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Talkin' Pets News

August 27, 2022

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Gino Sassani - Lost World Reptiles - Tampa, FL

Producer - Lexi Lapp Adams

Network Producer - Paul Campos

Social Media - Bob Page

Special Guest - Daniel Paden - PETA Vice President - Hour 2 to discuss a PETA investigation recently that led to the rescue of 4,000 beagles bred for experiments.


South Carolina’s live rooster mascot is about to debut a name change. A new alias for the mascot formerly known as Sir Big Spur will be announced sometime between now and when the Gamecocks kick off the season Sept. 3 against Georgia State, the university confirmed to The State.

Why a name change? It boils down to a disagreement between the bird’s original owners — Mary Snelling and Ron Albertelli — and the new owners, Beth and Van Clark, over whether or not the animal’s “comb” on its head should be trimmed. According to a report from The (Charleston) Post & Courier, the original owners trimmed the rooster’s comb — the red, fleshy area on its head — to make the bird look more like a fighting Gamecock. The Clarks have opted to keep the comb intact, citing the health benefits to the bird. An agreement with the original owners allowing the use of the Sir Big Spur name has expired. USC is guiding the process to select a new name.

The Clarks, for now, have changed the Twitter handle of the rooster simply to “mascot.” The new name won’t be Big Spur, which was the name used for USC’s costumed mascot in the pre-1980s and before the creation of Cocky. The university’s legal team “advised against using an old name ‘Big Spur,’ which was suggested by many fans, due to its close relationship to Sir Big Spur, which is not owned by the University,” USC marketing director Eric Nichols told The State.


Pure Water Oceanside has been awarded a $9.9 million grant following a recommendation by the office of U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, it was announced Tuesday.

The funding will be awarded via the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART: Title XVI WIIN Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects funding, a statement from the city read. Oceanside is one of 25 applicants named for this funding.

“It is very important to the city that Pure Water Oceanside is affordable for our community,” Oceanside’s Water Utilities Director Lindsay Leahy said. “We have made great strides through the award of multiple grants, loans, and incentive programs through the Bureau of Reclamation, EPA, Department of Water Resources, Metropolitan Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority.

“We are thankful for the continued support from the Bureau of Reclamation,” she added. “This funding helps to ensure Oceanside can continue to develop a cost-effective, reliable, local water supply.”

Through its WaterSMART program, the Bureau of Reclamation provides grants to water districts and communities to “reclaim and reuse wastewater and impaired ground and surface water in the Western United States,” according to the bureau.

Pure Water Oceanside is intended to purify recycled water to create a new local source of drinking water that is clean, safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound. When finished, the project is slated to provide more than 32% of the city’s water supply — between 3 and 5 million gallons per day.

Before the project, the city imported nearly 90% of its drinking water from the Sacramento Bay Delta and the Colorado River. Pure Water Oceanside began operation and testing at the end of 2021, and final construction is expected to be complete at the end of 2022.

It will be the first operating potable reuse project in San Diego County.


The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service has a handy guide, complete with illustrations, on how to blow up a horse. If you've ever heard the tale of a certain Oregon whale that was splattered across a crowd of onlookers and journalists, you probably already realize this isn't a terrible idea. The guide – first published in 1995 for use by Forest Service employees – explains that sometimes you just have to blow up a horse. Dead animals in recreation areas, for example, can attract bears, which could lead to a situation with even more carcasses to dispose of. 

Though moving the bodies of dead animals is preferable, they write, sometimes it is necessary to use explosives to get the job done, say in remote areas or hard-to-access places where removal of the animal is not possible. In these circumstances, you'd better reach for your official copy of "Obliterating Animal Carcasses With Explosives".

When urgency is not a factor, they recommend that "dispersion" – a nice way of saying "scattering parts of the corpse, rather than obliterating it" – can be acceptable. In these circumstances, Forest Service employees are recommended to "place 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of explosives in two locations under each leg" as well as quite a few larger explosives underneath the main body and head. Before you detonate, employees are advised to remove the horseshoes, decreasing the chance of flying metal debris and increasing the odds of any other debris being horse.

In cases where it's not possible to get explosives underneath the carcass, they recommend laying a hell of a lot more explosives on top of the horse.

Though they state that "carcasses that have been dispersed will generally be totally gone within a few days" and that corpses that have been "partially obliterated will generally not show any trace of existence the next day", they advise that if there is real urgency, sometimes complete obliteration is necessary. 

"Most large animal carcasses can be adequately disbursed with 20 pounds (9 kilograms) explosives," they write, "however, 40 to 55 pounds (18 to 25 kilograms) are recommended to ensure total obliteration."

Trust us, this is not something you want to get wrong.


