s closer to her father, Ron Behm, who is approaching 70. The kennel of Alaskan huskies and hounds that was once Ron’s is now cared for by Mel and Keith, and they all train the dogs together.

The length of the frost-free season has increased by as much as three weeks in some parts of Wisconsin since 1971, the state's assistant climatologist said. Credit: Meera Subramanian

The frequency of winter freezes that plunged the thermometer below average has been declining in Wisconsin since the 1980s, and the sport has had to change with the climate. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Father and daughter have been running sled dogs for more than 25 years, since they entered the sport by an accident of canine lust. Mel was still in junior high when the neighbor’s Malamute wandered over and found their Labrador mix, which was Ron’s hunting dog. One lone pup was the result, and they kept him and named him Tiny. He was no bird dog, but Mel and her three siblings kept him running all the time. When the neighbor’s dog got loose again the next year and a litter of four was born, the Behm kids had a team. The family was friends with Jan Bootz-Dittmar, who gave them some harnesses to try out.

Mel and her two younger brothers hooked up Tiny and the team to their red Radio Flyer wagon, and the boys would take turns riding while Mel, who was a gymnast at the time and wanted the exercise, darted in front, leading the dog. As the dogs grew, they swapped out the wagon with an old lawn mower, engine removed. Mel’s older sister Ginnie, daunted by the speed, would cheer them on, snapping photographs. Ron mowed a path through the grass so the children could holler “gee!” for right and “haw!” for left as the dogs learned commands.

Mel’s brother Adam was the first to enter a formal dogsledding race, with Ron joining him a few years later. By the time she was in college, Mel had quit gymnastics and started racing, too. Mel’s mother, Gail, stitched harnesses and kept the mushers supplied with baked goods and the fresh perch she caught while ice fishing, her preferred sport.

Dynamics of Differing

Despite all this family togetherness, there was one crucial split in the Behm household: politics.

At first, Mel told me, she was a Republican because her father was. “I didn’t pay attention to politics,” she said. But that changed when she became an emergency room nurse. Working 12-hour shifts with people in crisis, she suddenly realized that “some of the decisions that politicians were making were affecting my patients.”

She also saw how not just politics but also science affected them, from the medicines she could offer them to how their bodies responded. She saw science in her sport, too, where the principles of genetics were used to breed dogs for speed, endurance and tougher paws.

The family's kennel has 19 dogs, a mix of Alaskan huskies and hounds trained by Mel Omernick; her husband, Keith; and her father, Ron Behm. Credit: Meera Subramanian

The length of the frost-free season has increased by as much as three weeks in some parts of Wisconsin since 1971, the state’s assistant climatologist said. Credit: Meera Subramanian

“I love science,” she said, “and I believe in evolution.” Evolution was one of the science-based subjects she’d argued with her dad about most fiercely when she was in college. “I feel like we’re an example of it, and our sled dogs are too. So, it’s logical. It just makes sense … our planet is changing.”

These were not conversations Mel and Ron had easily, or often. Usually they just avoided politics—and science—altogether, focusing on the thing that bound them, their love of dogs and dogsledding, their family life.

Credit: Meera Subramanian

The world of dog mushers draws racers and trainers from across the political spectrum, and there’s a hesitation to talk about potentially divisive issues, such as climate change. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Within the contained world of dog mushers, there’s a similar hesitation to talk about potentially divisive issues. The entire political spectrum finds representation at the Dirty Dog Dryland Derby, from the young women showing up in a Prius with two dogs tucked in back, to the Trump supporter in a trailer emblazoned with “To the victor the spoils.” But as with Mel and her father, conversations among the mushers veer away from the political, to the point that many mushers don’t even know each other’s leanings or affiliations. Better to talk dogs than politics, and weather before climate. Even Ron, once I pressed him, was adamant that he was a “constitutionalist,” not a Republican. That was a distinction even his own daughter didn’t know.

