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Talkin' Pets News

February 17, 2024

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo - Celestial Custom Dog Services - Roan Mt. TN

Producer - Lexi Adams

Network Producer - Paul Campos

Special Guest - Famed model/actress/documentary filmmaker Katie Cleary will join Talkin' Pets at 505pm ET to discuss her latest groundbreaking documentary, Why On Earth

AKC MUSEUM OF THE DOG TO HOST SCREENING OF DOCUMENTARY FILM, “PUPPY LOVE”

WHAT:            The AKC Museum of the Dog is excited to host a screening of the documentary Puppy Love. The film tells the story of when a healthy litter of puppies suddenly becomes paralyzed. When veterinarians say to put the dogs down, a group of women go on a journey to fight for their survival. Gail Gilbert, the director and one of the women at the center of the film, will be at the screening with her Labrador Retriever, Scout, one of dogs from the litter to talk about the film, Scout, and his favorite sport, Tracking.

WHEN:            Tuesday, February 20th, 4pm – 6pm

WHERE:         AKC Museum of the Dog

                        101 Park Avenue

                        New York, NY 10178

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Producing solar power can be dangerous to birds, but it’s possible that it provides more benefits to wildlife than it does endanger it. There is no doubt that solar farms can be deadly to wildlife. It can especially be dangerous to birds. For example, around six thousand birds, including many from endangered species, died over the Ivanpah Solar Farm in 2016.

Solar farms, especially those that use concentrated sunlight, are intensely dangerous for our avian friends. Birds see the reflective surface of the solar farm and believe that it’s water. Because birds feed at water–where insects live–they head for the panels to look for sustenance, only to become caught over miles and miles of solar panels with no landing in sight. They die from exhaustion in the middle of this manmade desert.

Otherwise, if the solar farm uses concentrated sunlight reflected off of mirrors to create power–as is the case at Ivanpah–the birds might get caught in a beam of concentrated sunlight and be incinerated. 

Additionally, the creation of solar farms means the destruction of habitat. In 2009, the federal government approved 240,000 acres of land to be used for solar farms, primarily in the deserts. When we typically picture deserts, we imagine sand and maybe the occasional lizard. But there are actually many types of animals that live in the desert that would be displaced or even killed by the installation of so many solar farms.

Scientists from the Savannah River Ecology Lab suggest that we need a “long-term strategy for dealing with vulnerable wildlife species impacted by solar, or any other, development in the desert.” “If society is going to decide to allow pristine desert to be developed for these large projects, we’re going to lose some area and some species,” one scientist from the Ecology Lab said. “We need to understand how we can minimize the impacts of habitat loss so there will be areas for these animals to persist.”” (Washington Post article)

Research suggests that solar kills far fewer birds than do fossil fuel plants (per megawatt hour). While 5.18 birds are killed per gigawatt hour by fossil fuels, while the Ivanpah Solar Farm–the solar farm most notorious for killing birds–killed up to 8.57 birds per gigawatt hour in 2016. However, Ivanpah Solar Farm is an outlier in its ridiculously high bird mortality. Otherwise, bird mortality is estimated at between 37,800 and 138,600 for all utility-scale solar energy farms in the United States. These farms combined also produced a total of 66,600 GWh of energy. This comes out to an average of 2.08 birds per GWh, which is almost half that of fossil fuels. 

In conclusion, while there are definite pros and cons to solar farms, the pros seem to outweigh the cons; they are actually less dangerous to birds than fossil-fuel plants and will help slow down climate change, which is obviously even more dangerous to wildlife overall. However, we do need to be careful with how we go about solar farms; we certainly can still reduce their deadly impact on the surrounding wildlife.  As for the solar panels on your roof, they hold almost no danger to wildlife. In fact, birds find them to be a nice place to build their nests. You may need to protect your panels from the birds by installing critter guards, rather than the other way around.

