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Talkin' Pets News

January 2, 2021

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jasmine the Dog Trainer

Producer - Kayla Cavanaugh

Network Producer - Darian Sims

Social Media - Bob Page


Pet Supplies Plus announced that it will acquire an estimated 40 previously operated Pet Valu locations throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Some locations will reopen with Pet Supplies Plus branding, products and services as early as January, according to a press release.

News of the conversions comes after Pet Valu announced last month it was shutting down all U.S. operations, including its 358 stores.

“By transforming and rebranding some of these store locations to Pet Supplies Plus, many jobs will be saved that might otherwise be lost in addition to keeping pet parents happy by providing a high-touch shopping experience,” according to the release. Pet Supplies Plus operated more than 500 stores in 35 states.

The former Pet Valu stores will be a mix of corporate and franchisee-owned Pet Supplies Plus locations, according to company executives. The store conversions “present a turnkey business opportunity for potential franchisees to step in and operate the stores with a significantly shortened store opening timeline, take advantage of established real estate and benefit from minimal build out expenses vs. building a brand new brick and mortar location,” according to the release.

“I would like to extend gratitude to the Pet Valu team, who have been nothing but professional and supportive throughout this entire process,” said Nick Russo, senior vice president of franchising and store operations for Pet Supplies Plus. “This exemplifies the type of culture Pet Valu has developed, and we are excited to offer many Pet Valu associates a new home with us.”

Russo said Pet Supplies Plus is expected to open an estimated 100 new stores in 2021, including the previously operated Pet Valu stores obtained. This more than doubles the number of stores opened in 2020.

“We chose locations where we knew Pet Supplies Plus will make the biggest positive impact, especially for pet parents who need a community retailer to depend on for their pet needs,” said CEO Chris Rowland. “We’re honored to provide these neighborhoods with a large assortment of quality pet products and services with knowledgeable team members ready to help make pet ownership easier.”


Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to ban emotional support animals on its flights following a Department of Transportation ruling that airlines will only be required to transport service dogs.

Beginning Jan. 11, the airline will allow only service dogs that are “specially trained” and will refuse transport to emotional support animals.

The DOT rule change came early this month following the agency’s decision to revise its Air Carrier Access legislation because passengers have for years been requesting airlines accept their “service” pigs, rabbits and peacocks. Until now, the department had not defined what constituted a service animal, and all emotional support animals were federally required to be permitted on planes.

In 2017, the trade group Airlines for America estimated that the number of emotional support animals traveling on commercial flights increased to 751,000, a sharp rise from the 481,000 seen the year before.

“Following recent changes to U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) rules, Alaska Airlines will no longer accept emotional support animals on its flights,” the airline said in a news release. “Alaska will only transport service dogs, which are specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.”

On its website, the airline states that size of all service dogs allowed onboard “must not exceed the footprint or personal space of the guest’s seat or foot area during the entire flight.” The service dog must also be leashed at all times, is expected to “behave properly,” cannot occupy a seat or tray table and may not be under four months old.

The airline called the move a necessary step. “This regulatory change is welcome news, as it will help us reduce disturbances onboard, while continuing to accommodate our guests traveling with qualified service animals,” Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy at Alaska Airlines, said in the news release.

“The final rule announced today addresses concerns raised by individuals with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports, other aviation transportation stakeholders and other members of the public, regarding service animals on aircraft,” DOT officials said in a statement announcing the rule change on Dec. 2.

Alaska Airlines flights will accept passengers who booked travel before Jan. 11 to bring an emotional support animal other than a dog only up until Mar. 1. The DOT originally took up the ban on service animals in January 2019.


Floridians could begin seeing a new slithery item on their menus — Burmese pythons. The invasive species is so out of control in the state that the government may begin encouraging the new meal as a way to help keep the snake's numbers under control, as long as they aren't filled with toxic mercury. 

Before the recommendation, though, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has teamed up with the Florida Department of Health to find out if the mercury levels in pythons are safe to consume.  If that's the case, python hunter Donna Kalil is already ahead of the game. She hunts pythons for the South Florida Water Management District and estimates that she's eaten a dozen pythons over the last three years or so, according to the" data-component-tracked="1">South Florida Sun Sentinel. "It's a wonderful tasting meat," Kalil told the Sentinel. She describes it as an "acquired thought process" more than an "acquired taste."

Burmese pythons became established in the mid-1990s in the Everglades National Park, in South Florida, likely as released or escaped pets and then became invasive, according to the" data-component-tracked="1">FWC. A species becomes invasive when it ends up somewhere it shouldn't, due to humans, and upsets the balance of its new ecosystem, which has not evolved to cope with alien invaders, Live Science previously reported

Recent data suggests the population of pythons is expanding north and west within the Sunshine State. The longest Burmese python captured in Florida was over 18 feet (5.4 meters) long. Typically, they average between 6 and 9 feet (1.8 and 2.7 m). Due to their large size, the snakes have few predators and will consume a variety of animals, including mammals, birds and even alligators. Some of these prey are threatened or endangered native species," data-component-tracked="1">according to the FWC.

