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Tag: texas

Unusually bold attacks see wild cats enter homes to snag dogs

The more we intrude on what was their domain, the more likely we are to have run-ins of the unpleasant variety with wildlife — even inside the safety of our homes.

In the past two weeks, two homeowners say wild cats entered their homes in pursuit of their pets — a mountain lion in San Mateo County, Calif., and a bobcat Plano, Texas.

In the California case, the mountain lion snatched a woman’s dog at night as she, her child and the pet slept in her bed.

Both intrusions were seen as uncommonly bold for the species, and both have served to renew local and regional debates on how best to handle the kinds of predators that, despite development, can still show up in suburban and rural areas.

Some, like the bobcat-encountering woman above, say get rid of them entirely — as in wipe them off the planet, or at least our ritzy suburb. Others favor trapping, tranquilizing, killing, relocating, or poisoning (which can be problematic for dogs, too). Some might favor taking a look at whatever more reasonable steps could lead to a more peaceful alliance.

We’d note at at the outset that, in both cases outlined here, the homeowners had left doors opened — so perhaps for people living in areas where such animals are sometimes sighted, shutting the damn door might be a good and sound first step.

That would have prevented what was a real life nightmare for Vickie Fought, of Pescadero, Calif. She and her daughter awoke to see their dog, a 15-pound Portuguese Podengo sleeping at the foot of the bed they shared, snatched and taken away by what has since been confirmed was a mountain lion.

About 3 a.m., the woman awoke in her home to hear the dog, named Lenore, barking. She glimpsed the shadow of an animal walking through her bedroom, according to NBC

Fought got out of bed and used a flashlight to look for her dog, but saw only large wet paw prints at the entrance of her bedroom.

Officers from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office collected a drop of blood found on the floor, which was taken to a wildlife forensics laboratory in Sacramento that same day.

Testing showed Monday that the blood included DNA from a mountain lion, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Capt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the small dog was apparently what the mountain lion was after. Foy said it was the first case he’d heard of a mountain lion walking into a home.

“This person had left the door open, so the animal got in. That problem is fixed,” he added. “They’re not sleeping with the door open anymore.”

Earlier this week, in the suburbs of Dallas, a woman watched as a bobcat chased her miniature pinschers through an open door and into her house.

Plano resident Pat McDonald says she heard a scream and turned to see her female dog, Precious, running in the door. Behind the little dog, she says, was a bobcat. “He came right in,” she said.

McDonald says the large cat raced through her home and jumped on top of a six foot tall display cabinet. It ran back out, but not before biting the dog on the neck. Precious is expected to recover, according to CBS in Dallas.

Officials say it was the first instance they recall of bobcat entering someone’s home.

A “dog mauling” that was anything but

herreraA San Antonio couple were arrested in connection with the assault of a young child after investigators determined their story about the girl being attacked by dogs was not true.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said deputies were called to a home on the morning of New Year’s Eve, where a couple told them that the girl had wandered out of the home the previous night and been attacked by dogs.

Doctors at the hospital where the girl was treated found the injuries were inconsistent with dog bites and that a sexual assault had occurred.

At a news conference Tuesday, Salazar said the girl had suffered “extremely serious and life-threatening wounds consistent with a brutal sexual assault and multiple stab wounds,” CBS12 reported.

“I can’t even begin to describe to you the level of depravity that went into this crime,” the sheriff said.

Deputies arrested 22-year-old Crystal Herrera, described as a relative of the child, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Isaac Andrew Cardenas.

Cardenas has been charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond has been set at $300,000. Herrera has been charged with injury to a child and serious bodily injury by omission.

The 1-year-old girl was in stable condition Tuesday. Upon her release she will be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Initially, county Animal Care Services workers took several neighborhood dogs into custody.

None showed any signs of aggression and they were returned to the owners.

(Photos: Cardenas, left; Herrara, right, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)

Will Bear come in from the wild?

After at least five years as a stray, avoiding human contact, surviving in a vacant field and regularly outsmarting animal control officers, a Texas dog named Bear may finally be heading for a home.

And good thing, because construction is expected to begin soon on the field he has called home, which is slated to become a housing development.

Bear is something of a legend in Hutto, a town of about 15,000 people, northeast of Austin. He’s a dog owned by no one, though many residents appreciate him from afar.

But in the past few years, one woman has gotten closer to him than most. Irma Mendoza and her son started bringing him food a couple of years ago, and also built him a dog house on the land.

Now, she is working to find him a home.

“It all started a couple of years ago when my mom found Bear by the block where we live,” said Alfonso Salinas, Irma’s son. ” …After that she just started to feed him and try to take care of him,” he told Fox 7 in Austin

Every day Irma comes to the field to give Bear food. She also gives him his annual medications.

“This dog is pretty much a family member,” Salinas said.

Bear has been seen roaming the neighborhood since 2010. Some think he was left behind when his owners moved.