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The Florida House continued moving forward with a wide-ranging bill that includes banning sales of lab-grown meat in the state. The Republican-controlled House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee voted 9-3 to approve the bill (HB 1071), which deals with Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulatory issues.

Federal agencies have deemed lab-grown, or cultivated, meat safe to eat. But bill sponsor Danny Alvarez, R-Hillsborough County, said the legislation, supported by the state’s agriculture industry, “pumps the brakes” on the food to ensure it is safe.  “Until we have long-term studies that tell me what lab-grown immortalized cells do to your body, I challenge you to put it in your child,” Alvarez said.

Cultivated meat involves a process of taking a small number of cultured cells from animals and growing them in controlled settings to make food. Supporters of cultivated meat called the legislation “anti-free market” and argued it will benefit China, which is researching the products.  Rep. Lindsay Cross, D-St. Petersburg, said cultivated meat won’t replace traditional agriculture in the Florida but is needed as the industry faces further pressure from the state’s growing population.

“As we run out of ag lands, we will have to look at alternative food systems,” Cross said. ““I would rather have that come from Florida than China.”  The bill would make it a second-degree misdemeanor to sell manufactured meat in Florida.  The bill was revised Monday to remove a proposed ban on manufacturing the product in Florida. Such a ban on manufacturing could have affected research and potentially the space industry.

"One of the things we were concerned about is that cultivated meat may be one of the ways that we're able to feed astronauts," subcommittee Chair Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indialantic, said. "You aren't going to have cattle grazing on Mars anytime soon or on a space station at a distant location."

Several backers of cultivated meat said the revision was a good step but that it wouldn’t go far enough to ease venture capitalists' concerns about investing in biotechnologies in Florida.

“A ban like this threatens a free market and sets a dangerous precedent for government interference,” said Emily Bogan, of New Jersey-based Fork & Good Inc. “We want to ensure that affordable meat is available for generations to come.”

“Far from protecting American jobs, banning cultivated seafood in the United States will deepen our country's dependence on imports from countries like China,” Justin Kolbeck, co-founder of San Francisco-based seafood company Wildtype said. “This ban will create Chinese jobs at the expense of small businesses like mine. And this ban will also stifle innovation in Florida as investment dollars are redirected towards more business-friendly states.” The bill needs approval from the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee before it can go to the full House. A Senate version (SB 1084) needs to clear the Fiscal Policy Committee before it can go to the full Senate.

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Tickets for the 148th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show are on sale now, exclusively on Ticketmaster. For the second year, the epic 3-day, 3-night event featuring nearly 2,500 dogs from across the world competing in top performance activities and culminating in the coveted Best in Show award will take place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY on May 11, 13 & 14. 

Always the greatest dog show in the world, the Westminster Kennel Club is thrilled to welcome spectators back to the show with a host of family-friendly events taking place on the sprawling grounds of the National Tennis Center. Westminster’s Canine Celebration Day will kick off “Westminster Week” on Saturday, May 11, and will feature a variety of showstopping activities including Dock Diving and a demo ring, with demonstrations such as herding and scent work. Our interactive Breed Showcase, gives guests the chance to meet and learn about an abundance of beautiful dog breeds. This event is not to be missed!

 This year’s event features the always exciting Masters Agility Championship, welcoming top-ranked purpose-bred and All-American (mixed breed) dogs to the competition, and the 9th Annual Masters Obedience Championship.

 This year also marks the 90th anniversary of our Junior Showmanship competition, which assesses the handling skills of children 9-18 years of age. This event promotes proper dog training and care to prepare the next generation for responsible dog ownership, sportsmanship, and future success in the sport.

 The Westminster Kennel Club will close out the show on Tuesday, May 14, naming the coveted Best in Show winner. For more information about Westminster Week, visit westminsterkennelclub.org

 Tickets are available now at Ticketmaster. For group sales and ADA-accessible and companion seat requests, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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A case of human plague in a Deschutes County resident in Oregon has been confirmed by local officials, indicating the state’s first human infection since 2015. The person is suspected to have contracted the disease from a pet cat that has been symptomatic, according to a report by the county.

