L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
California and beyond

Bronx Zoo peahen is found in garage after escape

Bronx Zoo peacock

NEW YORK — A green peahen is back in the fold at the Bronx Zoo.

Weeks after a cobra escaped from her glass tank at the zoo's reptile house, the peahen made a break for it Monday and was spotted roaming the streets of the borough.

Zoo director Jim Breheny said the AWOL fowl was found Wednesday morning in the garage of a local business and safely captured.

The peahen, a female version of a peacock, had been examined by veterinarians and seemed to be fine, Breheny said.

The Bronx Zoo's peacocks and peahens wander freely but usually stay inside the zoo.

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Patrick the pit bull: New Jersey woman pleads not guilty to charges relating to animal cruelty

Patrick the pit bull

NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey woman pleaded not guilty in court Friday to charges of starving and abandoning a 1-year-old pit bull that has since become an Internet celebrity.

The judge in the case judge warned animal advocates that he would not let emotion rule the case.

Kisha Curtis entered her plea through an attorney during a brief hearing in state Superior Court attended by several news outlets and some members of an advocacy group that is seeking stronger animal abuse laws. About 40 people demonstrated outside Essex County Veterans Courthouse in support of the dog, nicknamed Patrick because he was found the day before St. Patrick's Day.

Curtis didn't speak in court, but  Superior Court Judge William Cassini departed from protocol and addressed the notoriety the case has attracted.

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Missouri governor signs compromise on voter-approved Prop. B, 'Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act'

Puppy mill rescues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri officials pushed through new regulations for the state's dog breeders in a flurry of legislative activity Wednesday that started with Gov. Jay Nixon signing one bill repealing sections of a voter-approved dog-breeding law and ended with the governor signing another measure that implemented a deal between dog breeders and welfare groups.

The maneuvering was needed to pass a compromise on new rules for Missouri dog breeders that was brokered by Nixon's administration and supported by several state-based agriculture and animal-welfare groups. Nixon called the new legislation "a dramatic, important, significant step" that would improve the care of dogs while ensuring breeders can continue to operate. The industry has an estimated $1-billion impact in Missouri.

In the end, Nixon and lawmakers eliminated parts of the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" passed last November by voters, including a limit of 50 breeding dogs per business. Other portions were changed. The new law seeks potential middle ground on the specifics of the living-space requirements, and it gives breeders more time to comply with the new rules.

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Judge denies U.S. motion to dismiss lawsuit from wild-horse advocates

Mustang Roundup

RENO — Horse protection advocates have claimed a rare legal victory as part of a larger effort to end federal roundups of free-roaming mustangs on public lands in the western United States.

A federal judge in Sacramento ruled Wednesday that In Defense of Animals and others can move forward with their lawsuit accusing the Bureau of Land Management of violating U.S. laws that protect the animals on the range.

Judge Morrison England Jr. denied the BLM's motion to dismiss the suit based on claims it is moot because the specific roundup in question was completed months ago in Nevada and California. He says if he ultimately finds the roundups illegal, he can order the horses returned to the range. He says he also can order the BLM to follow the law in future.

Speakers at Las Vegas conference argue for the revival of U.S. horse slaughter industry
North Carolina wild horse population faces an uncertain future

-- Scott Sonner, Associated Press

Photo: Wild horses are herded by helicopter in Skull Valley, Utah, in a 2000 photo. Credit: Jason Olson / Associated Press

Greyhound racing in steep decline in the U.S.

Greyhound racing

For years, fans of greyhound races have faced off against animal welfare activists who say the dogs are kept muzzled in small cages, fed inferior food, injected with steroids and frequently injured at the track. Dog breeders, owners and racing lobbyists counter that the dogs are well-tended and love to run.

Despite their disagreement on conditions for the dogs, there is no disputing this: Greyhound racing is in a steep decline. Racing fans blame the economy and competition from instant gambling like slot machines. Activists say it's time to end the races altogether.

Ten years ago, there were 50 greyhound tracks in 15 states. Today there are just 25 tracks in seven states, with 13 of them in Florida, once considered the hub of dog racing.

Nationally, money bet on greyhound races dropped from $3.5 billion to $1.1 billion between 1991 and 2007, said Gary Thompson, director of corporate communications for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas. Caesars owns Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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Patrick, 'miracle' pit bull who survived fall down garbage chute, is on the road to recovery

A 1-year-old pit bull nicknamed Patrick sits next to flowers sent by a supporter in Alaska as he recovers at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, N.J., after being found starved and dumped in a trash chute.

A New Jersey pit bull named Patrick, starved and subjected to horrific abuse before his rescue last month, is being called a "miracle dog" after he survived being placed in a trash bag and thrown down the garbage chute of a Newark apartment building.

