Hundreds of people ditched their traditional Valentine’s Day plans to sit high in the stands of Madison Square Garden and check out some of the best dogs on display during this year’s Westminster Dog Show.
The event’s top prize, Best In Show, was awarded to a German Shepherd named Rumor.
Rumor had made it to the final seven in 2016 and returned this year for her last chance at the title before officially retiring from the ring.
Here are some scenes from Monday and Tuesday’s events.
All photos by Geraldine Hope Ghelli for The Village Voice, text by Monica Jorge.
Now in its 25th year, the annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade has cemented its status as an October staple in the lives of countless NYC dog lovers. From presidential candidates, unicorns and dinosaurs to one upstanding canine representing “Netflix and Chill,” dog owners seemed to think of just about everything this year… even a four legged and freewheeling Marty McFly on a Doglorean was spotted cruising the premises.
All photos by Chona Kasinger for the Village Voice.
Hundreds of Dog owners and their pups of all sizes, colors and varieties attend the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on Sunday, October 24. Billed as the largest single dog costume parade in the world, the parade and costume contest allowed people, pups, and Tompkins Square Park regulars to mix during the early afternoon.
This company’s dog treats won’t get your dog high, but they will medicate it.
With a name reminiscent of “edibles,” Treatibles, based in Oakland, California, specializes in hemp-derived products infused with CBD, or cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive, medicinal cannabinoid, or active chemical compound, found in cannabis. And a pet store in Williamsburg, PS9 Pet Supplies (voted Best Pet Store by the Voice in 2014) is the first retailer in the state to carry the crunchy, pumpkin-flavored dog treats.
It took about a month for Joan Christian, the owner of PS9 Pet Supplies, to get a license to sell Treatibles — any nutritional pet treat needs to go through the proper channels, she says, but even more so with the CBD treats. “It is a political issue, people aren’t sure what cannabinoids are. I had to prove that the treats don’t contain any THC at all,” says Christian. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Christian’s dog Minnie had been on Prozac for years to treat her anxiety. The dog was skittish and would lunge whenever she perceived a threat, but Christian was cautious about keeping her on Prozac and, before she even learned about Treatibles, weaned Minnie off because it can cause liver damage. “For me, to get animals off the pharmaceuticals is so nice. That can limit a dog’s life span.”
Treatibles began as an offshoot to its sister company Auntie Dolores Kitchen, which hand-makes gourmet cannabis edibles in San Francisco. About two years ago, customers started requesting products for their pets, says Marjorie Fischer, the director of Treatibles.
“We realized we could make something without THC, and provide animals all the beneficial cannabinoids without getting high,” she says.
The cannabis plant contains over 421 cannabinoids — the chemical compounds that act on the endocannabinoid system, including the cannabinoid receptor cells in the brain. All animals except insects have an endocannabinoid system that helps regulate the body’s homeostatic functions (for example temperature regulation, or the pH balance between acidity and alkalinity). Unlike THC, CBD is an antioxidant and neuroprotectant without any psychoactive properties.
Fischer is careful to distinguish that the ingredients in Treatibles are derived from hemp. While both hemp and marijuana come from the Cannabis sativa plant, hemp contains only .3 percent to 1.5 percent THC. (Marijuana contains 5 percent to 10 percent or more THC.) While in most cases growing hemp in the United States is Federally illegal, hemp products — including those rich in CBD — are legal.
CBD is useful in reducing pain, inflammation, anxiety, psychosis, spasms, seizures, and mediating the effects of chemotherapy — in humans, and in animals. The documentary Weed, by CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, helped popularize the use of CBD to alleviate epileptic seizures, and GW Pharmaceuticals are developing Epidiolex with CBD in it to treat children with epilepsy.
Many vets are now researching and using CBD for animals. Dr. Jonathan Block of the Worth Street Veterinary Center in Manhattan, sometimes recommends Treatibles to his patients and orders them to his office. Another vet at the University of Pennsylvania is doing trials on CBD, and several vets in California recommend Treatibles to their patients.
