On Monday night, a passenger boarded United Flight 1284 from Houston Intercontinental to New York - LaGuardia with a small dog inside a TSA-compliant carrier. According to the passenger, a flight attendant then demanded that the carrier and animal be placed in the overhead bin for the duration of the flight, instead of under the seat, as is common practice. A witness wrote on Facebook that the passenger protested, but eventually complied. The dog then died sometime during the flight, according to The Points Guy.
Per United's in-cabin pet policy, "A pet traveling in cabin must be carried in an approved hard-sided or soft-sided kennel. The kennel must fit completely under the seat in front of the customer and remain there at all times." As such, people traveling with an in-cabin pet cannot be seated in an emergency exit or bulkhead row.
In a statement, United said, "This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again."
Pet deaths in the cabin are rare. But as previously reported by Traveler's Rachel Rabkin Peachman, dozens of animals died flying in cargo on U.S. airlines in 2016. In April 2017, Simon, a three-foot-long, ten-month-old Continental Giant rabbit, was found dead in the cargo section of a Boeing 767 upon arrival at Chicago O'Hare.
Italian fashion house Versace and handbag and accessories maker Furla said they would stop using real fur in their creations, joining a growing list of luxury labels turning their backs on the fur industry.
Fashion houses around the world are bowing to pressure and using alternatives to real fur amid pressure from animal rights groups and changing tastes of younger customers, who are increasingly aware of the environmental issues linked with the clothes they buy.
Donatella Versace, the artistic director and vice-president of Versace, said that she did not want to kill animals to make fashion and that it "it doesn't feel right", speaking in an interview with The Economist's 1843 magazine on Wednesday.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) Senior Vice President Dan Mathews said in an emailed statement that it was "a major turning point in the campaign for compassionate fashion", adding that he looked forward to seeing a "leather-free Versace next".
The animal rights group recently campaigned at the Pyeongchang Winter games for an end to the fur trade.
Furla on Thursday committed to replacing all fur with faux-fur for both menswear and womenswear starting from its Cruise 2019 collection.
Italian fashion group Gucci, part of Paris-based luxury conglomerate Kering, said in October it would stop using fur in its designs from its spring and summer 2018 collection joining Armani, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and multi-brand online luxury retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter.
British designer Stella McCartney has long followed a so-called "vegetarian" philosophy, shunning not only fur, but also leather and feathers.
Florida’s legislative session just came to a close, but not before lawmakers took a stand for pet store pets, their families and local governments.
In early February, much to the displeasure of puppy-selling pet stores, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission’s Local Government Committee unanimously rejected Proposition 95, a proposal that would have gutted Florida’s cities and towns of their home-rule authority to ban the sale of cruelly-bred puppies and retail pet stores.
Most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, commercial pet-breeding facilities that prioritize profit over the health and wellbeing of animals. Dogs in these operations are often kept in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, food, water or socialization.
When Prop. 95 failed, the pet sale industry made a last-ditch attempt to pass their pro-puppy-mill agenda in the final weeks of session by hijacking other, unrelated bills moving through the Legislature—including the state’s tax and agriculture bills—and amending them to include their harmful language.
After strong opposition from animal advocates, consumers and local governments, we are pleased to report both amendments were withdrawn for consideration.
If passed, the amendments would have undermined local efforts to protect dogs and consumers by invalidating the laws of 60 municipalities across Florida that have already taken a stand against this industry by passing local ordinances to keep cruelly-bred puppies of our pet stores. More than 250 localities across the country have enacted these or similar laws.
Last year in neighboring Georgia the ASPCA worked to defeat a similar measure backed by the puppy mill industry, and this year we’re fighting the industry again in the state to stop a bill that would strip local governments of their ability to regulate the sale of puppy mill puppies in their communities and instead hand that authority over to the federal government.
On Monday, March 12, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially withdrew the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP), killing these groundbreaking protections for animals raised on Organic farms. The ASPCA condemns this decision in the strongest terms possible.
“The USDA’s withdrawal of the OLPP is a violation of the public trust that reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers that led to this groundbreaking rule,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.”
The OLPP Rule would have been the first comprehensive set of regulations governing on-farm treatment of animals implemented by the federal government. The rule significantly closed the gap between consumers’ expectations regarding the quality of animal welfare under the Organic label and the reality of what USDA Organic regulations currently require. Among many improvements, the new rule specified minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for chickens, along with meaningful outdoor access, and prohibited certain inhumane physical alterations like tail-docking and de-beaking.
While most organic farmers embrace stronger animal welfare standards, some large-scale brands intentionally exploit loopholes in the USDA’s current standards and raise animals in factory farm-like conditions while still earning the Organic classification. These companies are actively misleading consumers, most of whom believe they’re making more welfare-conscious decisions when they buy meat, dairy and eggs with the Organic label.