“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” says Dr. Richard Fawcett, Deschutes County health officer. The county has confirmed the case was identified and treated in its earlier stages, posing little risk to the community.

Plague affects humans and other mammals, and is caused by the bacterium, Yersinia pestis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), humans commonly contract the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an infected animal. The CDC adds, “cats are highly susceptible to plague and are a common source” of the bacterium infection in humans.

The plague is diagnosed through a blood test and is treated with antibiotics.

“Nowadays, we can use flea treatment for animals. We have antibiotics to treat them [animals] with,” says Dr. Emilio Debess, State Public Health veterinarian, in an interview with NewsChannel 21. “A huge success rate…for humans it’s the same thing. We have antibiotics that will treat individuals and prevent an infection right away,” Dr. Debess adds, reiterating the importance of preventive care to avoid exposure to the disease.

Symptoms of plague, which may include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, and muscle aches, usually begin in humans two to eight days after exposure to an infected animal or flea. If not diagnosed early, the disease can progress to septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection), which are more severe and difficult to treat.

To help avoid the spread of the plague, the CDC recommends veterinary professionals to disseminate prevention messages to pet owners, including:

  • All ill animals, especially cats, should be seen by a veterinarian.
  • If you live in areas where plague occurs, treat pet dogs and cats for flea control regularly and do not allow these animals to roam freely.
  • Eliminate sources of food and nesting places for rodents around homes, workplaces, and recreation areas; remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and potential food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food. Make your home rodent-proof.
  • Pet owners should be encouraged to not pick up or touch dead animals.

To date, no additional cases have been reported.

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Are you living—or practicing—in one of the cities ranked as best for dogs’ well-being? The results of a new study will help you find out. New research conducted by USA TODAY Blueprint, the finance section of USA Today, has revealed Seattle, WA as the best city for dogs’ well-being, with the availability of veterinary offices, parks, and high walkability score. Portland, OR, comes in second for its dog parks; and third is San Francisco, CA, where all residents have a park within a short 10-minute stroll.

Rank

City 

# of veterinary offices per 100,000 residents

% within 10 minute walks to park

Annual vet costs

Walk score

Dog parks per 100,000

Scaled score

1

Seattle, WA

59.12

99

$747.08

74

2

100.00

2

Portland, OR

46.91

90

$707.86

67

5.7

98.33

3

San Francisco, CA

46.51

100

$881.03

89

4.8

97.07

4

Boston, MA

58.64

100

$761.16

83

1.8

93.10

5

Minneapolis, MI

87.98

98

$720.93

71

1.6

91.63

6

Long Beach, CA

220.69

83

$775.32

73

2.4

90.79

7

Washington, D.C.

83.06

99

$747.08

98

2.7

89.12

8

Denver, CO

48.23

92

$670.93

61

1.9

88.70

9

Sacramento, CA

44.32

84

$761.16

49

4.3

74.06

10

Atlanta, GA

120.41

78

$683.86

48

1.9

71.76

The top 10 cities for a happy and healthy dog are as followed:

The study scored 46 of the most populous cities in the U.S. for which there was data and was based on the following factors: Number of veterinary offices per 100,000 Residents (25 percent weighting) Percent of residents within a 10-minute walk to a park (10 percent weighting) Annual veterinary costs (15 percent weighting) Walkability (10 percent weighting) Number of dog parks per 100,000 residents (15 percent weighting) Heating degree days (25 percent weighting)     +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Offering stallions nutritional antioxidants can help improve the quality of semen. Higher quality semen may improve fertility rates when using cooled or frozen semen in artificial insemination programs, especially when stallions are classified as “bad freezers.”

Sperm, like other “high-energy” cells in the body, produce free radicals. At low levels, free radicals play important roles in various cellular pathways, such as the capacitation reaction that occurs prior to a sperm penetrating an egg. When excess levels of free radicals are produced, however, cellular damage can occur, impairing sperm function.