Jillian Conigliaro, a school teacher from Staten Island, began using Treatibles for her 14-year-old dog, Chloe, with cancer, after Dr. Block recommended them. Now she says Chloe has more energy in the wake of her oral chemotherapy routine. “I do attribute a lot of that to her being on Treatibles. She’s still really old, but she looks pretty amazing for a 14-year-old dog with a terminal illness,” says Conigliaro, “She’s enjoying life. She sits in my Jeep and sticks her head out the window.”
While CBD can be medicinal, Kyle DeMedio, patient support director at the cannabis extract company Constance Therapeutics, says the “CBD craze” can be problematic for humans and for dogs.
“It’s very easy to sell something that doesn’t have psychoactive effects,” says DeMedio. “But isolated CBD is nowhere near as potentially therapeutic as whole plant cannabinoids.”
There’s a common misconception that CBD is therapeutic, while THC is only psychoactive, he says. “But from our experience with serious diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, and chronic pain, you can’t get the same result from CBD as with the whole plant.”
Fischer says Treatibles doesn’t make any claims, but that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Still CBD for animals is not as prevalent as it could be or will be, says Fischer. “Cannabinoids, and CBD in particular are not something that everybody understands or has as much experience with,” Fischer says.
“I think the public is still getting used to the idea of what these cannabinoids are and being able to distinguish the difference between them. A lot of education is involved.”
When the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced its partnership with the New York Police Department in January of 2014, locals were, understandably, skeptical.
A year into the experiment, the Voice checked in with the ASPCA to find out how things are going.
Not bad, as it turns out.
In 2013 the ASPCA’s humane-law-enforcement officers made 42 arrests and treated 133 animals.
Last year, with the weight of the NYPD behind it, the animal-welfare group recorded 134 arrests and tended to 422 animals.
“Now, instead of 17 humane-law-enforcement officers, in effect there are over 30,000 uniformed NYPD officers with eyes and ears responding to animal-cruelty calls in the city,” Howard Lawrence, senior director of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group, tells the Voice. Lawrence, himself a former member of the NYPD, says the alliance solved the ASPCA’s problem with capacity, as its officers simply could not cover the same ground as the NYPD.
In August 2013, then–ASPCA spokesman Bret Hopman told the New York Times that in a typical year, the agency investigated about 4,000 complaints of animal cruelty and averaged 50 to 60 arrests in New York. National ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker told the Times the agency was “not getting to cases for days or weeks.”
Lawrence tells the Voice that the NYPD had frequently partnered with the ASPCA in the past. But expanding the size and scope of the operations, he says, required “significant planning and discussion.”
In September 2013, the ASPCA launched a four-month pilot phase of the partnership. Lawrence says the test run was a “huge success” — the NYPD responded to more than 800 animal-related emergency calls and made eight arrests, while ASPCA veterinarians treated more than 30 animals in those cases — so it was decided that the NYPD would henceforth take the lead in answering animal-cruelty complaints.
Lawrence says the project is expanding. Earlier this year the ASPCA began training more than 200 law-enforcement personnel at the Police Academy in College Point. Participants range from detectives to precinct special-operations lieutenants.
Recent successes include the rescue of a six-month-old puppy that was beaten with a shovel and buried in the snow on January 30. Police officers arrested alleged perpetrator Raul Cruz and charged the 43-year-old with aggravated cruelty to animals, torturing and injuring animals, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.
Another notable case: the January 22 discovery of a malnourished three-year-old male pit bull mix in a zipped suitcase. A passerby notified two patrol officers about the bag, which was sitting outside the Melrose public housing project in the South Bronx. The dog had been “deprived of food and water, then discarded on a city curb as if it were garbage,” Bershadker stated in a press release. The agency has offered a $20,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
Days after its call for news regarding the starved Bronx pup, the ASPCA disclosed its effort to create a data-tracking system to trail animal abuse in the city, with the goal of helping the NYPD find “animal-cruelty hot spots” and “citywide animal-abuse patterns.”
