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Indiana man mauled to death by his pit bull on Christmas Day

Indiana man mauled to death by his pit bull on Christmas Day

Eddie Cahill was mauled to death by his pit bull named Fat Boy on Christmas Day. Cahill’s wife, who said they never had a problem with the dog, found his body in the evening when she returned from visiting with her family.

 

Pit Bull Attack - Red Gradient Line

BY: David Harding
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, December 27, 2014, 10:40 AM

 

Eddie Cahill and his wife, Bianca Rodriguez. Cahill was mauled to death by one of the family's dogs, a pit bull named Fat Boy.Facebook Eddie Cahill and his wife, Bianca Rodriguez. Cahill was mauled to death by one of the family’s dogs, a pit bull named Fat Boy.

 

A dog owner has been mauled to death by his pit bull on Christmas Day. Eddie Cahill, from Portage, Ind., was apparently killed by one of his eight-year-old dogs, Fat Boy, reports WGNtv.com. The 40-year-old owner was found at home by his wife Bianca Rodriguez. She had been spending the day with her family but returned home around 5pm. She found Fat Boy with blood in his mouth and Cahill, whose body was on the living room floor, covered in dog bites. Animal control officers were called and after the dog was tasered to get it under control, Fat Boy was then euthanized at the request of the family. The couple had another dog called Keylo.

 

Cahill's family said the dog was never a problem, but a police report said the dog was 'violent and unpredicatable.'Cahill’s family said the dog was never a problem, but a police report said the dog was “violent and unpredicatable.”

 

The family say that had given Fat Boy bones for Christmas and the death was a freak accident. Rodriguez said the family had never before had problems with the dog but in a police report the responding officer wrote that Cahill had been told to euthanise the dog because it was violent and unpredictable. But Rodriguez told WGNtv.com that was not true. “They were playful dogs,” she said. “One slept with the girls and the other slept with me and my husband. “I don’t want people to think bad of pit bulls. It was a freak accident. He loved the dogs.”

$35K To Find Lost Dog

$35,000 Spent To Find Lost Dog

Washington DC

 

Lost Dog Page

 

Lost Dog in DCA District of Columbia woman has spent more than $35,000 in a year-long search for her beloved missing dog.

Janet Mihalyfi, 39, of Georgetown has hired psychics and private investigators, posted thousands of fliers, installed cameras in the woods and put out dog food at spots where the Rottweiler mix has reportedly been spotted.

Mihalyfi lost 5-year-old Havoc on Nov. 9, 2013, after she took him and her other dog off their leashes during a run in a wooded area. Just then, a deer bolted by and both dogs gave chase.

She hasn’t seen Havoc since.

“Anybody that has a pet knows that they are a family member,” Mihalyfi told The Associated Press on Thursday. “I love him as I would anybody that I’m close with … I can’t give up on him.”

Mihalyfi, an information technology director at a Washington consulting firm, said she has devoted every weekend since Havoc’s disappearance to the search, which she called all-consuming, exhausting and depressing.

“It’s been a very emotionally taxing year,” she said. “It just feels like all these efforts — why am I not getting closer to getting to him?”

But Mihalyfi said her hope of finding Havoc, who has an implanted identifying microchip, is constantly renewed by tips from people who have seen her signs begging for information about his whereabouts.

Mihalyfi estimates that about 30 to 40 percent of the tips have been accurate and said she has plenty of evidence that Havoc is spending his days in two wooded parks in the District that are thousands of square miles large.

Though Mihalyfi has gotten help searching from a group of volunteers sympathetic to her plight, she’s also fielded some criticism for the amount of money and time she has spent searching for a dog.

“I know people are in shock by the number but there’s also a correlation between how long I go after this,” she said. “Lost-dog searches are expensive and this has lasted a year.”

She said she can’t imagine a better way to spend her money than getting a member of her family back.

Man’s Own Dog Helps Police Bust Him on Drug Charge

BoPolice in central Alabama say a man’s own dog helped officers bust him on a drug charge.

