Friday, October 17, 2008

Dogfighters Walk Free, But Dogs Destroyed

Thanks to some barbaric animal control laws in Louisiana this father and son dog fighting duo walks away as free men while the dogs they victimized by forcing them to fight have already been judged and executed.

From the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, LA:

Two acquitted of dogfighting
Father, son had faced 48 counts

Shay Randle • • October 16, 2008

A 15th District Court judge acquitted two men of 48 counts of dogfighting on Wednesday.

The judge said a state prosecutor failed to provide substantial evidence of their involvement in the illegal sport.

Floyd Boudreaux, 74, and his son Guy Boudreaux, 44, were on trial for three days for the charges after being arrested more than three years ago.

The men faced the charges after an investigation led Louisiana State Police officers on March 11, 2005, to seize 57 pit bulls the officers believed were being used for illegal dogfighting. The dogs were seized from the men's Youngsville home.

Dogfighting has been illegal since 1982.

Investigators also seized and photographed items prosecutor Ronald Dauterive referred to as items associated with the training of dogs for dog fighting.

Those included home videos, dogfighting magazines, treadmills, break sticks and steroids, among other items.

During the seizure, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took custody of the animals and euthanized them the next day.

This left the defendants' attorney, Jason Robideaux, questioning why further investigation of the animals was not conducted before they were killed.

On Wednesday, prosecution witness Kathyrn Destreza with SPCA could not answer who gave direct orders to kill the dogs before the lead investigator and witness trooper Jacob Dickinson was notified.

The trial began Monday afternoon after the defendants waived their rights to a jury and opted for a judge to make a decision on the case.

The case began to unravel for Dauterive on Wednesday after Robideaux was granted the motion to exclude the prosecution's expert witness from the case.

Kathy Strouse, a superintendent for the Chesapeake Animal Control Unit in Virginia, was brought in as an expert witness by the United States Humane Society. She was involved in the dogfighting prosecution of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge in August 2007.

Strouse also testified that she helped investigate and testify against another Virginia man who was convicted of dogfighting charges.

The 15th Judicial District Court Judge Kristian Earls agreed with Robideaux's argument that Strouse's experience was not adequate, as this would have been the first time she was an expert witness in a case she had not helped investigate.

She was also not considered an expert because she had not established herself as an expert through written works.

Earlier in the trial, Dauterive brought forth veterinarian Wendy Wolfson, who reviewed her evaluation of the dogs at the scene during the seizure.

She testified that many of them had scar tissue and scars on the front of their bodies, which usually results from dogfighting.

But this, Robideaux argued, is all the prosecution had that stood as evidence that dogfighting may have taken place among the dogs.

Break sticks, which are used to pry open a pit bull's mouth, were used as evidence against the defendants.

But the sticks had no visible bite marks.

Home videos showed dog training and some dogfighting, but never showed either defendant as taking part of the activities.

"The only evidence the state has is scars," Robideaux said adding that the veterinarian was not able to date the scars or verify who had custody of the dogs before the defendants.

Dauterive said that although no single piece of evidence conclusively pointed to the Boudreauxs engaging in dogfighting, the "cumulative nature of the evidence" demonstrated that the illegal sport was being done.

But Earls agreed that the evidence was not enough.

"I'm not firmly convinced," he said.

The Boudreaux family and friends were overcome with emotion as they hugged and cried after the judge gave his ruling.

Guy Boudreaux, a single parent, said he is relieved that he can finally go back to raising his son after "3 1/2 years of having to worry" about his future.

His father was just as pleased with the news.

"I feel great in the justice system," Floyd Bordeaux said. "I thank the judge and my super lawyer."

Prosecutor Ronald Dauterive refused to comment on the court's decision.

BAD RAP's Donna Reynolds pointed out on the BAD RAP Blog:

We'll let Floyd's Maker sort out his life choices, but we can't let this go without highlighting the archaic Louisiana State Animal Law that gave investigators the green light to destroy nearly 50 dogs within 3 days of Boudreaux's arrest ---and all for naught.

