Entries in Animals (14)


Man with Zebra, Parrot in Front Seat Charged with DUI

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DUBUQUE, Iowa) -- Police in Dubuque, Iowa, responded to an unusual call this week: reports of a zebra and a parrot in the front seat of a truck parked outside a bar. The striped animal and his fine feathered friend were there to keep their owner company, but weren’t allowed in the bar.

Jerald Reiter, 55, told police the zebra and maccaw parrot enjoy going for rides in his truck, so he brought them to the bar, which he says usually allows animals inside, ABC affiliate KCRG-TV reports.

When the motley crew got to the bar, they were told because food was being served, the animals wouldn’t be allowed inside. Bar owners told KCRG no animals are ever allowed inside.

When officers arrived on the scene, they stopped Reiter in the parking as he was driving his truck away. Field sobriety tests found he had a blood alcohol level of .14, nearly twice the legal limit, according to police.

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His girlfriend, Vickie Teters, told KCRB the animals are like their children, and do everything with them.

“They love going for rides. They’re just a part of the family,” Teters said. “They were not left alone in the car, not even a second.”

Reiter also disputes the drunk driving charge, saying he realized he was too drunk to drive, and was about to let a passenger take the wheel when he was arrested.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Rescues Unconscious Owner from Oncoming Train

Courtesy Angell Animal Medical Center(BOSTON) -- A Massachusetts pit bull named Lilly took on a freight train last week to save her owner, who collapsed unconscious onto the tracks during a late-night walk in Shirley. The 8-year-old dog used her teeth to pull Christine Spain, 54, off the tracks as the train approached. While Spain emerged unscathed, Lilly lost a leg.

The train's engineer, who didn't want to give his name, said he spotted the woman and her dog on the tracks just after midnight on May 3, according to the Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He said he tried to stop the train in time, but feared he'd hit them both. When he got out, he found that Spain was unharmed, but the train's wheels had sliced through Lilly's front right leg, which was bleeding heavily.

An animal control officer rushed Lilly to an emergency animal hospital in nearby Acton, where Spain's son, Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne, met them in the parking lot. Lanteigne said he had a feeling of dread as he got out of his car, but Lilly let him know she was OK.

"The first thing I see is just those big, beautiful eyes just looking at me, and next to her, I saw her right front paw was severely damaged," he told ABC News. "I saw her tail wagging the first time right there."

Lanteigne said he rescued Lilly three years ago, thinking she'd make a good therapy dog for Spain, who had battled alcoholism, depression and anxiety for many years. He said Spain doted on the dog, and often defrosted packets of green beans to cut them up and put them in Lilly's food. Eventually, he said, Spain's drinking decreased.

"We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom's life," he said. "My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what pit bulls are truly about. I hope by Lilly going through this, it's going to get other dogs homes."

Lilly underwent two surgeries last weekend at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Steel plates were implanted to repair her fractured pelvis and support her left leg. She now has a long scar where her right front leg was amputated. Angell spokesman Rob Halpin said Lilly's doctors expect she'll be able to walk again, but adjusting to three legs will be hard for the senior dog.

Spain, who Lanteigne said relapsed before her collapse last week upon hearing some bad news, was arrested on the scene and arraigned the following day in Ayer District Court on charges of obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track and animal cruelty, Shirely Police Executive Secretary Ann Whiting told ABC News. Spain was not arrested on any alcohol-related charges, but she was placed in protective custody because of intoxication, said Whiting.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gorilla Reported At Large in Alabama

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- Authorities in Alabama are on the hunt for at least one gorilla after reports surfaced that the animal was spotted near a store in rural Newbern, Ala.

The Hale County Sheriff’s Office said the town’s volunteer fire department and police have been searching for the gorilla since the sighting was reported over the weekend, according to local affiliate ABC33/40.

Newbern is a town of around 220 people in Hale County, approximately 50 miles south of Tuscaloosa.

Authorities say they are not sure how many gorillas they are searching for.

One sighting was said to have been made by a child, while another person reported seeing what may have been a bear.  The sightings have not been confirmed by home video or surveillance video, 33/40 reports.

The closest zoo to Newbern is located nearly 100 miles away in Birmingham, Ala.  Officials at the Birmingham Zoo confirmed to ABC News on Monday that the zoo’s sole gorilla, 16-year-old Cenzoo, is present and accounted for.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dozens of Animals Seized in 'Extreme' Hoarding Case

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MARICOPA, Ariz.) -- Ninety-three dogs and five exotic birds were seized from a private residence in Maricopa, Ariz., in what officials called an “extreme” case of animal hoarding.

“The floors were covered in fecal matter.  There was a soiled mattress with exposed springs that the owners were sleeping on.  At some point there was a fire at the site and there was a hole in the roof that had a tarp over it,” Heather Murphy, spokesperson for Pinal County told ABC News.  “It was the most awful living conditions I have ever seen.”

