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WebClawer: Truffle dogs, more dog biscuit recalls, and a stolen shark

January 26, 2009 |  1:16 pm

Truffle dog!

From the Pacific Northwest to the Australian island of Tasmania to California's own Inland Empire, these animal stories grabbed our attention today:

-- The Oregon Truffle Festival, to be held Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in the city of Eugene, welcomes not only human truffle conoisseurs, but canine ones as well.  "People tend to associate pigs with snuffling out truffles," says event organizer Steve Remington.  "But in fact truffieres started using dogs back in the 1800s because pigs tend to gobble up truffles as quickly as they find them. Dogs seem to enjoy them, too, but they understand commands like 'No!' "  The event even features a training seminar for owners looking to teach their dogs to hunt the elusive -- and expensive -- truffle (which can sell for as much as $800 a pound).  (MSNBC)

-- The Albertsons grocery store chain has issued a recall of Happy Tails multi-flavored dog biscuits "out of an abundance of caution" in light of the recent salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter products.  (Happy Tails dogs biscuits have already been removed from Jewel-Osco shelves.)  (Seattle Times)

-- Tasmanian authorities are investigating the theft of a baby epaulette shark from a Hobart pet store.  Three teenage boys apparently removed the shark from its tank -- but the mystery, at least according to store employee Jonah Yick, is how.  "They didn't have any bags with them, nothing," he said.  (The Mercury)

-- A recent puppy mill bust in northwestern Washington state sent 600 dogs to local shelters, which were already overwhelmed by the influx.  Now it seems that about 500 of the rescued dogs are pregnant and rescuers are struggling to deal with the impending addition of approximately 1,500 puppies.  (KOMO News Seattle)

-- The Temecula Police Department, while investigating a vicious dog complaint, found a Temecula man in possession of more than 200 dogs and cats, many of whom were dead.  The man, 66-year-old Elisao Jimenez, was arrested on charges of animal cruelty.  Many of the dogs and cats were considered feral and euthanized at the home.  Said Willa Bagwell of the group Animal Friends of the Valley: "They were just wild animals. They had never been touched. I've never seen this many animals and animals this feral."  Others were found dead in bags; according to Bagwell, Jimenez felt that he couldn't bury animals when they died because he didn't own the property.  Rescuers were able to save nine puppies and one adult dog.  (Riverside Press-Enterprise)

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A truffle-hunting dog goes to work in France. Credit: Claude Paris / Associated Press.

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