Prattville Police spokeswoman Paula Barlow says the pooch named Bo followed his fleeing master, who was being pursued by officers. When the dog stopped and wagged his tail in tall grass, she says, officers found and arrested Edwin Henderson.

Barlow says the chase began when two drug officers arrived Wednesday with a search warrant and Henderson took off running.

After an investigator pointed at Henderson and told the dog “go get him,” that’s what Bo did.

Barlow says Henderson is charged with failure to obey police, manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. It’s unclear if he has an attorney, and there’s no word on who’s taking care of Bo.

Spotlight on Secret Service Dogs

A Secret Service police officer and K9 dog patrol the sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. © AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A Secret Service police officer and K9 dog patrol the sidewalk in front of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.

The apprehension of a 23-year old Maryland man who jumped the White House fence Wednesday night and was bitten by a guard dog highlighted one of the Secret Service’s most effective weapons: its canines.

Secret Service agents and K-9 units quickly subdued the latest fence jumper, who authorities identified as Dominic Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Md., after he punched two of the Secret Service dogs, Hurricane and Jordan, authorities say.

The two animals were taken to a veterinarian and treated for minor bruising they suffered during the incident, according to agency spokesman Edwin Donovan, while Adesanya was taken to a hospital with injuries from a dog bite and is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service.

“Both K-9s were cleared for duty by the veterinarian,” Donovan wrote in an e-mail.

Adesanya has been charged with two counts of assault on a police officer — a charge that stems from his attack on the dogs — along with one count of making threats and four counts of resisting and unlawful entry, Donovan added. All the charges except for resisting and unlawful threats are felonies; Adesanya was unarmed at the time of his arrest.

Adesanya’s rapid apprehension posed a marked contrast to the agency’s handling of Omar J. Gonzalez, a 42-year old U.S. Army veteran who authorities say jumped the White House fence and ran far into the executive mansion through an unlocked front door on Sept. 19. The incident involving Gonzalez, whose arraignment was delayed Tuesday and is now scheduled to undergo a mental-health evaluation within 30 days, set off a series of embarrassing revelations about the Secret Service and helped lead to the resignation of its then-director, Julia Pierson.

In the case of Gonzalez, the agency’s guard dogs were not released, raising questions about a security breakdown at the White House. Under the Service’s protocols, there was supposed to be an attack dog, a specialized SWAT team and a guard at the front door at the ready if the officer in a guard booth on the North Lawn was unable to reach the intruder.

The decision not to release the dog last month now under review. Some people familiar with the incident say the handler probably felt he could not release the dog, because so many officers were in pursuit of Gonzalez and the dog may have attacked them instead.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security, praised the Secret Service in an interview for defending the president so effectively Wednesday.

“The swiftness of the response was impressive. They’re obviously dealing with a difficult situation, and they got him out of there in a rapid and professional manner,” Chaffetz said, adding that his only outstanding question is how closely agents were monitoring Adesanya before he jumped the fence. “Was he on a watch list, was the Secret Service aware of this individual?”

But when it comes to the K-9 unit, Chaffetz added, “I can’t say enough about how valuable they are.”

“I love the dogs,” he said, adding that having watched a video showing Hurricane and Jordan being assaulted, “I hated to see him punch the dogs, but obviously they could take a punch. I was thrilled to see they’re back on duty.”

The Secret Service’s K-9 unit is operated by the uniformed division, which is separate from the special agents who are assigned to the presidential detail. The dogs are trained at the agency’s James. J. Rowley Training Center in Laurel, a complex spanning 500 acres and 31 buildings.

Former Secret Service officials said the Belgian Malinois are selected because of their unique characteristics; they are smart, strong, agile and obedient. An adult male weighs more than 60 pounds and can run in bursts twice as fast as the swiftest human. Its short hair makes it ideal for work in heat, and the Malinois are more compact, agile and higher-energy than German Shepherds.

The dogs are trained for specific skills – some are assigned to the bomb-squad and are used during security sweeps at hotels and other buildings were the presidential entourage will be staying.

The attack dogs on the White House grounds do not have any other duties than to subdue intruders, the officials said.

