WebClawer: Seeing-eye horse causes controversy, Michael Jackson in the doghouse with PETA
From dormice to gerbils to horses to...Michael Jackson? Put your fears to rest; these stories are all animal-related, we promise. (Even the one about M.J.)
-- Tabitha Darling, a Fort Worth, Texas resident who is legally blind, has stirred up a controversy with her choice of service animal. Darling rides her seeing-eye horse, Trixie, to places horses usually aren't allowed, including the local Target store and Dairy Queen drive-through line. "She's kinda pretty much my life," Darling said of the horse, who wears bright-pink hoof covers on her frequent trips around Fort Worth. "We've been together for about eight years now. She gives me the independence in getting out there." But the government is considering restricting the types of animals that can be classified as service animals, perhaps excluding not only horses like Trixie, but also monkeys, ferrets and other species. Some types of animals "have not been trained in the methods that a service animal needs to be trained in. They are not trained to do specific tasks," said Becky Barnes, manager of consumer outreach for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. ABC News
-- BBC star Jonathan Ross stirred up a heap of trouble when he made a joke about British celebrity dormouse Dozey on his BBC1 show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Showing a photo of Dozey, Ross suggested that the dormouse had been woken from hibernation for a photo shoot -- an illegal offense under Britain's Animal and Welfare Act. Outraged viewers called police to complain, leading to a "raid" on the wildlife rehabilitation center where Dozey is being treated. "We had a handful of complaints from the general public and then we had the police turn up on our doorstep. We told them that the dormouse had never been woken up. They were very good about it, but said they had to follow up the complaint," the center's spokesman, Jamie Baker, explained. "It must have wasted about eight hours of police time altogether." Ross issued an on-air apology, citing his "uncanny knack for causing trouble." Telegraph
-- A "plague of gerbils" -- yes, you read that right -- has descended upon the Xinjiang region of China, and forestry officials are fighting back with a contraception-abortion pill to halt the rodents' rapid population growth. The gerbils' burrow systems have begun to cause damange to the root systems of the few plants that can survive in the Gurbantunggut Desert and have also harmed local agriculture. About 440 pounds of the contraception-abortion pellets have been scattered in the area, and officials say the drug has "little effect" on other animals. AFP
-- Famed former chimp owner/pop star Michael Jackson has incurred PETA's wrath for reportedly planning to use exotic animals -- including elephants, panthers and parrots -- in his upcoming concert series at London's 02 Arena. "These exotic animals belong in Africa, not the O2 Arena among screaming fans, bright lights and stage explosions," a PETA representative told music magazine NME. "These wild animals are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them when they are forced to perform under stressful conditions. Michael needs to learn to leave exotic animals alone." MTV U.K.
Video: CNN Video