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WebClawer: California Chihuahuas get new homes in New York; celebrities get free pigs; parrot gets wanded by airport security officers; R.I.P. Commuter Cat

January 20, 2010 |  8:20 am


-- Fifteen homeless Chihuahuas transported from San Francisco to New York City this month seem to have great new lives in store for them in the big city.  More than 100 New Yorkers stood in line for a chance to adopt one of the little dogs from New York's ASPCA shelter last Wednesday. When all was said and done, 11 of them (Bebop, Honey, Hancock, Annie, Jeb, Colette, Tina, Orlando, Bella, Holly and Nalla, if you're keeping score) had new homes; the remaining four will be offered for adoption after receiving additional veterinary care. Chihuahuas make up an alarmingly large percentage of the animals in California animal shelters, but are rarely seen in shelters in many other parts of the country. Transporting the little dogs to other states has become an increasingly popular solution to the problem. (Agence France-Presse)

-- Old news: Swag bags for celebrity awards-show guests. New hotness: Tiny pet pigs. Fancy-gift company GBK Productions didn't just offer vacations and electronic devices to Golden Globe nominees and presenters; it also gave them a chance to take home their own bred-down potbellied pigs.  The pigs, called Royal Dandies (weighing about 29 to 39 pounds) and Royal Dandie Extremes (weighing approximately 19 to 29 pounds), typically sell for about $5,000. But in this case, they were free to stars who agreed to complete a one-hour pig-parenting course. (Hmm, think it might take longer than an hour to learn how to take care of a pig? We think so too.) Gossip queen Leslie Gornstein says she'd name her pocket pig Bacon Bits; for our part, we think we'd name ours Tofu. (Ministry of Gossip)

-- The Utah Humane Society is celebrating a milestone: For the first time in the organization's 50-year history, 100% of the healthy dogs it took in last year were successfully adopted. (It even found homes for some small dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, that were relocated from L.A.-area shelters through a partnership with Best Friends Animal Society and the Jason Dubus Heigl Foundation.) Utah Humane's executive director, Gene Baierschmidt, credits the organization's expansion of a mobile pet-adoption program and its willingness to work with rescue groups and foster "parents," among other things, for its no-dogs-left-behind success. Next on Baierschmidt's to-do list: Achieve similar euthanasia statistics for the shelter's healthy cats. (Deseret News)

-- Bad travel experience: Experiencing an hours-long delay as a result of heightened airport security. Worse travel experience: Having your pet parrot wanded by an airport security screener. New York Times writer Joe Sharkey had just that unpleasant, bizarre experience last month, when he and his wife had to travel cross-country with their African gray parrot as carry-on luggage. The screener advised Sharkey that "we have to check under the wings"; fortunately for all involved, the bird happened to know a trick in which she spread her wings like an eagle. Moral of the story: Be sure teach your bird the eagle pose. Don't fly with your bird. Oh, whom are we trying to kid? There is no moral to this story (but we enjoyed reading it, anyway). (New York Times)

-- Tampa, Fla.'s Lowry Park Zoo is asking the City Council to expand its permit to sell alcohol to zoo visitors. Its current permit allows the zoo to sell alcohol at several restaurants and food stands on zoo grounds, but the new request, if approved, would allow alcohol sales throughout the park. According to Lowry Park spokeswoman Rachael Nelson, the zoo "simply [wants] the flexibility to host private events, like weddings and bar mitzvahs, throughout the park." Still, a nagging voice deep within us has doubts about the wisdom of such a plan. Zoo animals, meet drunk zoo visitors. What could possibly go wrong? (Tampa Tribune)

-- R.I.P., Casper the Commuter Cat. For more than four years, the black-and-white cat regularly boarded a local bus and rode along with its human passengers, eventually becoming something of a beloved figure in his native Devon, England. Bus drivers along his route of choice even learned Casper's stop, and the savvy cat would disembark of his own accord and return home. Now, his owner, Sue Finden, has shared the sad news that Casper has died as a result of injuries he sustained in a hit-and-run accident. "He will be greatly missed. ... He was a much loved pet who had so much character. Thank you to all those who befriended him," Finden wrote in a letter she placed at his regular bus stop. Condolences have poured in from around the world. (Telegraph)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Animal control officer Le-Ellis Brown kisses a Chihuahua named Malibu goodbye before she boards a New York-bound flight from San Francisco on Jan. 6.  Credit: Paul Chinn / Associated Press

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