“Studies show that using antioxidants in semen extenders or directly supplementing stallions with antioxidants improves semen quality, presumably because antioxidants delay, prevent, or eliminate oxidative damage caused by the free radicals,” explained Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research.

Recently, scientists supplemented healthy Quarter Horse stallions with a commercial product containing the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), L-carnitine, and various antioxidants, including vitamin E and selenium. Ejaculates were collected and evaluated for 60 days before supplementation and again for 60 days while the stallions were being supplemented.

“Several sperm parameters were improved when horses were supplemented with the antioxidant,” Crandell said. “Sperm volume was significantly higher, the number of sperm abnormalities observed visually under the microscope were significantly lower, and sperm mobility parameters including total motility and progressive motility were significantly better.”

Whether the benefits of this antioxidant supplement translate to semen samples that are cooled or frozen remains to be determined.

“This is an important next step because assisted reproductive therapies using fresh and frozen semen are widely used throughout the equine industry. Some stallions are known to be poor ‘coolers’ or ‘freezers’ so finding ways to maximize semen quality in these animals will improve fertility rates,” explained Crandell.

Kentucky Equine Research offers several high-quality antioxidant supplements, including vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. “Nano E, a rapidly available natural-source vitamin E, demonstrates reproductive benefits for breeding stallions. This highly palatable, liquid form of vitamin E is more effective than synthetic vitamin E and is either easily top-dressed on a meal or dosed directly,” relayed Crandell.

Other research teams have proposed reproductive benefits of coenzyme Q10 supplementation, including better sperm motility in cooled semen and improved cryopreservation of semen from stallions with poor freezing ability. Another study provides direct evidence that CoQ10 supplementation helps subfertile stallions. Read more about these studies. Use research-proven Nano-Q10 as a source of coenzyme Q10.

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Mushrooms are common throughout the United States, especially in regions that experience a lot of rain and cool temperatures. In fact, around 10,000 species of mushrooms can be found throughout North America, according to Frank Hyman, a mushroom hunter in Durham, NC, and the author of How to Forage for Mushrooms Without Dying: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide.

“Within that number, approximately 110 species are sickeners or killers,” Hyman says. “So, about one percent of mushrooms will either send you running for the toilet or to the ER. The good news is that unlike in the movies, you don’t fall down dead after a bite or two.”

One of the deadliest species of mushroom is Amanita phalloides, commonly known as the death cap mushroom. It can cause significant symptoms within just a few hours of ingestion, and has up to 70 percent mortality rate among dogs that consume it, says Adesola Odunayo, DVM, MS, DACVECC, professor of Emergency and Critical Care at the University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville.

“Most mushroom species are benign or may cause mild gastrointestinal signs, but the death cap mushroom largely results in liver failure, which ultimately leads to the death of the patient,” Dr. Odunayo says.

Mushroom poisoning poses a constant threat because dogs are often indiscriminate about what they eat when outdoors. “People engage in a similar behavior when they go mushroom foraging,” Odunayo says. “Some people may think they know what they’re doing but end up eating death cap mushrooms and getting sick. You rarely see mushroom poisoning in cats because they are more discriminate in what they put in their mouths. Dogs just find mushrooms attractive.”

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Belgium recently banned trophy hunting imports of endangered species listed in CITES, a global agreement that trade of these listed species does not harm their survival.  France, Finland, and the Netherlands are planning for a similar ban.  The United States is one of the leading countries in trophy hunting and as many species the world over are considered threatened with extinction or endangered, it is our responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless.  Because it is our responsibility, we have the power to create change and support the future and well-being of others who cannot protect themselves from getting killed, or worse yet, become extinct. 