Over the years, others in the community have pitched in to make sure Bear is taken care of.

“He is a survivor that’s for sure. He’s smart, he stays out of the way, stays out of the street, avoids people, and everybody has grown fond of him,” said Richard Rodriguez, who lives in the neighborhood. “He’s got his own Facebook page so that speaks something to how people like him.”

bearHutto Animal Control officer Wayne Cunningham — one of many who have tried to capture Bear — says Irma is the first person to get close to the dog.

“No one can get close to him but Irma so we haven’t been able to catch him. He’s gotten wise to our dog traps, he recognizes the animal control truck so he’s very leery about new people,” Cunningham said.

Mendoza is now working with Cunningham to help find Bear a permanent place to stay — with a friend who has spent years helping her care for him.

“He deserves to be in a loving home,” said Niroshini Glass. “He would be so spoiled. He would get anything and everything he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted it. He would be very, very spoiled.”

All this hinges on Bear’s cooperation, of course, but with the progress that Irma has made, the willingness of Glass to provide a home, and the field destined to soon become a construction zone, the time appears ripe to take Bear out of the wild.

Once he is caught, he will be taken to the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter to be evaluated before adoption.

A GoFundMe campaign has started to raise money to help pay Bear’s vet costs, and ongoing care.

Feel-good story about homeless man’s reunion with dog took some strange turns

patrick

Getting your Huntsvilles confused is one thing, but one website really screwed the pooch when they published a story about a good Samaritan who helped reunite a homeless man and his dog.

In September, in Huntsville, TEXAS, Wilma Price was driving through a Walmart parking lot when she saw a homeless man holding a sign that said, “Dog in pound. Need help.”

Price, who runs a rescue called Mr. K’s Pet Shelter, stopped to find out his story. She learned the homeless man, named Patrick, had been arrested and jailed for trespassing, and that, because of that, his dog ended up in the animal shelter.

She took Patrick to the shelter, and paid the $120 necessary for him to get his dog — named Franklin — back.

The story was picked up by the website Life with Dogs, CBS News, People.com and many more.

Dozens of other websites reprinted or rewrote it — most of them doing a decent job of passing along the facts.

Then there was the Alabama Observer.

patrick2It reported that the story took place in Huntsville, Alabama, that the dog’s name was Wilbur, that the homeless man’s name was Mark Spencer, and that the good Samaritan’s name was Elizabeth Masterson.

The story had no links to actual news sources, and little attribution.

It wasn’t the only website to get the facts askew, but it was the only one that appeared to be making up entirely new names for everyone involved. At least three other websites published versions of the story with those erroneous names.

One wonders what might be the motivation for substituting illegitimate names into a legitimate story.

Might the exact same story have happened with different people at a Walmart in Huntsville, Alabama? Clearly not. Might the website be trying to cover its rear, legally? Maybe. Might there be something more nefarious going on, such as diverting donations intended for Patrick (whose last name isn’t Spencer) to some guy named Mark Spencer? We hope not. Might a computer program be doing the website’s writing? Highly possible.

Apparently, a bogus Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds for Patrick was launched by someone neither Wilma nor Patrick knew, and, using photos from Wilma’s Facebook page, it raised $3,000 before the page was removed from Go Fund Me.

That’s $3,000 Patrick and Franklin didn’t get. Wilma Price, meanwhile, started a campaign for him too, and it has raised more than $15,000 for Patrick on GoFundMe.

Price said Patrick has been helping her organization with rescue efforts since the two met, and her Facebook page documents their adventures together.

Snopes.com looked into the story and couldn’t figure out how or why the Alabama Observer version had new names inserted into it.

There is no contact information on the Alabama Observer’s web site, and no description of who operates it. Snopes reported it appears to accept stories submitted by users, as opposed to having its own reporters or freelancers.

We think there’s a good possibility it’s one of those websites that runs news stories through computer programs that rewrite them (with mixed results, or should I say “stirred outcomes?”).

How else could you explain the opening of this recent Alabama Observer story about clown sightings in Ohio?

“The developing rash of reported dangers including clown-faced villains has law authorization offices crosswise over Ohio and somewhere else attempting to recognize true blue dangers while cautioning deceptions are no giggling matter.”

(Photos courtesy of Wilma Price)

Bear dogs once roamed Texas, or, why it’s important to check that miscellany drawer

beardog

Every home has at least one — that drawer in which you place things that have no assigned place: rubber bands, soy sauce packets, take-out menus, the owner’s manual to that extinct VHS player you bought in the 1980s.

Such drawers become a crypt for things you mostly didn’t need to keep in the first place, but often there are some forgotten treasure mixed in with them.

The importance of revisiting the miscellany drawer from time to time is displayed in this story — about a researcher at the Field Museum in Chicago, new on the job, whose opening of a drawer of miscellaneous and not fully identified carnivore fossils led to the establishment of not just one new genus, but two and, in doing so, a better understanding of the evolution of dogs and other mammals.