Just a Blade of Grass

The second weekend in November, a second dryland derby was scheduled. Ron was slated to be a race marshal for that one, known as the Willow Springs Round Barn Fall Rally, and Keith was scheduled to compete; Mel planned to swing by after an all-night ER shift. But the skies stayed heavy most of the week, and, looking at the forecast of more snow, organizers cancelled the race by Tuesday night.

With his weekend freed up, Ron was willing to continue a conversation we’d started earlier in the week about what was happening to the climate and the sport he and his daughter both loved. Instead of race marshaling, he joined me at Mel’s house, laying down his coyote fur cap upon the kitchen table as Mel fixed coffee after her 12-hour shift.

While Mel sees the climate changing around her, her father, Ron Behm, is skeptical of any human role and leans on counter-arguments that have scientists have considered but dismissed as a major drivers of change. Credit: Meera Subramanian

While Mel Omernick sees the climate changing around her, her father, Ron Behm, is skeptical of any human role in climate change and leans on counter-arguments that scientists say aren’t major drivers of the changes. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Sitting side by side, Mel and Ron are two generations delighted in the world. Ron is still fit from his 30 years as a mail carrier, from which he retired in 2012; he now devotes himself to the Wisconsin Trailblazers race dog club, the Lions and a one-acre market garden that he tends with his wife. His white beard is trimmed, and Mel’s blonde hair is cut in a bob that falls in soft curls. They both default to easy smiles, even when their viewpoints clash.

Which they do, when it comes to climate change.

Finding Middle Ground

Mel feels that the winters of her youth are gone. Where was ice skating at Thanksgiving, like she remembers from her grandma’s when she was a kid?

“It always seemed harsh in the winter,” she said. But Ron had an explanation that had nothing to do with climate change. A trick of perception, he said as Mel listened respectfully, since in those days there was none of the high-tech clothing and efficient snow plows of today. He likened it to other mythic stories about one’s childhood, à la walking to school, uphill, both ways. “Probably that was a part of it,” Mel responded, nodding thoughtfully, both of them disagreeing in a way that was unfailingly polite.

There are 19 dogs out in the kennel, but six are allowed in the house, and they periodically came up to Mel and Ron, who stroked their heads. One dog took a brief interest in Ron’s coyote-skin hat—it’s roadkill, Ron told me—before venturing off again.

“One thing about weather,” Ron said, “we can all comment about it, but we can’t change it.” He sees climate changes as cyclical, pointing to the fact that long before humans were contributing any sort of emissions to the atmosphere, the state had “gone through three major warming trends, and also, three major freezing trends.” He mentioned the nearby Ice Age Trail that marks the edge of the last glaciation, 10,000 years ago.

The length of the frost-free season has increased by as much as three weeks in some parts of Wisconsin since 1971, the state's assistant climatologist said. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Dogsledding in Wisconsin has been changing for other reasons as well, including the cost of the sport and loss of sponsorship. Credit: Meera Subramanian

But even as he referred to deep time and geological history, Ron expressed his strong skepticism of science. He trusts the Old Farmer’s Almanac before the weather report. Weather is cyclical, he insisted, listing off a catalog of counter-arguments to climate science that I’ve heard around the country, including from many of the Dirty Dog mushers. The current warming can be attributed to volcanoes, they’ve told me. And sunspots. And solar winds. And the media doesn’t report these things. None acknowledged that climate scientists account for these variables in their studies and readily accept the planet’s natural climate fluctuations.

What the planet has not seen is as rapid a rise in temperatures, predicted to become warmer than they’ve been for millions of years, long before humans settled into their spaces and their sports.

“I still don’t believe that man has been given the ability, no matter how proud they think of themselves, to completely control something that they’re only on its surface for a very short time,” Ron told me.  “We’re here, a blade-of-grass scenario,” meaning that there might be seven billion of us, but we simply cannot have the impact that climate scientists are saying we have.

But while Mel politely agreed with her father that her recollection of colder winters in the past might be a trick of the mind, the truth is, data backs up her belief that Wisconsin winters are objectively milder than they used to be.