“Once you release the dogs to their objective, there’s not much that can stop them,” said former Secret Service director Ralph Basham, who oversaw the agency from 2003-2006. That objective, he added, is “take them down, slam into them. There are certain parts of the body they are trained to attack. They are trained to stop the intruder and give the handler time to respond.”

The Secret Service has 75 canines in all, each dog costs $4,500, according to “In the President’s Secret Service,” a 2010 book by journalist Ronald Kessler.

The agency, which began its K-9 program in 1975, puts the canine candidates through 20 weeks of training. After they are cleared for duty, they remain with their handler around the clock and undergoes at least eight hours a week of refresher training.

“They become part of the family,” according to the Secret Service Web site.

Most Secret Service dogs work until they are about 10 years old. “When a canine is ready to retire,” the site said, “it is retired to the handler.”

The canines are just one component of security on the White House grounds. Heavily armed SWAT team members with rifles and black riot gear patrol the grounds, while sharpshooting anti-sniper units are positioned on the roof. Cameras and guards are positioned at the perimeter, along with other officers inside the building.

The dogs are carefully handled. They “live, breath, sleep and eat with their handlers,” Basham said. “They are constantly training; they go back for refresher courses.”|

They don’t have a spotless record, however. In April 2012, Secret Service agents on a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia, reportedly allowed the dogs to defecate on the property of the Hotel Caribe, near the hotel manager’s room — angering the staff.

The friction helped convince the hotel management to intervene later in the trip after a late-night altercation in a hotel hallway between a Secret Service supervisor and a local prostitute who accused him of not paying her. The resulting scandal cost 10 Secret Service members their jobs and has been one of the most-embarrassing episodes for the agency in recent years.

Other government agencies also use the Belgian Malinois. Perhaps the most famous is the Navy Seal-trained Belgian Malinois that operated as part of the team that cornered and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

And fallen K-9s merit full honors. Homeland Security bestowed an official commemoration for Maxo, a 3-year-old Malinois who fell to its death in 2013 from the sixth floor of a parking area in New Orleans while doing advance sweeps for a visit by Vice President Biden.

Although the dogs are thoroughly trained and disciplined, one former George W. Bush administration official recalled some trepidation among Secret Service staff about whether the dogs might inadvertently cause harm to the president’s dog Barney, a Scottish Terrier.

Perhaps attesting to the Belgian Malinois’ sophisticated training — or perhaps to a carefully negotiated bilateral canine detente — Barney made it through his eight years in office safe and sound. The former first pooch died in 2013, at age 12, of lymphoma.

Brian Murphy contributed to this report.

Dogs & Cats as Fishing Bait

Dogs & Cats as Fishing Bait

 

We could not believe this story and thought it was just a bit of sick humor or even something to grab your attention, taking you to someone’s website … but in fact, it wasn’t. Unfortunately … this repulsive act of animal cruelty, is all too real. Below, is an article we found discussing the act of using dogs and cats as bait for sharks and alligators. This article was written back in 2005, when a yellow labrador puppy, 6 months old, was found with a double hook through its snout, as well as a hook through its leg.

 

******************** WARNING ********************

 

What you are about to read, may make you sick, angry, puzzled or all three …

 

Stray dogs are being skewered on hooks and dragged behind boats as live shark bait.

The cruel practice takes place on French-controlled Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, where Prince William spent two holidays.

A six-month-old labrador pup was recently found ALIVE with a huge double hook through its snout — like the dog above — and another through a leg. The pup was found in a coastal creek and is thought to have somehow freed itself from a fishing line. But other dogs and kittens have been chomped up and swallowed by sharks. The RSPCA plans to petition the French government, demanding an end to the hideous torture.

Shark Bait
(Collected on the Internet, September 2012)

PETITION: Please help stop French Islander and Mexican fishermen using live dogs and kittens as shark bait

To: The French and Mexican Governments

We have to stop this PLEASE help!

French Islanders using live puppies and kittens as shark bait??