“I had just started at the Field, and I was getting the lay of the land, exploring our collections,” Susumu Tomiya said. “In one room of type specimens, the fossils used as a standard to describe their species, I stumbled across something that looked unusual.

“There were beautiful jaws of a small carnivore, but the genus the specimen had been assigned to didn’t seem to fit some of the features on the teeth. It made me suspect that it belonged to a very different group of carnivores.”

That specimen, and a similar one Tomiya came across, had both been found 30 years ago in southwest Texas.

beardog-jawBoth had been labeled as belonging to a genus called Miacis, but Tomiya’s suspicions — based on the apparent sharpness of their teeth — turned out to be right.

The findings were revealed last week in a paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Tomiya and his coauthor used a computed tomography (CT) scanner to create 3D visualizations, and determined the specimens were those of amphicyonids, and the oldest known members of that family, which went extinct 2 million years ago.

Amphicyonids, commonly called bear dogs, are believed to be the ancestors of both bears and dogs.

“Ever since amphicyonids were given their common name, they have been overshadowed by the bear and dog families, which are more widespread, better known today, and less extinct! Our study provides a renewed sense of identity to a group that left their own mark during their 38-million-year history,” Tseng said.

Amphicyonids ranged from the size of a Chihuahua to the size of a brown bear.

They tended to get larger throughout their evolutionary history, which might have contributed to their extinction.

(At top, artist’s reconstruction of a 38 million year old amphicyonid, by Monika Jurik; lower photo, the jawbone of an amphicyonid; both provided by The Field Museum)

One last snowfall for Spunky

Spunky always loved the snow.

But when the German shepherd-husky-chow mix and his owner moved from Wisconsin to Texas in 2008 that — with flakes being rare in Austin — became a thing of the past.

Ashley Niels, who works as a behavior and enrichment specialist at the Austin Animal Center, says she promised Spunky, who she’d adopted in Wisconsin, that he’d see snow again someday.

When she learned earlier this month that the 12-year-old dog was dying, and made the appointment for him to be put down, she regretted that promise would go unfulfilled.

ashleyandspunkyWhen she shared that regret with friends at the animal center, they got together to make it happen.

They rented a snow machine and brought to her home.

Last week, Spunky got his snow.

Niels sat in her front yard with Spunky and experienced one last snow storm — albeit an artificial one. He didn’t frolic in it, like he used to, but Niels thinks he enjoyed it.

“To be honest, he was like ‘I’m not really sure what this is.’ It wasn’t cold snow. I think he could see how excited I was, so he thought it was pretty cool,” Niels told Inside Edition Tuesday night.

“I think he felt all the love we were trying to show him.”

Spunky’s appointment with the vet the next day was canceled, and Niels hasn’t rescheduled it yet.

“As long as he’s happy, I don’t really want to take that from him,” she said. “It makes me happy to be able to spend more time with him.”

She adopted him from a local shelter in Wisconsin when he was a puppy. They lived there for four years before moving to Austin.

austinanimalcenterAfter creating the snowstorm for Spunky, animal center staff brought the snow machine back to the shelter to let a few more dogs experience a snowfall.

As of late last week Spunky was still hanging in there, according to Ashley’s Facebook page, and she was doing her best to not think about his death and savor the time together they had left.

“I try not to think about it because he’s my boy,” she said. “I get to spend this extra-special time with him.”

(Photos: Courtesy of Ashley Niels and Austin Animal Center)

About 70 dogs die in Texas shelter fire

humane3

About 70 shelter dogs were killed in a fire at the Humane Society of Southeast Texas.

About 200 animals were being housed at the shelter and, according to various reports, anywhere between 67 and 74 of them died in the Tuesday night fire, all of them dogs.

Beaumont Fire Department Captain Brad Penisson told KHOU the fire was apparently sparked by malfunctioning dryer.

dryer

The Humane Society of Southeast Texas reported what happened early yesterday on its Facebook page.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must inform you of the great loss we suffered tonight. Earlier this evening our facility caught on fire. Though the fire and police department did everything in their power to save all of our animals a total of 67 dogs died in the fire.

humane1“There are no words to describe the pain we are feeling right now. Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, veterinarians, and service men and women who came and assisted us tonight. We will be walking through the shelter in the morning to assess the damage and to make decisions on the best way to move forward.”

While foster homes have been found for the cats and the 11 dogs that survived, the society is taking names of those interested, and it is accepting donations to help in recovery efforts.

Donations of money can be made through The Humane Society of Southeast Texas website.

These scenes of the fire’s aftermath are from a Beaumont Enterprise photo gallery.

(Photos: At top, one of the surviving dogs; at center, the dryer where the fire is believed to have started; at bottom, two shelter staff members console each other; by Ryan Pelham / The Beaumont Enterprise)