Category Archives: San Francisco Bay Area

Animal Activists Sued By University Of California Regents For Threatening University Reseachers

In 2006, according to court documents, animal rights activists harassed UCLA professor Dario Ringach and other scientists who conduct research with laboratory animals.

Documents stated that they hurled firecrackers at his house and planted Molotov-cocktail-like explosives at the homes of other faculty members and threatened to burn down their houses.

Ringach was afraid for his family and their safety and wrote an email to the animal activists begging to be left alone: “Effectively immediately, I am no longer doing animal research. Please don’t bother my family anymore.”

In response to the threats by the activists, the University of California regents are suing UCLA Primate Freedom, the Animal Liberation Brigade, the Animal Liberation Front and five people allegedly affiliated with this group.

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Dolphins Protect Injured Surfer From Shark

DolphinSurfer Todd Endris owes his life to a pod of bottlenose dolphins.

In late August, Endris was surfing in Monterey, California when a great white shark came out of nowhere and hit him three times, peeled the skin of his back and chewed his right leg to the bone.

Endris needed a miracle to get away from the shark. But then a pod of dolphins formed a protective ring around the injured surfer which allowed him to get to shore.

After four months, Endris is still going through physical therapy to repair muscle damage from the shark attack.

The shark was estimated at 12 to 15 feet long. Endris said the shark came out of nowhere and hit him first when he was sitting on his surfboard. Fortunately, Endris’ stomach was against the surfboard, so his internal organs were protected from the shark.

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Off-Duty Police Officer Accused Of Wrongfully Killing Man’s Dog

A California man is filing a lawsuit against a South San Francisco police sergeant, accusing the off-duty officer of wrongfully shooting and killing his boxer, Angel.

In the lawsuit, Ray Halteh said Sergeant Mike Remedios shot and killed Angel in September 2006. Halteh said his dog was “engaged in aggressive playful interaction” with Buddy, Remedios’ dog.

Halteh stated in the lawsuit that he separated the dogs and no one was in immediate danger or hurt. Then Remedios identified himself as an officer and ordered Halteh to “step aside” and then shot Angel.

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Caltrans “Pet Cemetery” Leads To Environmental Concerns

Concerns about water supply contamination are surfacing in the wake of reports that Caltrans workers have been illegally dumping animal carcasses in the mountains above Saratoga, California. According to a followup story in the Mercury News, many of the animal carcasses and skeletons had rolled into Saratoga Creek, which winds down to Saratoga Springs — a popular retreat and picnic site for corporations and youth groups — a mile or two below and further down into Saratoga.

Residents have been saying that the Saratoga Creek is cloudy and foamy. John Cherbone, Saratoga’s public works director, said the creek has tested for high levels of fecal matter in the past. Cherbone said, “At this point, we don’t know if carcasses of dead animals or whatever have any connection to what we’ve been looking at. But we’ll certainly be looking at that moving forward.”

John Tang, a spokesman for the San Jose Water Co., which supplies water to more than 1 million people, said in the story, said the water company uses a filter plant for the Saratoga Creek water, which uses micro-filtration technology. He also said the water goes through a “host” of pre- and post-treatment tests.

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Reporter Cracks Dead Animal Dumping Scandal

Warning: This story may disturb some readers.

Many people in the South Bay area of Saratoga, California, reacted with outrage last month when Caltrans admitted that it had disposed of the body of a special service dog by taking it to a rendering plant without even notifying the owner. Following up on this story, the CBS 5 news investigative team discovered that Caltrans dumped not just one, but apparently hundreds of dead animals in Santa Clara County.

The animal dumping ground is known to insiders as the “Pet Cemetery”, where for years workers have dumped wildlife and even pets. A Caltrans employee who asked to remain anonymous told CBS 5 Investigates that workers take dead animals to the “Pet Cemetery” and simply throw them over the cliff. “It’s the accepted thing to do,” he told the reporter.

With his guidance, CBS 5 Investigates found Caltrans’ secret “Pet Cemetery” in the woods not far above the town of Saratoga in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Looking over the cliff, they saw the familiar orange bags littering the hillside.

The CBS 5 Investigates team was accompanied by Beth Ward from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley and Mike Foltz, the society’s animal care manager.

