Airport Dogs

Cat Plunges 19 Stories from High-Rise,
and Walks Away
By Miranda Leitsinger,

Sugar the cat, left, survived a 19-story fall from her owner's home in Boston, center. At right is the spot where she landed.

Sugar, a white furry cat who is deaf, plunged 19 floors from a window in a high-rise building in Boston and – aided by her fall into a tiny mulch patch and the feline’s ability to glide a la the "flying squirrel" – lived to walk another day, animal rescue officials say.

A woman in the West End building said she saw a “white streak” go by her window early Wednesday afternoon and then saw Sugar after she hit the ground, said Mike Brammer, assistant manager of the animal rescue services department at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

“You could see the impact crater where she actually did hit the ground and she actually lost some fur in the hole, too," Brammer said.

The cat's small landing spot is surrounded by brick and concrete.

“Whether cats can sometimes aim, so if it did it itself or if it was a combination of luck or both … it managed to hit that small patch of mulch, so it was very soft ground,” he said.

After bouncing up from her fall of 150-200 feet, Sugar ran near the building, rather than out onto the nearby highway.

“Instead of, you know, being scared and just running out into traffic, she somehow hit the best spot and stayed near the building,” he added. “So it was very fortuitous on many different levels.”

Sugar, who was tended to by the building concierge before rescue officials arrived, suffered a small cut on her lip and a little bruising, including some to her lungs.

“Considering what she had been through, she was in really good shape,” he said.

The feline, about 4.5 years old, was aided in her fall by dynamics akin to the “flying squirrel” phenomenon, Brammer said.

“You notice where their legs attach to the body, they have … the extra fur right there,” he said. If they put their legs out, “they’re able to glide a little bit and control … where they are going, and then I guess supposedly they can use their tail and move their body as a rudder to kind of control where they want to go.”

And ironically, the height may have helped her, he added, noting that a rescue league veterinarian shared information about a study on cats falling from tall heights.

“What happens is that the higher up, they reach terminal velocity and so I guess the sensation isn’t that they’re still falling. It kind of levels out so they don’t feel as stressed and they relax a little bit,” he said.

The Animal Rescue League was able to track the owner through the microchip and with help from the building.

Sugar's owner, Brittney Kirk, a 32-year-old registered nurse, said at first she didn't think her cat had made it. She had left the window open due to the warm weather because she didn't want Sugar to be in a hot apartment.

"It just seemed so unreal … my thought was obviously that she didn’t make it," she said. "I was definitely relieved and kind of in disbelief … if there were a cat to fall 19 stories and to be fine, I think it would definitely be Sugar, because she’s a pretty special cat."

When It Comes to Easter Bunnies,
Don't Go for an Impulse Pet
Sara Wuillermin Moreno -

A Rabbit can mean a 10-year commitment, and shouldn't be a hastily-decided easter gift.

With Easter quickly approaching, many families seek the perfect gift to give their loved ones and children. An appealing option always seems to be a pet rabbit—what better way to celebrate the Easter Bunny than a fluffy friend of your very own?

Unfortunately, many times the decision to purchase a rabbit is done in haste and new owners realize quickly these animals (whose lifespan is generally six to ten years) take more care and attention than most new owners are willing to give.

It is estimated that the amount of rabbits abandoned at shelters greatly increases following the Easter holiday.

This ends up leading to an influx of rabbits being neglected, improperly cared for, left at animal shelters, or, worst of all — let out into the wild, an inevitable death sentence for domestic rabbits.

Rabbits, like any other pet, need proper care and love in order to remain healthy and happy. A proper diet includes fresh water and plenty of timothy hay and greens, with pellets and carrots to only be given sparingly.

Because they are prey animals, and sensitive to changes in temperature, it is best to keep rabbits inside at all times with a cage that comfortably accommodates their size.

Rabbits can easily be litter trained and spaying and neutering has been known to deter aggressive or instinctive behavior such as digging or biting.

Instead of visiting a pet store to purchase a rabbit, consider a shelter or rabbit rescue. There are several shelters across southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania that have rabbits available for adoption (being that rabbits are the third most commonly found animals in shelters), many of which are already spayed or neutered, and are waiting to meet their new owners!

Or, if this long-term commitment is not one your family is ready to make—why not purchase a chocolate bunny instead?

Dog Saves Girl From Sex Offender Attack
The Huffington Post - By Hilary Tuttle

On National Puppy Day it seems all too appropriate that one Florida shelter dog is being lauded for her heroic efforts as woman's best friend.

When a 17-year-old girl left St. Petersburg's Friends of Strays animal shelter to walk a dog, she never imagined her volunteer work would lead her to be the one in need. But as Fox News reported, when she walked on a path behind the building with Mabeline, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, that's exactly what happened.

According to local television station WTSP, registered sexual predator Michael Bacon chased the girl, grabbing her hair and pinning her to the ground. The 38-pound dog began barking, scaring the attacker off enough that the volunteer was able to flee, People reported.

