The dogs are members of “EcoDogs,” a three-year-old collaboration at Alabama’s Auburn University between the science departments and the school’s Canine Detection Research Institute, which trains dogs to detect explosives.
Environmentalists fear the non-native pythons are upsetting the ecological balance of South Florida. Their spread is generally attributed to irresponsible pet owners dumping their snakes and 1992′s Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed an adjacent exotic snake warehouse.
Now they’ve adapted to the Everglades, and park officials say there’s no way of eradicating them. Instead, with help from dogs, they hope to keep them from further spreading.
In a trial run, the dogs showed they can cover a search area 2.5 times faster than a person.
“People can only see that the snake is there if they can see the snake. The dogs can smell the snake even if it’s not visually apparent to us,” said Christina Romagosa, a biologist at Auburn.
Two black Labrador retrievers from EcoDogs, Ivy and Jake, were sent to the 2,358-square-mile park in 2010 and demonstrated their skills to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a Reuters report that appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
Todd Steury, an Auburn conservation biologist and co-founder of the project, said training a new dog to detect a scent takes six to 10 weeks. Training for each additional scent, he said, takes “about 10 minutes. You can do it by accident if you’re not careful.”
In controlled experiments, the EcoDogs success rate in finding pythons at the park was 75-92 percent, Romagosa said. The dogs helped researchers trap 19 pythons, including a pregnant snake with 19 eggs, according to an EcoDog report.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, auburn university, biology, bomb, burmese pythons, canine detection, conservation, detecting, detection, dogs, ecodogs, ecology, environment, everglades, everglades national park, florida, pets, pythons, research institute, scent, snakes, sniffing, training
If you’re Justin Bieber, you auction it off for charity — thereby avoiding the venom of animal lovers and Internet commenters who might raise questions like:
Aren’t you the same guy who talked, all sweet and sensitive like, about the importance of adopting, loving and never leaving your pets in that PETA public service announcement a little while back?
Where did you get your snake? A pet store? An exotic animal dealer? And did you feed live mice to your boa constrictor, and what might PETA think of that?
Bieber’s baby boa constrictor, which he procured a few months ago and named Johnson, is being auctioned off by charitybuzz. Proceeds will go to Pencils of Promise, an organization that builds schools in developing nations.
Fine a cause as that may be, this strikes us as some slithery behavior on the part of the self-professed animal lover.
Bieber introduced his new snake to the world at the MTV Video Music Awards back in August. Now, months later, he’s parting with it. The sale is expected to bring in more than $1,000.
The charitybuzz page where the snake is featured is loaded with disclaimers.
The winning bidder, for instance, will be screened carefully before receiving the snake, it notes. (Too bad the first owner wasn’t.)
The website further acknowledges, ”Keeping a pet snake is a long term responsibility. Before making any decision about keeping one please ensure you have the money, space, knowledge, time, resources and enthusiasm required to properly care for the species you intend to keep, for the duration of it’s life.” (Again, unlike the first owner.)
“The welfare of this snake is the sole responsibility of the adopter. The adopter agrees to give the snake good care which includes quality premium food, fresh water, sanitation and grooming, clean and secure indoor housing, clean and secure outdoor housing and overall safety. Winner must sign a Personal Injury and Limited Liability release, and must guarantee necessary vet care will be provided.”
In the two PSA’s he made for PETA, Bieber goes on and on about his love for animals, and our obligations to them.
Last month, he was the news — or at least in what passes for news when it comes to celebrities – for adopting a dog in Canada with his girlfriend Selena Gomez. He later said he had no role in that: “I didn’t adopt a dog, no. A friend of mine did. I don’t take credit for the dog. I don’t have anything to do with that dog.”
There’s a snake in this story, alright. I’m just not sure who it is.
(Photo from CharityBuzz)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandon, abandonment, adoptions, animals, auction, bids, boa constrictor, celebrity, charity, charity buzz, charitybuzz, johnson, justin bieber, mtv, pencils of promise, pet stores, peta, pets, public service announcement, reptiles, snake, snakes, video music awards
Friendships — like rose bushes, newborns and wimpy dogs – need to be nurtured.
But it’s good to know that, even when you’ve done a piss poor job at that, friendships have a kudzu-like ability to survive.
When I reunited with two college roommates on a camping trip in the mountains of North Carolina last week — one I’ve seen every five or so years, one I haven’t so much as exchanged words with in probably 20 – we picked up right where we likely left off, with a beer.
My ex-roommate George and I were originally planning to rent an RV and drive to Missouri. It was to be one of the final treks in my year of dogging it across America for Travels with Ace – a visit to Warrrensburg, where the phrase “man’s best friend” is said to have originated.
(Actually, what lawyer George Graham Vest said, in an 1870 courtroom speech, was that a dog was “the one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world.” Over the years, it was made more sound-bite friendly.)