Endangered species have a purpose for being here, otherwise, they wouldn’t exist.  Their existence has an intrinsic value that cannot be measured and deserve far better than what is currently being done for them.  Please contact your federal legislators and tell them you want to see a ban on trophy hunting of endangered species.  It is two of the most powerful minutes of your time you can give to wildlife. To find your federal legislators, go to www.pluralpolicy.com.

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The biologist who first tagged a one-year-old platypus back in 2000 was astonished when it was recaptured last year, aged about 24, making it the oldest platypus found in the wild. The director of the Australian Platypus Conservancy, Geoff Williams, has been researching the egg-laying mammals for decades, but said long-term research into the species can be expensive and rare.

The discovery of the 24-year-old male is thanks to a program which commenced in 1994 with Melbourne Water. Hundreds of platypus have been captured and tagged in the Melbourne area, so for them to reappear a few year’s later was not out of the ordinary.

“But this one is just beyond all our expectations in terms of how old it was,” Williams said. “It’s remarkable that this animal is still doing as well as he is after all these years.”

The 24-year-old male is the focus of a study published this week, co-authored by Williams, into platypus longevity. The male platypus was first captured and tagged in November 2000 at Monbulk Creek in Melbourne, and estimated to be one-year-old. He was recaptured along the same river system last September, at about 24 years of age.

The previous record holder was a 21-year-old female platypus captured in the upper Shoalhaven river in New South Wales. Williams said that “not many” platypus are known to make it past 20 in the wild, but there is difficulty in developing a consensus on how long they live.

“It’s quite expensive and time-consuming to conduct [research] and consequently there have not been that many long-term studies,” Williams said. “Fortunately the [program with Melbourne Water] is probably the longest-running program of its type.

While more research is needed, Williams said that population density and competition within a habitat played a large role in how long platypus survive. During mating season, the males can become stressed if there is too much competition for the females. Williams said they can become “displaced, and pushed to the edge of the system” during any fighting.

“The more dense the population is, the more animals in the population, the [bigger] the struggle to be the dominant male and survive for a few years is,” he said. Female platypus are also known to fight one another for food.

The co-author of the study, Gemma Snowball from Ecology Australia, was the one to recapture the 24-year-old platypus last year. The oldest living platypus in Australia is a 30-year-old female who was born in the wild but lives in captivity. She feeds normally and is healthy, aside from arthritis in one wrist, cataracts in both eyes and signs she may be becoming deaf.

Her longer lifespan can be attributed to leading a “much, much less stressful life,” Williams said. Platypus are listed as a near-threatened species on a national level. They are endangered in South Australia and vulnerable in Victoria. Snowball said one of the most important things to do to protect platypus habitats was keeping waterways clean, and cutting circular rubbish – such as bracelets or hairbands – before disposing of it.

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A new Environmental Working Group peer-reviewed study has found chlormequat, a little-known pesticide, in four out of five people tested. Because the chemical is linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animal studies, the findings suggest the potential for similar harm to humans. EWG’s research, published February 15 in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, tested the urine of 96 people for the presence of chlormequat, finding it in 77 of them. EWG summarized the findings in an article published on its website.

“EWG’s new study on chlormequat is the first of its kind in the U.S.,” said EWG Toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D, lead author of the study. “The ubiquity of this little-studied pesticide in people raises alarm bells about how it could potentially cause harm without anyone even knowing they’ve consumed it.”

Some animal studies show chlormequat can damage the reproductive system and disrupt fetal growth, changing development of the head and bones and altering key metabolic processes. This research raises questions about whether chlormequat could also harm humans. 

For its study, EWG sourced urine samples collected between 2017 and 2023 from 96 people in the U.S. and tested them for chlormequat at a specialized lab in the United Kingdom. 

The tests found chlormequat in the urine of more people and at higher concentrations in samples collected in 2023, compared to earlier years – suggesting consumer exposure to chlormequat could be on the rise.  Environmental Protection Agency regulations allow the chemical to be used on ornamental plants only – not food crops – grown in the U.S. 

