Normally when we write up posts discussing idiot criminals and their internet exploits, they're a bit of levity in an otherwise maddening world. Whether they're taunting law enformcement or posting pictures of the meals they're eating with the feds, their stupidity is typically enjoyable. This is not one of those stories. Instead, this is a story about a stupid criminal who may well be the worst woman currently in existence.
Adrienne Martin was apparently taking care of her sister-in-law's dog. Claiming the dog had acted aggressively, she chained the animal in the backyard and lit it on fire. The dog died shortly after it was found and taken to a stray rescue. Then Martin did what any psychopath would do: bragged about it on Facebook.
Martin, who has been charged with felony animal abuse, reportedly said on Facebook, “I’m on killa mode… kill dogs… today. I mean what I say and I say what I mean… all dogs don’t go to heaven.”
Martin is the kind of person that makes people hope there's a Hell to which she may eventually retire. The cruelty is obviously astounding as is her depraved commentary on her social media page. Thankfully, those investigating her crime were tipped to her comments and she's been arrested and charged with two felonies.
So, while I typically mock dumb criminals for posting about their exploits, I want to thank Ms. Martin for doing so in this case. Any action that expedites the stripping of your freedom is good in my book.
The natural enemy of the family dog is the local cop. Some of the stories we hear about cops shooting dogs, man, it’s like they don’t even try to deal with the animal reasonably. They shoot first and put the leash on later. I get that some people are just irrationally afraid of dogs, but cops are armed and in stressful situations. And since “dog murder” isn’t really a thing, there’s no incentive for cops to hold their fire.
We’ve reported in the past about how jury awards are going up when cops are found to recklessly kill family pets. But money cannot replace the companionship of a best friend.
Now, one state is trying to take more decisive action by requiring cops to learn how to deal with “short, hairy children”….
The Denver Post (gavel bang: ABA Journal) reports that a bill called the “Don’t Shoot My Dog” law is making its way through the Colorado State Senate.
The bill would require police officers to undergo training on how to deal with dogs. And it has bipartisan support:
“The reason I think it is important is dogs are not just property to most people, they are their short, hairy children,” [said Jennifer Edwards of The Animal Law Center]. “They are a part of the family, and it is absolutely devastating to lose an animal and to lose an animal so wrongfully when it could be solved by better training and better understanding of dog behavior.”
The bill’s sponsors, Democrat Lucia Guzman and Republican David Balmer, point out that “landscaping companies [and] delivery companies” deal with dogs all the time, without shooting them.
Some of the stories about police brutality to dogs are disgusting:
Among those expected to testify in favor of their bill is Gary Branson of Pueblo, whose 4-year-old labrador mix was shot multiple times by a Commerce City police officer after the pet escaped a relative’s home.
In Branson’s case, the 58-year-old left Chloe with a relative while visiting his brother in California last November. The dog got out through an open garage door and was running around the neighborhood.
Commerce City police said the dog was aggressive and continued to behave that way after being restrained with an animal-control noose. Chloe was shocked with a Taser and then shot multiple times.
What kind of sick person Tasers and shoots a family lab that has already been restrained?
Dogs are not people and shouldn’t be treated as such under the law. But they’re not mere property either. We need to carve out a legal space for our furry companions that at least respects our rights to keep them alive.
The search for intelligent life might be more fruitful if we started looking more closely at other animals right here on Earth. The progress of artificial intelligence in computers might also be surpassed by breeding a few hyper-intelligent pets someday. Some zoo animals are already playing around with iPads, so maybe we'll have some super smart cyborgs... In any case, here are just a few examples of projects that are studying how smart our fellow vertebrates might be.
People with pets sometimes go a bit overboard when it comes to spoiling their animals. There's nothing really wrong with that, but non-pet people might question how the treatment of animals can trump the treatment of people. Here are just a few pet-related stories to ponder.
A few folks sent over the following story of how Disney is being sued for copyright infringement. Seems a bit ironic, given just how strict Disney has been over the years in enforcing its copyright and being at the forefront of efforts to expand copyright law -- even as it tend to build some of its greatest works by copying works in the public domain. In this case, a design company produced a graphic that consists of drawings of dozens of dogs, each with a little signature under their names:
Disney then introduced a teen fashion line called "D-Signed." However, some noticed that one of the t-shirts had a design quite reminiscent of the original dog artwork.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see where those particular images were directly copied from the original. As fun as it would be to catch Disney in a clear copyright violation, the dogs on the t-shirt don't appear to be the same. And, we're always told that there's an "idea/expression" dichotomy in copyright law, which is supposed to mean that you only protect the specific and defined expression -- not the general idea. So I'm just not sure I see how this is infringing, even if the idea was taken from their poster. Obviously I can understand the creators' frustration, but that hardly means there's a legal claim. Update: On closer inspection, as pointed out in the comments with a handy illustration, it turns out the copying was more direct than we thought.
Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, and there's been some speculation that humans and dogs have co-evolved to some extent. So it would be nice to understand our domesticated friends a bit better, and technology could help us out. We've seen products like Bowlingual for translating dog barks into human languages, and here are just a few more interesting links on human-dog relationships.
People love their pets, but sometimes pet behavior is hard to understand. Sure, there are technologies like Bowlingual and Meowlingual to help us understand cats and dogs, but automated translations are notoriously imperfect. So here are just a few interesting links on studying domesticated animals.
In the latest example of questionable taser use, a man walking his two dogs off-leash at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was tased in the back by a park ranger, who was apparently trying to make an example of him. The problem was that the guy, Gary Hesterberg, was walking the dogs at Rancho Corral de Tierra, which used to be an off-leash walking area until it was just recently incorporated into the National Park. When the park ranger confronted Hesterberg and asked for his identification, for reasons unknown, Hesterberg gave her a fake name, and then tried repeatedly to leave. Finally, when he started to walk away, the ranger shot him in the back... because she was trying to "educate residents of the rule." Then, he was arrested "on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, having dogs off-leash and knowingly providing false information."
It seems that the use of a taser in this situation was excessive and unwarranted. The guy wasn't threatening the ranger in any way, and even if he had lied about his name (not that lying should be a reason to tase someone), the ranger wouldn't have known that at the time, since Hesterberg only gave his real name to the authorities after he got tased. Did the ranger accomplish her goal of "educating" visitors of the park rules? Yes, if educating means "scaring into submission." As Eric Cartman would say, "Respect my authoritah!"
The more we study animals, the more we find out about their impressive cognitive abilities. And as we learn more about how other animal brains work, we might learn more about how our own minds think. Or perhaps someone will just figure out how to train parrots to pass CAPTCHA tests. In any case, here are a few interesting examples of animal intelligence.
I have to admit that I was pretty sure I've written about this case before, but in searching through the archives, I can't find it. So, here's the quick summary of Comins v. VanVoorhis. Christopher Comins, a wealthy Florida businessman, found out about some dogs running around some cows in a field owned by a business associate. Comins, apparently believing the dogs were wolves, went to the field (with permission of the owner) with some guns and shot the two dogs over and over again. Originally, he claimed self-defense, but after the following video appeared on YouTube showing the whole incident, that story didn't quite hold:
The story made the national press. It was also picked up on many blogs, including this blog post by University of Florida student Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis. VanVoorhis' description of the events is certainly "almost novelistic," as the CitMedia link above suggests. As such it does assume a few things, such as emotions, and may not be perfectly accurate in the timeline. But does it rise to the level of defamation? That seems extraordinarily unlikely, at best, but Comins chose to sue him for defamation. Seeing as the story was covered widely by the media, and there's a video of the events in question, you might think that it's a bit strange to sue a random blogger who very few people read. Perhaps he really is "the easiest target," as some suggest. If anything, it had all the hallmarks of a SLAPP suit, especially since VanVoorhis' post also questioned Cumin's connections to politically powerful figures, and how that might impact any lawsuit concerning the shootings.
Either way, despite the video, Comins ended up being acquitted of the shooting, with the judge claiming that shooting a couple dogs at extremely close range was not torturing an animal. As the link in this paragraph notes, it seems like that's the kind of question a jury should answer, rather than a judge.
As for VanVoorhis, it turns out that the case against him was also shot down, but on specific procedural grounds. Basically, under Florida law, you have to provide specific notice before suing for defamation. VanVoorhis insists no such notification was given. Cumins insists that it was but there was a procedural mistake in letting the court know. Either way, the court granted summary judgment, solely on that issue, rather than discussing any of the free speech issues.
VanVoorhis, represented by Randazza Legal Group (whose cases we seem to write about a lot around here...), followed up by pushing for sanctions, claiming that Comins' lawyer falsely told the court that VanVoorhis had been notified under the law. That motion was denied, though apparently the court called it "a very, very close call."
Comins... in response, appears to have simply filed a new defamation lawsuit against VanVoorhis, using statements from the blog that VanVoorhis set up to cover stories related to the lawsuit itself. I have no idea if the statements in question are actually libelous (though, the bar for defaming a public person, like Comins, is substantially higher than someone else). But, either way, I do question the wisdom of suing yet again, especially suing someone to whom he already lost a lawsuit. It certainly feels like just another attempt to effectively retry the same lawsuit, which still has the feel of a SLAPP. It's just that Comins and his lawyer found different quotes to use.
Of course, every time Comins takes action like this, it just brings the original video and the original story back into the spotlight. I can't see how that helps his image at all. One of the things in defamation cases is that you're supposed to try to take actions to minimize the damages. Suing yet again doesn't seem likely to do that.