Credit: Meera SubramanianMel Omernick enjoys bikejoring with her race dogs when there isn't enough snow to ski with them. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Mel Omernick enjoys bikejoring with her race dogs when there isn’t enough snow to ski with them. She also works as an emergency room nurse, where she sees how politics and science affect all of our lives. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Starting in the 1980s, the frequency of winter freezes that plunged the thermometer below average was declining. By the mid-1990s, when Ron and his kids were running with the Radio Flyer and Tiny’s team, the cold autumnal spikes had nearly vanished. Ed Hopkins, Wisconsin’s assistant state climatologist, told me that winters continue to be highly variable, with lots of snow some years and bare ground others, but he recently tallied up the length of the frost-free season since 1971 and found that in some parts of the state, it’s increased by as much as three weeks.

And Now, a Word from …

Dogsledding in Wisconsin has been changing for the past two decades for reasons aside from weather: the cost of dog food, the difficulty of finding long trail systems unimpeded by development or liability-averse landowners, the cost of fuel for the trucks to haul large teams. And one additional, significant change: the loss of sponsorship. It was sponsorship that had been keeping the races afloat, but sponsors started falling away as early as the late 1990s—often for weather-related reasons.

Dryland races involve plenty of mud, as Jan Bootz-Dittmar is evidence of after a race. Credit: Meera Subramanian/InsideClimate News

Dryland races involve plenty of mud, as Jan Bootz-Dittmar is evidence of after a race. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Ron spoke of one sponsor, the North Star Mohican Casino Resort over in Bowler, Wisconsin, that sponsored a dogsled race with a huge purse. “Then someone says … we can make more money with a polka band,” he said. “Bowler started to bring in live entertainment at the casino, instead of doing the race.”

How infinitely appealing an indoor, climate-controlled event must be for a sponsor. The complete opposite of the iffy one-day mudfest that ended up being the Dirty Dog Derby this year.

“This is a weather sport,” Ron said. “Your sponsors are expecting this much viewing of their product name, and if the weather is not conducive to that, you don’t get the viewership.”

“So if it’s too cold, too windy, rainy,” Mel continued, their conversation fluidly moving between them, “there are no spectators.”

The prizes for the long-distance snow sled races can still be substantial—the Iditarod winner takes home $75,000—but as the purses have shrunk, sprint mushers are lucky if they win enough for gas money home.

Credit: Meera Subramanian

Traditional racing sleds hang on a shop wall near the kennels. Credit: Meera Subramanian

The move from dogsledding to dryland racing to casino polkas is enough to make you wonder if we’re doomed to become an indoor nation, seeking collective escape from an unpredictable world.

Many sports are suffering from the extremes in weather. Just as the sled dogs have their window where they can comfortably and safely compete, so do we two-legged athletes. It’s difficult to play tennis when it’s so hot your sneakers are melting on the court or you start hallucinating that you’ve seen Snoopy, as happened at the Australian Open a couple of years back. A study by the University of Waterloo’s Interdisciplinary Center on Climate Change found that, unless carbon use plummets soon, a third of past Winter Olympics cities will be unable to host the event in the future because they won’t get cold enough. Winter recreation sports are estimated to be a $12 billion industry in the country.

Even snowless races still draw young dog sled racers excited for the thrill of the sport. Credit: Meera Subramanian/InsideClimate News

Even snowless tracks still draw young dogsled racers excited by the thrill of the sport. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Loss of sponsorship and other factors are contributing to the decline in snow mushing in Wisconsin, but the greatest factor seems to be climate change. How long can the sport survive when the specter of uncertain weather is added to all the others? What is the fate of this sport—a healthy, life-affirming sport that people play instead of watch, that involves working in concert with animals instead of against them? Did the founders of the Iditarod think about the double meaning of their tag line, the “Last Great Race on Earth”?