But since 2018, the EPA has permitted chlormequat on imported oats and other foods, increasing the allowed amount in 2020. Both regulatory changes took place under the Trump administration. Many oats and oat products consumed in the U.S. come from Canada. 

In April 2023, in response to an application submitted by chlormequat manufacturer Taminco in 2019, the Biden EPA proposed allowing the first-ever use of chlormequat on barley, oats, triticale and wheat grown in the U.S. EWG opposes the plan. The proposed rule has not yet been finalized.

“The federal government has a vital role in ensuring that pesticides are adequately monitored, studied and regulated,” Temkin said. “Yet the EPA continues to abdicate its responsibility to protect children from the potential health harms of toxic chemicals like chlormequat in food.”

EWG urges the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to test foods for chlormequat and requests that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add chlormequat to its biomonitoring program. The organization also calls for more research on the effects of chlormequat on human health. EWG conducted its own tests of oat-based foods in 2022 and 2023, finding chlormequat in numerous non-organic oat-based products. Organic oat products had little to no detections of the chemical.

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A police officer recently rescued a Doberman pinscher that was found with his snout zip-tied shut – and now, that same officer has welcomed the dog into her own family.

The South Bend Police Department in South Bend, Indiana, received a call about the stray dog, Zeus.

Bodycam footage shows Officer Stephanie Northcutt holding out her hand and encouraging a frightened Zeus to come closer to her. The timid dog eventually relented and cautiously walked towards her.

While Northcutt held onto Zeus, a bystander cut the zip-tie off of his snout. It was so tight that Zeus' snout had deep marks on it after it was removed.

The police department said that the bond between the abused animal and the officer was instant.

"Officer Northcutt said she knew the moment she laid eyes on the pup that he was the perfect addition to her family," the South Bend Police Department wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

After bringing Zeus home and introducing him to her other dogs, she formally adopted him with the help of the South Bend Animal Resource Center. The South Bend Police Department says Zeus is now doing well, despite the sorry state in which he was found.

"SBARC's team says Zeus will likely not suffer any long-term physical effects from his injuries and is doing extremely well despite the bad hand he was dealt," the South Bend Police Department wrote on Facebook.

The animal rescue was not Northcutt's first rodeo, however. "Zeus is actually the second dog that Officer Northcutt has rescued from a tough situation while on patrol," the department added. "She joked that the dispatchers at St Joseph County 9-1-1 should stop sending her to animal calls because she will soon run out of room at her house!

Officer Stephanie Northcutt made sure that Zeus would get along with her other dogs before she formally adopted him.

The adoption received a warm response from the community, prompting hundreds of Facebook users to thank the kindhearted officer.

"This makes me cry! Thank you for rescuing this sweet baby!!!" one Facebook user wrote. 

"What A Beautiful Dog, Dobermans are special dogs!" another Indiana resident wrote. "So glad you found this sweet boy and helped him." The South Bend community commended Officer Stephanie Northcutt for adopting the abused Doberman pinscher.

The South Bend Police Department is still actively investigating the incident. 

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Love is in the air for Kevin Costner. The "Yellowstone" star swooned over his new Labrador puppy on Valentine's Day with an adorable photo shared on Instagram stories.

Costner showed off his pet pooch taking a quick nap on top of the open dishwasher door just weeks after welcoming the yellow lab into his family.

"Bobby being a big help with the dishes," Costner wrote.

He introduced the new member of his inner circle to social media earlier this month with a series of photos posted on Instagram.

"Newest addition to the family," he captioned a carousel of snaps shared online. "I’m already in love with this special guy."

Costner, a longtime animal advocate, worked with The Orange Dog to rescue four-legged friends from overcrowded shelters in 2010.

The "Field of Dreams" actor brought his beloved pal Daisy along for the journey, when dogs were transferred from California to Edmonton, Canada via private plane.

"When this plane is operating at its best, it’s not just taking people around the world, it’s hauling animals," Costner told "Access Hollywood" at the time. 

