News Bites: Comfort Dogs Helping Boston, World’s First Dog, Deadly Cats, NZ vs Cats


Five K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs are in Boston helping survivors of the bombings.  Two of the dogs were brought in from Newtown, Conn., where they were helping students and parents at Sandy Hook Elementary.  The dogs also help medical staff cope with the stress of treating so many casualties.  The K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs are part of Lutheran Church Charities.  You can keep up with them on Facebook.



DNA from 33,000 year old skull found in 1975 shows the animal was more closely rated to modern dogs than to wolves as was previously thought.  This, the Altai dog, is the 2nd oldest example of primitive dogs—the oldest is the Goyet dog.

Check out this post on primitive dogs in the Americas.


coralcatCats kill way more animals than we thought.  Instead of killing 500 birds a year in the U.S., they’re killing 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion bird and 6.9 billion to 20.7 billion mammals.  Non-pet outdoor cats do most of the killing, but pet cats are responsible for 1/3 of the deaths.  All the more reason to keep your cats inside unless they’re supervised.



Gareth Morgan, a New Zealand businessman & philanthropist, wants to ban cats from New Zealand because of their threat to the unique wildlife found there.  The facts are pretty stunning:

  • Cats have contributed to the extinction of 9 native bird species [3].
  • Cats impact on 33 endangered native bird species [4].
  • One feral cat killed 102 endangered native short tail bats in a week [5].
  • Cats kill native birds. In our cities domestic cats kill native birds faster than they can possibly breed [6].
  • Around 40% of New Zealand’s native land-birds are already extinct, and of the ones remaining 37% are endangered. [7]

A complete ban seems extreme, but a complete ban on any outdoor cats might be a good thing.  This would have serious implications for any trap & release programs dealing with feral cats.

New Book On Michael Vick’s Dogs

Jim Gorant from Sports Illustrated has a new book that follows 49 surviving dogs seized from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennel. (You can read about the history of this case on the Michael Vick archive page.)  Gorant says:

As odd as it may seem, Michael Vick may be the best thing that ever happened to the pit bull. He gave the forum to discuss this and make it possible to get the message out there that these dogs are not what they’ve been made out to be in the headlines, that they really are just sort of dogs. And a lot varies from each one to another and then how they’re raised and socialized and all of these issues that go around them. You can find the sweetest, most loving pitbulls in the world and you can find other dogs that are as mean as you want.

Listen to the interview with the author. It was first thought that most of the dogs seized would be euthanized, happily this hasn’t been the case.  Four dogs have even become therapy dogs.

The Michigan State University College of Law has a very informative page on dog fighting that covers the history, the training, the culture, the societal cost, the criminal links, laws and legal issues, and evidence, including less obvious things such as the drugs/vitamins/medical supplies used. You can also find out about the signs of dog fighting. And the Humane Society of the United States has a FAQ on dog fighting. (Note: None of the these pages have gruesome photos of dogs showing the barbarism of dog fighting. They do have a wealth of information.)

News Bites: Vick, Cigs, Obits, Aid, Goth