When there isn't enough snow for a sled but too much for a dryland racing cart, Mel and Keith Omernick runs the dogs with an ATV, its motor running. Credit: Meera Subramanian

When there isn’t enough snow for a sled but too much for a dryland cart, Mel and Keith Omernick take the dogs out with an ATV. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Mel and Ron and I had talked enough. There were dogs outside, eager in waiting. Ron donned his coyote fur hat, its tail draped between his shoulder blades as the rest of it blended with the color and cut of his beard. Mel slipped on her Carhartt jacket and we headed out to the kennel where Keith had been setting out the lines to run the dogs with an ATV. It was too snowy for a cart and not snowy enough for a sled, so a motor would have to suffice. The dogs were rowdy with expectation, fervent to bound through the whitened forest, past Ron and Gail’s garden, so recently put to bed, past the neat lines of the neighbor’s fields, crisp in sepia tones.

“I love to watch them run, and run with them,” Mel had said expectantly before we headed out. “To have them pull me and to be part of that team. And we’re out there in nature, whether it’s a beautiful sunny day, 20 below, raining, icing. We’re appreciating what the planet has given us, and God’s blessings that we’re healthy enough to do this.”

She was proving what her father had told me earlier about dog racing. “Nostalgia,” Ron had said, “is a big part of this sport.”

Top photo: Mel Omernick races dogsleds in Wisconsin, but lately the winter races have shiftrf to dirt tracks as the winter snow becomes less reliable. Credit: Meera Subramanian

Man Who Shot Two Dogs Ordered to Take Hunter Safety

A Dane County judge ordered an Evansville man who was charged with shooting two dogs to complete a hunter safety program.

35-year-old Kurt Rausch said he mistook the two dogs for coyotes, which he was hunting at night. The judge imposed and stayed a six-month jail sentence that Rausch will not have to serve if he completes the hunter safety program. Additionally, Rausch must pay a $2,500 fine.

According to reports, the judge said the case was “emotionally charged” and touched on the stupidity of night hunting. She noted she received about four-dozen letters regarding this case, more than any other case she has provided over.

Deanna Clark, the owner of the two dogs that were shot by Rausch and also a veterinarian in Lake Mills, said she was training the dogs around 6 p.m. that night in January 2016 for skijoring, a sport where dogs pull a cross-country skier. Both dogs were wearing reflective vests but were running loose. Rausch had set up a coyote call on public land and shot both dogs as they emerged from the underbrush.

Assistant District Attorney Paul Humphrey told the court Raush violated the cardinal rule of hunting and safety: know your target and what’s behind it. The dogs lived and despite the considerable vet bills, Clark told the court she didn’t want restitution or Rausch to be punished. Instead, she wants the Legislature to end hunting at night on public lands.

Inside the grim scene of a Korean dog meat farm, just miles from the Winter Olympics


MARTIN ROGERS  |  USA TODAY SPORTS

WONJU, South Korea – A short drive from the burning Olympic torch and the excited throng of Winter Games spectators, there was no cheering outside the place where hundreds of dogs are packed in cages until they are killed for their meat.

In the rural region of Wonju, down a winding country lane, sits a farm that provides dog meat to some of the thousands of South Korean restaurants where patrons order things such as dog salad, dog ribs, dog stew and dog hot pot.

The grim surroundings of the farm pains the senses. The first thing to be noticed is the sound, pitiful whines and yelps of about 300 animals being kept in filthy cages until their execution.

Step closer and the stench fills the nostrils, a sickening waft that spreads over two long rows of cramped cages.

Some of the dogs do not survive long enough to be slaughtered. Lying discarded on the mud floor by the plastic awning, the carcass of a dead Tosa – a rare breed that originated in Japan. Also in the cages were Jindos, St. Bernards and golden Labradors.

Most were emaciated. Many had gaps in their fur where huge sores grew on their bodies. The cages are elevated, set up so dog feces drops through gaps in the wire bottom, collecting in huge piles beneath.

More: Olympics shine spotlight on dog meat trade in South Korea

USA TODAY video journalist Sandy Hooper and myself filmed the gruesome scene for 15 minutes on Saturday morning, using GoPros and iPhones. When we approached the front of the property in an attempt to speak to the owners, a man screamed in Korean: “Turn it off, otherwise I’m going to throw it down!”

