2013-07-03 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

It was only fitting that “Bear,” a member of the NYPD Transit K9 Unit, was greeted by an honor guard of his pup peers when leaving the hospital. He was hurt in the line of duty while helping his police partner break up a fight in a subway station. Who would think that anyone would dare kick a police dog in the teeth? Worse, who would think that the perpetrator would be a woman?

The saga began June 18 at 11:15 a.m. on the platform of the southbound No. 4 subway at Lexington and 59th when another officer was trying to stop a scuffle between four women. “Bear” and his partner, Officer Vincent Tieniber, arrived on the scene. As Tieniber struggled to put handcuffs on Ravenia Matos-Davis, 22, of Queens, Bear clamped down on her shoe, refusing to let go. She turned on Bear, kicking him in the mouth twice, leaving a scuff mark, breaking teeth and cutting his tongue, while Tieniber wound up with a sprained wrist in the altercation. (In dog training we call that type of nasty behavior “redirected aggression.”) Matos-Davis was charged with injuring a police animal, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

Abel II leaves Babylon Shelter Abel II leaves Babylon Shelter Last week Bear entered the Animal Medical Center on E. 62nd (better known as “The AMC”) to have his teeth fixed. The staff at The AMC already knows Bear and some of his canine compatriots. Dr. Stephen Ribald, dental specialist at The AMC, performed surgery for two cracked canines and two chipped teeth, and then gave the brave canine cop stainless steel crowns.

Still groggy from anesthesia, Bear received a standing ovation, led by NYC Commissioner Ray Kelly as he paraded past a line-up of working German Shepherds plus one black Lab with their police partners. Six-year-old Bear lives with Officer Tieniber and his family in Suffolk County. He’s been on the job five years. Bear will be resting up at home before returning to the subways.

Now Babylon Shelter Shepherd news: In rescue circles, June is traditionally “Adopt a Cat” month, but last month was also “German Shepherd” month at Babylon Town Shelter. Outside of the continuous stream of new Pits and Pit mixes, dog intake at town shelters sometimes follows breed streaks. There can be a run of Chihuahuas or Beagles or Huskies. The dogs are usually isolated cases, but sometimes there is an established (or suspected) connection between the dogs in the breed streak.

Four purebred German Shepherd strays came into Babylon in June which is unusual. Two were traced to the same owner, thanks to someone’s good memory and dog detective work. Via Shepherd’s Hope Rescue, “Alice,” a stray picked up on Ralph Avenue in Babylon Village (hence, her “Honeymooners’” name), was adopted by a retired couple in Queens who always owned Shepherds. They adore Alice, and spend a lot of time together in Alley Pond Park.

“Major” now belongs to a NYC policeman from Babylon. He had recently lost a Shepherd to old age, and wanted a companion for his female. “Major” has already been on one excursion upstate, and will probably be visiting the Outer Banks as his new sister does. His former housemate, “Ebony,” a six-year-old black Shepherd (#13- 309) is still waiting for a home at the shelter.

On Flag Day, a male sable Shepherd, nearly young clone of Bear, came into the shelter as a stray picked up in North Amityville. The date was four days before Bear’s subway encounter. Although his photo was on the shelter Facebook page, viewed by almost 7,000 people and shared 151 times, no one came looking for him.

Please watch the You Tube video posted on Babylon Shelter’s Facebook page on Thurs., June 27 about this fantastic shelter dog donation which says his discovery was a team effort. That’s true, but there is an expert set of eyes. Kristin, the ACO at the shelter who has vast Shepherd experience in agility, obedience and sheep herding, discovered he had great working dog potential. She contacted Shepherd’s Hope Rescue again but this time for their working dog contacts which would include police and customs. An MTA officer from south east Pennsylvania who obtained his own K9 partner via Shepherd’s Hope came to the shelter to evaluate this sable fellow as a possible explosives detection dog. The Shepherd passed the initial screening with flying colors. The PA police unit asks that the sending shelter name the dog. If the dog passes, and graduates from their program, the name will stay with him always.

With a moment’s hesitation, Kristin named him “Abel” after her own multi-titled Shepherd who passed away last year. “Abel II” has challenging paw prints to fill, yet he also has the best of Shepherd spiritual guides. It is rewarding to see law enforcement look to the municipal shelters as a source of new talent. One person’s dog discard becomes another’s treasure.

Let’s hope that “Abel II” is as successful as a similar male sable Shepherd who left Babylon Shelter about seven years ago. “Tarzan,” renamed “Trace,” became the working partner and cherished pet of Officer Kyla Rice near Syracuse who trained him to be a cadaver dog. “Trace” is about eight years old now, an estimate because strays don’t show up with birth certificates. Trace will be retiring soon. Arthritis is slowing him down, but he will always be the beloved companion of his adopting officer.

Embodying courage, brains, devotion and stamina, “Bear,” “Trace,” “Abel" and “Abel II” are four more reasons to designate German Shepherd dogs as the official New York breed. (See Beacon “Pets” 5/23/13, if you need more reasons.)

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643- 9270) Lamar St., W, Babylon: This gorgeous female Husky #13-379 was picked up near the Copiague train station while “Mugsy,” a petite Puggle type #13-378, was found in Copiague too.

More: “Ebony” #13-309 ,black Shepherd; “Spike” #13- 383, tan Chihuahua mix; “Holly” #13-327, white Pit; Tiny” #13-381, older tan Chihuahua. There are also many kittens and adults, including a black female cutie #3-202 in the cat colony.

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