The brave puppy has since been adopted by Mary Callahan, who did not know about her new pet's valiant actions until notified by WTSP.

"I looked at my dog and I thought, 'You are a hero,'" Callahan told the broadcaster.

Bacon has been arrested, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and hopefully Mabeline will be rewarded with her own slice of bacon.

Montana Man Charged with Getting Small Dog
 So Drunk It Couldn’t Stand Up

HELENA, Mont. — A Montana man has been charged with animal cruelty after his 20-pound dog was found so intoxicated it couldn’t stand up.

Todd Harold Schrier, 49, was charged after East Helena police responded to a report of an intoxicated dog at a bar March 1. Officers found Arly II, a Pomeranian or Pomeranian cross that couldn’t walk, the Independent Record reported Thursday.

Court records say an intoxicated person who claimed part ownership of Arly told officers that Schrier had given the dog about a “to-go cup of vodka.”

The dog drank in a vehicle outside Smith’s Bar, not inside, and customers and staff of the bar cared for the dog and called police, the bar’s owner told the newspaper.

Police took Arly II to a veterinarian, where the dog’s blood-alcohol level was found to be 0.348 percent. An alcohol level of 0.4 percent can be fatal in humans.

“I had never seen a dog with acute alcohol poisoning,” said veterinarian Michelle Richardson, who has been practicing for 20 years.

She said she was aware of cases in which dogs ate vodka-laced Jell-O shots or lapped up beer from cups at a barbecue, but had never seen a case of intentional intoxication.

“I hope it’s rare,” Richardson said.

The dog stayed at the animal hospital for days and is now at the Lewis and Clark Humane Society pending the outcome of the case.

Officers caught up with Schrier at another East Helena bar that night. Court records show he also faces a drug charge after police found a bag of hydrocodone pills on the ground outside the bar where he had been smoking.

KFBB-TV in Great Falls reports Schrier, of Helena, pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, the public defender’s office said Schrier had not yet applied for representation

Parents Talk: How Do You Explain the Death of a Pet?
By Jody Gifford -

Last week, my brother and his family had to euthanize their beloved Dachshund, Annie. She was 18 years-old.

That dog was as much a part of their family as their two sons. In the days before they had children, Annie went everywhere with them. I have photos of her at family gatherings, barbecues and birthday parties. She was spoiled.

That's what made it a little harder to take when I got the news that they had to put her to sleep. She'd been in poor health for some time. She'd lost her eyesight, couldn't move her back legs and was just generally shutting down. The decision, according to my sister-in-law, was one of the hardest they've ever had to make.

How do you explain the death of a pet? Have you had to put a pet to sleep or explain the sudden death of an animal to your son or daughter? How did you do it? What did you say? Tell us in the comments.

After hearing the news, I wondered about my nephew. Not yet a teenager, he's always been a tough cookie, but I just knew this would come as a big blow to him. That dog was as much his as it was my brother and sister-in-law's. They were siblings. They were buddies.

All of this got me thinking, how do you explain the loss of a pet to a child? We have a cat who's 17 and it's inevitable that sometime soon, we may have to make a similar decision. I can't even begin to know where to start.

How do you explain the death of a pet? Have you had to put a pet to sleep or explain the sudden death of an animal to your son or daughter? How did you do it?

Airport Dog Finds Illegal Food Stowed in Luggage

Izzy, an agricultural detector beagle whose nose is highly sensitive to food odors, searches for illegal food stowed in luggage arriving from international flights. (AP)

On a recent busy afternoon at Kennedy Airport, a beagle with plaintive-looking eyes was lying on the floor of Terminal 4, oblivious to the chaos of rolling luggage and human activity teeming all around her.

There was no prying this dog off the ground — despite the best attempts of Officer Meghan Caffery, her closest companion and partner.

"Izzy," Caffery said, a note of exasperation in her voice. "You've only been here an hour."

The 6-year-old beagle, who works for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, can't be faulted for taking a break. She spends most of her time trotting briskly around the baggage carousels with Caffery in tow, searching for illegal food stowed in luggage arriving from international flights. Thousands of bags stream through this terminal every hour, and Izzy is the first line of defense against food or plants that could wreak havoc on American agriculture.

"Some flights are, you know, just apples or sandwiches that people had from the plane they forgot in their bags," said Caffery, an agriculture specialist canine handler. "Some flights are notorious for bringing in sausages or fresh fruits."

Izzy is among a small cadre of luggage-inspecting beagles who live and work at the airport, though federal officials won't disclose the exact number of canines employed. Technically called a "passive response dog," she is trained to sit whenever she smells one of several odors: fruit, meat, plant, seed or vegetable.

With just one sniff, Izzy can determine whether a bag is worth searching — a seconds-long appraisal that would take human officers hours to do, given that about 1 million travelers pass through Kennedy Airport in a single month. During her three years of employment, she's found everything from duck tongues to pigs' heads and feet. The agricultural products vary according to the time of year.

On average, about 28 pounds of food are collected every day, most of it from people who are trying to sneak in food from their native countries.