Visitors at a Texas state park last week were treated to a rare glimpse of 113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks exposed by the extreme drought gripping much of the U.S. Southwest.

The tracks, preserved in limestone at Dinosaur Valley State Park near Fort Worth, are usually covered by water and sediment. Months of hot, dry conditions, however, have reduced rivers and creeks to puddles in places, revealing the ancient prints.

Park Superintendent Jeff Davis told Nexstar that some of the longest-tenured employees, who have been there for eight to 10 years, have never seen the tracks so clearly.

“The most distinct trackway is called the ‘Lone Ranger’, and the last time it was exposed like this was in 2000,” Davis said. “It’s special because it was made by a single dinosaur, in this particular case there were about 140 tracks.”

The massive tracks belonged to an Acrocanthosaurus, Davis said, a theropod dinosaur believed to have been nearly 40 feet long.

Recent rains have diminished the view of the trackway, Davis said, but they are still visible.

The lack of rain made it possible for park rangers to clean out the tracks and help protect them, but park officials say over time weathering and erosion will naturally destroy the layer of limestone they were captured in.

“We do anticipate and know there to be more tracks that are buried to this day – so while we will lose the tracks we currently have, more will be discovered in the process!” the park posted on Facebook.

The historic glimpse of the trackways also happens to have come during the 50th anniversary year of Dinosaur Valley State Park, and Superintendent Davis encourages people to visit what he calls a world-class site with stunning detail.

“You won’t find them anywhere in the world,” Davis said. “You can actually see their individual toes, their individual claw marks. You can even see where they slipped as they were running.”


Scientists in the US who attached tracking devices to invasive pythons in order to observe their behaviour have found the gadget instead inside totally different snakes.

The researchers implanted radio transmitters inside baby Burmese pythons which had been captured from national parks in Florida and then re-released.

When they returned to the forest to find one of the Burmese pythons, they instead found a fully grown pitviper, known as a Florida cottonmouth.

The tracking device can be seen inside the cottonmouth.

X-Rays found the transmitter in the cottonmouth's digestive system, indicating the baby python had ended up as an easy meal for the bigger snake.

The X-Ray also shows the python's spine within the cottonmouth.

The cottonmouth was kept by the scientists for a week until the transmitter was "expelled". The snake was then released back into the wild.

The researchers then tracked a second cottonmouth who appeared to have eaten a Burmese python with a transmitter inside it. They did not take this cottonmouth into captivity, but tracked it until it also "expelled" the transmitter.

The cottonmouths were lucky to get the pythons when they were young. Burmese pythons typically grow to 5m in length.

The Burmese python is considered one of the most invasive species in the United States.

Introduced as pets into the country from southeast Asia, the giant snakes are now thriving in Florida, making short work of smaller species.

The pythons have decimated local populations of raccoons, opossums, white-tailed deer, foxes and rabbits.

They also pose a threat to coyotes, panthers and alligators.

Knowing cottonmouths can feast on baby Burmese pythons is welcome news to Florida wildlife officials.

Cottonmouths are substantially sized for venomous snakes, reaching up to 180cm in length.

About one in five people bitten by cottonmouths will die from the venom, which causes necrosis and extreme haemolysis, which essentially causes red blood cells to explode.

Both Florida cottonmouths and Burmese pythons are largely aquatic.

Cottonmouths are generalist predators but are well-known consumers of other snakes.


Dogs get dementia too. But it's often difficult to spot. Research published this week shows how common it is, especially in dogs over 10 years old. Doggy dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction, is similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, a progressive brain disease that comes with behavioral, cognitive, and other changes. It is generally seen in dogs over eight years old but can occur in ones as young as six.

Veterinarians can also find it difficult to diagnose. There is no accurate, non-invasive test for it. And, just like humans, senior dogs are likely to have a number of other health issues that can complicate diagnosis. Dogs with dementia can often get lost in their own backyard or home. They can get stuck behind furniture or in corners of the room because they forget they have a reverse gear. Or they walk towards the hinge side of a door when trying to go through. Dogs' interactions with people and other pets can change. They may seek less or more affection from their owners than before, or start to get grumpy with the other dog in the home where once they were happy housemates. They may even forget faces they have known all their lives.

They also tend to sleep more during the day and be up more at night. They may pace, whine, or bark, seemingly without purpose. Comfort does not often soothe them, and even if the behavior is interrupted, it usually resumes quite quickly. Sometimes caring for a senior dog with dementia is like having a puppy again, as they can start to toilet inside even though they are house-trained. It also becomes difficult for them to remember some of those basic behaviors they have known all their lives, and even more difficult to learn new ones. Their overall activity levels can change too, everything from pacing all day, non-stop, to barely getting out of bed. Lastly, you may also notice an increased level of anxiety. Your dog may not cope with being left alone anymore, follow you from room to room, or get easily spooked by things that never bothered them before.

