Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Expose' on National Centre for Missing and Abducted Children.

In doing research for a book I am writing I came across the following article. What this reporter has to say shocked me. I had always believed that John Walsh and the National Centre for missing and exploited children did their homework. I believed that if they said a child was missing it must be so. however after reading the following article I no longer feel that way. My biggest problem with what John Edward Gill reveals in this article, is that we have trusted Walsh for years to have the welfare of missing children at heart. The following article would suggest this is not the case.

Missing Children

by John Edward Gill

John Walsh is unaware that Tinze Lucinda Huels is alive and well. He is oblivious to the fact that Alexia Reale is deceased and her remains have been destroyed. Walsh, host of Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted," claims a stranger abducted Huels in 1984 when she was 17 and lived with her husband and two small children in Tampa, Florida. Along with officials of his National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (National Center) in Alexandria, Virginia, Walsh claims Huels is still missing, her case open, unsolved, and classified as a Stranger, or Non-Family, Abduction (NFA).

The National Center is a non-profit, non-law enforcement agency funded with $8 million annually from the federal government and approximately $8 million or more from private donations. Founded by Walsh in April, 1984, with a White House Rose Garden ceremony hosted by then-President Reagan, the National Center classified Huels as an NFA although there was no evidence someone grabbed her. In 1997, it also classified Reale as an NFA, although again without proof. But, as with every missing child, Walsh and his National Center never investigated Huels' and Reale's disappearances.

Such sloppiness and indifference about missing children makes child abduction seem much larger than it is. After all, the National Center started because Walsh and many others claimed in 1981 that there were 50,000 stranger abductions of children each year. While a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles in The Denver Post pointed out that the 50,000 figure was false, the Justice Department still funded the National Center. It did so, also, without an incident study to determine exactly how many children really were missing, whether as runaways, family abductions, or stranger abductions. Even police questioned that figure. "We lost 50,000 soldiers in Vietnam over 10 years," said William D. Carter,a public affairs
specialist with the F.B.I. "Most people know someone who died there.How many people know someone who has had a child abducted?"

A New Jersey officer agreed. "Stranger abduction was the impetus behind the creation of the National Center," said Investigator Martha Maxwell, a missing and exploited children's specialist for the Ocean County, New Jersey, Prosecutor's Office. "Without that, there wouldn't be a National Center."

Finally, in 1990, the Justice Department released a study which said there were only between 200 and 300 such abductions. More recently, a Washington State Study on child abduction murders found that about 50 to 150 children were abducted by strangers each year.

"The list of children who are abducted and killed each year by someone who is not a family member is relatively small," said Christine O. Gregoire, Attorney General of Washington State, who headed the three-year study.

Released in May, 1997, Gregoire's study found that local law enforcement agencies conducting immediate searches was the best way to find and recover stranger-abducted or lost children. And the National Center itself, in referring to the Washington State study, even stressed that the first three hours were the most
important and that many abducted children are killed during that time. "The vast majority of abducted children who are murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction," said Carol Monaco, editor of its newsletter, The Frontline, in the fall of 1997.

She didn't say what her agency could do in just three hours, especially since it's in the Washington, D. C., area and has no search-and-rescue personnel.

The National Center doesn't conduct local searches and
investigations and doesn't follow-up on many cases it claims are
stranger, or non-family, abductions, as with Huels and Reale.
Consequently, it often doesn't know what really happened.

Tinze Huels

Tinze Lucinda Huels ran away. No one abducted her. That night in October, 1984, she went to a Tampa, Florida, nightclub, then left her car and started hitchhiking. She worked as a waitress in Memphis, Tennessee, for three years before moving to Arkansas. Shortly afterwards, she married a new man and took
on a different name.

But in April, 1992, her new husband went to police with suspicions about his wife. Huels then admitted that she had left home voluntarily because of problems with her marriage. Police notified authorities in Florida and Huels called her first husband and their children. Four newspapers in Florida and the Mid-West carried her story. Yet as of this writing, eight years later, Walsh and his National
Center still claim Huels as an NFA and list her case as "open" on their Case Manager's Contact list and in their Missing Children Forum on the Internet.

Although claiming it's concerned with "exploited" children, National Center officials still ignore child abuse, which takes between 1,000 and 2,000 children a year. As with Susan Smith's children, they prefer to falsely classify abused children as abductions or lost child cases.