Vest was representing Charles Burden, whose black and tan hound, Old Drum, had been shot by a neighboring farmer. Burden was seeking recompense, and won. He was awarded $50. There’s a statue of Old Drum in Warrensburg at the Johnson County Courthouse, and I figured Ace and I should see it.
After checking the mileage to Warrensburg, the rates to rent an RV, and my bank account, I decided against the trip, and George and I came up with an alternate plan — camping for a few days in the mountains, and inviting our friend John, who we had planned to visit, to join us at the campground instead.
George drove down from Fredericksburg, Va. — leaving his elderly dog Puck at home. Remembering the soggy camping experience Ace and I had in Provincetown, Mass., I persuaded George that we should stay in Winston-Salem for a day, waiting for the rain to leave the mountains.
On Wednesday, we loaded up my car, putting, in deference to Ace, as much as we could on the roof, including, once he was loaded into the backseat, the handicapped ramp he has been using to get in and out since he was diagnosed with a herniated disc.
Not fully over that, despite two rounds of drugs, Ace, up until we left, had still been emitting the occasional wimper, and was still being very careful whenever he shook his head.
George, Ace and I checked into the Davidson River Campground in Pisgah National Forest, which had been recommended by John, who lives in nearby Waynesville. We pitched, with some difficulty, my tent, sat back proudly to admire it despite some slight lopsidedness, then headed to nearby Brevard for provisions.
We picked up three steaks, some corn on the cob and, at George’s insistence, some make-your-own salads. To give you some idea of the kind of guy George is, he called John at work to ask him what ingredients he wanted in his salad. I would never have done that. Rather than ponder a friend’s salad preferences, I would have gotten macaroni and cheese.
I gave in to George’s carb-counting ways, built myself a salad and grabbed three different packets of salad dressing.
We got some charcoal, and beer, and a cherry pie, and bananas, and on our way back to the campground, where firewood was $5 a bundle, opted instead for some cheaper wood at a convenience store.
He went at it with great gusto and attention to detail, beginning a highly meticulous process of gathering kindling, and, much to Ace’s displeasure, snapping it into fire-pit-sized pieces.
Ace, who tends to get edgy when camping, freaked out about the noise of sticks being snapped and began seeking places to hide, jumping into the back of the car (without the aid of the ramp) and cowering in fear.
He’d have the same reaction every time the fire, once we got it burning, popped. His eyes would grow big, his curly upright tail would disappear between his legs and he’d slink back over to the car and hop in.
I attempted to reason with him, explaining he was in no danger, and he seemed to listen.
I told him to man up, or dog up, as the case may be — that we were tough and hearty campers, or at least pretending to be. But then the fire would crackle and he’d be back in the car again. He must have jumped in and out of the car 10 times, once squeezing through to sit in the front seat and be at a greater distance from the fire.
Eventually I gave up and let him rest there, figuring he would work up his courage and come out once the steaks hit the grill.
He brought his own firewood, which unlike that which we bought actually burned instead of just producing huge clouds of smoke. He brought a chair, an Arctic-rated sleeping bag, a bottle of wine, corkscrew and wineglasses. We discovered the next day that he had cloaked himself in long underwear as well — a wise decision, as it turned out.
On top of that, our campsite was located right next to a construction project. Crews were sandblasting an old pedestrian bridge that crossed over the Davidson River and will be returned there when work is complete.
We missed most of the sandblasting, being out on another excursion, and only had to put up with about 30 minutes of noise and dust.
That’s what they get for letting the non-planner do the planning.
As my steaks approached doneness — we’d splurged on filets — and the corn turned a golden brown, we turned to the question of salad dressing. I’d picked up a packet of raspberry vinaigrette, a red pepper vinaigrette and a sesame-ginger at the grocery store, the only choices at the salad bar.
We spent a good ten minutes deciding who should get which salad dressing — an unusually long time considering two of us really didn’t care at all, or at least pretended we didn’t, while George voiced a distinct preference for the raspberry vinaigrette.
Eventually, we got the matter settled — George got raspberry, John got red pepper vinaigrette and I got sesame ginger — and enjoyed a fine dinner. (I really wanted that red pepper vinaigrette.)
After dinner, we talked, sat around the fire and drank — once the wine was gone — more beer. We got caught up on each other’s children, and worked to figure out who lived with whom when back in our college days.
John seemed to have the best memory for that kind of detail, I the worst. Still, it’s amazing how, with a little push from friends, memories can return, and then, like dry wood tossed in a fire, spark yet more.
Once our firewood supply — and reminiscence supply — began running low, we headed into the tent, joining Ace who had chosen to seek refuge there, coming out only for some steak handouts. He seemed happy that everyone was finally settling down in one place, and that it was away from the fire.
Lined up in a row, Ace next to me with his paw on my hand, we all went to sleep. I was first up in the morning and started making coffee. Ace peeked out of the opening in the tent, but decided to say there, settling in between John and George.
