Saturday, April 19, 2008

puppy rescued

Snickers the Sea Dog is barely more than a pup, but he's already an old salt. The 8-month-old pooch spent three months adrift in the Pacific with his owners and a parrot until their 48-foot sailboat ran aground in December on tiny Fanning Island, 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. Snickers and Gulliver had to be left behind as their owners hitched a ride on a cargo vessel.
Then in March, the SOS was sent out in a boating journal that the orphaned critters were to be destroyed on Fanning, one of 33 scattered coral atolls that make up the remote island nation of Kiribati.
As word spread, a bevy of people worked to rescue the cocker spaniel and the macaw, including a man who desperately wants to adopt them: retired Las Vegas resident Jack Joslin.
"I love animals," Joslin told The Associated Press on Friday. "I had two dogs up until the middle of March. Then I had to have my border collie euthanized. The day they called saying the ashes were back was when I read the story (about Snickers). It occurred to me I could do something."
On April 9, Norwegian Cruise Line workers rescued Snickers from Fanning and dropped him off on Oahu island, Hawaii, where he will remain in quarantine until he is flown to Los Angeles.
Hawaiian Airlines, moved by the dog's survival story, has given the go-ahead on flying the animal for free to the mainland, said Peter Forman, a Hawaii-based airlines historian who helped negotiate Snickers' transport.
The process to rescue Gulliver, the owner's macaw, is more complicated because it is an endangered animal and was not registered. The Hawaiian Humane Society said that Gulliver couldn't be brought back to Hawaii because of customs and quarantine issues, the Honolulu Advertiser reported.
Forman said he expects Snickers to arrive sometime in the next three days.
Snickers' original owners, Jerry and Darla Merrow, had set out from California's Moss Landing but their catamaran developed mast problems, said Gina Baurile of the Hawaiian Humane Society.
The boat drifted to the tiny atoll, where it hit a reef and the couple swam 200 yards to shore with Snickers and Gulliver.
Baurile said the pets were left in the care of islanders.
"They don't have the same concept of taking care of pets," Baurile said.
Efforts to contact the Merrows on Friday were unsuccessful. Joslin said he has been unable to contact the pair, and Baurile said she believes the Hawaiian Humane Society never tried to reach them.
"The Merrows got to the point where they had to move on with their lives," said Forman, who is friends with Robby and Lorraine Coleman, a couple with a sailboat off Fanning Island who originally talked to a boating journal about Snickers.
"The Merrows basically signed a release of ownership of the dog," Forman said.
Robby Coleman started watching out for the dog and parrot on the island, Forman said.
"Robby put out the SOS and a lot of people got involved," Forman said.
Contacted by Joslin, the Hawaiian Humane Society took the lead on Snickers rescue.
The organization worked with Norwegian Cruise Line, and a ship was sent out to Fanning Island to pick up the dog, said Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman Krislyn Hashimoto.
The Hawaiian Humane Society provided pet carriers, flea treatment and food, Baurile said.
The dog landed in Honolulu on Wednesday, cleared Customs and has been in quarantine since, awaiting transport to Los Angeles, Hashimoto said.
Getting the parrot off the island will be more difficult, said Joslin, who wants to adopt the animal.
There is a plan to move Gulliver to Christmas Island, near Fanning Island, and eventually to L.A., one of two U.S. ports that accept exotic birds.
"Snickers is going to live with me, I hope, for a long time," Joslin said. "And we're trying like hell to get the bird back here."
Animals making news
The British territory of Gibraltar said Thursday it plans to kill a group of about 25 Barbary apes that have been monkeying around a popular seaside area. Officials said the animals have been stealing food, entering rooms through open windows and harassing tourists.
Polar bear cub Flocke made her splashy public debut on April 8 at the Nuremberg City Zoo in Germany. The cub became a worldwide media sensation ever since zoo workers decided to raise the furball themselves a month after her birth on Dec. 11. They were afraid her mother would hurt her. Her name means Flake, as in snowflake.
For years, zoos have used painting to keep cooped up animals mentally stimulated. Now, some zoos are selling the artwork to raise funds -- and animal lovers are willing to pay thousands for the masterpieces in some cases. Here, an elephant paints a canvas at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Scientists in Massachusetts are testing a plan to train black sea bass to swim into a net when they hear a tone that signals feeding time. "It sounds crazy, but it's real," said one researcher. The goal is to defray the cost of fish farming: If the creatures can be trained to return to the farmer after feeding in the ocean, farms could save money on feed.
Scientists in Indonesia, which has the shameful distinction of holding the "highest deforestation" title in the Guinness Book of World Records, have been trying to save the gibbons, an elusive and endangered member of the ape species. The creatures are highly acrobatic and typically dwell in the jungle canopy.
Authorities on March 12 said that roughly 800 small dogs were seized from a triple-wide mobile home outside Tucson, Ariz. The pooches, which included a number of Chihuahuas, terriers and Pomeranians, had been kept by elderly owners who eventually became overwhelmed trying to take care of the animals. Most of the dogs were in pretty good shape.
An increasing number of pet owners are buying wheelchairs for their furry friends to give them mobility when they have problems with their legs, hips or backs. Above, Jack, a pit bull mix, is strapped into a wheelchair at Eddie's Wheels in Massachusetts on March 8. Jack lost the use of his back legs after a slipped disc damaged his spine and required surgery.
Researchers in South Texas recently began singing the praises of the Asian flying cockroach and its appetite for pests that plague farmers. Blattella asahinai, which appeared in the region a few years ago, has become the most common predator of bollworm eggs. Bollworms threaten cotton, soybean and corn crops.
An official said on Feb. 25 that police dogs in Dusseldorf, Germany, were being fitted with blue plastic fiber shoes to protect their paws. The German and Belgian shepherds had to be trained to walk in the new booties. "I'm not sure they like it, but they'll have to get used to it," said police spokesman Andre Hartwich.
South Africa announced on Feb. 25 that it was reversing a 1995 ban on killing elephants in order to control their booming population. The number of elephants in the country has swelled to more than 20,000 from 8,000 when the ban was implemented 13 years ago. Animal rights activists criticized the decision.
Burmese pythons, which can weigh 250 pounds, could colonize a third of the U.S. as global warming makes the climate more habitable for them, a Feb. 20 study said. The non-poisonous snakes came to the U.S. as part of the pet trade and began appearing in the wild in the mid-1990s as owners released them. They are legal to keep.
Researchers working in Kenya found that female baboons raised in groups with their fathers matured earlier and had a longer reproductive life than other baboons, according to the Feb. 4 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A farmer in Clayton Township, Mich., is pioneering a pigs-as-pesticide tactic to protect his organic apple orchard from the plum curculio beetle. Jim Koan's experiment, believed to be the first of its kind, uses the hogs, here on Jan. 31, to patrol a 120-acre area and gobble up fallen, immature apples that contain the destructive beetle's larvae.
The American Kennel Club on Jan. 16 added the bulldog to its 2007 top 10 list of most popular dogs. The pooch, which edged out the miniature schnauzer for the 10th spot, hadn't made it into the rankings since 1935. The Labrador retriever was given top honors -- for the 17th straight year.

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