According to an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, ‘kill’ rates plummeted this year at County Animal Care facilities, and are approaching a decade low. “Los Angeles Animal Services was on track to have put down 4,00 fewer cats and dogs in the fiscal year that ended June 30 compare to the previous year, with final numbers due out next week. “The city is poised for its best year of reducing shelter deaths and increasing the live-save rate since the city established it no-kill goal a decade ago,” said LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette in a statement. “I believe this success belongs to all pet loving Angelenos.” That means groups like No Kill L.A. and their supporters like Kristen Bauer Von Straten who plays fetching, feisty vampire ‘Pam’ on HBO’s True Blood and stars in the latest NKLA ad.

Kristen Bauer Von Straten as ‘Pam’ on HBO’s True Blood

Finally, if you’re a member of the ‘dogs are great but people stink’ club, it might be time to rethink your misanthropy in light of a story by L.A. Times reporter Bob Pool about Martha Aguel, a homeless woman with two dogs, who rescued a North Hollywood man’s lsot beagle and then declined a reward, saying she was just “glad he had his dog back”. With help from the grateful dog owner, County officials are trying to get Martha and her two dogs, Chino & Nina, permanent shelter.


A few days ago 29-year-old Alex Jackson was arrested and charged with murder in the death of Pamela Devitt, 63, the Lancaster, CA woman who was fatally mauled by a pack of Jackson’s dogs with a history of previous attacks. Despite his wife death, Devitt’s husband, didn’t blame the dogs involved, or demonize the breed. Her husband told KCAL-TV he blamed the dogs’ owner for what happened. “I do not blame the dogs. I don’t blame pit bulls,” Ben Devitt said. “I blame people who don’t take responsibility for their animals.” For more details, check out the Huffington Post report.

When I wrote about our last book signing at Bank of Books a few weeks back, I forgot to thank some of the friends who stopped by to show an share some love. Since it’s better late than never, a big ‘Thanks’ to – David & Terry, Annette & Jasmine, Carl, Robert, Zari, Margaret & Ryan, Karen, Gary & Eleanor, Jake and Melissa. Eugenie, Tanner I I really appreciate your support. 

Dexter & Tanner: Pitbulls are inherently dangerous. Really?

If you are looking to keep your dog healthy, happy and under control, consider dispensing with that retractable lead and using something that offers more control and safety. In an article in Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s online newsletter, Jon Bastian writes:There are three big issues with retractable leads, the first of which is safety. Since they can effectively allow your dog to run for twenty or more feet before the end of the line, they allow your dog to build up a lot of speed. Remember “force equals mass times acceleration” from high school physics? Well, give even a small dog a twenty foot head start, and they can build up enough speed to pull you off your feet, break the lead, or yank the handle right out of your hand. That last situation can be particularly disastrous, since the handle will then retract on the lead, and the sound and motion of that big hunk of plastic suddenly whizzing up from behind can make your dog think something is chasing it, inspiring it to run faster and farther. 
There’s also that twenty feet of line between you and your dog, which can be nearly invisible under the right circumstances. Your dog can get tangled in it, or tangle you or another person in it. Even the website for a prominent manufacturer of retractable leads warns of multiple possible injuries, including cuts or burns from the line, falls, eye and facial injuries, and even broken bones or loss of fingers. You wouldn’t let your dog run free in the middle of the street, but very long leads can allow exactly this to happen. Dogs on retractable leads can and have run into traffic and been killed by cars. Beyond safety issues, retractable leads just teach your dog the wrong thing: That pulling on the lead will get them what they want — in this case, the freedom to run all over the place. When they stop pulling, the lead pulls back, so the desire to pull and run away is constantly reinforced. Finally, retractable leads may be illegal in your area. For example, the leash law in the city of Los Angeles reads, “Every person owning or having charge, care, custody or control of any dog shall keep such dog exclusively upon his own premises provided, however, that such dog may be off such premises if it be under the control of a competent person and restrained by a substantial chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length [emphasis added].” The same is true for leash laws in Los Angeles County, and may be similar in your jurisdiction. Aside from endangering a dog’s safety, many users of retractable leads may not even know that they’re breaking the law.                                                                    


Some scientific types say that dogs and other animals don’t experience human emotions. Well…when Kona, Tanner’s ‘girlfriend’ saw the Malibu Surfside News story she gushed with pride and flopped down on the paper (the picture wasn’t posed). and growled a warning to any doggie sirens looking to poach her boy, telling them ‘back off, or else’.

Tanner’s girlfriend, Kona, checking out the Surfside News

Speaking of animals and whether they can feel like we do, if you’re interested in where the current research is pointing, take a look at ‘The Mystery of Animal Grief‘ by Jeffrey Kluger, Time Magazine, April 15, 2013.


After a bizarrely hot summer, things were just getting back to normal in our house when Tanner, and his 2-legged daddy, were thrown another curve.  Back in August I had undergone outpatient surgery.  The procedure was minor but the bill, as anyone who’s been there knows, wasn’t quite so trivial.  Having covered my insurance deductible, I decided to see a specialist about my achy left hip.  I knew there was some wear and tear (thirty years of marital arts will do that) but I was stunned to learn that the cartilage was gone, leaving me with bone on bone.  Since the condition and pain would only worsen, Eugenie and I decided I should have it fixed asap.

