Inside This Issue:

  • What Animal Behaviors Did YOU Observe During the Eclipse-of-a-Lifetime?
  • Former Adoption Center Owner Sentenced to Two Years in Prison
  • For Myrtle the Turtle, Age (and Weight) Is Just a Number
  • More Frenchie Thefts: Two Headlines in One Week!
  • Alarming Number of Owners "Reluctant" to Get Their Pets Vaccinated

What Animal Behaviors Did YOU Observe During the Eclipse-of-a-Lifetime?

Welcome darkness, my old friend.

On Monday, during an event of a lifetime, folks from Texas to Ohio watched in awe as skies turned dark during a total solar eclipse. Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, where we experienced the path of totality, stars and planets were visible, streetlights turned on, and the whole world seemed to go quiet while the moon blocked out the sun. The animals responded accordingly: doves started to coo as the darkness fell, and by the time the sun was totally obscured, all the birds fell silent and were nestled into the trees. But as the sun’s light returned, so did the chatter.

Zoos along the path of totality also took extra time and attention to monitor their animals’ reactions. Keepers at Dallas Zoo observed ostriches huddled together, with one even laying an egg! Fort Worth Zoo saw their great apes heading for their nighttime enclosures and nocturnal animals became roused. Even though the animals are not keeping an eye on the clock, they clearly still know what "time" it is by the light of the sun. These observations, while rare (the next total eclipses in the U.S. won’t be until 2044 and 2045), have helped researchers understand nature’s response to light and what behaviors can be seen when events like eclipses occur.

Zoo animals got quiet, exhibited nighttime behavior during total solar eclipse

★     (2020) Total Eclipse of the Zoo: Animal Behavior during a Total Solar Eclipse
★     FWC: About Lighting Pollution


Former Adoption Center Owner Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

Sixty-five cats and 52 dogs, many in pretty rough shape, were seized from the adoption center.

In Oregon, a former adoption center owner who was barred from keeping pets for 15 years was caught by her parole officer living with seven dogs and who knows how many cats. The pet prohibition was part of a plea deal to avoid jail time in a 2023 animal abuse and neglect trial. Now she has been sentenced to two years in prison.

It’s no surprise she was being monitored this closely. The woman had quite a history and had already been barred from running nonprofits in 2019 after the state shut down a rescue she owned. But undaunted, she just went and opened a FOR-profit “rescue” that claimed to be saving dogs and cats from “high-kill California shelters.” And all the while, her adoption center was neglecting and abusing its animals, adopting out pets with known behavioral and health problems, not reimbursing spay/neuter fees as promised, engaging in forgery, and generally making life miserable for both animals and their well-meaning human adopters.

The facts of this case aren’t in dispute. However, multiple questions still arise when digesting a story like this. For example, in the social media age, how does one open up a new rescue so quickly after their previous one has been shut down? And when a rescue is truly bad – criminally bad – was the operation set up to scam adopters from the start, or was it a gradual process (and do the owners even know the answer to this)? Does the presence of a few buzzwords (e.g. “high-kill” or "no-kill") on a rescue's stated mission add a sense of urgency, even nobility, that causes potential adopters to overlook clear signs of neglect and mismanagement? And finally, if you've been ordered by a court not to keep pets, but still end up cramming your trailer full of dogs and cats (that can't be comfortable or safe for anybody), what additional underlying issues does that speak to?

Caught with more dogs and cats, owner of notorious Portland pet adoption center sent to jail

★     Owners of animal rescue charged with over 150 counts of animal neglect
★     George Santos was a small-timer among animal charity scammers


For Myrtle the Turtle, Age (and Weight) Is Just a Number

Now that's a pose!

Myrtle the green sea turtle is thriving at the New England Aquarium, the place she’s called home since 1970. While it normally isn’t polite to discuss a lady’s weight or age, Myrtle, at 95 years old and 500+ pounds, passed her veterinary exam with flying colors this past week, which makes her a happy exception to this rule of etiquette. Just look at her!

Green sea turtles have a long lifespan, typically ranging from 80 to 100 years in the wild. Myrtle reaching such a great age is a testament to the level of care she has received while living at the aquarium. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have been impacted by her presence on exhibit in the Giant Ocean Tank – something not many animals can accomplish, save for a few others with similar lifespans. Along with so many other species in the last century, green sea turtles have been listed as Endangered as per the IUCN. This status is due to a combination of factors including habitat loss, pollution, poaching, incidental capture in fishing gear, and climate change impacting nesting sites and food sources. Outreach programs like those at the New England Aquarium focus on what it takes for people and their governments to conserve and preserve sea turtles now and into the future. Keepers and veterinarians anticipate that Myrtle will continue to live contentedly and go on inspiring generations to come.