Please stop this senseless abuse to innocent puppies and kittens. French Islander and Mexican fishermen are using LIVE puppies and kittens as shark bait!! No living being should have to undergo this torture and insurmountable fear! This is inhumane and must stop NOW. Together we can make a difference and let our voice be heard as ONE. Please sign this petition and please pass this along. Thank you for caring. Blessed be

Currently the penalty is only 2 years and $36,000 that is far too little for such a heinous crime. We urge that you raise the penalty to 10 years in prison with NO parole and a fine of $100,000. This will hopefully act as a deterrent and will stop these horrendous acts against innocent animals. Please do the right thing and help us stop these people.

Islanders on the French controlled Reunion Island have been using live dogs as shark bait.

The Sun claims that “a six-month-old labrador pup was recently found alive with a huge double hook through its snout – like the dog above – and another through a leg.”

It is also claimed that local fisherman have also been using kittens!

Reunion Island is an overseas departments of France and an official region of France, giving it the same status as a province or state in other countries.

 

OriginsThe claim that live dogs (and cats) were being used as bait by shark fisherman on Réunion Island (a French-controlled territory just off the coast of Southern Africa in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar) started hitting the world press in August 2005 and picked up steam in early October 2005, when it was reported by publications such as the UK’s Sun (an excerpt from which is quoted at the head of this page) and Sweden’s Aftonbladet, complete with a heart-rending picture of a purported “bait dog” with a large hook through its muzzle. Animal rights groups such as the RSPCA have taken up the cause of putting a stop to the horrible practice.

Many observers remain skeptical of such claims, however, positing theories that range from media and animal rights groups having been taken in by a hoax to a deliberate disinformation campaign being waged by activists who seek to end the slaughter of sharks for their fins and cartilage by Indian Ocean fisherman. Arguments have flown back and forth over the practicality and plausibility (or lack thereof) of Réunion Islanders fishing for sharks in the manner described.

A 2006 Réunion newspaper article acknowledged the practice and reported the recent prosecution of a deliveryman (and amateur fisherman) on that island over animal cruelty charges associated with the described activity, suggesting that although there may be some truth to the shark-fishing claim, the practice does not appear to be as widespread or horrific (or tolerated) as implied by news reports in the foreign press. Rather than describing hordes of shark fisherman impaling live dogs on hooks and dragging them behind boats as shark bait, the article noted that employing dogs in shark-fishing was largely the province of a small group of amateur fisherman rather than large numbers of professionals, that the dogs used were generally dead animals picked up from roadsides or culled from the island’s large population of unwanted strays (estimated at 150,000), and that the no-longer-alive animals were attached to unattended buoyed “shark trap” platforms rather than dragged alive behind boats.

The French embassy in Washington, D.C., also maintained that although the practice was not unknown, its occurrence and acceptance was not nearly as prevalent as recent news reports had made it seem:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns. We too denounce the barbaric practices you refer to. Such acts are obviously illegal and will not be tolerated on French territory. But while we share your revulsion, we would like to emphasize that the practice of using live dogs or cats as shark bait is in fact exceptional and isolated. It was never widespread nor traditional, but introduced by ruthless individuals, and has been strictly banned for decades now.

TV reports that raised initial indignation when they were aired in France and abroad in 2005 were filmed locally in 2003 following the discovery of a mutilated dog. The last few months have seen two identical events which received heavy media coverage (one of these events was soon determined to be a false alarm). But can these vile occurrences lead us to conclude that there is an ongoing tradition of barbarism on Reunion Island?

Reunion Island, a French territory and a European region, obeys the laws and regulations of the French Republic and the European Union. It respects the rule of law and does not practice inhumane ancestral practices. The facts that elicited your complaint are the act of a few isolated, irresponsible parties who are being sought by the police and will be brought to justice. The authorities on the island are closely monitoring the situation; one person is in custody and appeared in court on Friday September 30, 2005. All suspicions of such acts will be investigated, and animal protection organizations that have any specific information on these matters are strongly encouraged to inform French police authorities.