Alexia Reale

Alexia Reale died of child abuse. Her poster, as of this writing is still on the National Center's Internet website, describes her as "last seen in the Elk Grove area of California... She is considered to be at risk," again listing her as an NFA as of June 1, 1997. But in June, 1999, police arrested her mother and stepfather and charged them with murdering the little girl. A California Superior Court Judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to make them stand trial, even though no body had been found. Alexia's 13-year-old sister described to authorities how the child died and how her remains were destroyed.

Articles in The Sacramento (California) Bee described Reale's case during the fall of 1999. Trial dates were set for August 3, 1999, then changed to October 26,
1999, because the child's mother pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Now a third trial date is pending. Yet, despite these charges, that National Center continues to list Alexia Reale as a Non-Family Abduction on the Internet.

These two cases are not isolated. An extensive investigation of the National Center's own recovery reports for the past seven years shows that the agency distorts many cases, claiming abduction when children perished because of accidents, child abuse, domestic violence, date rape and homicide, or simply
became lost. This reporter found more than 100 cases that were distorted.

According to newspaper reporters and police, F.B.I. agents and state
and local police and sheriffs actually look for children, questioning
suspects and searching neighborhoods or rural areas, which Gregoire's
study recommended. National Center personnel don't join in those searches. Four children vanished in Illinois during September, 1990, for instance, and the National Center said they were Non-Family Abductions. But they surfaced several weeks later with their mother, who filed for divorce from their father, claiming abuse. Local police didn't make her return home. National Center officials not only still claimed her children as stranger abductions, but said they'd "recovered" them. And they listed the "recovery" date as November 5, 1990, which was about a month after their mother went to police.

There are cases where children drowned, no remains were found, yet local police with search dogs determined those children died accidentally. However, the National Center still claims such youngsters as "abductions" and their cases open. For example, a two-year-old girl in Montana vanished in April, 1980. Her single mother left her outside -- unsupervised -- for an hour and the child disappeared. Local sheriff's deputies searched for days and decided she'd drowned in a nearby raging, swollen river. Bloodhounds had followed her scent from her home to that river. They also said there was no evidence of an abduction. Yet the National Center and Advo, the Connecticut-based mail order company, distributed her photo-aged picture on 57 million postcards in 1994, more than 14 years after she drowned. She's on their Internet site today, still called an NFA and her case open.

"They're distributing pictures of deceased children and asking
for money to find them," said Nikki Abbott, founder of Services for the
Missing, in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. "That's immoral and unfair."

There were distortions of different kinds in those recovery reports. In April, 1992, a little girl in Indiana perished at the hands of her uncle. Walsh said he'd "recovered" her and that she was an NFA, taken and killed by a stranger, not a family member.

A seven-year-old girl in Florida disappeared in November, 1994, shortly after the Susan Smith case. Police suspected her parents killed her, but Walsh ignored them. "It drives me crazy when police and the media speculate about what might have happened," he said. "The girl is missing...And that's all that matters to me."

He quickly filmed a segment for "America's Most Wanted," but never aired it because police soon found her remains and arrested those parents. A jury found them guilty of murder and they were sentenced to life in prison. National Center officials still claimed they had "recovered" her and listed her as an LIM (Lost, Injured, or Otherwise Missing) even though she'd been killed in her home.

They treated Susan Smith's children the same way. First, they claimed her two boys were abducted, then said they were "lost" when law enforcement found out she'd killed them. Their Monthly Recovery Report for November, 1994, listed Alexander and Michael Smith as "recovered" by them on November 3, 1994, and classified as LIMs.

Yet Walsh and his National Center never address runaway youths, child abuse, date rape and homicide, child safety and accidents, and many other dangers to children, like guns and drugs. Instead they exaggerate stranger abductions, which are rare, but, again, they never look for children.

Their "Monthly Recovery Reports," which aren't made public, show that nearly 70 percent of their "recoveries" are of runaway children. Yet the National Center admits it doesn't handle runways. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center, conceded, "We couldn't possibly handle the huge number of (runaway) cases and don't try." "All calls on runaways are transferred directly to the National Runaway Switchboard," said John Rabun, vice president of the National Center. Yet runaways are sometimes portrayed as abductions, although never investigated by the National Center.