The Winter Olympics is supposed to be one giant commercial for South Korea and its winter tourism industry, but no public relations effort can cast a favorable light on the Korean dog meat industry. Pyeongchang organizing officials were aware enough of the likely international reaction to Korean dog meat eating practices that they paid nearby restaurants to take down signs advertising the product’s availability and pleaded with them to take it off the menu – at least during the Olympics.

It didn’t work. Two miles from Jinbu station, the main hub serving the primary mountain cluster of the Games, a trio of restaurants openly served dog products. They had amended their frontage signs to remove the word “bosintang” (dog meat stew) and promote goat meat instead, but that was only outside.

Walk inside and glance up at the giant white board and the first four menu items, in English and Korean, are derived from man’s best friend. An elderly Korean man removed his shoes, entered the room, ordered the stew and sat down at a row of tables on the floor. Soon, he was served the thick brown concoction and began slurping down the soup until it was all gone.

In Korean culture, dog meat is said to have mythical properties that boost restorative powers and increase virility. Fearing a backlash from traditionalists, the Korean government won’t amend the law, despite president Moon Jae-In having adopted a dog saved from the meat industry.

Pyeongchang organizers wish government officials would take action.

“We are aware of the international concern around the consumption of dog meat in Korea,” an organizing committee statement read. “This is a matter which the government should address. We hope that this issue will not impact on the delivery or reputation of the Games and the province and we will support the work of the province and government on this topic as needed. Also, dog meat will not be served at any Games venue.”

Eating dog meat is a custom here and it is hard to dispute that. In the United States millions of animals of countless varieties are slaughtered each year for meat. To some, the plight of Korean dogs is scarcely any different to that of American chicken, cows or pigs. To others, there is something vastly different about a dog, given its relationship to humans.

Activists in Korea don’t like the use of dogs for meat but mainly focus their protest efforts on the methods of killing the animals and their conditions in captivity.

“If the Korean people stop eating dog meat there will not be the market for it,” Kim Jun-Won, president of the Dasom animal rights organization said, fighting back tears when shown photographs of our footage as we returned to our vehicle. “But this is wrong and it breaks my heart. The people who keep animals this way and kill them? They are the devil.”

Demand is decreasing, with dog meat meals not particularly popular with younger members of Korean society. As well as the one described above, USA TODAY Sports visited two other farms in the area that showed signs of being operational recently. Both were closed, with the dried feces and even bones of deceased dogs still visible.

“The problem is that while smaller facilities close due to lack of business, larger, better organized ones are popping up,” Kiana Kang, director of programs and special projects of American non-profit rescue organization Animal Hope and Wellness said. “This is the two Koreas. There is the beauty and the culture, and then there is this.”

Korean dog farmers claim their sole intention is to try to make a living and insist the animals are the same as livestock.

A group of Winter Olympic athletes, including Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis took part in a recent public service announcement in a bid to raise awareness about the Korean dog meat trade. Duhamel already owns a rescue Korean dog.

The United States and Canada are leaders in trying to rescue Korean dogs and provide them with a new life. In a recent USA TODAY Sports interview, Californian couple Lana Chung Peck and her husband Kevin Peck described how many of the animals they foster and rehabilitate through the Save Korean Dogs organization have significant issues.

Chung Peck said her dogs cannot initially walk properly on grass or firm ground, because most of their lives had previously been spent in the cages, scrambling to get firm footing on the hard thin metal.

Meanwhile, at the Games, the first medals were being doled out. The plight of Korea’s dogs isn’t going to be the major narrative of the Games, the events themselves and the lingering political turmoil dominate the headlines.

But it is here, happening not far from the Olympics, and it’s tough to stomach.

Dog Meat Still on the Menu at South Korea Olympics

A handful of South Korean restaurants near the venues of the Winter Olympics are defying a government push to take dog meat off menus for the duration of the games, Channel News Asia reported.