The French minister for agriculture and fisheries, Dominique Bussereau, is fully aware of the media and public outcry regarding this issue, and has written to the French National Assembly to emphasize that several measures have been taken to strengthen already existing laws. Veterinarians have been directed to immediately report any suspicious wounds to authorities, and the police will increase their inspections of fishing and pleasure vessels. Meanwhile, a sterilization campaign, launched in 2001 to reduce the number of stray dogs and cats on the island, continues.

Animal rights are an important issue in France: over half of French households have at least one pet, and France has some of the world’s most stringent animal rights legislation. French law provides for the prosecution of those who are cruel to animals. Voluntary cruelty to animals is punishable by a sentence of two years in prison and a 30,000 euro fine (equivalent to about $36,000).

Sincerely,

Press Office.
Cordialement / Regards
Service de Presse et d’Information / Press & Information Service
Ambassade de France / Embassy of France
Washington, D.C.

The photo displayed at the head of this page, which has adorned several news articles and humane society-related web pages on this topic, is a frame from a 2005 video produced by the 30 Million Friends Foundation. The video purportedly documents the case of a dog that had escaped from fishermen who planned to use it as shark bait; skeptics have questioned the authenticity of the video, maintaining that it merely shows the aftermath of an accidental entanglement that has been mistakenly or deceptively misused for publicity’s sake.

Another Fatal Dog Attack

Michigan dog owner may be charged in fatal attack

AP By Associated Press

METAMORA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The owner of two dogs that fatally mauled a man as he jogged along a rural Michigan road could be charged after the attack, which was the third since 2012 involving canines from the same property, officials said.

Craig Sytsma, 46, of Livonia was attacked by the cane corsos Wednesday evening in Metamora Township, about 45 miles northwest of Detroit, authorities in Lapeer County said. He was unconscious when he was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, police said.

“He was jogging, doing what everybody else does out there, running and riding bikes,” said Metamora Township police Officer Sean Leathers, who was one of the first on the scene. According to police, a man mowing his lawn nearby saw the attack, got a gun and tried to shoot at the animals to chase them off.

Under Michigan law, a person may face involuntary manslaughter or other charges in such an attack. The county prosecutor’s office is expected to review the case.

The dogs, previously identified as bull mastiffs, were quarantined at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter. Sheriff’s Detective Jason Parks said the dogs were brought in by their owner, a 45-year-old man, and authorities will seek to have the dogs destroyed.

Sytsma, a divorced father of three, worked for Eltro Services in nearby northern Oakland County and had apparently decided to jog after leaving work, the Detroit Free Press said.

In May 2012, there was a report of a dog bite where the animal returned to the same property, Metamora Township Police Chief David Mallett told The Flint Journal. And in November 2013, a man was taken to a hospital after being bitten by a dog that returned to the address.

Mallett said he didn’t know whether the same dog or dogs were involved.

Oxford resident April Smith told the Free Press, however, that one of the dogs involved on Wednesday attacked her in May 2012. Smith said she and her sister were walking two dogs when she was bitten. She said she was horrified that the owner still had the dogs.

“It’s just crazy to me,” Smith said. “Animal control should have done something. It should have never gone this far. The fact this has led to a death, it’s sickening.”

Some people in past dog attacks in Michigan have been charged. A Livingston County woman whose American bulldogs in September 2007 fatally mauled two people, including a 91-year-old man, was sentenced to prison in 2008. She pleaded no contest to two felony counts of keeping dangerous animals causing death and a misdemeanor charge of allowing her dogs to stray.

Dog Escapes Texas Yard and Ends Up in Ohio

Dog escapes Texas backyard, somehow gets to Ohio AP

Texas Dog
(Photo courtesy of Mike Saiz)

 

Corbin is held by Sherrie Thornton. Thornton picked Corbin up at the shelter in Hamilton, Ohio, and took him to the other couple that offered to drive him back to Texas.