After a breakfast of bananas and cherry pie, we took a short hike along the river. Later we went into Brevard for lunch. George’s cell phone and mine didn’t get a signal at the campground — not a good thing for a doctor (both John and George are of the medical persuasion), but no big deal for me.
Besides, it was the price one pays when one ventures deep (about a half mile) into the woods and leaves civilization behind. We were too busy being rugged to let that bother us.
Whenever we went into town, service would kick in and reveal our messages, and during lunch George did get an important phone call. It was his hairdresser, informing him that the salon had gotten in some of the product he uses — transforming gel.
That led to a brief round of making fun of George, led by George himself.
Later in afternoon, we decided to wash our dishes from the night before, even though the campground urges people not to do so. We went to the nearby bathroom and I assumed a lookout position while George washed our three plates.
I stopped in my tracks, then backed up, quaking in my sneakers and having visions of finding the snake in my sleeping bag later that night. Just as I had with Ace the night before, I was now telling myself to “man up,” which is surprising because I really dislike that phrase.
George didn’t seem alarmed at all. He seemed pretty sure it was — though exceedingly large — a harmless black snake. But I wasn’t about to let a guy who uses raspberry vinaigrette and transforming gel be my field guide to snakes in the wild.
We took the long way back to the campsite to get the camera and seek out John’s opinion — he being mountain-born and the most wilderness-savvy among us.
John agreed that it probably wasn’t a killer. He, too, wasn’t the least bit bothered by it. Then again, he was leaving that afternoon.
When George and I, after some card-playing and beer-drinking, went to sleep that night — in my case not before a subtle patting down of my sleeping bag — I can assure you that snake was the most distant thing from my mind.
Or at least I pretended it was.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, america, animals, beer, brevard, camp, campfire, campground, camping, camping with dogs, college, davidson river, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, fears, fire, friends, friendship, man up, man's best friend, manliness, manly, memories, men, mountains, neurosis, noise, noises, north carolina, old drum, old freinds, pets, phobias, phrase, pisgah national forest, pretense, raspberry vinaigrette, reminiscing, road trip, roommates, salad, scary, sleeping bags, snakes, sticks, tent, transforming gel, travel, travels with ace, unc, university of north carolina, usa
A popular dog park in Aurora, Colorado has been shut down after an increase in dogs being bitten by rattlesnakes.
The decision was made to close the Great Plains Dog Park off Jewel Avenue earlier this month after two dogs were bitten.
Veterinarians in the Denver metro area say they saw an unusually high number of dogs bitten by rattlesnakes in May.
The closure of the Great Plains Dog Park is temporary until the city decides how to make the park safer, CBS4 in Denver reported.
“You just have to be cautious and keep your dogs near you enough and hope that they are smart enough that if they see a snake they’ll not tempt fate,” dog owner Skip Stewart said.
When a dog sees a snake, it’s recommended for the owner to call the dog and try to back away slowly. People or dogs bitten by rattlers should get medical attention as quickly as possible.
CBS4 said there are reports that some local veterinarians are running out of the anti-venom medicines.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, aurora, bites, bitten, colorado, dog park, dogs, great plains dog park, health, news, ohmidog!, park, parks, pets, rattlers, rattlesnake, safety, snakes
Responding to a complaint about animals in need of medical care, Houston SPCA investigators were shocked to discover more than 1,000 animals at a home in the city — mostly crammed in cages.
SPCA officials say the seizure of animals from the home in northwest Houston was one of the largest in U.S. history.
“They were in deplorable conditions throughout the entire property,” said Charles Jantzen, chief investigator for the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Very few of the animals had the basic staples of life — food, water and shelter.”
The majority of animals confiscated were birds, including a score of chickens, roosters, ducks and parrots. SPCA workers also seized gerbils, snakes, iguanas, a malnourished goat, and a pair of small dogs, also in cages.
The animal cages were scattered throughout the property, which is located on an isolated stretch of road in a mainly light-industrial area, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Authorities said the homeowners, who were cooperative during the investigation, told them they sell the animals at flea markets throughout the area.
“They (the animals) were not hidden — they were not secretive,” Jantzen said.
The animals were taken to the SPCA’s Houston headquarters for a medical examination.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: $1, 000, abuse, animals, birds, chickens, cruelty, dogs, ducks, flea market, gerbils, goat, home, house, houston, iguanas, investigation, neglect, parrots, property, roosters, seized, snakes, spca
But dogs clearly ruled, dominating most of the vendor space, workshops and demonstrations.
It was our first visit to the show, and, having the camera along, we took a few pictures. So we’re able to show you some highlights, starting with …
Posted by jwoestendiek January 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, birds, cats, dogs, fairgrounds, ferrets, gerbils, maryland, pets, rats, snakes, timonium, trade show, vendors, world of pets expo