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Tag: pets

Dogs vs. cats: The battle goes on

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In the perpetual debate over which makes a better pet — dog or cat — cats have been taking a drubbing lately.

It’s a silly argument to begin with: Why must we deem one species superior? What possible good does that serve? And it’s mostly a waste of time. Converting a dyed-in-the-wool dog lover to a staunch cat lover is about as likely as getting someone to switch from Donald to Hillary.

Yet, conflict seems to be something we humans require, or at least enjoy. And the endless argument does provide fodder for bloggers. And, every now and then, something interesting comes up.

In the past year, scientific and semi-scientific studies comparing dogs and cats have come down more squarely on the side of dogs — enough so that you’ve got to wonder if some cat-hater is behind it all.

dog_wins_tee_cat_tic_tac_toe_1024x1024(For the record, we confess a personal preference for dog right here at the start, though we like cats, too.)

One such study was conducted as part of a new BBC2 documentary called “Cats v. Dogs: Which is Better” — a silly concept for a TV show, though we admit some of what they bring to light is thought provoking.

Dr. Paul Zak, a California neuroscientist, compared how much oxytocin dogs produce compared to cats, and he concluded that dogs love humans more than cats do. Five times as much to be exact.

It has been well documented that bonding, petting and having eye contact with your dog produces increased levels of the oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, in both dog and human.

“It’s one of the chemical measures of love in mammals,” Zak said. “Humans produce the hormone in our brains when we care about someone. For example, when we see our spouse or child the levels in our bloodstream typically rise by 40-60 percent.”

The neuroscientist checked the oxytocin levels in both cats and dogs, taking saliva samples from 10 cats and 10 dogs on two occasions – 10 minutes before a playtime session with their owners and immediately after.

“I was really surprised to discover that dogs produced such high levels of oxytocin .. The dog level of 57.2 percent is a very powerful response. It shows these dogs really care about their owners,” he said.

dog-ppl-vs-cat-ppl4Zak said he was surprised to find any oxytocin at all in cats, which he said had never been tested for the hormone before.

Zak, also known as “Dr.Love,” believes upping our oxytocin (and hugging more) could change the world. He once took blood from an entire wedding party and a sampling of guests, to see how their oxytocin levels went up during the ceremony.

He also spent two years trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to approve his use of oxytocin inhalers on experimental subjects. (In the meantime, as reported in The Guardian, he used one on himself.)

Zak’s determination that canines love us more than felines do was just the latest bit of bad press for cats.

Another recent study, at Manhattanville College in New York, found canines provide humans with more benefits than cats.

The research suggested dog owners are more conscientious, less neurotic and more agreeable than cat owners. Dog owners scored higher in well-being than cat owners on all measures.

Last year, a study at the University of California, Berkeley, found, through web-based surveying, that cat owners were more anxious than cat owners.

If you still don’t believe cats have been getting some bad press, check out this headline on a story about a study of cats last year: “Study: Your cat might be trying to kill you.”

The story dealt with a study by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the Bronx Zoo that compared the personality of the domestic cat with bigger, wilder members of the cat species.

The headline … well, it’s what happens when you try to condense a 40-page study into eight catchy words.

So if you find yourself reading/listening to/watching the latest account of which is better, cats or dogs — whether it’s labeled science or not — be at least a little wary.

And if it stresses you out, go pet your dog. Or cat.

Woof in Advertising: The Barkleys are back

It’s that (one) time of year that we get excited about commercials — and while those that air during the Super Bowl always get the most hype, Subaru is again focusing its advertising efforts on the Puppy Bowl.

Five new ads showcasing the Barkleys, the family of retrievers that first rolled onto the scene in 2013, will be airing in coming weeks and during Puppy Bowl XII on Animal Planet.

The ads are part of Subaru’s “Dog Tested Dog Approved” campaign.

woof in advertisingThe national television spots were created by Carmichael Lynch on behalf of Subaru of America, which is marking its sixth year as the event’s official auto sponsor.