The opening ceremony takes place on Friday in Pyeongchang county, with athletes from over 90 countries and tens of thousands of tourists from  South Korea and abroad expected to flock to the region. In a bid to avoid controversy over the culinary customs of eating dog meat, local authorities have tried to curb the serving of canine delicacies by offering nearby restaurants subsidies to temporarily alter their menus.

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But only a small minority appear to have taken up the government on the offer, Pyeongchang County government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP.

“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” he said. Of the 12 dog meat restaurants in the county, only two have complied, Lee said on Thursday. According to him, a handful entertained agreeing to scrap dog meat from the menu but have already seen a drop in sales.

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Puppies are seen in a cage at a dog meat market in Yulin, in China’s southern Guangxi region on June 21, 2017. China’s most notorious dog meat festival opened in Yulin on June 21, 2017, with butchers hacking slabs of canines and cooks frying the flesh following rumours that authorities would impose a ban this year. STR/AFP/Getty Images

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“Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply,” he said. “They then switched back to dog meat.”

Signage advertizing dog meat dishes has nonetheless become less prominent, as the restaurants are seeking to avoid giving “a bad impression to foreigners” during the Games, he added.

The custom of treating dogs as livestock and using them for sustenance is increasingly becoming a taboo in South Korea, with the country’s government branding them a “detestable” kind of meat. There are, however, no explicit legal punishments for the cooking of dog meat and a minority of South Koreans still do so.

Last year, authorities closed Moran market in Seongnam, the largest dog meat venue, which sold over  80,000 dogs a year. It accounted for about a third of South Korea’s dog meat consumption, according to local media estimates.

This article was first written by Newsweek

Meigs County man charged in operating ‘bearbaiting’ event

https://www.10tv.com/article/meigs-county-man-charged-operating-bearbaiting-event

Clinton J. Bailey. (Photo/Meigs County Sheriff)
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MEIGS COUNTY — A Meigs County man has been charged after the sheriff said he was suspected to have been operating a “bearbaiting” event.

Clinton J. Bailey, 51, is charged with 16 counts in connection with the event, three of which are unclassified felonies for animal fighting.

He also has two fourth-degree misdemeanor charges for animal fighting, two misdemeanor charges for falsification and nine dangerous animal misdemeanor charges.

He was arraigned on Jan. 24 and released on a personal recognizance bond, according to Meigs County Common Pleas Court online court records. His next appearance will be Feb. 26.

In November, the Ohio Department of Agriculture Enforcement Division executed a search warrant on Bush Road in Long Bottom, according to the Meigs County Sheriff. Bailey owned a bear and possessed a Dangerous Wild Animal Permit.

At that location, Bailey is alleged to have been operating a “bearbaiting” event whereby several hunting dogs were released inside an enclosure, attacking the bear. Officers received information Bailey was charging admission of $20 per dog to participate.

In addition to Bailey, and his juvenile son, seven males, two females and eight children were present at the event with the majority of participants being from West Virginia.

At least one child was observed inside an unapproved enclosure while dogs were attacking the loose bear. Two of the males had handguns.

Bearbaiting is defined under Animal Fights, Section 959.15 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Assistance was provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Drone Team, who obtained significant video footage of the illegal activity as well as the Washington County and Jackson County Sheriff’s Offices who provided tactical assistance.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio State Highway Patrol provided significant assistance as well.

The bear was seized pursuant to the warrant by DWA program personnel.

Dog shoots owner to death in freak hunting accident

https://nypost.com/2018/01/22/dog-shoots-owner-to-death-in-freak-hunting-accident/

A Russian hunter was shot dead by his own dog when the excited pooch hopped up on his lap and tapped his shotgun — which discharged into his gut.

The freak accident struck while Sergei Terekhov, 64, and his brother were hunting rabbits in the remote Saratov region, according to reports Monday.

