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Tag: pawprint

Pawprint in the mud leads to discovery that New Guinea highland wild dogs still exist

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After nearly half a century of fearing that the New Guinea highland wild dog had gone extinct in its remote and inhospitable habitat, high in the mountains of New Guinea, a pawprint in the mud has led researchers to confirm the existence of at least 15 of them.

Photographs taken with camera traps and DNA analyses of biological samples confirm the dogs — considered the most ancient breed on earth — are living along New Guinea’s remote central mountain spine.

“The discovery and confirmation of the highland wild dog for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting, but an incredible opportunity for science,” says the group behind the discovery, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF).

hihgland1An expedition by the foundation last year led to the discovery of the population — after a member of the group noticed a pawprint in the mud.

New Guinea highland wild dogs were only known from two unconfirmed photographs in recent years — one taken in 2005, and the other in 2012.

They had not been documented with certainty in their native range in over half a century, and experts feared that what was left of the ancient dogs had dwindled to extinction.

Last year, a NGHWDF expedition led by zoologist James K. McIntyre, was joined by local researchers from the University of Papua, who were also seeking the the elusive dogs.

A muddy paw print spotted in September 2016 finally gave them what they were looking for — recent signs that the wild canids still wandered the dense forests of the New Guinea highlands.

The footprint was one McIntyre had left, with his bare feet, while going up the mountain. On the group’s way down the mountain, he noticed it had been joined by a paw print.

Bait was laid. Camera traps were set. And the cameras captured more than 140 images of Highland Wild Dog.

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DNA analysis of fecal fecal samples confirmed that the breed is related to Australian dingos and New Guinea singing dogs – the captive-bred variants of the New Guinea highland wild dog.

The species established itself on the island at least 6,000 years ago, either arriving with human migrants or migrating independently of humans.

The dogs most commonly have a golden coat, but can also be black, tan or cream colors. Their tails curl up over their backsides and their ears sit erect on their heads.

According to the NGHWDF, there are roughly 300 New Guinea singing dogs remaining in the world, living in zoos and private homes. They are known for their high-pitched howls, often carried out in chorus with one another.

A scientific paper on the discovery is expected to be released in the coming months.

(Photos: NGHWDF)

Susie’s Law signed in North Carolina

Susie, an 8-week-old puppy when she was tortured, burned and left to die in Greensboro last summer, yesterday became the first dog to sign a piece of legislation in North Carolina — one aimed at protecting her kind.

Gov. Bev Perdue signed the animal cruelty prevention bill known as Susie’s Law. Susie, a pit bull mix wearing pearls and pink nail polish for the occasion, then put her paw print on the bill.

“Today, we make our homes better and our streets safer for the people who inhabit this state,” said Perdue. “No matter if they have two legs or four legs.”

It was about a year ago when Susie was tortured, set on fire and left for dead in Greensboro. Her ears were singed off and she was covered in maggots by the time she was found, about two weeks after the beating, which left her with missing teeth and a broken jaw, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

Lashawn Whitehead, 21, of Greensboro, was convicted and sentenced to probation.

Susie’s new owner, Donna Lawrence, was one of the forces behind the legislation, wanting to make sure that anyone who tortured a dog in the future would have to pay with jail time.

Under the new law, any malicious abuse, torture, or killing of animals becomes a Class H felony, punishable by up to 10 months in jail.

“This law will also protect, I believe, North Carolina’s people,” said Perdue. “The data is pretty clear. For those of you who don’t know the data, people who are actually cruel and do this kind of stuff to animals, are five times more likely to do this kind of thing to a human being.”

Perdue’s dog’s Dosie and Zipper also looked on as the bill became law.

(Photo: Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)