After years of collaboration with the ASPCA and other stakeholders, including farmers and experts in farm animal welfare—and in light of the tens of thousands of supportive comments submitted by concerned Americans—the OLPP Rule was finalized by the USDA in January 2017, but then delayed by the new administration several times before the final withdrawal was issued on March 12.
For many, St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that certainly warrants a celebration! But like most holidays, St. Patrick’s Day can bring with it an array of potential dangers for your pets. Popular party treats, like alcohol, and other festive, good-luck charms might not bring good fortune to your furry friends if ingested. So the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure you’ve got all the facts to ensure that March 17 will be nothing but fun for you and your four-legged friends.
Green beer and other alcoholic beverages have become a big part of St. Paddy’s Day celebrations. Unfortunately, many dogs—and even some cats—will happily lap up anything left out on the table, and APCC receives many calls about animals who have gotten into unattended alcoholic drinks around this time of year.
Typically, signs of depression and drunkenness in pets appear within an hour of ingestion and can include:
- Difficulty walking
- Stomach upset
- Coma (in severe cases, and depending on the amount ingested)
In addition, one of the biggest concerns with intoxicated pets is that they will vomit and be unable to protect their airways. If this happens, they can inhale the vomit into their lungs and contract pneumonia, which can be very severe.
To avoid alcohol toxicity, APCC recommends keeping an eye on your beverages at all times and never placing drinks where they are easily accessible to your pets. Even better, keep your pets in a safe, quiet room away from the action until your St. Paddy’s celebrations are over. Also, if you are having a party in your home, keep in mind that you’ll want to avoid giving your pets people food, and be mindful of dangers guests can bring with them.
Around this green-colored holiday, many people look to the shamrock as a sign of good luck. The common name “shamrock” can actually refer to several different plants, but usually calls to APCC regarding this plant are referring to Oxalis spp., which has been proven to be toxic to animals.
If your pet ingests this plant, it can cause stomach upset, drooling and immediate head shaking or tremors. If a large amount is ingested, it can cause low blood calcium and damage to the kidneys. In rare cases, kidney failure has been seen.
The good news is that these plants taste fairly bitter, meaning that most animals won’t be tempted to nibble—but that doesn’t mean it never happens. Should your pet ingest shamrocks, call your veterinarian or APCC immediately. As always, be sure to monitor the plants and items in and around your home, and take action at the first signs of pet poisoning.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the APCC at (888) 426-4435.
Moose thrive in Alaska’s largest city with little to fear from natural predators such as wolves or bears, but getting an accurate count of the largest member of the deer family remains a challenge for the state wildlife biologists who must manage their numbers.
Traditionally, aerial surveys are performed from low-flying aircraft after there’s snow on the ground when spotters can distinguish between male moose with antlers and cows without them, but flight rules from Anchorage’s international airport prohibit the survey flights.
In response to those restrictions, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is experimenting with a new method of surveying moose. Biologists for three days last month asked Anchorage residents to call or text whenever they spotted moose. Teams of moose trackers with dart guns then hurried to the locations. The darts they fired captured DNA samples.
DNA analysis will let researchers calculate the ratio of bulls to cows. The samples also will be the start of a database to identify individual moose, without the expense of capturing them. “Think of it as building a family tree,” said Sean Farley, a state research biologist.
While other U.S. cities get overrun with deer raiding gardens, Anchorage residents are used to steering clear of moose because hitting them with a car can be fatal to both animal and driver. Bulls weighing up to 1,600 pounds (726 kilograms) are dangerous during the fall rut and cows will attack people if they get close to calves. Moose use their hooves to stomp on people or dogs if cornered.
Anchorage spans 1,963 square miles (5,080 square kilometers), an area the size of the U.S. state of Delaware. The city has 300,000 people, but the moose population is unknown. Though hunting is not allowed in most of the city, biologists want to know how many moose move in and out of hunting areas.
Pencil-length darts are fired into the sides of moose, the darts feel like bee sting, researchers said. A skin sample wraps around a needle in the tip of the darts, which have heavy barrels to make them fall into the snow.
Surveys suggest most Anchorage residents like sharing their yards with moose. Biologists said their participation in the survey is crucial, and the department received 510 calls and texts over the three-day moose reporting period for residents.
Biologists traditionally estimate wildlife abundance with the “mark-recapture” method of capturing and tagging or collaring animals and then allowing them to remix with the general population. Populations are sampled later and abundance estimates are made based on the count of marked animals.
Farley said the current survey is a research project but he’s optimistic it could help biologists estimate Anchorage’s moose population. At worst, the three-days of DNA sampling will be the basis for a future mark-recapture study of Anchorage moose.