Terekhov’s double-barrelled shotgun was resting on his knee when his Estonian Hound bounded towards him and bumped the weapon with his paw, causing it to go off, according to the local news site Region 64 and other outlets.

“The weapon rested on his knee, with the butt facing down and the barrel pointing towards his stomach,” investigator Alexander Galanin told the site.

The investigative committee later told Newsweek Terekhov was holding the Soviet Toz-3, which discharged after the pooch darted from a car and hopped up onto him.

Terekhov’s brother called an ambulance but he died on the way to a hospital.

Terekhov was experienced hunter with a license, Galanin said. “Everything was in order. It was an accident.”

Terekhov’s was a sportsman who loved hunting rabbits and other game, the UK Telegraph reported.

Investigators had found no sign of foul play on Monday.

Two dogs survive vicious attack by hunting dogs on hiking trail

http://www.kitv.com/story/36135809/two-dogs-survive-vicious-mauling-by-hunting-dogs-on-hiking-trail#.Wl_a3z4DQbQ.facebook

Aug 14, 2017 11:32 PM PDTUpdated: Sep 04, 2017 11:39 PM PDT

 

A leisurely hike in Aina Haina went terribly wrong for one family.

An East O’ahu man said his two dogs were viciously attacked by hunting dogs.

Andres Gonzalo was hiking an Aina Haina trail with his dogs Lilikoi and Phoenix last Sunday.  He and his friends stopped on the trail to take a break.  Then he says out of nowhere, eight dogs came from behind.

“I had just enough time to hold my boxer and my friend picked up the small one. It was too late. The dogs were just grabbing the dogs by the neck and by the ears.” Said Gonzalo.

About a minute later, Gonzalo said two hunters showed up and restrained the dogs before disappearing.

Lilikoi bolted from the scene, but was found later on.  She suffered bite wounds resulting in 50 stitches.

“They had mauled her inside and out. Her legs, we didn’t know the extent of it until she went to the ER and they found all her intestines were perforated.  So they had to operate on that.” Said Miki Gonzalo, Andres’ wife.

They hope their story serves as a reminder that hunters should be held accountable for their dogs.

Island News spoke to the hunter who says he’s truly sorry for what happened.

Instead of pressing charges, Gonzalo and the owner of the hunting dogs have come to an agreement.

“We’re going to create an event. It would be part of their family and my family, my friends and their friends. We’re going to do a cookout or something just to get some funds.” Explained Gonzalo.

Those funds will help cover over $4,000 worth of vet expenses. The Gonzalo’s have also created a GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/vet-funds-for-Lilikoi.

State hunting rules say hunters are responsible for all actions of their dogs when hunting legally.

Dogs should be kept under physical restraint and control at all times, except when actively pursuing game.

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife reminds hikers that they are more likely to encounter hunting dogs when hiking in areas that allow hunting.

These dogs are taking on wildlife trafficking in Botswana

http://www.awf.org/blog/these-dogs-are-taking-wildlife-trafficking-botswana

Photo of sniffer dog and handler team demonstrating ivory detection on vehicle

 

Up to 130,000 elephants roam the wild lands of Botswana – and that is not counting transient herds moving across country boundaries in the region. As a significant range state, Botswana was the only nation in southern Africa to support a total and permanent ban on the ivory trade at the 2016 CITES conference.

The country made another landmark contribution to the continent’s mission to protect keystone wildlife species in November, when 15 of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks rangers graduated from African Wildlife Foundation’s Canines for Conservation program.

Following almost two-and-a-half months of intensive training led by the program’s director, Will Powell, the new canine handlers and 10 ivory detection dogs will supplement anti-poaching efforts on the ground. They will be deployed to strategic airports, roads, and border crossings to stop the trafficking of illegal wildlife products through Botswana.

Botswana tackles wildlife trafficking head on

Previously, the country had lobbied with its neighbors to reintroduce limited ivory sales from countries with sustainably managed herds. After the spike in poaching and smuggling after a one-off sale in 2008, Botswana is now addressing illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade through innovative collaborations with other range states.