Anette Marie Beaman was a 15-year-old girl who allegedly was abducted by a stranger in July, 1996. The National Center claimed it "recovered" her in February, 1997, and still listed her as an NFA. But police in her hometown of Winona, Missouri, said the girl had runaway voluntarily and had returned voluntarily. She was not abducted.

Officials at the National Center claimed 13-year-old Jessica Woehl as an NFA and as a "recovery" on April 17, 1997. The Nashua, New Hampshire, girl disappeared on March 25, 1997; however, she had run off with a 22-year-old man she'd met in person during February, 1997. They'd made contact several months earlier through the Internet; he'd given her presents and they had seen each other a couple of times before running away together. "She went with him willingly," said Adam Woehl, her 16-year-old brother.

Boyfriends sometimes kill girlfriends, but their victims sometimes are classified as Non-family Abductions. Angel Ormston, 17, of Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio, disappeared the night of July 31, 1992. Of course, the National Center listed her as an NFA, only three weeks later, on August 21, 1992. Local authorities found her body on December 15, 1992, and two weeks later arrested her boyfriend, Mark Sotka, 19, of Chardon, Ohio. Sotka had been a classmate and lover of Ormston's in high school. During February, 1993, he admitted to killing her. He said they'd gone out that night in July and had driven to his home, where they'd often made love. But that night they'd argued. She'd told him she was pregnant,
but couldn't have an abortion because she was underage and her mother wouldn't have allowed it.

"After hearing this, I went crazy," Sotka said, "and hit her in the face with my fist. She fell down and went unconscious. I figured I had to get rid of her somehow. I ran to my garage and found a knife. I stabbed her twice." Wrapping her body in a sheet, he bound her with rope and green duct tape and put her in the trunk of his car, he pointed out. Then he drove to an isolated area of Perry Township and
left her in a ditch. Judge Paul Mitrovich sentenced him to 20 years to life. The National Center still listed Angel Ormston as an NFA.

Heather Kleiber, 13, of Charlevoix, Michigan, also lost her life because of a trusted family acquaintance, but the National Center still claimed a stranger abducted and killed her. Last seen on August 16, 1990, at a party, she accepted a ride home from someone she knew, but she didn't return home that night. Walsh featured her as a stranger abduction on "America's Most Wanted" in December, 1990. About 50 million postcards were sent out, claiming abduction. Police found her body on May 4, 1991, in a nearby creek. In November, 1991, the young man she trusted confessed to killing her and went to jail for life. National Center reports still claimed her as an NFA, listing her as missing on August 24, 1990, and "recovered" on May 13, 1991.

Huels disappeared on the evening of October 27, 1984, saying she was going to do laundry. Reale, eight, vanished on June 1, 1997, from Sacramento, California. She's also classified as an NFA.

Sometimes, homicides happen in the victim's home, but, again, the
National Center will claim abduction and list those victims as "recoveries" in its monthly reports. In fact, that National Center even claims it "recovered" Heather
Dawn Church, who they claimed vanished from her home on September 17,
1991, in Black Forest, Colorado. Law enforcement authorities recovered her remains off the Rampart Range Road west of Colorado Springs, Colorado, on September 13, 1993. Police identified her killer in March, 1995, through fingerprints found in her home. The man had lived about a half mile from the
Church's house and admitted he'd murdered her as he burglarized her home. Both the National Center and "America's Most Wanted" had called her a Non-Family Abduction even though she'd been killed at home by a neighbor. The National Center's September, 1993, recovery report claimed she'd been "intaked" on September 19, 1991, and "recovered" on September, 14, 1993, still claiming her an NFA. That report admitted the recovery date "indicates when NCMEC (National Center) was notified of the recovery."

National Center officials even confess they reclassify cases after local police find out what really happened.

In a study of 210 child homicides and accidental deaths, for instance, National Center personnel had to reclassify 93 cases after contacting local authorities in states and cities where children perished. There were numerous times when the National Center said strangers abducted and killed children when such children died at the hands of someone they knew. In fact, its study concluded that the majority of missing children "were abducted by people they knew." Further, "the results have shown that a commonly held teaching -- 'beware of strangers' -- is
incomplete. Children need to learn that it is not always strangers who can hurt them, but that it could be someone they know and/or care about."