Wild birds that are more clever than others at foraging for food have different levels of a neurotransmitter receptor that has been linked with intelligence in humans, according to a study led by McGill University researchers. The findings could provide insight into the evolutionary mechanisms affecting cognitive traits in a range of animals.
The study, published in Science Advances, was conducted by McGill biologists Jean-Nicolas Audet and Louis Lefebvre, in collaboration with researchers from Duke and Harvard universities.
The researchers caught bullfinches and black-faced grassquits near McGill's Bellairs Research Institute in Barbados. Bullfinches are bold, opportunistic and innovative, while grassquits are shy and conservative. They are each other's closest relative in Barbados and are cousins of Darwin's finches from the Galápagos islands.
In captivity, the problem-solving skills of the two species differed considerably in lab tests. Most of the bullfinches quickly figured out how to lift the lid off a jar of food, for example, while all the grassquits were stumped by the challenge. These performances were in line with the differences in the birds' innovativeness in the wild -- a trait that can help animals survive in changing environments.
The researchers then compared the expression of all genes in six parts of the brain of the two bird species using state-of-the-art molecular techniques, including next-generation sequencing -- the first time these tools have been used to find brain properties related to innovation and problem-solving in wild birds.
A family of genes stood out: glutamate neurotransmitter receptors, especially in the part of the bird brain that corresponds to humans' prefrontal cortex. Glutamate receptors are known to be involved in a variety of cognitive traits in humans and other mammals. In particular a receptor known as GRIN2B, when boosted in transgenic mice, makes them better learners. Levels of that receptor were higher in the Barbados bullfinch than in the grassquit, the researchers found.
"By comparing an extremely innovative species like the Barbados bullfinch with a closely related conservative one like the black-faced grassquit, we gain insight into the evolutionary mechanisms that can lead to divergence in behavior," Audet says. "It might be that mammals, including humans, and birds like the Barbados bullfinch use similar mechanisms to perform cognitively. If our results are confirmed in future studies, it would be a unique demonstration of convergent evolution of intelligence, involving the same neurotransmitter receptors despite the widely different brain structures of birds and mammals."
Dogs, cows, sheep, horses, pigs, and birds -- over the past 15,000 years, our ancestors domesticated dozens of wild animals to keep them as farm animals or pets. To make wild wolves evolve into tame dogs, the least aggressive animals, or most gentle ones, were selected for breeding. Tameness was therefore the key criterion for selection. Over time, it wasn't only the animals' behavior that changed, but their appearance as well -- with the same changes emerging across various species. For example, domestic rabbits, dogs, and pigs all have white patches, floppy ears, smaller brains, and shorter snouts. In science, this suite of traits is referred to as the domestication syndrome.
A team of researchers led by Anna Lindholm from the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at UZH has now also observed this phenomenon in wild mice (Mus musculus domesticus) that live in a barn near Zurich. Within a decade, this population of mice developed two of the distinct phenotypic changes: white patches in their otherwise brown-colored fur as well as shorter snouts. "The mice gradually lost their fear and developed signs of domestication. This happened without any human selection, solely as a result of being exposed to us regularly," says Anna Lindholm. The evolutionary biologist has been studying the mice that live in the empty barn for about 15 years. These animals are regularly provided with food and water, and investigated by the researchers.
Scientists' knowledge about the domestication syndrome comes from a remarkable experiment that began in Siberia in 1959. Soviet geneticist Dmitry Belyaev tamed wild foxes and investigated their evolutionary changes. He selected the tamest animals from among every new generation. Over time, the foxes began to change their behavior: They not only tolerated people, but were outright friendly. At the same time, their appearance also changed: Their fur featured white patches, their snouts got shorter, their ears drooped, and their tails turned curly.
It appears that a small group of stem cells in the early embryo -- the neural crest -- is responsible for these behavioral and physical changes that take place in parallel. The ear's cartilage, the teeth's dentine, the melanocytes responsible for the skin's pigmentation, as well as the adrenal glands which produce stress hormones are all derived from these stem cells. The selection of less timid or aggressive animals results in smaller adrenal glands that are less active, and therefore leads to tamer animals. Changes in the color of fur and head size can thus be considered unintended side effects of domestication, as these traits can also be traced back to stem cells in the neural crest that were more passive in the early stages of development.
The observations of the study's first author Madeleine Geiger increases the understanding of how house mice began to live in closer proximity to humans, attracted by their food, some 15,000 years ago. As a result of this proximity alone, the rodents got used to people and became tamer. "This self-domestication resulted in the gradual changing of their appearance -- incidentally and inadvertently," says Geiger. Evolutionary biologists assume that the development from wild wolf to domestic dog also initially began without the active involvement of humans. Wolves that lived near humans became less timid and aggressive -- the first step in becoming domesticated.