The ads do a great job of intertwining quirky human behavior and quirky dog behavior with some highly laughable results.

In “Phone Navigation,” the Barkleys try to communicate with their smartphone voice assistant, but run into a bit of a language barrier.

“Puppy” shows the Barkleys taking a nighttime drive to try to get their little one to sleep.

And in “Bad Hair Day” Dad picks up Mom from the hair salon and is unsure what to make of her makeover.

Subaru has long been at the forefront of car companies catering to dog owners.

“Subaru and its customers have a deep connection to pets. Eight out of 10 Subaru owners are pet owners, and our brand continues to support the causes and initiatives that our customers care about,” said Alan Bethke, vice president of marketing at Subaru of America.

You can see more of the ads here, and learn more about Subaru’s involvement with dog causes, here.

(Woof in Advertising is a semi-regular feature on ohmidog! that looks at how dogs are used in marketing. You can find more posts here.)

600 animals seized from The Haven in N.C.

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Authorities in Hoke County, N.C., yesterday unearthed the remains of 15 dogs on the grounds of a “no-kill” animal shelter from which 600 animals were seized this week.

A day after Hoke County deputies and the ASPCA raided The Haven — Friends for Life shelter near Raeford, authorities on Thursday dug up the remains of 15 dogs that had been buried on the property.

stephenspearmsspearShelters owners Stephen and Linden Spears were released on bond after appearing in court on charges of neglect and possession of a controlled substance, but authorities says more charges against them are possible.

They’ve been banned from returning to the shelter.

Representatives of the ASPCA continued to remove some of the more than 600 neglected animals from the shelter yesterday, taking them to a warehouse near Raleigh where they could be checked by veterinarians and cared for.

ASPCA officials called the raid the largest companion-animal raid they’ve conducted nationwide in the last 20 years.

More than 300 dogs, 250 cats, 40 horses and numerous farm animals were living at the 122-acre shelter in Raeford, the ASPCA said in a press release.

hoke2“What we found today at this facility — self-described as ‘North Carolina’s most successful no-kill shelter’ — is unacceptable,” said Tim Rickey, senior vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.

“This is one of the largest animal seizures the ASPCA has ever conducted in our 150 years as an organization,” he added. “We have a team of nearly 140 responders on the ground to remove and care for these hundreds of neglected animals who have clearly not been receiving adequate care. Our goal is to help them become healthy and ultimately find them homes.”

The ASPCA’s assistance was requested by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, which began an investigation into the shelter after receiving complaints about sick animals and unsanitary conditions.

The Haven was operating without a license for about a decade, according to the ASPCA, and past inspections by the state Department of Agriculture had deemed the facility “inadequate.”

The population at the facility has fluctuated over the years, reaching more than 1,000 animals.

According to the shelter’s Facebook page, it was often seeking donations to improve the shelter, and had recently launched a GoFundMe drive to build roofs over the outdoor pens where dogs were kept.

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The seized dogs, cats and other animals will be held at an undisclosed location, and the ASPCA will continue to care for them until custody is determined by the court,

“The condition of these animals is pressing and required immediate attention,” said Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin. “In addition to protecting Hoke County citizens, law enforcement has an obligation to ensure the safety and well being of Hoke County animals at all times. We cannot and will not allow this type of mistreatment to continue any longer. All persons involved will be held accountable.”

No deceased animals were found on the property Wednesday, but yesterday investigators found at least 15 dead dogs and “dozens” of animals buried on the property, according to WRAL in Raleigh.

(Photos of shelter courtesy of ASPCA; photos of Spears family courtesy of Hoke sheriff’s department)

Owner of dog killed by police in Colorado receives landmark $262,000 settlement

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In a settlement that’s being called one of the largest ever for a wrongful pet death, the owner of a dog shot and killed by police in Commerce City, Colorado, will receive $262,000,

Chloe, a 3-year-old chocolate Lab mix, was shot and killed by police in 2012 — after she’d been secured with a catch pole and shot with a stun gun.