Called the Deceased Child Project, this study looked at children who disappeared and died between April 2, 1982, and August 8, 1992, and was completed in May, 1994. It involved 143 homicides and 67 accidental deaths. Based on information which the National Center received from local and state law enforcement, the Project uncovered still more hoaxes -- where parents claimed abducted or lost children when such children perished because of other causes.
There were approximately 30 cases where the National Center originally claimed strangers killed children, then learned differently from local police. "For example," the Report read, "on April 28, 1992, NCMEC received a call from the mother of (two boys, ages eight and ten) reporting that her sons had gone to the park to play and were supposed to be home within an hour. When the children did not come home, their father went to the park to look for them. "The case was intaked by NCMEC as a Non-Family Abduction (NFA). "Three days later, the case manager was contacted by law enforcement with the news that the boys had been located -- deceased -- in the river near the park where they had been playing. The coroner had determined that the cause of death was accidental drowning."
National Center officials immediately reclassified those boys as LIMs and as "recoveries" on their monthly reports.

Also from that Project, there was another example of false reporting. "A mother called on July 5, 1992, saying that her seven-month-old daughter had been abducted from her husband's truck while he was offering roadside assistance to a stranded motorist," the Project read. Again, without waiting for local authorities to investigate, "the incident was intaked by NCMEC as a Non-Family Abduction.
"On July 28, 1992, the case manager received a call from law enforcement with the news that the child had been located in the woods near the site of the abduction -- deceased -- and that the father was the suspect. He had, in fact, confessed to the crime." That case manager then reclassified that child's demise as a Family Abduction, not as child abuse or homicide. This child's death was yet another example of how the National Center doesn't investigate missing child cases, which its Project admitted. When learning from police about a missing child, "the case manager assigned to the case continues to follow NCMEC's standard operating procedures...until informed by law enforcement as to the
resolution of the case," that Report said.

"We don't do investigation," said Ben Ermini, director of case management for the National Center. "We don't go into it as thoroughly as the local authorities." "NCMEC is dependent on law enforcement and parents to let us know about a recovery (or) location," said John Rabun, vice president of the National Center.

Again, National Center officials stress the need to call local police first. The National Center lists guidelines on the Internet (APBNews.Com) on "What To Do When Your Child Is Missing." In a section headlined "Taking Action," it says the first step to take if a child is missing is to "immediately call the police." National Center officials write that parents should tell police what their child was wearing, as well as that child's age, height, weight, etc. "After you have reported your child missing, listen to the police's instructions and respond to their questions," they go on to say. Yet, Walsh, Allen, and Rabun claim they've "recovered" more than 49,000 children since 1984. "Such dishonesty and distortion scares parents and children and needlessly and wastes tax dollars," said Abbott, founder of Services
for the Missing.

Four polls taken in the last 15 years showed that families feared stranger abduction more than any other problem facing their children. In 1995, for example, Pizza Hut commissioned a national survey which revealed that 87 percent of parents questioned said that concern that their child would be reported missing for more than a day was their biggest worry as a parent. Yet encouraged by the National Center, and because so many parents worried about child abduction, many doubtful groups and businesses around the country received media coverage and raised money by fingerprinting and photographing children. Walsh's own Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, in West Palm Beach, Florida, for example, boasts it has fingerprinted more than 50,000 children.

"Fingerprinting never found anyone," said Charles Sutherland, publisher of Search Reports, a publication about missing children and adults. Search is in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. "And videotaping hasn't found anyone, either." Now Walsh promotes DNA fingerprinting, which identifies bodies, but doesn't find missing children who are alive.

Critics feel the National Center's not looking for children wastes valuable resources. For instance, more funding for police databases with names of convicted criminals might have saved a California girl's life. Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl, was kidnapped and murdered from her Petaluma, California, home in 1993 by a man twice convicted of violent crimes. But local law enforcement authorities didn't know that when they questioned him on an unrelated trespassing complaint shortly after the girl's abduction.