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, according to its website, “predates the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, and the zipper; the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Washington Monument; and manned air flights and the establishment of the World Series…The dog show has survived power outages, snowstorms, a national depression, two World Wars and a tugboat strike that threatened to shut down the city.”
That’s not a brief history, it’s a show of strength. It’s the Kennel Club’s way of saying: dogs, your resistance is futile. We will outlast you.
But dogs can’t read websites, so they don’t understand. They just look at you with those pleading eyes, silently crying out for help. “Sarah McLachlan?” they ask. “Is that you?”
“Go! Now! Go! Run! Can’t you see, Scout? This is your chance!”
If you find yourself tiring of watching poll results trickle in, here’s a worthy distraction: Animal Planet will premiere a one-hour documentary on 9/11 K-9 Disaster Relief units. Hero Dogs of 9/11 goes on tonight at 8 p.m. The special will tell the story of handler Frank Shane, a man with 30 years’ experience handling working dogs, and his canine partner Nikie, the only dog permitted on the 16-acre Ground Zero site after the towers came down.
But more than that, the story is about the role dogs had in caring for the living left in the wake of catastrope. Nikie was not a search-and-rescue animal; he was there to help the responders.
“He was the live teddy bear that would get people to come over and help me help them,” Shane tells Runnin’ Scared. “Nikie became part of the fabric. People accepted me and my work without me having to say what that work was,” citing his expertise in traumatic stress.
Shane and Nikie’s work birthed the K-9 Disaster Relief foundation, a New Jersey-based non-profit that provides working dogs and handlers to scenes of distasters. “K-9 Disaster Relief was formed in 2001 because we just needed a structure to work under that identified what we were doing,” says Shane.
Since then, the organization has grown to provide a wide range of disaster relief services, including doing more on-site intervention.
One of their latest deployments was to Newtown, Connecticut, to provide comfort to the children who survived the shooting rampage. Shane brought along Chance. It was his first mission.
Prospect Park has not been a very good place to take your dog lately, at least if you’d rather bring it home un-stabbed. That may have changed yesterday with the arrest of 42-year-old Flatbush resident Donnell Barden, the man accused of terrorizing other dog owners, using his pit bull to attack their pets before joining in himself. He reportedly used a metal cane to beat a number of dogs, and even stabbed one with what witnesses described as ice pick. In one instance, the Daily News reports, he could be heard shouting, “Eat it! Eat it!” as his dog attacked. Just in case you needed fodder for your nightmares.
The arrest comes after weeks (at least) of attacks, and what appears to have been a pretty minimal police response; one commenter on Brooklynian reported having a run-in with the man years ago, saying that when he encountered the man-dog duo, the guy started waving his cane and shouting, “We’re going to fuck you up!” Another commenter who’d had a run-in with him more recently called him “mentally off and very angry and aggressive at all times.”
Finally, a group calling themselves Prospect Park Dog Friends printed up flyers to warn other dog owners, calling the pair “a danger to all in the park.” The flyers warned that the man would often inquire whether someone’s dog was male or female before “actively encourag[ing]” his dog to attack, then joining in himself.
Barden was arrested late yesterday near the southwestern corner of the park. As the Daily News reports, it’s far from his first rodeo: He served seven years in prison for attempted murder after shooting a gun “in the direction of” a police officer. The cop had been trying to have word with Barden after the man’s former boss reported that he’d tied him up, put tape over his mouth and stolen his credit cards.
Barden was released in May 2010. This time, he’s facing charges of aggravated animal cruelty, menacing, and criminal possession of a weapon. He’s probably also learned that once the locals start printing up flyers point you out as a weapon-carrying, dog-beating maniac, it’s time to find another park.