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Talkin' Pets News

August 13, 2022

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Dr. Suzanne Topor - Livingston Animal and Avian Hospital, Lutz, FL

Producer - Philip Staub

Network Producer - Ben Boquist


A Lake Wales, Florida K-9 was killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence call, with investigators saying the suspect responsible was then shot and killed by officers at the scene.

Police said K-9 Max "was murdered by a violent suspect," identified as 57-year-old convicted felon Earnest Borders. Chief Chris Velasquez said the incident began around 5 a.m. when 911 dispatchers received a call from a woman who told them Borders had pulled her out of a vehicle, beat her head on the concrete, choked her, and then shot a firearm multiple times before fleeing the area. Investigators said Borders then returned a short time later. When officers attempted to apprehend him, they said he fled alongside railroad tracks and into a wooded area.

Lake Wales police set up a perimeter and asked for assistance from the Polk County Sheriff's Office. That's when they sent in K-9 Max and his handler, Officer Jared Joyner, to track Borders. Velasquez said when Max apprehended Borders and had him by the ankle, Borders pulled out his gun and shot the police dog, killing him. Two officers, including Joyner, then opened fire on Borders, who was critically injured and soon succumbed to his injuries.

A procession for Max was held from the Lake Wales Police Department to the Medical Examiner's Office. Joyner led the procession in his patrol vehicle with Max's body inside. K-9 Max was killed in Lake Wales by a suspect described as a 'violent convicted felon.' A procession was held from the police department to the Medical Examiner's Office, with his handler leading the way. Law enforcement from surrounding agencies, including Sheriff Grady Judd, was there in support.

According to the Lake Wales Police Department, Max joined the agency when he was 21 months old in 2016. Max, a Belgian Malinois from The Netherlands, was described as "fearless." "Officer Joyner lost a part of his family today," Velasquez said. "This officer is extremely distraught. He's heartbroken, and so are we."

Investigators said Borders had 18 prior felony convictions, with charges including battery, assault, and grand theft. He served three separate sentences in the Florida State Prison. "The suspect flat, completely murdered our K-9. Pulled the handgun out and pulled the trigger," Velasquez said, adding that police later learned the gun had also been stolen. "He made that choice and that's why he's dead today."

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Max died while protecting the lives of other law enforcement officers on the scene. "It crushes you because that K-9 died so the police officers wouldn't. He was the tip of the spear," Judd said. "What we lost today was one of our partners. Our K-9 Max died so no Lake Wales police officers would." Velasquez agreed, adding that Max's training kept the situation from turning even more tragic. "He was very, very well-trained, he performed exactly as he was supposed to," the police chief said of the fallen K-9. "He ultimately saved the lives of police officers this morning. I fully, wholeheartedly believe that we would be speaking about dead police officers had that K-9 not been in service this morning." 


It's a question that keeps some scientists awake at night: Do spiders sleep?

Daniela Roessler and her colleagues trained cameras on baby jumping spiders at night to find out. The footage showed patterns that looked a lot like sleep cycles: The spiders' legs twitched and parts of their eyes flickered.

The researchers described this pattern as a “REM sleep-like state.” In humans, REM, or rapid eye movement, is an active phase of sleep when parts of the brain light up with activity and is closely linked with dreaming.

Other animals, including some birds and mammals, have been shown to experience REM sleep. But creatures like the jumping spider haven’t gotten as much attention so it wasn't known if they got the same kind of sleep, said Roessler, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Their findings were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Roessler and her team dug into the sleep question after she discovered the spiders hanging at night from threads of silk in their lab containers. She had recently scooped up some jumping spiders to study, a common species with a furry brown body and four pairs of big eyes. “It was just the most unusual thing I’ve ever seen,” Roessler said of the suspended spiders.

The research showed the spiders’ overnight movements looked a lot like REM in other species, she said — like dogs or cats twitching in their sleep. And they happened in regular cycles, similar to sleep patterns in humans. Many species similar to spiders actually don’t have movable eyes, which makes it hard to compare their sleep cycles, explained study co-author Paul Shamble, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.

But these jumping spiders are predators that move their retinas around to change their gaze while they hunt, Shamble said. Plus, the young spiders have a see-through outer layer that gives a clear window into their bodies. “Sometimes as a biologist, you just get really, really lucky,” Shamble said.