Myrtle the nonagenarian turtle passes physical, aquarium says

★     Information About Sea Turtles: Green Sea Turtle
★     Sea Turtle Conservation


More Frenchie Thefts: Two Headlines in One Week!

Very stealable.

French Bulldogs were stolen on both sides of the country this week.

In Washington, an elderly couple who breed Frenchies had their van – containing three of their dogs – stolen. The van was recovered, but the dogs remain at large. According to the owners, one of the dogs was just spayed, while the other had “corrective surgery," and they need their medicine as soon as possible. The location of the dogs is currently unknown.

In Georgia, a man broke into a woman’s car after she walked into a beauty supply shop, stealing her two Frenchies. This was a particularly audacious theft – it occurred during broad daylight while the owner was literally only feet away. On surveillance footage, a man can be seen ducking down and stealing the dogs, so his actions were at least recorded. Hopefully the video provides clues leading to the dogs’ recovery.

Sadly, the theft of high-demand dog breeds is making the news more and more often. Thieves know they can steal a dog, then turn around and sell it for thousands. And according to the American Kennel Club, the most popular target for theft is the French Bulldog. This makes perfect sense: the breed isn't just beloved, it is also a status or "lifestyle" symbol, is of a smaller size (i.e. easier to steal and smuggle), is expensive, and in high demand.

Now, we don’t want to blame the victims, but it is worth noting that in both cases, the dogs were left unattended in their owners’ vehicles. This serves as an unfortunate reminder that even in cooler weather, even if you’re just going into the store for a moment, leaving your dog alone in the car can have dire consequences. We also don't want dog owners to become fearful and paranoid of strangers due to all the recent scary headlines, but it is worth being aware and taking reasonable precautions if you own a highly desirable breed.

3 French bulldogs, van stolen from Arlington dog breeders

★     Pet owner speaks out after French Bulldogs are stolen out of her car at Smyrna shopping center
★     How to Prevent Dog Theft


Alarming Number of Owners "Reluctant" to Get Their Pets Vaccinated

Worth it, but there's a caveat: not all dogs are this relaxed at the vet!

Imagine having easy access to a vaccine that can prevent your beloved pets from contracting rabies. A disease that, once symptoms appear, will cause them horrific anguish and certain death? Now imagine being offered this vaccine, and saying “Nah, I don’t want my dog to get autism.”

The rabies virus can infect all mammals. All mammals can transmit the virus too. And guess what? Worldwide, dogs are the single biggest vector for human infections and deaths. This is a huge public health concern. Here, in the United States, rabies deaths are very rare, and typically the result of contact with rabid bats. Bats are our top culprit for numerous reasons (some of them quite fascinating), but chief among them is the fact that rabies – through the result of mass-vaccination programs – has been eradicated in our dog population. Because of this, rabies isn’t something most people put a lot of thought into. But if enough people stop vaccinating their dogs and cats, we will be forced to think about it, as we address the tragic consequences and costly response of an outbreak.

This is why a recent survey showing that 37% of U.S. dog owners think their dogs could develop autism from vaccines is so troubling. Yes, autism. What is going on here? Even if the claims of vaccines causing autism in human children hadn’t been disproved ages ago, there’s also the fact that autism isn’t even something that affects dogs. Yet somehow, this belief persists. It is vital that pet owner awareness and education campaigns spotlight the danger and consequences of avoiding rabies vaccinations before these beliefs gain enough traction to affect public policy changes. We've already suffered through the fallout of people "rescuing" rabid street dogs from foreign countries. A reversal of rabies vaccine mandates for our domestic pets would be disastrous.

Some pet owners are advocating against rabies vaccines. Here's why rabies is dangerous.

★     Nearly Half of Dog Owners Are Hesitant to Vaccinate Their Pets
★     Rabies in a Dog Imported from Azerbaijan — Pennsylvania, 2021


Also in the News...

★     Farm groups disappointed with Gov. Evers' veto of “Protect Our Farms” legislation (When Local, State, Farmer, Property Owner, Animal Rightist, and Environmentalist Interests Collide)
★     Official state animals for Kansas are in or nearing mating seasons. Here's what to know
 (You Either Get Busy Livin' or Get Busy Bison)
★     Pet owners, dogs getting attacked on the rise due to Houston's animal overpopulation crisis (Pet Ownership & Public Safety)
★     Heat stress from ocean warming harms octopus vision (Ocean & Cephalopod Health; Climate Change)
★     MSPCA seeks to rehome 100+ animals seized from Ayer, Massachusetts home (Not Your Usual Hoarding: Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Goats, and Ponies)
★     The US's controversial owl-killing plan (Ecology; Endangered Species; Killing Them to Save Them; USFW)
★     7 Animals With Some Of The Silliest Scientific Names (Looks Like Silly is Back on the Menu; Nomenclative Lists)

Click here to see what is happening legislatively

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