Canine News from Near and Far, April 2007


SF Man Enters Burning Home to Save Friend’s Dog

In February, Michael Keenan risked his life to save Bobby, a Jack Russell terrier, from a burning building in San Francisco. As of press time both Keenan, 43, and Bobby, 10, remain in serious condition.

Keenan suffered burns to 80 percent of his body and is undergoing extensive surgeries. He has been in an induced coma since the fire. Bobby endured severe burns to his legs and the bottom of his feet and is in intensive care at Pets Unlimited in San Francisco. He was left blind by the fire; it is not known if the eye damage will be permanent.

Keenan was house sitting for a close friend when the fire started. Although he initially escaped, he ran back in for Bobby. After they made it out of the building together, Keenan collapsed and Bobby ran several blocks to the home of a family friend, who rushed him to the hospital.

Keenan is no stranger to heroism. In 2001, he witnessed a car accidentally leave the roadway and plunge into San Francisco Bay. He dove in and was able to pull the woman to safety; her husband died before he could be saved.

Keenan’s friends have established a trust fund to help pay for his medical expenses. To donate, go to For updates on Keenan’s condition, visit

Donations towards Bobby’s recovery fund can be made at


Coats Contain Fur from Dogs

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently announced the results of yet another investigation showing that many coats advertised and/or labeled as fake fur are actually made from the fur of dogs.

Responding to a consumer tip that the fur on a jacket felt real, the HSUS anti-fur team bought and tested 25 jackets. All but one were mislabeled. Some of the coats contained domesticated dog fur; others were made from the fur of raccoon dogs, a fox-like canine species native to Asia.

In response to the news, many manufacturers and retailers did the right thing. Tommy Hilfiger stopped selling the jackets and Nordstrom offered refunds to consumers. Calvin Klein announced it will faze out all fur in its products. Others did nothing or challenged the validity of the findings.

The latest case comes not long after Macy’s and J.C. Penney were found to be selling coats labeled as raccoon that actually were made from raccoon dog fur. Only Macy’s kept the coats out of stores after the deception came to light.  

Mislabeling fur is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $5,000 or a year in prison. Fur products valued at less than $150 currently do not require labeling. A bill recently introduced in Congress would mandate accurate labels for all fur, regardless of its value, and would extend the fur ban to raccoon dogs.


Hayward’s Aggressive Dog Law 

On February 13, Hayward’s City Council proposed to amend the city’s animal control laws, making it easier for the police to take action against aggressive animals. 

Hayward’s ordinance, which dates back to 1974, considers animals vicious “if they have been involved in attacks on other animals or people.” City officials want to change the description to “potentially dangerous.”

Under the new ordinance, a dog is “potentially dangerous” if  “it threatens the safety of another animal on a property not owned by the aggressive animal’s owner, acts aggressively, requiring the person to take defensive measures, or generally poses a threat to public safety.” 

Owners will have to attend hearings if their dogs are deemed to fit this description, and may be required to “confine, fence, muzzle and/or leash their animals, post warning signs, provide proof of public liability insurance, spay or neuter the pets, enroll them in and successfully complete behavior classes or implant a microchip.”

Hayward Friends of Animals members voiced concern that the proposed amendment is too vague and complained that they were not included in preliminary talks. Two council members voted against the new law because the group was not consulted.


UPDATE: Heroic Dog Put Down 

As previously reported, an Oakland German shepherd took a bullet for her owner, Will Bartley, when she attacked a gun-wielding robber earlier this year.

Sadly, Buffy, was euthanized following complications resulting from her injuries.  

Buffy had an undiagnosed kidney problem made worse by blood loss after she was shot, said Bartley’s wife. The dog returned home after hours of surgery but had to return to the hospital twice due to complications. Eventually, she grew weak and stopped eating. 

Bartley, 44, was grief stricken at the loss of his loyal friend. “It’s not a good day for me,” he said. “I’m just devastated.”


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