On October 4th, we drove to St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, where Dr. Andrew Yun and his team worked their magic performing a minimally invasive surgery that left me with a matched set of bionic joints (the right hip was replaced in 2006).  A mere thirty hours later, I was back home in bed.  While I could stand, shuffle a bit and even climb our four flights of stairs, albeit with great difficulty and some pain, walking Tanner was out of the question, and so Eugenie stepped into the breach.

First thing each morning, she got me out of bed, tugged on my TED socks and shoes, and got me moving.  Then hit the road with Tanner, who was sorely miffed that she didn’t know, or didn’t care about our routine, which included a long stroll on the grounds of the church next door. Back at the house, Eugenie focussed on getting us fed and making sure I did my walking and PT, leaving no time for morning ‘play’.  Tanner was forlorn and confused.  “Why was dad acting so strangely, and why was he neglecting me?  And what was he doing walking with that scary black stick?”

At first, the painkillers made me queasy and just eating breakfast left me exhausted.  About the only thing I could manage was lying in bed, blowing through the detective novels (Daniel Silva’s ‘Rembrandt Affair’, Michael Connelly’s ‘Echo Park’) I had stacked up like planes at LAX.  Tanner seemed perplexed to see me horizontal (It’s rare I even nap) but that didn’t deter him.  If dad couldn’t or wouldn’t fuss with him, he would fuss with dad.  Ignoring a mound of pillows, and the cords from the portable ice machine, he popped up onto the bed and nestled up against my ailing left leg.

The patient, with ‘Florence Nightinbull’

It went on that way for a week, until I finally recaptured my chi and abandoned the bed for the upstairs recliner.  Once I quit our Tempurpedic, Tanner returned to his own bed where he could keep a watchful I on me.  When I made a run to the kitchen for ginger ale or Gatorade, he shadowed me. If I mummy-stepped my way upstairs to the bathroom, he tagged along and flopped down on the rug until I made the trek back down.  When I joined Eugenie and him on the afternoon walk, he slowed his pace out of respect for his gimpy owner.  Around the 2-week mark, I finally shed my cane and a few days later I took the reins for our morning walk, as if nothing unusual had taken place.  Tanner’s brief nursing career was over.

Although he’s quit nursing for the time being, Tanner stills wants to be of service to his fellow creatures, both the 2-legged and 4-legged sort.  That’s why he said to mention our dear friend, M.C. Callahan, a terrific ballroom dance instructor, who generously devotes her free hours to two animal charities in the Coachella Valley where she lives.  Healing Horses in Indio, CA offers equine therapy to improve the lives of special needs children.  Located in Desert Hot Springs, Save-A-Pet offers food and shelter to dogs in need.  It’s an outdoor facility so, with the cool desert winters nights coming, they need donations of old towels, sheets, and blankets.  So clean out those closets and put your old and unused items to a good use.


Spent the morning cuddling with Tanner who was lucky to make it out of the shelter after spending seven weeks on death row.  We left him resting in his bed and made our weekly stop at the Malibu Farmer’s Market, where dogs are not allowed.  There was a pet adoption adjacent to the market and about half the dogs were Pits, no surprise there.  One was ‘Benny’, a beautiful white boy who was also deaf.  Dogs like him usually do well in homes where another dog can act as their ears and get them to follow commands.  There were two Pit pups, a blue fawn with the same tan and white markings as Tanner, and a cute brindle.  We have a friend will who says she wants a dog like ours and so we’re hoping that she might adopt one of them.  If you know anyone who might have room for a ‘ferocious’  bundle of love and kisses, contact The Forgotten Dog Foundation at 310.990-2020,, or check them out online at

In other Pit Bull news, the Maryland state legislature recently passed a law declaring that all Pit Bulls are inherently dangerous:
Tracey v. Solesky, No. 53, September Term 2012, Opinion by Cathell, J.
Upon a plaintiff’s sufficient proof that a dog involved in an attack is a pit bull or a pit bull cross, and that the owner, or other person(s) who has the right to control the pit bull’s presence on the subject premises (including a landlord who has a right to prohibit such dogs on leased premises) knows, or has reason to know, that the dog is a pit bull or cross-bred pit bull, that person is liable for the damages caused to a plaintiff who is attacked by the dog on or from the owner’s or lessor’s premises. In that case a plaintiff has established a prima facie case of negligence. When an attack involves pit bulls, it is no longer necessary to prove that the particular pit bull or pit bulls are dangerous.
In practical terms, the law means that in any incident involving a Pit Bull, the owner or a or a landlord who rents to the owner of a Pit Bull will automatically be guilty of owning or harboring a ‘dangerous’ dog, exposing those people to legal liability.  In all likelihood, it will making adoption of Pit Bulls much more difficult, leading to more euthanized dogs.  If this rankles you (Imagine a law that said, owing to the nature of the Mafia, all Italians are inherently criminal), contact the Maryland State legislators and tell them to reconsider their prejudicial, misguided law.
The Writer and ‘inherently dangerous’ Tanner

Sadly, Maryland doesn’t have a monopoly on stupidity and Pit Bull-phobia.  After a 2-year battle, Lennox the Pit Bull was euthanized because of his genetic makeup as a banned breed.  One way to end the senseless slaughter of unwanted dogs is to eliminate puppy mills.  If you would like to help, you can voice your opposition by signing a petition to encourage the USDA to crack down on them.