Inside This Issue:

  • LAAS Employee Mauled at Shelter, Says City Adopted No-Kill "Way Too Soon"
  • The Science of Social Attraction Brings Birds Back to their Island
  • Invasive Spider Sparks Some Sensationalistic Headlines

LAAS Employee Mauled at Shelter, Says City Adopted No-Kill "Way Too Soon" 

A Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS) employee, Leslie Corea, was severely mauled by a dog with known behavioral issues as she tried to get the dog out of its kennel. The large, powerful dog, which was considered increasingly “uncontrollable” and “unpredictable” was to be scheduled for euthanasia if no other rescue would take it. Corea’s horrific injuries required hospitalization and surgery. And had she not noticed a brick laying within arm’s reach as the dog repeatedly bit down on her, the attack would likely have been fatal. The dog was euthanized after the ordeal, and understandably, Corea says she doesn’t want to go back to the work she loves.

People who aren’t engaged in the world of rescue might be scratching their heads right now. “Why in the world did LAAS think it was a good idea to transfer a dog with such clear behavioral issues to another rescue?” or “Who in their right mind thinks this dog is suitable for adoption?” and those are fair, sane questions. According to Corea, who has been with the shelter for over two decades, there are numerous bites and maulings happening there that we don’t hear about (though this certainly isn’t the first one to make the news), and the reason for these attacks is because the city adopted no-kill way before it was ready. In her words “ needs to stop because we’re overcrowding and we’re not euthanizing the animals that need to be euthanized in a timely manner.” Ouch.

Let’s be clear: the philosophical goal of no-kill – to save the life of every adoptable dog or cat in the shelter – is wonderful, and something we hope everybody aspires to. It’s so good, in fact, you have to ask yourself who wouldn’t be for such a thing. Unfortunately, when policies are dictated by wonderful-sounding philosophies rather than the facts growling (perhaps viciously snapping) in front of our faces, disastrous outcomes aren’t likely, they are inevitable. Directed by people who view success only in terms of live release rates or who are blinded by the fierce urgency of “saving a life,” there will always be ready-made rationalizations for adopting out dogs that more sensible people would deem too challenging or dangerous for the general public – or for anyone.



The Science of Social Attraction Brings Birds Back to their Island 

A welcome return!

Last February, we covered the use of AI drones to eradicate rats from bird nest sites on ecologically sensitive islands in Hawaii. Today, biologists are excited to report from another island location off the coast of Chile that a different type of technology has been successful in repopulating a species after the removal of rodents.

Pajaros Uno Island is a desert island off the Chilean coast with a climate influenced by the Atacama desert. It is home to some of Chile’s most important seabird species—Peruvian Boobies, Kelp Gulls, and the Vulnerable Humboldt Penguin—whose guano provides vital nutrients to sustain marine wildlife. That in turn fuels the fishery used by locals. Only four years ago it was reported that fish catches had declined and the Peruvian diving petrel, or yunco, was no longer returning to the island to nest due to an overabundance of invasive rats. Now the yuncos are back on Pajaros Uno island with the help of “social attraction” where the sounds of bird calls were used to lure birds back to the island.

Already successful on a neighboring island, researchers decided to try the same plan on Pajaros Uno, after declaring it rat-free near the end of 2022. Within two weeks of playing the bird songs, yuncos returned. And only a few months after that, nesting burrows popped back up! Researchers are understandably over the moon about how quickly nature was able to reclaim itself after being ravaged by rats. Invasive ats are a common problem for tropical islands, and the implications of this plan's success go beyond the yunco and other island bird populations waiting to return to their homes.



Invasive Spider Sparks Some Sensationalistic Headlines

The invasion has begun!

You’ve probably already seen the headlines and social media posts this week about the invasive Joro spider from East Asia, which make it sound like the U.S. is being invaded by “giant venomous flying spiders.” This is straight, no-chaser nightmare fuel for arachnophobes, and a great way to get everybody else to click on your article or link. However, while invasive critters can be a serious problem, many of the headlines are seriously overblown. You can come out from behind the couch and put down that vinegar.

So let’s address some of the descriptors. Are these spiders actually giants? Well, they are big, though we aren’t talking Shelob-sized monsters here. In fact, we aren’t even talking top-5 largest spiders. Heck, Joros aren’t even the largest spider in South Carolina. That said, the females (unlike the species’ much smaller males) can fit across the palm of your hand, which does make them quite hefty! Still, giants they are not – in our view, it’s the spider’s beautiful coloration that makes it stick out more than its size. 

Now to the venom part. This part is simple: if you don’t harass the spider, your odds of being bit are infinitesimally low. But even if it does bite you, odds are good its fangs won’t be able to break your skin… and even if the bite is successful, it’s going to be on par with a bee sting. One article we saw weaseled around this point by saying the spider’s aren’t a threat “yet,” which, just… really? Are they suggesting the Joro spider will become more venomous and aggressive as it moves north? We know it’s getting harder and harder for news rooms to stay afloat financially, but come on! Not all articles have been sensationalistic, of course. For a good piece that deftly manages to thread the needle between light reading (with a dash of clickbait) and an informative review of this species, check out this Janet Loehrke article from last November.

Finally, you can rest assured that these “flying spiders” aren’t going to buzz through the air toward you like angry hornets. First of all, they don’t fly so much as float on the wind, using their silk as balloons (think Charlotte’s Web). Even if they desperately wanted to catch you, they wouldn’t have much control over their flightpath. Secondly, it’s just the babies that fly – and you’re not scared of a baby, are you?


Also in the News...

★     Alton man faces animal cruelty charges for shooting, starving dogs (Warrants & Arrests; Cruelty & Neglect)
★     Columbus shelter launches ‘Come Save Me’ campaign for longest-residing animals (Shelter & Rescue Opportunities)
★     Why some wild animals are getting insomnia (Wildlife; Climate Change; Too Hot to Sleep)
★     Lane County Animal Services retrieves neglected animals from Dorena property (Neglect & Refusal to Improve Standards; Horses, Cattle, Poultry)
★     A beleaguered breeder faces a record $35 million fine for mistreating its beagles (AWA Violations and Massive Fines)
★     Dramatic bodycam footage shows AC officer rescuing teen, animals from house fire (Flamin' Hot Pet Rescue)
★     Turkey's plan to get stray dogs off streets touches raw nerve (Stray Dog Population Issues)
★     32 of the loudest animals on Earth (Shouty Lists; Longer Is Often Worse than Louder)

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