A video camera captured Officer Robert Price firing five shots at the dog.

Chloe had been Gary Branson’s companion and therapy dog since 2008.

“I am happy that we have been vindicated,” Branson said. “She deserved justice for what happened to her. This has been a very difficult time for me and am glad that it is now settled.”

The payment was part of a settlement aimed at avoiding a federal civil court trial scheduled later this month, KDVR reported.

Branson had left the dog in the care of a relative during an out of town trip in November 2012. The relative left the dog in the garage while running errands and Chloe somehow activated the door’s sensor, making it open.

A neighbor saw the unleashed dog and called police to report an aggressive “pit bull”-type dog roaming the neighborhood.

When police arrived, Chloe was back in the garage. After getting the noose of a catch pole around her neck, and using a Taser on the dog, Officer Robert Price, deeming the dog’s behavior as threatening and aggressive, shot Chloe.

Commerce City police, after a review of the incident, said Price was acting “within policy” when he killed the dog.

He was nevertheless charged with aggravated animal cruelty, only to be later acquitted by an Adams County jury.

Attorney Jennifer Edwards with the Animal Law Center said that decision prompted the filing of a lawsuit.

“It wasn’t surprising. I think the prosecutor’s office was pretty conflicted in this,” Edwards says, “At that point my client did not feel much vindication so the only thing left is to pursue a civil remedy.”

Edwards said the settlement sets precedent for thousands of other cases.

“It speaks volumes as to the fact that this isn’t going to happen and you’re not going to not be held accountable,” she said.

For Branson, the settlement still isn’t enough to replace what he lost.

“No amount of money could replace Chloe,” he said.

Below is the video (be warned, it is disturbing) of Chloe’s death, taken by one of Branson’s neighbors.

(Photo from Justice for Chloe Facebook page)

Dog let out to pee ends up running 13-mile marathon — and coming in 7th

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In Elkmont, Alabama, on a Saturday earlier this month, April Hamlin let her big ol’ hound out the door to pee.

Prone to wandering a bit, the dog, named Ludivine, ended up about a quarter mile away, at the starting area of a half marathon.

She mingled with the runners and, when the race started, she ran the entire 13.1-mile course.

Ludivine came in seventh, with an unofficial time of 1:32:56

ludi2By the time a medal was draped over her head at the finish line, Hamlin still hadn’t realized that her two and a half-year-old dog was doing a lot more than relieving herself.

Then she started receiving texts and photos of Ludivine at the finish line.

“All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord,” Hamlin, 43, told Runner’s World.

“My first reaction was that I was embarrassed and worried that she had possibly gotten in the way of the other runners.”

Her second reaction was that marathons aren’t normally Ludivine’s style.

“She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy,” Hamlin said.

Ludivine — the name is a shortened translation of “divine light” in French — often strolls around Elkmont on her own. The town has about 400 residents, most of which know Ludivine.

“She came bouncing up, and I petted her on the head,” said Tim Horvath, one of Ludivine’s fellow runners in the inaugural Trackless Train Trek Half Marathon. “… Elkmont is a small town where everyone knows everybody, so it didn’t strike me as unusual.”

Ludivine managed to place seventh despite detouring to romp through streams, sniff the grass in a few yards, check out some mules and cows in a field and investigate a dead rabbit, runners said.

Once she crossed the finish line, she slowed to a walk. Volunteers put a medal around her neck and started taking photos.

The race was held to raise funds for the cross country team at Elkmont High School.

“It’s the first half marathon in Elkmont, and the people who started it are parents of the kids who run cross country … Our school system doesn’t have a ton of money for cross country, Hamlin said.

“Because of this dog, they are getting so much publicity, and I think that’s the best part.”