It's not unheard of for an invasive or just pesky species to be eaten as a means of controlling their populations. In Florida, the non-native lionfish and wild boar can be consumed for example. Even iguanas have been dubbed the "chicken of the trees," with the University of Florida publishing" data-component-tracked="1">recipe ideas. So what is different about pythons?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element in Earth's crust but human activities, such as mining and burning fossil fuels, have led to high levels of mercury being released into the atmosphere. It is then carried back to Earth through rainfall. Mercury pollution in the Everglades is especially high as water evaporating off its lush vegetation leads to the formation of giant mercury-absorbing rain clouds hovering above the area for most of the year, Live Science previously reported.

When mercury enters our freshwater and seawater systems, certain microorganisms can pick it up and convert it into methylmercury. This form builds up in the food chain as one contaminated animal is eaten by another. For a giant snake, cruising through mercury-infested swamps eating almost anything that moves, the risk of contamination is very real.  Some of the pythons found in the Everglades have previously registered "strikingly high levels of mercury," more than double what the state of Florida considers safe for edible fish, Live Science previously reported. If consumed by humans, mercury poisoning may cause various conditions, including neurological and chromosomal problems and birth defects.  --------------------------


Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia), the biggest hornets in the world, are gaining a foothold in the United States for the first time; the size of their stingers and the potency of their venom makes the insects uniquely dangerous to people, but the hornets pose a much greater threat to North American honeybees. 

Researchers in Washington first found individual hornets — also known as murder hornets — in April. The first murder hornet nest was found and destroyed in October, and that nest may have held as many as 200 new queens. Hornet queens can grow to be 2 inches (5 centimeters) in length, and female workers and males measure about 1 to 1.5 inches (3.5 to 3.9 cm), and they are known for mobbing honey bees' hives, killing or driving off all the bees, and then moving in and taking over the abandoned nurseries, feeding the bee larvae to their hornet babies.


Scavengers in the deep ocean eagerly devour alligator corpses — some pick the bones clean, while others munch on the bones, scientists recently discovered. Researchers sent three dead freshwater gators to the sea bottom in the Gulf of Mexico, depositing them at a depth of 6,600 feet (2 kilometers) to see how marine creatures might respond to a type of food that they wouldn't usually find on the sea floor. Turns out those deep sea critters aren't picky.

Footage captured by a camera on a diving robot showed that enormous pink isopods (crustaceans that resemble terrestrial woodlice or pill bugs, at a much larger scale) swarmed over the alligators, stripping flesh from the skeletons. After all the meat was gone, the bones were covered in a brown fuzz, and DNA analysis revealed that this coating was a previously unknown species of bone-eating worm.


A nursery for the extinct giant shark known as the megalodon — the largest shark that ever lived — has been unearthed in the Isthmus of Panama.

This giant carnivore lived roughly between 17 million and 2 million years ago. Based on fossil teeth discovered in the past, which could reach up to 6.6 inches long (16.8 centimeters), the megalodon could stretch more than 52 feet long (16 meters). The fetuses alone could reach 13 feet (4 meters) in length.

Scientists investigating two roughly 10-million-year-old fossil sites in the Isthmus of Panama found troves of megalodon teeth, roughly 400 in total. Other fossils discovered in the area suggest it was covered with shallow, salty waters some 82 feet deep (25 meters) located within a marine strait that once connected the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea.

Surprisingly, large megalodon teeth were uncommon in the troves. Instead, most ranged between 0.6 and 2.8 inches in length (1.6 to 7.2 cm).

Based on the shapes of the little teeth, the researchers suggest they are from juveniles, as opposed to being small teeth from regular adults or coming from some dwarf species of megalodon. For instance, some teeth possessed tiny sideway-jutting projections previously seen in young megalodons, while others were small, thick and heart-shaped, possibly coming from embryonic sharks.

These findings mark the first definitive evidence that megalodons had nurseries. All in all, the scientists found teeth from 21 juvenile megalodons some 6 to 34 feet long (2 to 10.5 meters), as well as from seven adults, some of which were possibly mother sharks.

"It is amazing how we were able to reconstruct a behavioral strategy used by ancient sharks based on fossils," said researcher Catalina Pimiento, a biologist at the University of Florida and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Great white sharks raise young in nurseries as well, typically in shallow areas where they can find ample food and protection from predators, mainly larger sharks. These findings reveal that sharks, "even in their largest forms, have used nursery areas for millions of years as an adaptive strategy for their survival," Pimiento said.