The researchers still have to figure out if the spiders are technically sleeping while they’re in these resting states, Roessler said. That includes testing whether they respond more slowly — or not at all — to triggers that would normally set them off. Critters like the jumping spider are very far from humans on the evolutionary tree. Jerry Siegel, a sleep researcher who was not involved with the study, said he's doubtful that the spiders can really experience REM sleep.

“There may be animals that have activity in quiet states,” said Siegel, of the UCLA Center for Sleep Research. “But are they REM sleep? It’s hard to imagine that they could be the same thing.” But Barrett Klein, an entomologist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who was also not involved with the study, said it was exciting to find REM-like signs in such a distant relative. Many questions remain about how widespread REM sleep is and what purpose it might serve for species, he said. REM sleep is “still very much a black box,” Klein said.


IN West Virginia – An amazing cat managed to find his family after they moved nearly 40 miles away. On May 21, the Kutscher family loaded their belongings into a U-haul for their move from Bridgeport to Morgantown, but their orange tabby cat, Oliver, disappeared shortly before the moving truck rolled out of town.

In a social media post, Oliver’s owner, Hailie, explained:

That morning Oliver went outside like any other day but sadly never returned as we loaded the final things into our Uhaul.

Her husband, Nick, continued to put out food for Oliver at the old house as he prepared it to be sold, but the cat remained elusive. Hailie told News 10:

“We still had ownership of the house. We listed it vacant, so until it was under contract, we would continually go back and check up every week. My husband kept food out for the first week, would constantly go out and call for him. He was always pretty good about responding to being called.”

And when the house sold in July, the Kutschers told the new owners about Oliver, in case he showed up. Eventually, Oliver did show up, but not where his family expected him to.

On July 24, Hailie wrote:

Tonight he showed up in our backyard in Morgantown. He traveled at least 40 miles over the course of 2 months to find us. I’ve heard of things like this happening but never truly believed it was possible. Now I believe. Anything is possible. Our Oliver Kitty is home again! ?

The family knew that the cat was Oliver, but took him to a veterinarian to confirm his identity through his implanted microchip. The chip confirmed that the cat was indeed…Oliver. How he made his way to his family’s new home is a mystery, but he did it and his owners said that he is “overall healthy and doing great.”


Identifying cat love…

Dogs usually get top billing for the pets who are most affectionate, but cat lovers know that felines love their people! Cats have their own unique ways to show their owners that they adore them.

Do you recognize your cat’s love language? Does your cat ever gaze at you from across the room…slowly blinking and staring at your face? That’s love. Cats do a slow blink to the people they love.

Does your cat curl up on your lap, knead you with his/her soft paws, and purr incessantly? Yep, you guessed it, those are all signs of love. Cats don’t need big, sloppy dog kisses to show their people that they love them – they are more subtle, and snuggly!

Does your cat sometimes run to you and fall over to show you his/her belly? That’s love! Your feline friend trusts you so much that they can make themselves vulnerable to you.

Is your cat constantly meowing at you? That also is love! Cats typically don’t “talk” to each other, but if they vocalize with you, that’s a sure sign of affection.

If your cat follows you around, with his/her tail high in the air (and usually “fluffed out”) you are being shown that you are loved. And if your cat brings you presents or tries to groom you, you can be sure that you are cherished by your feline.

Cats may be independent and sometimes aloof, but cat people know – there is nothing quite like being loved by an adorable feline.


New Yorkers and tourists in Hell’s Kitchen were greeted with the disturbing sight of a collapsed carriage horse on the street on Wednesday evening, according to local reports. Authorities responding to the scene found “a carriage horse lying in the middle of the roadway in distress,” the New York Police Department said in a later statement to W42ST.

The statement continued that officers “were able to offer temporary aid to the horse by hosing it down to help it cool off.” The horse, a 14-year-old animal named Ryder, managed to rise to its feet after being sprayed down, to the cheers of onlookers.

Edita Birnkrant, executive director of NYCLASS, a local animal rights nonprofit, told the outlet, “People are sick to their stomachs over this… We are so behind so many other worldwide cities that have already removed horses from the streets and replaced them with electric carriages.” A spokesperson for the local union representing carriage drivers told Gothamist that the horse had been suffering not from heat exhaustion but equine protozoal myeloencephalitis.