(Photos: Ludivine approaching the finish line, and showing off her medal, from the Elkmont Half Marathon Facebook page)

Hachiko, come home

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Hachiko, the dog, waited every day at Shibuya Station in Tokyo for his master to come home on the train — for more than nine years after his master’s death.

Hachiko, in statue form, has sat outside the train station for 82 years — a longstanding memorial to the dog’s loyalty

shibuyahachikoNow the northern Japanese city in which Hachiko was born, Odate, plans to ask that Hachiko come “back home,” Japan Times reports.

Hachiko didn’t live in Odate long — less than a year before he was purchased by a Tokyo professor. And Odate already has at least two other statues of Hachiko.

Still, the city of 75,000 hopes Tokyo might consider relocating the statue to Odate when redevelopment efforts begin in the Shibuya Ward.

“We are earnestly hoping for the return of Hachiko to his home,” said Tsuyoshi Kudo, an Odate city official in charge of tourism policy. “But we acknowledge the statue is an important property of Shibuya Ward. We need to ask officials carefully.”

An Odate official said the city’s mayor may propose the idea to Shibuya Ward when he attends a meeting in Tokyo on Friday.

The sculpture was originally erected in front of the station in April 1934. It was recycled for the war effort during World War II and in 1948 a new one — made by the original sculptor’s son — replaced it. It remains one of the area’s main tourist attractions.

hachikouniversityAnother statue, depicting Hachiko greeting his master, Hidesaburo Ueno, was installed last year at the University of Tokyo, on the 80th anniversary of Hachiko’s death. Ueno was an agriculture professor at the university.

Shibuya Ward plans to start rebuilding the area west of Shibuya Station after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It has not decided yet what will happen to the statue when the work takes place, a ward official said.

Officials in Odate say they hope the Shibuya statue could be displayed with the Hachiko statue at the train station.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The statue at the Odate train station — showing Hachiko with more erect, less floppy ears — was erected in 2004.

Odate is fiercely proud of being the home of Hachiko and home of the Akita.

The Akita Dog Museum is located there, and it features a statue of Hachiko, too.

Other Akita statues can be found across the city, and even the city’s manhole covers are decorated with Hachiko-related cartoon characters.

As for what remains of the real Hachiko, it’s back in Tokyo. His organs are at the archive museum of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture, and a taxidermy version — featuring his original fur — is at the National Museum of Nature and Science.

With his dog facing euthanasia, owner adopts another to use as a decoy

A Cincinnati area man whose dog was ordered put down after it attacked another dog tried to pull a fast one on the local SPCA.

Jason Dotson, as ordered by a court, turned over a pit bull mix for euthanization alright — but it was not the one court ordered to be put down.

Instead it was one he adopted just days earlier.

Dotson, 32, of Springfield Township, was sentenced to 28 days in jail for trying to get the SPCA to euthanize the decoy dog.

“In my 10 years as a judge, I can’t recall a more cold and heartless act,” said Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg.

According to FOX 19, Dotson’s original dog was not on a leash when it attacked a therapy dog and its owner as they were walking.

Police say the pit bull caused severe injuries to the therapy dog, who has been recovering for the last few months.

Dotson was charged with failing to confine his animal and he was ordered to put the dog down. But when he brought the substitute dog to the SPCA to be euthanized an “alert” worker spotted the difference in the dog’s coloring.

Through a microchip, the SPCA confirmed it was a different dog.

“Defendant brought a dog that wasn’t his dog, said it was his dog, and turned that over to the SPCA so they would destroy an innocent dog that hadn’t done anything to anybody,” said Ryan Nelson, assistant Hamilton County prosecutor.

Dotson had adopted the dog nine days earlier according to Fox 19, two days earlier according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The original dog has since been put down, according to SPCA officials.

Baby, the pit bull puppy who Dotson tried to pass off as his other dog, remains with the SPCA and will be getting a second chance at adoption.