The Canines for Conservation graduation ceremony held at the training center in Usa River, Tanzania was graced by senior management from Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Tanzania National Parks, Tanzania Wildlife Authority, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Manyara Ranch Conservancy, the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, and conservation organization, TRAFFIC.

AWF’s Vice President of Species Conservation, Dr. Philip Muruthi, commended Botswana’s wildlife protection authority for developing the capacity of their rangers and law enforcement officers. He explained that this development is critical in sealing previously existing loopholes that were exploited by criminal networks to traffic ivory from poaching hotspots like Mozambique.

Photo of sniffer dog and handler trained through AWF's Canines for Conservation

 

Conservation needs connections across species

For Powell, who has trained robust handler-and-sniffer-dog teams that have intercepted millions of dollars’ worth of rhino horn, ivory, and pangolin scales, stopping the trafficking of wildlife products is not just a numbers game. The effectiveness of this conservation strategy depends on the bond between handler and sniffer dog.

Botswanan ranger and freshly qualified sniffer dog handler, Tebogo Mangombe, knows that anti-trafficking initiatives are needed urgently in her country. She reveals how the training has added an edge to her work as a custodian of Africa’s wildlife — and a special companion in her life.

Why is Canines for Conservation important to you?

We have a lot of wildlife and we must protect them for future generations. Saving wildlife means saving our lives too – our livelihoods depend on how we take care of our flora and fauna. The training on handling the detection dogs was enriching and I hope to apply the expertise gained after the course to fight poaching in my country more effectively.

How was it when you met your dog for the first time?

It was challenging because I did not know how to handle him initially but later I realized he could do a lot more. One of the best moments of training was after the first month when I was able to relate better with my dog. He is loving, energetic and happy. He is my best friend — I love him so much because I have a very special connection with him.

What is the best lesson you learned during training?

Just the overall experience of being a dog handler and using that skill to fight poaching is a big achievement for me. I was previously in the anti-poaching unit — now this canine unit is my life. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else at this point in time. We are going back home with the goal of ending this organized crime.

>Learn more about the AWF-trained Canine Detection Unit deployed in Tanzania.

Dog shoots man in Iowa hunting accident

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2017/11/30/dog-shoots-man-iowa-hunting-accident/908928001/

Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Aron Arthur discusses new state law that allow straight wall cartridge rifles for deer hunting.

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A dog stepped on a 12-gauge shotgun causing bird shot pellets to hit a man hunting in southwestern Wright County Wednesday.

William Rancourt, 36, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, was nearly 22 yards away when a hunting dog stepped on the trigger guard of a shotgun lying on the ground causing it to discharge, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Rancourt was hit in the back and sustained injuries considered non-life threatening, but still “fairly moderate,” said Ken Lonneman, a DNR conservation officer.

Rancourt was conscious, alert and able to walk when he was transported to Trinity Hospital in Fort Dodge. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, X-rays were being performed to ensure all pellets had been removed from his back, Lonneman said.

“Shotguns are extremely dangerous at close range,” Lonneman said. “In this case, there was a good distance between the muzzle and the wound, but if the victim had been closer, his injuries would have been more severe.”

 Rancourt and his party — which included two dogs, two Iowans and another man from New Hampshire — had been pheasant hunting in the Boone River Greenbelt Conservation Board Public Hunting Area at about 1:20 p.m. when one of the men placed his shotgun on the ground without unloading.

The incident acts a good reminder to all hunters to both unload and double check the safety before putting any guns down or leaving them unattended, Lonneman said.

With shotgun deer season starting Saturday, the DNR cautions hunters that grounds will be busy this weekend.

“I would like to remind all hunters that no matter what season it is, but especially during a busy season like the one we are going into, to please be sure to identify your target as well as what’s beyond your target before firing,” Lonneman said.

If someone is hurt while on a public hunting ground, Lonneman said hunters should call for medical assistance right away and notify the local sheriff’s office.

For more information on hunting in Iowa, visit IowaDNR.gov.