(2) The legislature finds and declares that fighting dogs used or employed in violation of R.S. 14:102.5 are dangerous, vicious, and a threat to the health and safety of the public. Therefore, fighting dogs seized in accordance with this Section are declared to be contraband and, notwithstanding R.S. 14:102.1, officer may cause them to be humanely euthanized as soon as possible by a licensed veterinarian or a qualified technician and shall not be civilly or criminally liable for so doing. Fighting dogs not destroyed immediately shall be disposed of in accordance with R.S. 14:102.2. - LA State Animal Law

When we first learned of Floyd's arrest, we got on the phone to plead for the lives of his dogs, but they were already dead. The news was personally devastating to many of us - Not only were the dogs lost, they were branded as killers, and without any evidence or trial. That case subsequently lead to our fire to help the Vick dogs, before they fell to the same ugly fate.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pit Bulls Betrayed by Houston SPCA

This recent report in the Houston Press revealed an ugly, unthinkable attitude taken by the Houston SPCA.

Pit Bull Laundering By The Houston SPCA

Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 05:04:53 PM

The Houston SPCA, in the form of Meera Nandlal, who’s in charge of public relations, got back to us finally today and made it clear there has absolutely been no change in policy by the SPCA about adopting out pit bulls.

The Houston SPCA, as we've noted, makes a big point of saying they do not adopt out pit bulls because they consider them unsafe.

Asked about the apparent change in policy -- why the SPCA didn’t kill the dozen pit bulls it picked up on Galveston Island after Hurricane Ike but instead handed them over to other rescue organizations -- Nandlal replied forcefully: “Explain to me how that’s an adoption!”

Complaining she was having trouble understanding my questions, Nandlal put me on speaker phone. Asked for the name of anyone else listening in – especially the person who she said would answer my questions – Nandlal replied: “Why do you need to know that?”

Eventually she relented and identified Ana Perez, the SPCA employee who worked with the rescue groups to facilitate the transfer of the pit bulls. (Actually, Perez was the first person we called today before we were bounced to two other people).

Perez seemed to understand my questions. “We do not adopt out pit bulls.” OK then, what did you do? “We asked our adoption partners to help out.” She said the dogs were “”behaviorally sound” and healthy.

Do you normally do this in cases with pit bulls? Send them out to other rescue groups?


Why this time?

“The circumstances with Hurricane Ike, we felt all the animals should get a chance.”

So we can all rest easy. The Houston SPCA will not adopt out pit bulls ever and it didn’t this time either. Because of Hurricane Ike and maybe the bad publicity that might come with killing perfectly healthy dogs that the humanitarian SPCA had just rescued (film at 10), this lucky dozen got spared. But make no mistake, it will probably never happen again (and they didn’t do it this time either!).

Margaret Downing

BAD RAP's Donna Reynolds had some interesting thoughts on this subject on the BAD RAP blog site.

It is beyond disappointing to learn that an authority like the Houston SPCA practices such breed prejudice.

Please keep in mind that all SPCA branches operate independently from each other. The Houston SPCA's backwards position about Pit Bulls do not in any way, shape, or form reflect on any other SPCA branch.

In spite of the good work they did during the Hurricane Ike disaster, their practice of breed prejudice have proven them unworthy of any support.

Dog dies after saving man in Trinidad from fire

from today's AP Wire:

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) — A man whose dog rescued him from a house fire in Trinidad said the animal died after running back into the burning building. Trinidad & Tobago Express newspaper quoted Anderson Marcano as saying that he woke up because the dog kept barking and tugging at his pants. Marcano said he smelled the smoke and was shocked to find his house on fire.

The story published Friday did not say why the dog ran back in. Marcano said no one else was inside the house at the time.

Marcano did not immediately return a call for comment.

He said firefighters on Wednesday found the body of his dog, "Rebel," as well as the remains of the family's pet parrot.

Let's hope Rebel is given the honors he's earned.

"Marley & Me" Coming This Christmas

"Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog" by John Grogan was a best-seller when it was released in 2005. The true-life story of John & Jenny Grogan's trials and tribulations with their Yellow Lab Marley was filled with many laugh out loud moments and tears as well. "Marley & Me" has been made into a major motion picture starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. It will be released on Christmas Day. A short trailer can now be seen on the film's official website.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Oakland dog receives honor as a hero


Dog that saved owner honored for courage

Henry K. Lee

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Buffy, the German shepherd who was shot and killed after fending off a gunman robbing her owner in East Oakland, has been posthumously named Valor Dog of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States.