"[It’s] essentially an exchange of animals that were going to be euthanized. Instead of having that happen, they are now making their way to Canada, having a second chance at life. [The charity] spoke to my heart. The last dog that we saved … in two hours was going to be euthanized, and believe it or not, before we made it to Canada, the pilot adopted the dog. 

"I think the first trip took 50-plus dogs. The second trip I think took 115 dogs all on this plane. So, you can imagine this luxury, five-star piece of transportation just filled with animals that are going to get a second chance at life."

Costner's getting another chance at life and love following a divorce battle in 2023 with ex-wife Christine Baumgartner.

In September, Costner and Baumgartner agreed to terms of a divorce settlement shortly before they were due back in court to establish who would be responsible for paying her almost $1 million in attorney fees.

Despite those challenges in 2023, Costner remained focused on his prized "Horizon: An American Saga" Western film series and received a tentative two-part release date in 2024. The newly single actor also appeared to catch the eye of Grammy award-winning singer Jewel.

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Kansas legislators are moving to impose tougher prison sentences for harming or killing police dogs, and the measure has bipartisan support despite questions elsewhere over how the animals are used in law enforcement. The state House expected to take a final vote Wednesday on a bill that would allow judges to sentence first-time offenders to five years in prison for killing a police, arson, game warden or search and rescue dog, or a police horse, and mandate a fine of at least $10,000. Killing the dogs already is a felony in Kansas, but the maximum prison sentence is one year; the maximum fine is $5,000, and the law does not specifically cover horses.

Approval by the Republican-controlled House would send the measure to the GOP-led Senate. When the House took a preliminary voice vote Tuesday after a short debate, only a few members voted no. The measure is a response to the death in November of Bane, an 8-year-old dog used by the Sedgwick County sheriff in Wichita, the state's largest city. Authorities say a suspect in a domestic violence case took refuge in a storm drain and strangled Bane when a deputy sent the dog in to flush out the suspect.

"These animals are not only tools. They are considered family," said Rep. Adam Turk, a Kansas City-area Republican. "These animals are of great import to the protection and security of our citizens." The bill is sponsored by two prominent Republicans, House Speaker Dan Hawkins and Rep. Stephen Owens, chair of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee. But it also has the backing of Rep. John Carmichael, the committee's top Democrat. Hawkins and Carmichael are from Wichita. The federal government and some states already allow longer prison sentences than Kansas. Under a 2000 federal law, a person who kills a police dog can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. In 2019, the possible penalty in Florida increased from up to five years in prison to up to 15 years. Tennessee increased its penalties in 2022, and Kentucky did so last year. But injuries caused by police dogs also have made headlines.

In rural Ohio in July 2023, a police dog bit a Black truck driver severely enough that he needed hospital treatment after the man was on his knees with his hands in the air. The Salt Lake City police department suspended its dog apprehension program in 2020 after a Black man was bitten and an audit found 27 dog bite cases during the previous two years. And the same year, a Black man in Lafayette, Indiana, was placed in a medically induced coma after police dogs mauled him as he was arrested in a battery case. During Tuesday’s debate in the Kansas House, Democratic Rep. Ford Carr, of Wichita, one of six Black members, mentioned the Ohio case and recalled how during the Civil Rights Movement, authorities turned dogs on peaceful Black protesters.

Carr also suggested the Wichita suspect was defending himself. "I don't think that there's any one of us here who would sit idly by and let an animal maul you without fighting back," Carr said. Carmichael, who is white, acknowledged the fraught history surrounding police dogs, but he urged Carr to review testimony during the House committee's hearing on the bill earlier this month. Four law enforcement officers backed the measure, and no one spoke against it. Bane's handler, Sedgwick County Deputy Tyler Brooks, told the committee that Bane became important to his family. "It's kind of funny to me that this very large dog who frequently broke things and knocked everything over during a training session would be the one that would be the one that would break my 7-year-old autistic son of his crippling fear of dogs," Brooks told the committee.

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