As a deadly fire continued to burn last week in the Klamath National Forest in Northern California, Kenneth Brink, a local fisherman, counted dead fish in a river that had turned to the consistency of “chocolate milk.”

Brink, 45, a member of the Karuk Tribe, lives in Happy Camp, a town of less than 900 people on the Klamath River, in Siskiyou County. The town is near the border with Oregon. On Friday, he drove about 20 miles upstream, where he made the grim discovery: thousands of dead suckerfish, salmon and trout, many floating belly up. “It smells vile,” Brink said. “If it was in that river, it died.”

The McKinney fire began July 29 and has exploded to more than 60,000 acres, killing four people and becoming California’s largest fire so far this year. According to local tribal leaders, the fire has also led to the mass fish kill in the Klamath River, which runs for more than 250 miles from southern Oregon, through Northern California and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Up to 3 inches of rain fell on areas burned by the fire Aug. 2, sending a debris flow of burned soil, rocks and downed timber into the river, said Mike Lindbery, a public information officer for the McKinney fire.

That debris turned into a plume of brown “sludge” that made its way downriver, according to tribal representatives. A water-quality monitoring station on the river recorded the dissolved oxygen level in the water at zero for both Wednesday and Thursday, they added. Sea creatures usually survive in water that has about 8 milligrams of oxygen per liter, but the oxygen level in that section of the river made it impossible for the fish to survive.

“It’s just sterilizing the entire river in that reach,” said Craig Tucker, a policy adviser for the tribe. Whether the debris flow would affect the Chinook salmon’s migration, which usually begins in the fall, was not known, he said.

On Sunday, the McKinney fire, which has prompted evacuations of thousands of people, was 40% contained, authorities said in a report on the fire. But Lindbery cautioned that dangerous conditions in the coming days could reverse some of that progress.

Development and dam building had already threatened the salmon population of the Klamath River, impacting local tribal groups.

Brink noted that all of the fish that were killed hold cultural importance for the local tribes that live near the river. He said he felt frustration over the region’s history of forest management, which had in the past prohibited local tribes from conducting cultural burns to tame the landscape.

“It’s chaos,” he said of the impact of the fire on his community of Happy Camp, which is within about 35 miles of two blazes: the deadly McKinney fire and the Yeti fire, which has grown to nearly 8,000 acres. He added, “I’m about ready to cry.”


The Arctic is heating up at a breakneck speed compared with the rest of Earth. And new analyses show that the region is warming even faster than scientists thought. Over the last four decades, the average Arctic temperature increased nearly four times as fast as the global average, researchers report August 11 in Communications Earth & Environment.

And that’s just on average. Some parts of the Arctic Ocean, such as the Barents Sea between Russia and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, are warming as much as seven times as fast, meteorologist Mika Rantanen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki and colleagues found. Previous studies have tended to say that the Arctic’s average temperature is increasing two to three times as fast as elsewhere, as humans continue causing the climate to change.

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To calculate the true pace of the accelerated warming, a phenomenon called Arctic amplification, the researchers analyzed observational data from 1979 to 2021 (SN: 7/1/20). Globally, the average temperature increase over that time was about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. But the Arctic was warming by about 0.75 degrees C per decade.

Even the best climate models are not doing a great job of reproducing that warming, Rantanen and colleagues say. The inability of the models to realistically simulate past Arctic amplification calls into question how well the models can project future changes there.

It’s not clear where the problem lies. One issue may be that the models are struggling with correctly simulating the sensitivity of Arctic temperatures to the loss of sea ice. Vanishing snow and ice, particularly sea ice, are one big reason why Arctic warming is on hyperspeed. The bright white snow and ice create a reflective shield that bounces incoming radiation from the sun back into space. But open ocean waters or bare rocks absorb that heat, raising the temperature.


In the upper reaches of the Skykomish River in Washington state, a pioneering team of civil engineers is keeping things cool. Relocated beavers boosted water storage and lowered stream temperatures, indicating such schemes could be an effective tool to mitigate some of the effects of climate change.

In just one year after their arrival, the new recruits brought average water temperatures down by about 2 degrees Celsius and raised water tables as much as about 30 centimeters.Bottom of Form “That water storage is so critical during the drier periods, because that’s what can keep the ecosystem resilient to droughts and fires,” says Emily Fairfax, an ecohydrologist at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo who was not involved with the study.