Many of us might struggle to see a moose on a moonless night, let alone a mosquito. But some bats have a nifty trick — they use their ears to locate their bug prey. It's not that bats can't see — many have excellent full-color vision — but most don't depend on their eyes to navigate. For many bats, the challenge they must overcome to survive is detecting prey that move in the dark. Enter echolocation. Many bats can use returning echoes to detect objects as fine as a human hair in total darkness. Bat brains map the echoes in a way that lets them home in on insects or avoid obstacles. Bats use of echolocation can help us protect them. These cryptic creatures flit around at night and hide by day, making it difficult to monitor them by sight.  How many bats are there and what species are where? This is increasingly important information to know, because North American bats are being devastated by a deadly fungal disease called white nose syndrome (WNS). In eastern North America, WNS has reduced bat populations by an estimated 90% or more. By studying bats in British Columbia and Alberta, where the fungus has not yet arrived, we hope to help bats survive when the fungus inevitably shows up there. Understanding how bats echolocate, and then recording them appropriately, is fundamental to that effort. Some bats are loud, some less so; some species prefer to feed amongst trees, others over water. Some bats, particularly ones that can snatch prey off of the ground or leaves, have huge ears to capture both echoes and the soft sounds generated by their prey — like the flutter of moth wings. Most others rely on smaller ears that are adept at listening for echoes but not necessarily to the sounds that their prey generate. The one problem with this system is that sound waves need to bounce off an object to generate an echo. That means the length of the sound wave has to match the size of the object so that the sound is blocked and bounces back to the bat. Insects are small, so the sound's wavelengths must be small. These short wavelengths result in high-frequency sounds. Most bats produce such high-frequency sounds that human ears can't hear them — hence, it is called ultrasound.  Ultrasound doesn't actually travel very far in air, though, so most bats have to really belt their echolocation calls out in order to have enough sound range to avoid flying into an object before they detect it or to find a tiny insect in front of them. It's sort of like headlights on a car — bright lights are needed to drive fast. Faster bats must be loud and have their sound travel far.  This results in another problem. The sounds bats make can be absolutely deafening to bats themselves — the equivalent of holding a shrieking smoke detector up to your ear if the sound were within human hearing range. Bats generate these really loud sounds right next to their own ears so how do they not deafen themselves?  Bats use their middle ear muscles to essentially "close their ears" while they are sending out sound waves. Of course, to hear the reflected sound waves, they must quickly re-open their ears. Bats can do this 10 times per second. Interestingly, some bat prey have also developed the ability to hear bats' sounds and take evasive action, setting up a relentless battle of who hears who first. Bats also tailor their sound to what they are finding. They may use only a small range of relatively lower frequencies while se arching for insects, then switch to higher frequencies to discover size, distance and speed of movement to narrow in on a target. The way that different species use different sound frequencies can help us identify species flying around unseen in the night sky. Using acoustic detectors, we can listen in on ultrasonic bat calls and then analyze the acoustic patterns to figure out what species of bats are in the neighborhood. But the variation in the calls that one individual can make is tremendous, making the study of bat sounds challenging. Listening for bats is an excellent way for us to fill in the many gaps in our understanding of which bats are present in different habitats. This monitoring is critical at a time when bats are facing many challenges like the steady spread of WNS. We're keeping our ears open to better understand how we can help these fascinating creatures. What we don't want to be listening to is silence. -----------------------


White-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus imitator) look absolutely darling, with their deep brown eyes and tiny faces ringed with white fur — but sometimes, these adorable creatures will cannibalize their own kin. When an infant monkey fell from a tree in the Santa Rosa National Park in Costa Rica, its relatives gathered around the corpse in interest. Soon enough, a young male and a pregnant female began nibbling at the infant's legs and feet. In the end, they left only the head, chest and arms untouched. When hunting prey animals, the capuchins would usually consume an entire animal in one sitting and as a group, rather than just two monkeys eating part of the part; because of this, scientists suspect cannibalism may be unusual behavior for white-faced capuchins. 


At 5 feet tall and 300 pounds, you would think an animal like that would be easy to spot. But this llama proved to be elusive.

Diana Heimann rescued “Gizmo” and another llama earlier this month to live on a private 90-acre horse farm in Bedford Corners. The fences, as it turns out, were not high enough to hold the nervous new llamas.

“Two days after they arrived they jumped a fence. One of them we lassoed and brought back,” Heimann told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

Gizmo was on the run for more than two weeks.

“Last seen, Guard Hill and West Patent in Bedford Corners, and he could well have traveled like 15 miles in any direction, easily,” Heimann said.

Local animal rescue groups joined the search effort, and volunteers helped to put up posters.

“I feel bad. It’s freezing outside and we had that snowstorm. So I feel really bad. Hopefully, we can find him,” said Brittney Stockert of White Plains.

Caloway was told llamas are used to the cold and can forage for food.

Drones with thermal imaging technology even joined the effort to track down Gizmo.

Wednesday evening, the Buddha Dog Rescue & Recovery posted on Facebook that Gizmo had been safely captured.

According to the organization, a maintenance crew on a local farm called Heimann and said Gizmo had been on that farm property, which is less than a mile away from where Gizmo escaped. The crew thought Gizmo belonged on the farm and didn’t realize otherwise until they saw a missing poster.

Heimann and one of her workers went to the farm and were able to lasso Gizmo and bring him back home.

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