 

Gradient UnderlineHAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A small dog that escaped its fenced-in yard in Texas was found outside a southwest Ohio animal shelter, and its owners have no idea how he traveled more than 1,000 miles in a few days.The 3-year-old Chihuahua-Dachshund mix named Corbin dug a hole under a fence in his backyard in Killeen, Texas, on March 25. He was found Saturday tied to a bench outside the animal shelter in Hamilton, about 30 miles north of Cincinnati.”It sounds like one of those too-good-to-be-true stories,” Corbin’s owner, Mike Saiz, told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “This isn’t the first time he dug a hole under the fence. One time he was waiting for us on our front porch and the other two times we had to pick him up from the local pound.”A surveillance camera at the Animal Friends Humane Society in Hamilton recorded a woman leaving Corbin at the shelter late Friday night. Staff found him the next day.Corbin was in good shape, just soaking wet from rain and a little scared, said Kurt Merbs, supervisor of Butler County’s dog warden’s division. Authorities are hoping to identify the woman and see if they can get answers about how Corbin ended up in Ohio and at the shelter, Merbs said Wednesday.

The staff located Saiz after finding a microchip on him that contained his owners’ information.

“They called my wife and she told me that they found our dog, but she didn’t sound happy about it,” Saiz said. “I asked if he was OK and she told me he was fine. I then asked where the shelter was and she said, ‘Hamilton — not Hamilton, Texas … Hamilton, Ohio.'”

Puppy with ‘demons’ euthanized in Texas

The story below, made national news today. I find it hard to believe, that this dog would be put down, because it was aggressive. Actually … I find it hard to believe, this puppy was aggressive! At 12 weeks old, most puppies are going through a teething stage. It is ridiculous to think, this dog could not have been saved, even if there was a bit of aggression.

So many times, have I heard of Veterinarians doctors suggest that a dog be put down, because it is aggressive. I truly wish these doctors would stick to what they know, and stay out of what they don’t! They are Doctors, not trainers or handlers. They need to stick to medicine!

This is just another sad case of someone not knowing what they are doing!

 

THE STORY …

 

Demon Dog in Texas

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (WOAI) — Was a dog described to have “demons” put down at the Humane Society of New Braunfels Area?

Controversy and questions are swirling around the town after a 12-week old puppy was put down last Tuesday. The puppy’s fate has Elaine Buchhorn up in arms.

“It really hurts to see this is the way they manage the facility,” she said.

She fostered the puppy her son found for about a month and she worked hard to find “Baby George” a home before dropping him off Friday, Oct. 11 at the shelter. The Chihuahua-Dachshund mix was euthanized last Tuesday.

“It did go after one of our employees. The employee left it alone, because it is a younger animal we wanted to give it some time to relax, went back a second time and it did try to bite her again. It was showing aggression,” explained Billie Zercher, executive director of the Humane Society.

“That just doesn’t sound like the dog I brought in. I said, please check your records this does not sound true,” Buchhorn said. She kept the puppy around her other two dogs and her toddler granddaughter while she was fostering it.

A Facebook post on the Humane Society page only fanned the flames.

“They had posted they were sad they had to put this puppy down it was filled with demons and showed aggression,” Buchhorn said.

“What it was meaning was something was causing this animal to be aggressive. It was unknown why,” explained Zercher. She could not quote the exact post, but said a board member posted the message, which has been deleted.

Zercher stands by the decision to put the put to sleep. “Under our shelter policies, anything that shows aggression can’t be put up for adoption,” she said.

Buchhorn is still upset. “I was willing to take the dog back. It didn’t have to be euthanized,” she said.

Buchhorn signed a release form when she dropped off the puppy, releasing the rights of the animal to the Humane Society.

There is a petition online to prosecute the person who authorized the euthanasia. So far, it has about 14 signatures.

American Hero Dog

Elle The PitbullBully for her!

Elle the pit bull is 2013 American Hero Dog

Pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, but it’s not unusual to find Elle, a 5-year-old pit bull, cuddling up to elementary school children for story time.

In fact, she does it regularly. Elle is a therapy dog at an elementary and a middle school in North Carolina. With help from her owner, Leah Brewer, 42, Elle started a reading program called “Tail Wagging Tales” to help students practice reading and strengthen confidence.

Students at Vaughan Elementary in Macon, N.C. and Chaloner Middle School in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., take turns sitting with Elle and reading out loud to her for 20 minutes. “She provides confidence for students and a comforting ear,” Brewer told TODAY.com. (No word yet on what her favorite book is.)

On Saturday, Elle’s efforts earned her the honor of being named the 2013 American Hero Dog by the American Humane Association, beating out other finalists who had their own tales of heroism – like Carlos, an explosive detector dog (EDD) who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, and John D, a rescue dog who uses his scenting capabilities to detect cancer in patients.

“The point of the award show is to celebrate these dogs who really work and perform service to humans,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, told TODAY.com.

Elle and the other finalists were flown in style to Los Angeles alongside their owners to attend the star-studded awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Her win is a sign that misconceptions about pit bulls might be changing.

“The dog community is trying to grapple with issues around what to do with breeds that have some bad reputations, “ said Ganzert. “This is a fantastic awakening to see a pit bull win.”

The Humane Association awarded Elle the top honor after combining more than 1 million public votes with those from a panel of animal activists and celebrity judges that included Kristin Chenoweth, Candy Spelling and Miranda Lambert. Other finalists included:

  • Cassidy, a three-legged dog who visits rehabilitation centers to comfort children with disabilities.
  • Jingles, a guide dog who brings joy, exuberance and safe travels to her disabled owner.
  • Lola, a rescued guide dog who connects her deaf owner to the surrounding world.
  • K9 Lakota, who was forced into retirement after he and his accompanying officer were injured in a car accident. His story is now used to help change dog protection laws for police dogs.
  • SD Bronx, who helps his 14-year-old owner battle seizures.

Saturday night’s award show was hosted by actor Joey Lawrence. The “Hero Dog Awards” will air in a 90-minute special on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.

Dog Theft on the Rise

Dog Theft ChartWhen a family from Monroe, Wash., returned home from vacation in 2011, they were heartbroken to learn that their 3-month-old puppy had run away. Police later discovered that the story was more complicated: The 17-year-old girl who was hired to watch the pooch had stolen it and sold the puppy on Craigslist for $200, according to media reports.

Similar stories on “dog flipping” have been reported elsewhere, such as in Georgia and Indiana, which underscore data from the American Kennel Club (AKC) showing that dog thefts are on the rise, increasing 27.8% between January and May on a year-over-year basis.

The thieves can be bold. Indeed, someone stole three purebred German shepherds valued at $2,500 each in May from a kennel in Hawaii.

AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson, in an email to MSN moneyNOW said the AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery National Pet Theft Database shows “pet theft has consistently been on the rise over the past five years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.”

These reports should prompt pet owners to take extra precautions such as “microchipping” their furry friends so that their owners’ addresses can be determined if their pets get lost or stolen. Without these records, reuniting pets and their owners can be difficult.

Pet theft reports surge in the summertime in places such as New York City as “pet parents” run errands and walk their pets at the same time to take advantage of the nice weather.

Unfortunately, catching the thieves can be difficult.Dog Theft Puppy

“Most often dogs are taken from one area and sold far away so there will be no connection,” according to A Helping Paw, which operates a shelter in Massachusetts. “Dogs are even being stolen from pet stores and animal shelters.”

Thieves are especially interested in purebred and smaller dogs, which are easy to transport, that they can sell for quick cash. According to the AKC, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Labrador retrievers and French bulldogs are popular with thieves. Pit bulls are the most-stolen dogs so far this year.

Some evidence indicates that stolen dogs can wind up being used as “bait” in dog fighting rings. Some are even held for ransom. Sadly, this is a worldwide problem and has been reported in the U.K. and Canada among other places.

Using common sense may also help thwart would-be thieves. The ASPCA encourages pet owners to leave their furry friends at home unless the owners are going to “pet-friendly” businesses and to keep a close eye on their pet when it’s off the leash. Also, be suspicious of strangers who say they admire your dog but pepper you with questions about how much it costs and where you live.