The Skykomish River flows down the west side of Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Climate change is already transforming the region’s hydrology: The snowpack is shrinking, and snowfall is turning to rain, which drains quickly. Waters are also warming, which is bad news for salmon populations that struggle to survive in hot water. Beavers are known to tinker with hydrology too (SN: 7/27/18). They build dams, ponds and wetlands, deepening streams for their burrows and lodges (complete with underwater entrances). The dams slow the water, storing it upstream for longer, and cool it as it flows through the ground underneath.

From 2014 to 2016, aquatic ecologist Benjamin Dittbrenner and colleagues relocated 69 beavers from lowland areas of the state to 13 upstream sites in the Skykomish River basin, some with relic beaver ponds and others untouched. As beavers are family-oriented, the team moved whole clans to increase the chances that they would stay put. The researchers also matched singletons up with potential mates, which seemed to work well: “They were not picky at all,” says Dittbrenner, of Northeastern University in Boston. Fresh logs and wood cuttings got the beavers started in their new neighborhoods.

At the five sites that saw long-term construction, beavers built 14 dams. Thanks to those dams, the volume of surface water — streams, ponds, wetlands — increased to about 20 times that of streams with no new beaver activity. Meanwhile below ground, wells at three sites showed that after dam construction the amount of groundwater grew to more than twice that was stored on the surface in ponds. Stream temperatures downstream of the dams fell by 2.3 degrees C on average, while streams not subject to the beavers’ tinkering warmed by 0.8 degrees C. These changes all came within the first year after relocation. “We’re achieving restoration objectives almost instantly, which is really cool,” Dittbrenner says.

Crucially, the dams lowered temperatures enough to almost completely take the streams out of the harmful range for salmon during a particularly hot summer.  The study also found that small, shallow abandoned beaver ponds were actually warming streams, perhaps because the cooling system had broken down over time. Targeting these ponds as potential relocation sites could be the most effective way to bring temperatures down, the researchers say.  When relocated populations establish and breed, young beavers leaving their homes could seek those abandoned spots out first, Dittbrenner says, as it uses less energy than starting from scratch. “If they find a relic pond, it’s game on.”     


Authorities are urging an intruder who broke into a monkey enclosure in Tasmania to seek medical attention as they may have been exposed to a “potentially fatal” herpes virus.

The enclosure, which houses macaque monkeys, was broken into on Tuesday night with the intruder causing damage to the electric fence before stealing coins from a surrounding moat.

The city of Launceston council released a statement which said the break-in could have exposed the intruder to herpes B virus, which is carried by most macaques around the world.

The council is urging the intruder to seek medical attention as soon as possible, saying the virus could be “potentially fatal to humans”.

“The virus can be asymptomatically shed by the monkeys through bodily fluids and ‘fomites’ – that is, any material that has come into contact with the virus, which includes the water in the enclosure.

“The virus is potentially fatal to humans, with more than 30 known deaths recorded worldwide, with only one confirmed case of human-to-human transmission.”

Launceston mayor, Albert van Zetten, said that the intruder had “obviously” intended to steal the coins, adding that if the disease was in the water, it could be transferred to humans.

“We’re really encouraging that person to seek medical attention as a matter of urgency, and they need to watch out for symptoms, which include blistering, pain, numbness and flu-like symptoms as well,” Van Zetten said.

“It’s strange, there’s no doubt about that. Perhaps someone saw some money and thought, ‘oh well, here’s a chance, I might be able to get some’.”

Van Zetten said the virus was not considered a risk to the monkeys, who exhibit symptoms similar to that of cold sores in humans. He said a break-in had never happened before. “You can never stop some people from trying to break in if they really want to,” he said. “But … we will continue to monitor and see if there’s anything we can do that would make sure that people don’t do this.”

The council said Tasmania police and the Tasmanian Department of Health had been advised of the break-in. “We ask that anyone with information regarding the break-in contact Tasmania police immediately,” Van Zetten said. “But importantly, council urges the intruder to seek medical attention as a matter of some urgency.”

The enclosure was established as part of a sister-city relationship with Ikeda in Japan, where the monkeys came from.


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