"We pulled a four-foot fig tree out of a bag one day," Caffery said. "The roots and soil and everything, like it was just dug right out of the ground."

Her nose never fails to spot a trace of food, sometimes even picking up the scent of a snack that was removed from a bag hours before. During one lap around a carousel, as they wove in and out of startled passengers, Izzy paused before a pile of bags, tail wagging.

Caffery looked around and called out: "Whose bags are these?"

The young man who claimed them acknowledged, upon further questioning, that there were indeed an apple and a banana inside. Caffery marked down the items on a blue Customs declaration form.

Izzy stayed put, waiting for a piece of food to emerge from Caffery's pocket: Her reward for a successful find.

"She'll eat just about anything," Caffery said.

Sometimes it's a bit of a struggle to keep Izzy moving after she's found something. Caffery was forced to drag her along the floor a couple of times, urging her to keep going.

"Come on, find it," she said. "Come on, you can't lay down."

Passengers often take great pains to hide their loot, stuffing it in soda bottles or coffee cans or sewing it into their coats. Some even tape food directly to their bodies. Though a piece of fruit may seem harmless enough, officials say each item is potentially dangerous.

"Something as simple as an apple could carry the larva of a Mediterranean fruit fly," said Officer James Armstrong, who supervises the agricultural searches, "which, if it got loose in our citrus crops in the United States, could cost billions of dollars."

Confiscated items are brought to the airport's grinding room, which has a long steel table piled with rotting food. That day's haul included sausages, barley, burlap, curry, beets and an assortment of fruits and vegetables, among other things. Officers send out samples to a lab for analysis and then crush the remainder through a hole in the table that acts like a garbage disposal.

"This is discovery. You know, this is neat," Armstrong said, waving a gloved hand across the table. "This is where you open it up and you find an insect or a larva or something and it kind of completes the mission, you know? That's what it's all about."

Throughout the day, Caffery and Izzy are affectionate with one another, and during a lull in flight arrivals, they can invariably be found hugging or cuddling.

"I'm with her more than I'm with my family, for the most part," Caffery said. "It's constant."

Luckily for these two, they'll never have to be separated. Izzy will continue working at the airport for several more years. After that, she gets to start a new career: as Caffery's personal pet.

5 Healthy Habits Dogs Can Teach Us

Believe it or not, you can learn a thing or two from your four-legged best friend.

Dr. Emma Raizman, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic, said dogs can teach humans a few healthy habits.

Raizman said the first thing dogs can teach us is to “get out and play.”

“If you look at your dogs they want to be let out all of the time,” Raizman said. They want to run, they want to use their legs and build their muscles, build their endurance and get all of that energy out.”

Raizman added that you can learn portion control from Fido – as you typically feed him the same amount of food at every serving – you should do the same for yourself.

Pay attention to your dog’s sleeping habits. He makes sleeping a priority, so you should, too.

And you can even learn empathy from a dog, Raizman said.

Dogs are quick to forgive, and studies show that people who forgive easily have less anger and less stress.

Canines show appreciation, and humans should mirror that trait, Raizman said, adding that doing so can help your mental health and build stronger relationships.

“You know when you come home your dog is wagging their tail, they’re happy to see you, and they don’t hold it in,” Raizman said. “They just let all of their emotions show.”

Pet Scoop:
Dog Helps Ashley Judd Deal With The Blues,
Ex-Marine Can Adopt Military Dog

Ashley Judd Brings Her "Psychological Support" Dog On Set

Shug, a registered "psychological support" dog, joined actress Ashley Judd for an interview on ABC's "Nightline." Judd says that the pup has helped her to cope with depression, and Shug stays on the set with her during the filming of her new show, "Missing". According to Judd, it "just adds to quality of life." -- Read it at ABC News and watch the interview

Plus: Sharing the set with animals doesn't feel quite as natural for actress Sofia Vergara. The "Modern Family" star admits to People that she's unnerved by the French Bulldog who plays Stella on the sitcom -- but Ed O'Neill, who plays her on-screen husband, is in love with the dog. -- Read it at People Pets

Bird Recordings Scare Pigeons From NYC Subway Station

After trying plenty of other tactics, New York's transit authority has a novel way of clearing its Roosevelt Island subway station of pigeons: A birdcall system emits predatory sounds every two to 10 minutes. A spokesman says that it seems to be working. -- Read it at The New York Times

Military Dog Will Be Reunited With Former Handler

There's a happy ending to the story we brought you last week: Sergeant Rex -- a 10-year-old, bomb-sniffing German Shepherd -- has been found suitable for adoption, and will be reunited with former Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey. "We wish Rex all the best in his coming years of relaxation with Megan," said Capt. Barry Edwards. -- Read it at ABC News

Capybara Babies Debut at British Zoo

Three adorable capybaras, who were born earlier this month, were out and about exploring their new habitat at Twycross Zoo in England this week. Capybaras, which are native to South America, weigh just two pounds at birth.

No comments: