A Street Cat Named Bob

About a month ago a friend lent me a really heartwarming book.  I blew through it in a weekend.  I’ve never done a book review for the Pets blog before, but this seems appropriate.  The book is called “A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets,” by James Bowen.  Don’t worry: this isn’t a real tear-jerker of a book.  It’s a sweet, inspirational story of how a very special cat inspired a lost man to take control of his own life. James Bowen was a recovering drug addict in London.  He’d just … Continue reading

Microchip Law Passed in the U.K.

The British government has just passed a controversial new law: all dogs are required to have microchips by 2016.  After then, the owners of any dogs found without microchips will be fined the equivalent of nearly $800.  The government isn’t marching door to door testing dogs for microchips, but the owners of any unchipped dogs taken to shelters will face the fine when they come to pick up their dog. The move is controversial because it’s seen as the government interfering too much in private affairs, as an Orwellian move.  Officials say they have everyone’s best interests at heart.  No … Continue reading

Killer Cats on the Loose

One of the most popular news stories to break last week was a new estimation of the deaths attributed to domesticated house cats.  We’re not talking people deaths, but the deaths of small birds and mammals; that might seem insignificant, but the number is in the billions.  Researchers from the Smithsonian and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that although the worst offenders are feral and stray cats, one in three domesticated cats also kills animals in its neighborhood.  Those cats average two kills a week. When it’s well-fed, domesticated cats doing the killing, they’re not usually keeping these … Continue reading

Driver Dogs Trained in New Zealand

I can’t drive stick.  I’m all right if there’s no one around me, but the second I’m at a stop sign and there are people behind me, I stall and can’t get the car to start again. So I’m feeling rather ashamed right now, because a group of dogs in New Zealand are doing what I can’t.  These rescue dogs have been trained to drive cars.  BBC News has the report. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in New Zealand capital Auckland were tired of families surrendering dogs and saying that the pooches were too hard to … Continue reading

Koshik the Talking Elephant

Could our next best friend be an elephant?  Maybe not for most of us here stateside, where we’re not exactly equipped to properly look after pachyderms.  But the news out of a zoo in South Korea, reported by BBC News, shows that an elephant has entered the next stage of the human-animal bond: talking. Before now, the only animals we could conceive of really being able to replicate our speech were parrots.  Now elephants are joining the list.  Koshik is a 12-year-old Asian elephant that lives at a zoo in South Korea.  When he started making sounds that his keepers thought … Continue reading

Hamster Successfully Cohabitates with Snake

The best unlikely animal friends stories are the ones where predators and their prey ignore the call of nature and become buddies instead. I could fill this blog with such stories, or even just animal friendship stories, but I try to space it out. I couldn’t ignore this 2006 tale from Japan, however, that garnered international attention. BBC News has the details. Aochan is a two-year-old rat snake residing at the Mutsugoro Okoku zoo in Tokyo. He’s a bit of a picky eater; he rejected the frozen rats presented to him by the zookeepers. So instead, in the fall of … Continue reading

Dolphin Intelligence Sparks New Ethics Debate

A unit in my college environmental ethics class studied the different ethics systems we follow in order to determine how we treat others. It focused on sentient verses non-sentient: the idea that some life, although not as intelligent as humanity, is still aware of itself (animal) and that other, while still alive, has no self-awareness (plant). The question of sentience was one factor used to determine what level of ethical treatment was appropriate for different members of the environment. Up until now humans for the most part have lumped all animals into one category and treated them the same: humanely, … Continue reading

Dangerous Exotic “Pets”

Exotic pets have been in the news lately. I define exotic pets as wild or barely domesticated animals that you’d sooner expect to see in a zoo than someone’s home. They’re often illegal to own. Even then the classification gets tricky; I’ve previously written about potbelly pigs and hedgehogs, two uncommon pets, that are sometimes illegal in certain states or counties. In these cases, however, the illegality issue has to do with invasive species; certain types of hedgehogs and pigs are not native to the country and officials want to keep out the non-native breeds. When I’m talking about exotic … Continue reading

Pet Pardons

Are you a sucker for animal rescue stories? You all know I am. I post them here all of the time. However, I can’t keep up with the constant flood of good news, and even if I could that would mean I’d never post anything else on the Pets blog. As tempting as that sounds, it’s important that I keep my articles diverse. So today I’m going to profile a new website, Pet Pardons, that provides animal rescue stories 24/7. Now, you’re not likely to find many tales of hero dogs alerting their owners to midnight fires on Pet Pardons. … Continue reading

Deceased Dog Granted Legal Status Beyond Property

Legally pets are considered property. It’s relevant related to insurance claims or custody and other legal proceedings. It seems harsh to many, including myself, because in both instances it can lead to decisions that don’t seem to take into account that most people love their animals like family members. Now a Texas court has changed the game. The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth made a ruling in a case that gave dogs increased status above property. Dogster.com has the full story. One day the worst happened for an unnamed couple in the Fort Worth area. Their dog, Avery, … Continue reading