Because of a lack of funding, the state's Violent Crime Information
Center wasn't operating when she was taken, which was Friday night,
October 1, 1993. Sheriff's deputies in Sonoma County picked up Richard Allen Davis, 39, about one-and-a-half hours after her abduction. They ran a criminal
check on him, but didn't find those convictions, so they let him go. Police, public officials, and missing children advocates have speculated that Polly still might have been alive when those deputies first questioned Davis. And after taking him in, they would have learned about Polly's abduction. Calls to the California State Police headquarters in Sacramento would have confirmed that he was on parole for those other violent crimes. "Davis would have been had cold if that system had been in place," said David Collins, who founded the Kevin Collins Foundation in San Francisco, California. Polly's remains were found by Petaluma police and F.B.I. agents on Saturday, December 4, 1993, near Cloverdale, California, about 35 miles north of Petaluma. Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Many times, however, police find children alive, despite the National Center, "America's Most Wanted," or claims of "Non-Family Abductions." Local authorities ignore television, postcards, posters, etc., and use old-fashioned detective work.

Ten-year-old Katherine Beers, from Mastic Beach, New York, supposedly disappeared on December 30, 1992, from an arcade in Nesconset, New York. Both towns are on Long island. A long-time family friend, John Esposito, 45, who said he had taken her there, called police at five p.m. that day, saying she was missing.

Suffolk County police began a search, but no one in that arcade remembered seeing Katherine. They talked to neighbors, notified the New York State Police, and questioned Esposito. On Friday, January eighth, 1993, Walsh featured her on "America's Most Wanted." "In cases like this, we really like to get the child in the media," said Ermini. All the public attention is exactly what's needed to help locate Katie, Ermini pointed out.

Because of television, there were alleged sightings of Katherine in upstate Duchess County. Two witnesses claimed they saw her in a Hyde Park shopping Center and gave a description of the man seen with her. But police kept questioning Esposito and even searched his house.

About three weeks after she vanished, in January, 1993, local police
found Katherine alive, in a dungeon built under Esposito's garage.
She'd been there the whole time. It was a soundproof concrete bunker
and officers had to raise a one hundred pound block and crawl through a
narrow tunnel to reach the child's prison.

He pleaded guilty to kidnapping in June, 1994, and was sentenced to fifteen years to life in jail.

Technically, Esposito was not a family member, but he was no stranger. Katherine's mother, Marilyn Beers, considered him family. He had taken Katherine many times to toy stores and video parlors.

The National Center, of course, listed Katherine as a "recovery" in its January, 1993, report, still claiming her as an NFA.

Since its founding in 1984, the National Center has received more
than fifty million dollars from the U.S. Justice Department. "How many
other children, like Katherine Beers, could have been found if that
money had gone into hiring more police?" Abbott asked.

She pointed out that National Center officials just get their information from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and state police and then classify missing children any way they (National Center officials) like.

"Until the government cuts off funding for the National Center, the Nation's families will continue to be frightened and mislead," said Abbott. Yet despite such criticism, distortions continue. As of this writing, the National Center's website still carries pictures of Huels and Reale as Non-Family Abductions.

In January, 1998, Family Circle published pictures of 50 missing children. One child, two-year-old Ke Shaun Vanderhorst, was listed as a stranger abduction from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But a year earlier his mother, Tina Vanderhorst, pleaded no contest to selling her child for $500 to buy cocaine and was sentenced to between two-and-a-half to seven years in prison for abandoning her son. Her child hasn't been found.

Another child, seven-year-old Michael Hughes, from Choctaw, Oklahoma, was abducted by his stepfather, Franklin Delano Floyd, in September, 1994. Floyd has been captured, but young Michael remains missing. However, both the magazine and the National Center still listed the boy as a stranger abduction.

In its "Recovery" reports, the National Center listed 14-year-old Karen Lofland, from South Hadley, Massachusetts, as an NFA and then as a "recovery" on January 5, 1997. However, Massachusetts authorities said the girl willingly ran away with Jimmy Ray Legate, 41, on September 19, 1996. Legate had been living with the Loflands for some time. He'd told the family he was 21 and down on his luck, but had been ordered to leave the house when the girl's parents learned their daughter had become romantically involved with him. FBI agents and local police found them in a Portland, Oregon, apartment. In December, 1998, a Massachusetts court sentenced Legate to up to eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty to statutory rape. As usual, no one from the National Center accompanied those law enforcement authorities when they found the pair together. Yet National Center officials still claimed they'd "recovered" the 14-year-old girl.

Should an agency such as the one Walsh has run for years, not be overseen by some sort of standards board? How can we trust that money donated to these causes is actually going to serve these causes after reading the proceeding article? Has John Walsh lost his focus? Did he ever have any? Why has he and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children not been truthful in their classifications of missing children across North America? And last but not least of all my questions, should the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, and John Walsh be held accountable for their actions?