“They definitely resemble the bags Caltrans uses in picking up remains from the sides of the roads and transporting them in their vehicles,” said Ward. “This is definitely meant not to be found.”

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Illinois Extends Domestic Violence Protection to Pets


Sometimes the only surprise a new law gives me is that it did not already exist. On the topic of animals, my most popular mental question is “What do you mean the law doesn’t…?”

A recent example: “What do you mean the law doesn’t extend restraining order protection to pets?” A handful of states do offer such protection, and Illinois joined them in August when the governor signed HB 9 into law (effective January 1, 2008).

Rep. John A. Fritchey of Chicago originally introduced the legislation in May 2006. Also in 2006, Maine made history as the first state with such a law, followed by Vermont and New York.

Itchmo covered a Connecticut law passed earlier this year. According to the Humane Society of the United States, bills are pending in other states including Michigan and Wisconsin. As I write, California bill SB 353 waits for Gov. Schwarzenegger’s signature, and a New Jersey bill if passed would offer a pet protection order against someone already found guilty of animal cruelty.

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San Francisco Says Pit Bull Sterilization Law Successful

Pit bull

The amount of pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes abandoned and euthanized in San Francisco, California has significantly decreased ever since the city implemented a law that requires pit bulls to be sterilized, animal officials said.

Animal Care and Control Director Cal Friedman said San Francisco has taken in 21 percent less pit bulls since the law was implemented 18 months ago compared to the previous year and a half. The number of pit bulls euthanized has decreased 24 percent. Before, about 75% of the dogs in San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control were pit bulls. Now, they occupy only 25% of the space.

The pit bull sterilization law was passed after a 12-year-old boy was mauled by two pit bulls that had not been sterilized.

Friedman said fewer pit bulls are abandoned now because less pit bulls are being born.

“Something is working,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet the house it’s all because of the ordinance, but nothing else has really changed.”

38 pit bulls have been confiscated by animal control officers because owners refused to comply with the law. Friedman said around 500 pit bulls have been spayed or neutered since the implementation.

Since the law was targeted only at pit bulls, the spay and neuter ordinance required a change in state law to allow cities and counties to impose “breed specific” requirements.

San Francisco’s SPCA does not believe in breed specific legislation, but they acknowledged that they have seen more pit bulls being brought in to be spayed or neutered.

“This law has been a success in reducing the euthanization of animals, and we do support that,” said SPCA president Jan McHugh-Smith.

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Service Dog Killed In Traffic Brought To Rendering Plant


Warning: This story may disturb some readers.

Richard Gambord’s service dog went missing on August 12.

Gambord and his dog, Quinn, were coming back from an outing. Quinn, a 15-month-old Golden Retriever, began to choke, and while Gambord looked back to check on his dog, he crashed the van into some bushes on a freeway in San Jose, California. The van’s door opened and Quinn ran off.

For a week, this Los Gatos resident led a team of people to try and find his service dog. Gambord has multiple sclerosis, and he had received Quinn just three weeks before to help him. Gambord said that his service dog had already assisted him in taking a few steps without falling.

Unfortunately, Quinn was nowhere to be found. Instead, Gambord learned some awful news about what happened to his dog.

His missing service dog was killed by a car about an hour after Gambord crashed his van. But then instead of taking the dog’s body to an animal shelter, a Caltrans (the state’s department of transportation) worker took the dog to a rendering plant.

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Hens And Chicks Saved From Cockfighting Operation In California

Hen60 hens and about 20 chicks have been rescued from their horrible fate.

These birds were found at one of the largest cockfighting operations sites ever discovered in Sacramento County, California. The hens and chicks are now enjoying a peaceful and safe life at Animal Place, a 60-acre sanctuary for abused and unwanted farm animals located in Vacaville, California.

Sacramento law enforcement raided the operation site in July, and workers from the Humane Society of the United States came to help with the animals. Officers found a large cockfighting and breeding operation.

There were between 300-600 cockfighting roosters found, and they were all taken away to safety by the Sacramento County Animal Care and Regulation. The property was in horrible conditions and was filled with debris and plywood shacks.