A maintenance worker removing the garbage to put it in a trash compactor noticed a bag moving slightly, opened it and discovered the emaciated dog inside. Patrick -- so named when he survived through the night into St. Patrick's Day after being found in the garbage chute March 16 -- was rushed to the local Associated Humane Societies shelter, where "veterinary staff immediately put him on intravenous fluid," according to a post on the society's website. "His temperature was so low that it did not even register on the thermometer. He was covered with heating pads and blankets. Society vet tech Gina DeSalvo held the pit bull in her arms -- she soothed him, gave him warmth, comfort and bits of food. From that moment on, he looked up with gratitude in his eyes to all of the staff."

Patrick was soon moved to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital, where he received a blood transfusion and other treatment. His condition is reportedly improving. Kisha Curtis, 27, the woman identified as his owner at the time of his abuse, has been charged with two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. She has pleaded not guilty to the cruelty charges and maintains she didn't throw Patrick down the garbage chute, but has reportedly admitted that she failed to provide proper care for the year-old dog, New Jersey Newsroom reported.

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Ohio man, charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly barking at a police dog, claims 'the dog started it'

Don't. Just don't. MASON, Ohio — Police say an Ohio man has been charged with a misdemeanor for barking at a police dog.

A police report says 25-year-old Ryan James Stephens was charged with teasing a police dog in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason.

Officer Bradley Walker wrote that he heard the K9 unit dog barking uncontrollably inside his patrol car while he was investigating a traffic accident at a pub early Sunday morning. Walker says Stephens was making barking noises and hissing at the animal.

Walker reported that Stephens, when asked why he was harassing the animal, said, "The dog started it." The officer said Stephens appeared to be highly intoxicated.

Stephens could not be reached for comment. He is to appear April 21 in municipal court.

Drunk Australian man is injured while trying to pet 16-foot saltwater crocodile
Man arrested for drunkenness after giving mouth-to-mouth to roadkill

-- Associated Press

Deal is reportedly reached to let Yellowstone bison roam in Gardiner Basin conservation area

Bison in Yellowstone

BILLINGS, Mont. — Under a breakthrough agreement expected to be adopted this week, bison from Yellowstone National Park will roam freely across 75,000 acres in southern Montana where for years the animals were shipped to slaughter by the hundreds

The deal -- involving five state and federal agencies and several American Indian tribes -- still limits where bison will be free to go during their winter migrations. Officials say those that move beyond the newly opened habitat and head north into the Paradise Valley will continue to be shot to protect livestock against a disease carried by the wild animals.

But supporters say the agreement will bring some relief to Montana's bison management dilemma, which has dragged on for two decades and resulted in the slaughter of 3,800 bison.

A copy of the agreement obtained by the Associated Press shows bison will be free to roam within an area known as the Gardiner Basin when they migrate from the mountainous park during winter to graze. A map attached to the document depicts a "bison conservation area" estimated by a U.S. Forest Service official at 75,000 acres, although some of that land is too steep to support bison.

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African wild dogs make themselves at home at England's Chester Zoo


A pack of seven African wild dogs who recently moved from a zoo in Sweden are already settling into their new habitat -- a specially designed enclosure intended to mimic the conditions in their native sub-Saharan African plains -- at the Chester Zoo in northern England.

African wild dogs -- also known as painted dogs or Cape hunting dogs -- are endangered, in part because of the spread of disease from domestic animals. The wild dogs also fall victim to farmers who kill them in an effort to protect their livestock from predators.

The Chester Zoo's African wild dog pack isn't yet on display; their exhibit is expected to open soon and includes a theater, a bridge offering an impressive view of the enclosure and public viewing windows to allow visitors to get a closer look.

See video of the Chester Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, talking about the zoo's newest residents and the troubles their species faces in the wild after the jump.

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Hanoi's famous Hoan Kiem turtle is captured to receive veterinary care

Vietnam's famous Hoan Kiem turtle is captured for treatment

HANOI, Vietnam — Veterinarians examined a rare giant turtle considered sacred by many Vietnamese at a makeshift hospital in Hanoi on Monday to check mysterious lesions afflicting one of the last four known members of its species.

The giant soft-shell turtle, which has a shell the size of a desk and is estimated to weigh about 440 pounds, was pulled from a lake in the heart of the capital Sunday.

Tests were being run to try to pinpoint what is ailing the creature, said Tim McCormack, program coordinator of the Asian Turtle Program. He said photos taken of it in a holding tank showed injuries on its legs and elsewhere, but it was not yet clear how serious they are.

The animal is believed to be about 80 to 100 years old, though many Vietnamese believe it is the same mythical creature said to have helped King Le Loi fend off the Chinese nearly six centuries ago.

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