What the Hell is a Designer Dog?

Recent molecular evidence shows that dogs are descended from the gray wolf, domesticated about 130,000 years ago. But if they all share a common ancestor, why do toy poodles and Great Danes seem to have so little in common? Years of selective breeding by humans has resulted in the artificial "evolution" of dogs into many different types. There are over 400 breeds of dog recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club.)

There are new breeds out there whose right to call themselves a breed has been challenged by the AKC, the CKC, and "purebred" breeders. They call them Designer Dogs, a term coined by the media. Designer Dog?? What the heck is a designer dog you ask?? A "designer" dog is a cross between two purebred dogs of different breed. A purebred dog is one that has been bred over many generations to breed true. Meaning each puppy that is born looks and has the same temperament and characteristics as one another. In most cases a standard is written and breeders must follow this written standard. Only dogs which make the written standard are to be bred. So what's up with these hybrid, "designer" dogs? Are they healthier? Hybrid dogs can still have genetic problems because you are still crossing two first generation dogs, however the percentage of hybrid dogs with genetic problems is much lower than purebred dogs because the gene pool is mixed.

When you breed two different types of purebred dogs together you can get any combination of any of the characteristics found in either breed. If you are stuck on a hybrid dog how do you know which one to choose? Read the temperament and care for both breeds in the cross and be prepared for any combination of the two.

Whether or not you choose a purebred dog or a "designer" hybrid mix, do your homework and research, research, research. Remember, adopting a dog should be a life long commitment and not something that should be taken lightly. Before you adopt a dog ask yourself,Are you ready for a dog?

Pack Mentality and Shock Training

When I sat down at my computer today to write this blog I did not have an idea in my head of what it was I wished to speak about. My phone rang as I was sitting here pondering my lack of subject. (In order for this to make sense you must understand that I run my own business. I am a dog whisperer. I take dogs and turn them into good canine citizens. I may not be as good as Cesar Milan, but I get the job done just the same.)

So anyway I answered the phone, it was a prospective client with a dog problem. I get these calls all the time, after all it is my profession. What was different about this call was the dog owners attitude. She wanted my help, but she wanted it done her way. Let me say this up front I DO NOT nor will I ever advocate the use of torture devices to train animals. I do not believe in the use of shock collars for any reason. Sure if you consistently shock an animal every time it behaves badly the bad behaviour will stop. What you will get as an end result however is an animal that obeys out of fear. This is never a good outcome. The majority of dogs that turn on their owners are dogs that were raised to fear punishment. A dog like this may obey but it will be waiting for the tables to turn. Some day when you least expect it the dog will become aggressive.

We as a society have been raised to believe that dogs are just dumb animals. If we study the social structure of a dog pack we realize that dogs are far from stupid. Each member of a dog pack has his place in the pack. The most mentally balanced dog will always lead the pack. As dogs are naturally pack animals, any group of dogs that lives together will eventually form a pack structure. If there are no other dogs in the home the pack structure is formed with the humans that live with the dog. If the dogs owners do not understand pack mentality problems will arise. When problems arise owners usually do one of two things, they either rehome the animal and pass the problems, on or they resort to training methods that only make the problem worse, such as the use of shock collars to correct unwanted behaviour.

As previously stated these methods appear to work, but do they really solve the problem? In my experience the answer is no they do not.

We have touched on the subject of pack mentality, now lets examine it in a little more depth. The alpha dog in any pack is always the most mentally balanced dog. In most cases the alpha is male. People always seem to think the pack leader is the strongest most aggressive dog in the pack. This is not the case. A dog pack will not follow an unstable leader, and an aggressive dog is definitely unstable. The pack leader is always the most calm assertive dog in the pack.

We as humans bring dogs into our homes and expect them to act like humans. We expect them to follow our rules despite the fact that they don't speak our language. Most of us never bother to sit down and figure out how our canine companions view the world we just automatically expect them to behave according to our wishes. Just as you can not take a foreigner (someone not native to your home country who does not speak the language) and expect them to understand your instructions in a language they do not understand, you can not expect a dog to know what you want from it unless you make your wishes clear.

