News Bites: Dog, Parasite, Parrot, DNA, Europe’s Shame

Dog rescued after 8 days at 13,000 ft. on a mountain peak in Colorado.  The guys who rescued her were strangers to each other and to the dog, but they weren’t going to let her die up there.  There’s a custody battle now between her rescuers and her owner, who came forward.


Toxoplasma gondii even creepier than previously thought.  Here’s a really good article on a study that shows Toxoplasma infection is linked to increased risk of violent, successful suicide in women.  Scientists already knew it caused birth defects, changed behavior in rats, can make us neurotic, & increase risk of schizophrenia in children born to infected mothers.  Cats usually become infected by eating animals they kill, so here’s another reason not to let your cats roam!


Clever bird!  Study shows African grey parrots demonstrate a level of abstract, inferential reasoning equal to 3 yr.old humans and previously only seen in primates.


New genetic test can tell you if your kitty descended from cats in the Middle East or 7 other regions or if she’s really purebred.  If your cat is really mixed breed, this test won’t show whether she’s part Siamese or something.  It will only work if one of her parents was purebred.


Disgusting!  In Europe, every summer means thousands of abandoned pets.  What the hell?  I knew Europeans took long vacations in summer.  I didn’t know that so many ditched their pets before they went.

…every summer an estimated 100,000 domestic animals are abandoned in France by owners who say they are unable to take them along or find someone to look after them.

Shameful Day For Belfast City Council

Lennox, 2 yrs on concrete with sawdust & feces courtesy the Belfast City Council


After 2 years of trying to kill him, the Belfast City Council has finally destroyed Lennox the dog.  Lennox was removed from his home in 2010 despite having no history of aggression and despite being a companion to the family’s disabled daughter for 5 yrs.  He was removed because he fit the physical measurements in the Breed Specific Legislation despite DNA evidence that he wasn’t a pit bull.  Physical measurements.

Lennox spent 2 yrs. confined in deplorable conditions while his health suffered & went untreated.  His family was not allowed to see him during those 2 years.  Further, his family was denied the right to say goodbye to Lennox before he was killed.  They weren’t even allowed to see his body.  They were apparently told they’d receive “some” ashes in the mail.

Despite many people working to rescue Lennox, including Victoria Stilwell, the Belfast City Council seemed hellbent on destroying this dog.  The hired a police dog handler to testify about the dog’s behavior, not an animal behaviorist.  In fact, one of the dog wardens who testified that Lennox was dangerous and frightened her may have committed perjury.  She was later seen apparently petting and getting licks from Lennox in still shots from a video that was leaked.  Another thing noticeable in the still shots, was that Lennox was no longer at a healthy weight.  Victoria Stilwell spoke to further video evidence of Lennox’s appalling state of health (start listening at 42:20) including a terrible skin condition and neck pain. (This was from October 2011, so who knows what was the state of Lennox’s health and perhaps this is why they weren’t allowed to see his body.)  Finally, I think the clearest evidence that the Belfast City Council was fanatical in they’re drive to destroy Lennox, is that they refused to allow any U.S. animal sanctuaries take Lennox.  Beyond shameful.

You can hear Victoria Stilwell and the gutless idiot, Pat McCarthy, the head of Belfast City Council’s (BCC) Environmental Health Committee discuss the case and the killing of Lennox.

Go love on your dogs and hope to hell their breed never ends up on Breed Specific Legislation or that they ever look like a breed that’s banned or that they ever fit some ridiculous measurement of a breed that’s banned.

News Bites: Hendra Virus, Glowing Dog, Gold For Poop

The deadly Hendra virus detected in dog for the first time—sadly, Dusty, the Queensland, AU Kelpie has been euthanized. He’s the 4th animal the family has lost to the virus.  Find out more on Hendra virus symptoms from the WHO.

Scientists in South Korea have created a glowing dog who can be turned on & off. Tegon, the female Beagle, was created to help in research to find cures for diseases like Alxheimers and Parkinson’s.

Taipei is offering a chance to win gold ingots for bringing in dog poop. Yep.  They’ll also give rewards for photographs of people not scooping their pup’s poop.

Sled Dog Slaughter

It recently came to light that, 100 sled dogs were “culled” from a large pack of dogs owned by a dog sledding company for tourists in Whistler, B.C. last Spring.  They were not euthanized—they were slaughtered in front of other dogs waiting their turn to be killed.  The account of the killing is pretty horrific.  They were shot and some had their throats slit.  The only reason this came out was due to a workman’s comp claim filed from  by the man, Bob Fawcett, who killed the dogs.  His claim was due to PTSD from shooting the dogs.

There have been a ton of conflicting statements about this case.

  1. Fawcett claims he was ordered to kill the dogs to reduce costs.  Jim Houssian, the owner of Outdoor Adventures, says he did not tell Fawcett to kill the dogs.
  2. First, it was reported the the dogs killed were old and ill.  Other statements say a veterinarian contacted to euthanize the dogs refused because the dogs were healthy.
  3. Fawcett approached the SCPA twice about taking dogs.  One person at the SPCA says he contacted them in April or May (possibly before the cull), while another person at the SPCA says he contacted them in May after the cull.  Both agree he contacted the SPCA again in September.  Either way, Fawcett was turned away by the SPCA both times.

What a mess.  There’s always a risk for problems when a business relies on animals for it’s operation.  The bottom line is sometime met at the expense of the animals.  Whatever led up to the cull, Outdoor Adventures clearly is to blame for not having a plan to provide for its dogs.

The SPCA wouldn’t take the dogs because its behavior expert said sled dogs don’t make good pets.  I don’t know enough about the adoptability of sled dogs to have an opinion about that, but I do think the SPCA’s response was shameful.  What could they have possibly thought would happen to that many dogs in this economy?

Finally, we consumers need to be aware of what we’re supporting when we spend our money with businesses who rely on animals.

Here’s one last thing to think about dog sledding—The Yukon Quest is underway right now and the Iditarod starts March 5th.  2010 was the first year there were no dog deaths during the Iditarod.  6 dogs died in the 2009 race.  Of course, those tallies don’t account for how many dogs died to get the musher to the starting line.

Science News Bites: Shaking, Collars, Drinking

  • Dog shake physics—wet animals are so efficient at shaking water out of their fur, it probably has mechanical applications with washing machines, spin coaters, painting devices, etc.

  • Cat collars safer than previously thought. Lost cats are much less likely to be found than lost dogs, so researchers wanted to see how well cats would tolerate a collar & just how dangerous.  In one city surveyed, 40% of lost cats were indoor-only cats and fewer than 2% of lost cats are reunited with their owners, so indoor cats need collars with tags too.  In terms of safety, the study reported that out of 391 cats, only 18 cats got their collar stuck in their mouth, a limb, or another object.
  • Cats are masters of hydrodynamics. Cats average 4 laps per second without getting their chin or whiskers wet.  A column of water forms between the tongue and the surface of the liquid.  Dogs’ tongues scoop up water, while cats’ tongues don’t break the surface.  One of the researchers got the idea after watching his own cat drink milk.