Officials received an anonymous tip on Tuesday and began removing the animals from the home and placing them in a shelter, which is now running over capacity.

“The immediate crisis we’re in now is we have to house all of the animals. They have to be checked by a vet before they can be placed for adoption,” Murphy said.

After each of the animals is examined by a veterinarian, the findings will be passed along to the county attorney, who will make a determination regarding whether the owners will face animal cruelty charges

“Some of them looked to be in pretty good shape, health wise,” Murphy said.  “We hope we can make the adoptable and place them in great homes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fired Baggage Handler Offered Job Back

Hemera/Thinkstock(RENO, Nev.) -- A Reno, Nev., airline baggage handler was offered her job back with missed pay after she was fired for refusing to load an emaciated dog onto a flight.

Lynn Jones, 56, told the Reno Gazette Journal that she was still undecided and worried about potential retaliation from other employees if she decided to return.

“I loved my job at the airport,” she said.  “...But I just couldn’t turn my back on that dog. ... My supervisor said it wasn’t my concern, but animal abuse is everyone’s concern who sees it.”

Jones was fired Nov. 12 after she refused to load the sickly dog onto a flight bound for Corpus Christi, Texas.

The hunting dog’s paws were also covered with sores and bleeding, witnesses told the Reno Gazette Journal. The dog was taken away by animal control officers and was nursed back to health before being sent to its owner in Texas.

Sally Leible, president of Airport Terminal Services, Jones’ employer, called the incident “regrettable” and said it would be used as a teachable moment for the company.

Leible said Airport Terminal Services would also make a $5,000 donation to the Nevada Humane Society.

Jones is a long-time canine lover. She has three dogs and once owned a dog-grooming business.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ringling Bros. Agrees to Pay Largest-Ever Animal Welfare Act Settlement

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has agreed to pay $270,000 to make a USDA animal cruelty investigation go away. The agency calls this civil penalty the largest ever assessed against a circus under the Animal Welfare Act. The circus also has agreed to require a training regimen “for all personnel who work with and handle animals.”

"This settlement sends a direct message to the public and to those who exhibit animals that USDA will take all necessary steps to protect animals regulated under the Animal Welfare Act," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the announcement.

The circus has long been in the crosshairs of animal rights activists and this settlement resolves “alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) dating from June 2007 to August 2011.”

PETA had sued the USDA over alleged lack of enforcement of the AWA in regards to this circus. Feld Entertainment, which runs the circus, denies the allegations and calls the settlement “a business decision.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Exotic Animal Laws Vary from State to State

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Incidents involving exotic animals kept in private may appear to be an oddity but, according to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy and wildlife organization, they are not rare.

In fact, this week's incident in Ohio could be a cautionary tale for states across the country.

"It's up to the states to pass strong laws prohibiting the citizens that live there from keeping these dangerous exotics," said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. "Ohio is one of the bad actors as far as we're concerned -- a state that has very limited regulations on the keeping of exotic animals, especially as pets....We've been pushing in Ohio for them to change their law for many years."

Some states are playing catch-up as exotic animals have become more prevalent, said David Favre, a professor of animal law at Michigan State University.

"The animals are becoming more available -- Internet sales, auctions, things like that," he said. "The market for exotic animals has been growing and with that, of course, comes the damage as well."

Born Free USA estimated that there are more tigers in private hands, not including accredited zoos, in the U.S. than there are left in the wild in the entire world.

"The ease of access to these animals is astounding and, of course, they are reasonably affordable," Roberts told ABC News. "Some of the animals could go for a few hundred dollars, some for a few thousand, but I think there are probably purebred dogs that cost more from some places than a tiger in this country."

Since 1990, Born Free USA said, there have been more than 1,500 incidents involving exotic animals and at least five percent of those have taken place in Ohio.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland banned people from bringing more exotic animals into Ohio in January but allowed owners to keep the animals they already had.

Current Gov. John Kasich let the emergency ban expire in April and opted to convene a group to study the issue.

"Around the country, you have a patchwork of state laws where about 21 states have some sort of prohibition on the keeping of exotic animals as pets," Roberts said. "Eight states have a partial ban, where certain species are prohibited, but not others. Thirteen states require permitting or a license scheme, and the other eight states have little or no regulations whatsoever. And Ohio is in the bottom category."

Despite the disparity in regulation, Favre said, the responsibility to control the animals lies with the states, not the federal government.

"It clearly is a primarily state issue," Favre said. "And it's so easily handled at the state level with the simple passage of a one-page law that says you're prohibited from having large mammals."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lions, Tigers, Bears on the Loose in Ohio

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ZANESVILLE, Ohio) -- As many as 48 wild animals, including cheetahs, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, tigers and lions, are on the loose in the area of Zanesville, Ohio, after they escaped from a private wildlife preserve, police said Tuesday night.

Officers believe they have shot as many as 25 of the animals so far, but it is not clear exactly how many escaped, according to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Department.

Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said that until the animals are rounded up, people should stay inside.

“These are wild animals, wild animals that you would see on TV in Africa,” Mutz said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

The owner of the preserve was found dead, but it’s not clear yet how he died, the sheriff said.

The animals’ pens were found open, and deputies are working with the animals’ caregiver, who says the animals were fed Monday.

They’re putting food in the animals’ pens in the hopes they might return to the pens where they can then secure the animals.

Police describe the animals as “mature, very big and aggressive.”

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has cordoned off seven square miles near Interstate 70 and officers are using infrared equipment to find the animals.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Fur Hits the Ban in West Hollywood, Calif.

John Foxx/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A tightly packed crowd of activists on both sides of the fur debate lobbied West Hollywood City Council members during a seven-hour-long meeting that began Monday evening and stretched into Tuesday morning, but when the vote finally came it was unanimous: Fur be gone.

The city council voted 5-0 to ban the sale of fur-apparel products, making West Hollywood the first U.S. city to pass such an ordinance, KABC-TV reported.

"West Hollywood is really taking the lead,” said animal rights attorney Shannon Keith, who said she’s seen animals beaten, gassed and skinned alive by people out to get their fur. “The animals can’t speak for themselves and nobody should have to die for vanity.”

But for some, the vote amounted to little more than a sham. Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of Americaa and a 26-year resident of West Hollywood, was outraged that the city council didn’t take more time to consider the economic impact.

Kaplan said a study that found that 46 percent -- or 91 fashion stores -- in the West Hollywood area sell fur would have been ready for review this week. But city officials declined to postpone the vote, he said.

"It’s a shock to many that the city council has allowed themselves to be hijacked by a special interest and rather extremist group,” Kaplan said, adding that those who opposed the ban were far outnumbered at the meeting. Three retailers, he said, decided not to speak a half hour before they were scheduled to, citing fear of retaliation by anti-fur activists.

As a lead up to the vote, the group Fur Free West Hollywood has hosted rallies since January. Keith said four or five retailers expressed their worry about the ban during the public debate.

West Hollywood, which is in Los Angeles County, is known for groundbreaking legislation. In 2003, it became the first U.S. city to ban declawing cats. West Hollywood has also banned the sale of dogs and cats within city limits, as well as the testing of cosmetics on animals.

As for Monday night, city Public Information Officer Tamara White said it was business as usual. West Hollywood City Council meetings often take on hot-topic issues that run late into the night, she said.

"We’ve consistently worked to enact cutting-edge animal welfare legislation,” she said. "This is in line with our values.”

Worldwide, about 50 million animals are raised on fur farms and killed for their pelts each year, according to the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals. Mink production alone in the U.S. totaled 2.82 million pelts in 2010, with Wisconsin and Utah leading production numbers, according to the most recent study by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The new ban in West Hollywood is tentatively set to go into effect in June 2012, but the city council plans to meet again in two weeks to set the effective date, penalties for violating the ban and whether to provide exemptions for vintage clothing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dog Swallows $10,000 Worth of Diamonds

Honey Bun the dog has a taste for the finer things in life. (WABC/ABC News)(ALBANY, Ga.) -- Forget puppy chow. One pampered pooch treated himself to a $10,000 snack of diamonds in his owner's jewelry store.

Honey Bun, the dog who greets customers with a wag of the tail at John Ross Jewelers in Albany, Ga., swallowed the diamonds two weeks ago, said the store's co-owner Chuck Roberts.

Roberts told ABC News affiliate WALB that he left four packets of diamonds on his desk when he got up to wait on a customer. Honey Bun, a pint sized pet, was able to jump on Roberts' chair and then onto the desk, gobbling up the gems.

"We looked all over and there weren't any diamonds, so immediately I knew he'd eaten them," Roberts told WALB.

He took Honey Bun in for an X-Ray, where two blanks spots were revealed in the dog's stomach. Since carbon doesn't show up in X-rays, they figured the spots were the diamonds.

Honey Bun, and Roberts, were lucky. Nature simply took its course the next day. After Honey Bun did his business, his relieved owners found the gems, cleaned them and sent them back to the manufacturer, Roberts told WALB.

"Dogs are not known for dietary discretion,” veterinarian Marty Becker told ABC News. "They are scavengers by nature."

Becker said he has removed everything from toy sharks to diamond rings from dogs. But the number one item he has removed? Women's underwear.

"It doesn't matter if it's the contents of the litter box, dirty diaper, women's underwear or diamonds. They just swallow it now and think about it later," Becker said.

It's so common that Veterinary News and Sound-Elkin, an animal imaging company, run an annual contest where veterinarians send in X-rays of the craziest items they've seen an animal swallow. Last year's winner was a 2-year-old hound mix who ingested an astounding 309 nails left over from a construction project. Honorable mentions included a Labrador with a 5-inch paring knife in his stomach and a retriever mix who swallowed an old telephone cord.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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