Buffy was chosen to receive the highest honor in the companion dog category of the Dogs of Valor Awards "because of the extraordinary courage she exhibited when she intervened during a robbery to save her owner's life," the Humane Society said.

On Jan. 10, 2007, a gunman robbed Will Bartley of $400 and credit cards at his home.

That's when Buffy ran from the yard and jumped onto the gunman, who fired two shots. One shot hit the dog in her left forelimb.

The 7-year-old dog had a previously undiagnosed kidney problem that was exacerbated by the loss of blood after she was shot. Doctors at Bay Area Veterinary Specialists in San Leandro managed to save her leg.

Buffy eventually went home but had to return to the hospital twice because of complications. She grew weak and stopped eating. Buffy was euthanized Feb. 15, 2007.

The robber was never caught.

"We still love and miss Buffy dearly, but this award and the countless cards and letters of sympathy we have received have gone a long way to help us heal," Bartley said in a statement.

Woman shoots dog claiming couldn't afford vet

This tale of unbelievable irresponsibility come to us from

Dog shot, owner says she couldn't pay for vet

Oct 7, 2008


GREELEY, Colo. (Map, News) - A Greeley woman faces animal cruelty charges after she killed her sick dog by shooting it several times because she says she couldn't afford to euthanize it.

Police say 33-year-old Paula Harding was crying Sunday when police arrived at her house, saying she'd shot the dog because she "couldn't deal with it anymore."

Police say Harding first tried to kill the 15-year-old terrier/poodle mix by giving it as many as five anti-anxiety pills Saturday. Harding allegedly gave the dog more pills the next day but later shot it four times with a .22-caliber handgun because the medication didn't kill it.

Harding is free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Harding called the dog "a good friend" but says financial problems prevented her from affording a veterinarian.

OK, first of all, one of the first basic rules about being a dog owner is that if you cannot afford to pay a vet then you shouldn't own a dog in the first place. Second, if your dog needs veterinary care that you cannot afford, you can always surrender it to the local SPCA or Humane Society. And finally, if you have no other choice your vet can have your dog HUMANELY euthanized. According to the Greeley Tribune her local SPCA could have done it for $35.

BSL battle brewing in Mississipi community

from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, MS:

Ridgeland postpones vote on dog ban
Aldermen may revise ordinance that would forbid certain breeds

Leah Square • October 8, 2008

RIDGELAND — City leaders had planned to vote Tuesday on a proposal banning certain dog breeds in the city but postponed the vote to gather more information and, possibly, soften the proposal.

The mayor and Board of Aldermen announced Monday they were considering amending the city's animal control ordinance to ban American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Rottweilers. Also named were dogs whose mothers or fathers are one of those breeds, dogs resembling one of the named breeds and dogs deemed "vicious" by a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge.

City leaders Tuesday decided to table the measure after being inundated with phone calls and e-mails regarding the proposed ban. Several residents showed up for the board meeting Tuesday intending to voice concerns.

"It's a very emotional issue on both sides," Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee said.

McGee said the city may tweak its original proposal and revisit the issue at its next board meetings Oct. 20-21.

"We'll try to come up with something that does not penalize responsible animal owners and deal with those that are not responsible."

A breed-specific ban, however, is not off the table, McGee said.

The breed ban discussion comes after months of feuding between Pete and Gloria Grantham of 615 Ralde Circle and their next-door neighbor, April Scott, over the Granthams' pit bulls and Rottweiler.

Aldermen appear to be split on the possibility of an amendment that singles out certain breeds.

Gerald Steen, the alderman most vocally for a breed ban, said Tuesday he is willing to consider alternatives.

"We have a challenge in front of us. I am very open-minded to look and listen."

Alderman Scott Jones is against a breed ban and suggested instead amending the animal control ordinance to obligate owners of certain breeds to take "extra steps" in order to keep their dogs.

Jones also said he is unsure if citywide breed bans have been successful and would like to look further into those statistics before making a "knee-jerk" decision.

Clinton does not allow pit bulls or Rottweilers. Madison city leaders last month began talk of a pit bull ban.

Pete and Gloria Grantham, who own pit bulls and a Rottweiler, showed up at the board meeting Tuesday to protest the proposed ban and said they were upset the city didn't call a public hearing to allow residents to comment.

"If they're going to ban anything citywide, they need to have a public (hearing)," Pete Grantham said. "That's only right."

The Granthams have been involved in a heated battle with Scott over their dogs for months. Scott, the mother of two young girls, has said the couple's dogs are a danger and a nuisance - a claim the Granthams dispute.

All attempts at a private compromise on the dogs between the neighbors, as suggested by a Ridgeland Municipal Court judge, have been unsuccessful.

The parties are due to make a third appearance in court over the issue Monday.

Ridgeland aldermen voted unanimously last month to revoke a permit they had granted the Granthams in May that allowed them to keep six dogs on their property despite a city ordinance limiting households to three.

The Granthams at one time owned four pit bulls, a Rottweiler and a Jack Russell terrier. The couple now keeps two pit bulls and the Rottweiler on their property.

It's unfortunate that, once again, it's the bully breeds that get bullied because of the inability of human beings to get along with one another. Let's hope Alderman Jones stands his ground.

Halloween safety considerations for dog owners


Halloween Can Be a Scary Holiday ... for Pets

Last update: 5:08 a.m. EDT Oct. 9, 2008
SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct 09, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Ghosts and goblins walk the streets, approaching homes collecting treats. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cautions people about keeping their pets safe and preventing dog bite injuries this Halloween.

While some dogs may understand that costumes and excited children are all part of the holiday fun, many dogs are fearful of common Halloween activities. This creates an increased potential for dog bites.

"Dogs believe they are the guardians of their homes, and they can feel threatened if a stranger enters their space," explains Dr. James O. Cook, president of the AVMA. "If your dog is apprehensive in these situations, you need to be sensitive to that and make preparations before Halloween to keep your dog -- and all the little neighborhood ghosts and goblins-safe."

Dr. Cook explains that costumes can be very confusing for dogs and this can cause them to react in ways that they might not otherwise. For example, some dogs will bark in alarm or show signs of aggression even when an owner or friend puts on a mask or costume.

"What's important is that you be responsive to your dog and prepare ahead of time for the holiday," he says. "If your dog gets nervous when the doorbell rings, put the dog in a place where it will feel safe. This could be inside a crate with a favorite toy or treat, or inside a familiar room with the door closed. This will make the dog feel safer and calmer."

"If your dog appears to be excessively stressed, look to your veterinarian for help," Dr. Cook adds.
Dog bite injuries and stress are not the only hazards for dogs and their owners on Halloween; candy is another common Halloween problem. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and so is xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many chewing gums. Make sure you store Halloween candy where your dog cannot reach it, because most pets will eat it if given the opportunity.

"Children tend to want to share their treats with their pets, and the dog is all too happy to oblige," Dr. Cook explains. "Warn your children beforehand that table scraps are unhealthy for pets, and that candy can be deadly."

For more information, visit
SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association

Monday, October 6, 2008

Did You Know?

Did you know that your local SPCA or Humane Society is not financially supported from any national SPCA or Humane Society organization?

The ASPCA has commercials and advertising that reaches out on a nationwide scale, but they are not a parent organization to any local SPCA. Any donation you make to the ASPCA will not 'trickle down' to any other branch. The ASPCA, in fact, is the Manhattan branch of the SPCA.

This is not to say, or even imply, that they have been deceptive in any way. This is not to say that it is not a bad decision to donate to them. Quite the opposite, they provide law enforcement to animal-related issues in Manhattan as seen on Animal Planet's "Animal Precinct". Their Mission: Orange campaign reaches out to cities on both coasts. They offer pet insurance that is available nationally. They have provided valuable assistance in natural disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Ike and were asked to provide expert assistance in the Michael Vick case. Indeed, they are an admirable organization worthy of supporting. Just understand that they are not tied in to your local SPCA in any way.

By the same token the Humane Society of the United States does not provide support for any local humane society. In fact, the HSUS does not own or operate ANY shelter.

If you wish to help your local animal shelter please give to them directly. Most rely solely on public donations.

October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month

This month is national adopt-a-shelter-dog month and this year it just so happens to coincide with the release of Disney's "Beverly Hills Chihuahua". If you know of someone or are yourself considering adopting a chihuahua, or any dog for that matter, please keep a few things in mind.

First, of course, always make a shelter dog your first consideration. In any given area there are literally hundreds of dogs available for adoption at shelters or in foster homes that may otherwise face euthanizing. Most organizations will make sure the dog has been spayed or neutered and in relatively good health before taking it home. Most local SPCAs and Humane Societies that offer dog training courses will give a discount for a shelter dog.

Second, do your homework before you adopt. Read, read, read about what keeping a dog involves. Contact local veterinarians and find one you like. Find out if they take insurance. Pet insurance is available! Compare insurers, their different plans, and their costs and deductibles. You will, no doubt, want to let your dog off leash once in a while. Find out where to dog parks are in your area. They're great places to network with other dog owners.

Third, figure out how a new dog would fit into your life. Can you afford the food, supplies, medicines, and veterinary costs? Would your neighbors complain? Who looks after the dog while you're at work? Who looks after the dog while you're on vacation? Are you able to put in the time to walk and spend time with the dog? These are all things to consider.

Finally, research the breed you want to adopt. Understand that while all dogs are dogs every breed has characteristics that cannot be ignored. Chihuahuas in particular tend to be high strung and tend to attach themselves to one person and will aggressively defend that person. Chihuahuas can be biters and are usually not a good choice for households with small children. Another dog that should be heavily researched and carefully considered are Jack Russell terriers. Jacks are very intelligent and thrive in an environment where they receive lots of mental stimulation. Conversely, they can be easily bored and become destructive when mental stimulation is lacking. Those are just two examples.

Above all, remember that good dog owners are responsible owners. Adopting a puppy means a 13 to 15 year commitment. This is not a decision that should never be taken lightly.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

♥ In the Shelter of your Heart ♥: Thank You

Last month we told you about a fundraiser that was set up in the name of abused dog named Charlie. We are very happy to report that fundraising targets were not just met, but exceeded!
Thanks to all the donors, and a special thanks to author Nola Kelsey who generously donated advance copies of her upcoming book, "Dogs: Funny Side Up", due to be released October 15.
Please read on:
♥ In the Shelter of your Heart ♥: Thank You

Obama Will Adopt Shelter Dog

It has been reported that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is currently petless but the Obama family plans to remedy that condition after Election Day. Spurred on with the help of a petition of 50,000 signatures Michelle Obama has recently declared that the family will adopt from a rescue shelter. reports:

Senator Barack Obama To Adopt Rescued Animal From Shelter
Potential "First Dog" in a rags-to-riches story...
Filed under: animals — parrish @ 11:05 am

While Sarah Palin chooses to spend her free time shooting animals from helicopters and trying to manipulate the endangered species list, Senator Barack Obama is out and about rescuing animals from shelters.

Earlier this year, rumors began circulating that the Obamas were planning to add a doggy addition to their family. Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, quickly penned a letter to Barack saying: “Senator, no one needs to tell you that this country is proud to be a melting pot and that there is something deeply wrong and elitist about wanting only a purebred dog. Millions of Great American Mutts—the dog that should be our national dog—are set to die in our nation’s extremely overcrowded pounds and shelters for lack of good homes. When you are ready, please adopt a homeless pound puppy—a grateful refugee from a society that has not always treated the true “underdog” kindly—rather than cater to special interests who do not have dogs’ interests at heart.”

Well it looks like the Obama family listened to PETA!! Michelle Obama announced yesterday on Entertainment Tonight that her family was indeed planning to “adopt a rescue dog,” and we couldn’t be happier about it! It’s no surprise that Obama is making the responsible decision here...

The Best Friends Animal Society have stepped forward to offer their assistance. Best Friends operates the country's largest facility for homeless animals, including "Dogtown". "Dogtown" is the famous canine arm of Best Friends that are best known for their weekly show on the National Geographic Channel, and for being host for some of the Vick dogs.

It should be noted that although the article implies it was PETA that was responsible for swaying the Obamas' decision there is no reason to believe that is the case as it also failed to mention the efforts of, a site run by the Best Friends Animal Society.

Republican candidate John McCain reportedly owns four himself, although it is not known if any are shelter dogs.

Meet Faith, One Incredible Dog

If you haven't yet seen her on Oprah or Animal Planet, Faith is one of the most amazing dogs you'll have ever seen. She was born with only two good legs, her rear ones. What she has done in learning to adapt has got to be seen to be believed.

Faith has her own website. Hopefully, we'll be seeing and hearing more from her soon.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Coast Guard bids sad farewell to dog hero

A touching story from the Contra Costa Times:

By Lucinda Ryan
Article Launched: 10/02/2008 05:43:58 PM PDT

The yellow Labrador, outfitted in a badged U.S. Coast Guard vest, stood smiling that friendly lab smile at his retirement ceremony Thursday.

The picnic table in the park area at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, was set with the usual outdoor party fare of hot dogs and chips and soft drinks, but most of the roughly 100 people weren't snacking.

Hawk, his front leg occasionally involuntarily folding inward, remained happily near his steady companion and handler, Boatswain's Mate 2 Sandor Csitar, who, by the end of the ceremony, was unable to speak when the moment came to make his address.

By then, the words and memorial gifts from his Coast Guard peers, Alameda and Oakland police departments and other law enforcement agencies had moved Csitar to tears. He beckoned to Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Greg Thomas, who stepped to Csitar's side, patted his shoulder, and said a few words for him.

"Words can't express our loss, or our joy," Thomas said.

At age 6, Hawk is retiring from his service as an explosives-search dog. Such occasions are not always so emotional, but Hawk has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and this day of honor came one day before he would be euthanized at Travis Air Force Base, before his quality of life further diminished.

The gentle dog has in his four-year career found fireworks, submachine guns, handguns, live artillery and narcotics. He has searched baggage, freight, aircraft, piers, people and buildings to protect former presidents and foreign dignitaries. He took a trip to New Orleans where he searched through facilities.

Hawk first met Csitar in 2004 after being trained in search and rescue. His trainer donated him to the Customs and Border Protection training center in 2003. The two trained together for four months and Hawk officially went to work with Csitar on Dec. 23, 2004.

Csitar said of the many memories of working with Hawk among the best were when he worked with other law enforcement agencies, such as Alameda, Oakland and Berkeley police and the county sheriff's office. Besides the benefit of learning more ways to handle service dogs, it was the camaraderie, he said, gesturing toward several attending officers from those police departments.

Before the addresses began on the lawn, Csitar looked down as someone kneeled and petted Hawk, who gladly accepted the stranger's touch.

"He has no problem being gentle," Csitar said. "He's got nothing but gentle."

Csitar's 10-year-old stepson, Steel Jones, came up to stroke Hawk, who clearly was enjoying the visits from family and strangers.

Speaking of Hawk after the ceremony, Thomas said, "He literally worked himself to death for us."

Coast Guard Chief Clifford Fuller recalled his first meeting with Hawk.

"Three years ago when I first reported to Alameda for duty and saw the Canine Team was under my supervision, Sandor introduced me to Hawk, and Hawk (got up on his hind legs) and shed all over me," Fuller said. "I didn't know there was fur on my uniform and when I went to the CEO's office later, he said. 'I didn't know we had mohair uniforms.'"

"If someone decided to have a good Samaritan hanging around, they put him in the right place at the right time. He's one of those people who always helps out, whether it has anything to do with the Coast Guard or not," Fuller said of Csitar.

Hawk was awarded a citation of outstanding achievement for his work. After noting the details of his service, the document notes his presence after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"As a direct result of his positive attitude and unfailing spirit, his role as a canine was invaluable providing much needed stress relief and positive reinforcement to rescue workers, displaced families and distraught children in the area," the citation says.

After the speeches and awards, Hawk quietly lay on the grass, again enjoying the company of his young friend Steel.