“The facility was in utter disrepair,” says Beach [Animal Place’s program coordinator]. “It was hard to imagine anyone living or working there. Splintered wood, rusted metal and derelict buildings were the norm. Even more disheartening is that the only life these roosters knew was the brutality of the pit.”

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Class Action Lawsuit Targets Chinese Supplier In Recalled Pet Food Case

A San Francisco lawyer has filed the first American lawsuit against a Chinese company for allegedly providing the contaminated ingredients in pet food which led to the deaths of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against pet food companies in the United States and Canada, but William Audet, lead attorney, said he believes his lawsuit is the first that names a Chinese supplier as a defendant.

On Wednesday, the law firm of Audet & Partners filed a class action lawsuit against Binzhou Futian Biological Technology, Co., a company based in Binzhou, China which was closed down by the Chinese government in July. The complaint seeks damages and other relief arising from injuries to pet owners whose dogs and cats became sick or died from ingesting melamine.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a Monterey woman, Judith Quintana, whose cat Little Girl died in April after eating Natural Balance cat food. As alleged in the complaint, Quintana’s beloved cat died due to complications associated with melamine poisoning from pet food.

“It’s time to hold all companies, regardless of the location of the business, financially and legally accountable for distributing toxic materials into the United States stream of commerce,” said lead attorney William M. Audet.

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What The Cat Drags In


For those of your with outdoor cats, what kind of treasures does your curious feline friend bring back?

Two weeks ago, we posted up a story about two cats named Cleo and Tony who apparently have a sock fetish. Every time they go out, they bring a sock home. There was also a cat named Oscar whose collection included tennis balls, an entire roll of toilet paper, a Nerf football and a satin pillowcase.

Now, there is Elmo. He seems to like flower blossoms and small branches. At first, Elmo would bring home mice, but his owners weren’t a fan of that. He then brought home a gardening glove. Funny. Next were used latex gloves from the medical center across the fence. Not so funny.

Then one day, his owners woke up to magnolia blossom petals strewn throughout the living room. They were extremely happy and praised him greatly. Elmo brought more, and his owners continued to praise him.

Soon, there were less gloves and mice and more and more plant items. He also started bringing fresh tips of young branches of trees home.

Elmo’s owners place his most beautiful findings on his place mat next to his food bowl. (It’s like putting your child’s picture on the refrigerator.)

The only problem that for his owners is when Elmo has to announce loudly in the middle of the night the beautiful array of flowers he has brought home. Although they say that they’re just glad that he’s not showing them mice.

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Woman Sues Garbage Company After Dog Gets Sick

Waste Management

Cindy Simons, a retired librarian from Castro Valley, California, is suing garbage hauler Waste Management. She alleges the company’s three week lockout of truck drivers has created a public nuisance.

She claims that her dog got severely ill from eating rotting garbage. Simons said that Waste Management didn’t pick up her garbage from July 2-23 even though Simons and her neighbors made repeated calls to the company about the increasing piles of trash.

In her lawsuit, Simon says that her 10-year-old golden retriever, Pele, got out of the backyard on July 16, ate garbage that had spilled out of an overflowing can on the street, and became sick.

Simons said that Pele was listless and had a fever. She took him to the vet and Pele was treated with antibiotics and intravenous fluids for dehydration. The vet costs were $400.

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San Francisco Residents Fear Coyotes


An Itchmo reader is reporting that coyotes who have been a problem in San Francisco’s Golden Gate area may be attacking feral cats. Two coyotes were killed last week after attacks on 2 dogs being walked.

She says:

A neighbor of mine has been feeding 3 feral colonies in Golden Gate Park for over 10 years, twice a day, rain or shine, and paying for all of it out of his own pocket. All but 3 individual cats have been killed by either the dead coyotes or the ones who are still living there.

The last reported coyote sighting was on Monday morning at 5:30am crossing into the park at 29th Avenue and Lincoln Way. Our reader Audrey also says that there are missing cat notices posted at that location. It’s not known if the who incidents are related. She says “the coyotes, have annihilated most of the feral cat colonies in the park along with possums, quail, rabbits and foxes. Now they are moving into the Sunset to look for food.”

Urban coyotes are rare, but not unheard of.