There are some medications that can help reduce signs of doggy dementia to improve quality of life and make caring for them a little easier. So, if you think your dog is affected, consult your veterinarian. The group is planning research into some non-drug treatments. This includes looking at whether exercise and training might help these dogs. But it's early days yet. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Our best bet is to reduce the risk of getting the disease. This latest study suggests exercise might be key. US research published today gathered data from more than 15,000 dogs as part of the Dog Aging Project. Researchers asked pet dog owners to complete two surveys. One asked about the dogs, their health status, and physical activity. The second assessed the dogs' cognitive function. Some 1.4 percent of the dogs were thought to have canine cognitive dysfunction.

For dogs over 10 years old, every extra year of life increased the risk of developing dementia by more than 50 percent. Less-active dogs were almost 6.5 times more likely to have dementia than dogs that were very active. While this might suggest regular exercise could protect dogs against dementia, we can't be sure from this type of study. Dogs with dementia, or with early signs of dementia, may be less likely to exercise. However, we do know exercise can reduce the risk of dementia in people. So walking our dogs may help them and us reduce the risk of dementia. Caring for a dog that has dementia can be hard, but rewarding. We believe the burden and stress can be similar to what's been reported when people care for someone with Alzheimer's. We also know people love their old dogs. One research participant told us: I love my girl so much that I am willing to do anything for her. Nothing is too much trouble.  


Dugongs, the pudgy marine mammals that once inspired homesick sailors' fanciful tales of mythical mermaids, are now extinct in China, new research shows. 

For hundreds of years, these gentle giants, commonly known as sea cows, have swum in Chinese waters, ripping up seagrasses on the ocean bottom with a flexible upper lip. But with no sea cow sightings confirmed in the region for more than two decades, an international team of scientists recently undertook an in-depth investigation, surveying local fishing communities across four Chinese provinces and searching for evidence of the missing dugongs (Dugong dugon). 

Historical records of dugongs peaked around 1960 and then decreased rapidly from 1975 onward. No verified sightings by fishers, for instance, are recorded after 2008, and scientists in China haven't spotted a dugong in the wild since 2000, the researchers reported Wednesday (Aug. 24) in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

"Based on these findings, we are forced to conclude that dugongs have experienced rapid population collapse during recent decades and are now functionally extinct in China," the scientists wrote in the study.

Dugongs have plump bodies, broad, droopy faces and a flattened, fluked tail like a dolphin's. Adults measure up to 13 feet (4 meters) long and can weigh more than 880 pounds (400 kilograms), according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (opens in new tab) (WWF). They resemble manatees (which are also referred to as sea cows), but while manatees inhabit freshwater ecosystems, dugongs dwell in shallow tropical ocean habitats from East Africa to Vanuatu, according to the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web (opens in new tab) (ADW). Sea cows nibble on seagrasses much as terrestrial cows graze in lush meadows on land, and they are the only marine mammals that subsists on an exclusively vegetarian diet, according to ADW.

Neither manatees nor dugongs resemble humans, let alone alluring women with long hair and fishlike tails. But sailors at sea likely glimpsed these animals only very briefly — just long enough to inspire fanciful accounts of mermaids diving beneath the waves, according to National Geographic.

However, the real-world story of humans and dugongs is no fairy tale. Because dugongs graze near coastlines, they are often struck by boats and caught in fishers' nets, and human activities in recent decades have dramatically reduced or destroyed their coastal habitats, according to ADW.

What's more, "the dramatic population decline experienced by the species in recent decades is highly unlikely to be halted or reversed under current conditions," according to the study.


A 61-year-old Vermont woman was saved from a black bear that was biting her leg when her Jack Russell terrier started barking and drew the bear’s attention, according to a news release by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Susan Lee told wildlife officials that she was walking on a trail on her property in Strafford on Aug. 20 with her two dogs, a Jack Russell terrier and a labradoodle, when she heard a “loud noise” and a black bear charged her, causing her to trip over a stone wall.

She then felt “pain on her upper left leg” and realized the bear had bitten her. The attack was halted when her Jack Russell terrier started barking at the bear.

The barking distracted the bear, which released Lee’s leg. She and her dogs were able to retreat further down the trail, where she called 911. A neighbor helped transport her to Gifford Medical Center, where she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

According to a news release, Lee had a bite wound on her left leg and multiple scratches ranging from two inches to nine inches long on both legs.

Wildlife officials determined the bear was a female with cubs that was provoked after being surprised by Lee and her dogs. They were unsuccessful in locating the bear.


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