When we choose to share our lives with dogs we must become the pack leader. We must lead them into proper behaviour. A dog that has no pack leader will try to become the pack leader themselves. What you have on your hands then is a dog that thinks it is in charge. When this happens no amount of screaming or yelling, no use of shock collars and other torturous devices will change the behaviour of the dog. The only solution is to step up to the plate and become the calm assertive pack leader your dog is searching for.

While use of shock collars and other inhumane methods may get the behaviour you are striving for the behaviour will be born out of fear and the animals spirit will be broken. What you will create is an unpredictable, unbalanced canine.

If you were a smoker and I said to you "you have to quit" and every time you think of lighting a cigarette this collar I am going to put around your neck will shock you, you would quit smoking, but you will have quit out of fear and not desire to end a bad habit. If the collar is removed so is the deterant. So it is with dogs.

If your dog keeps leaving your yard and you decide to use a shock collar to make him stop, you will never be able to remove that collar. There will never come a time when you can remove the shock collar and have the animal stay in your yard. Dogs are not stupid they figure out very quickly that the thing you put around their neck is responsible for the pain. That fact will keep them in the yard when the collar is in place. Remove the collar and you remove the deterant. The dog will go back to the previous behaviour of leaving the yard.

Torture does not create a permanent solution, calm assertive pack leadership will solve the problem indefinitely.If you are going to share your home and life with a dog the ability to be calm and assertive is essential to happily living with your pet. Understanding pack mentality goes a long way towards living harmoniously with your dog. Your dog has needs too, if you ignore those needs you get an unbalanced dog. An unbalanced dog will develop issues. How you deal with those issues determines the quality of life you have with your dog.

When a human being is expecting their first child they read everything they can get their hands on about pregnancy childbirth and parenting. It is after all a major milestone in life and we want to be armed with as much information as possible. When considering adding a pet to the family however, most people do no research at all. This seems odd considering that a committment to an animal can span eighteen years or more. We will research what we can expect to deal with when having a child, a committment that will last a lifetime, but we do no research on what to expect from the breed of dog we have chosen to share our life and home with, a committment that should last for the life of the animal. This tells me that as a society we have values we put on human life. We research parenting because we don't want to make any mistakes that cause our child harm. It also tells me we as a society do not value all life the same way. We view pets as dumb animals. We make no lifetime committments to our pets, if they do not act as we believe they should we pass them on or use methods we would never dream of using on a human being in order to train them.You wouldn't torture your children to make them act the way you wish so why is this a feasible way of training an animal?

Should the Youth Criminal Justice Act be Abolished?

In 2007 the number of homicides in Canada dropped by a dozen compared to the year before. However, an increasing number of homicides are gang related. According to a Statistics Canada report generated in October of 2008, 594 homicides were committed in 2007. About one-third of the homicides involving young people in 2007 were reported by police as having involved gangs. Indeed, the data showed that one in five of homicides are gang-related. Killings of gang members as well as innocent bystanders have been on the rise for the past 11 years.

In 2007, 117 homicides were said to involve gangs, 16 more than in 2006. Of those 117 homicides 74 were allegedly committed by young offenders. This rise continues a trend that has been seen since 1991, when Stats Canada first began collecting this type of data.

If more, and more homicides are being classed as gang related, it stands to reason that more, and more offenders will be youth offenders. With this in mind is it not safe to say that Canada's Young Offenders Act (more recently known as the Young Criminal Justice Act) is not providing an adequate deterrent to young people who offend.

Would Jasmine Richardson have had a part in the death of her parents if the YCJA did not exist? Would she have plotted murder had she known that she would spend the rest of her life behind bars? Perhaps not. Jasmine will be released back into society in 3 years. Six short years after she helped take the life of her family she will go free. Why? Because she was a minor when she committed the act of murder, and the YCJA says we can not keep her behind bars any longer than that. Jasmine's 26 year old accomplice Jeremy Allan Steinke (Steinke was 23 at the time of the murders) is serving a life sentence for his part in the killings.

Will Jasmine Richardson offend again? No one knows, but she has already committed the worst crime possible. She has taken a life. Should she not be punished accordingly for that crime? Richardson has spent the past three years incarcerated, and still shows no signs of remorse for her actions. Slap on the wrist justice will not serve as an adequate deterrent to children who wish to offend. Leniency on some criminal activities committed by a child can be understood, but should murder really be one of them? Should the young offenders act be amended? Should the YCJA exist at all? Does it cause more problems than it solves?