Pet Scoop: Afghan Cat Among ASPCA Humane Awards Winners, Captive Panda Released

Nov. 8, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Koshka, here with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knotts, was named ASPCA Cat of the Year.
Koshka, here with Staff Sgt. Jesse Knotts, was named ASPCA Cat of the Year.

ASPCA Honors People and Animals

A cat with an amazing story that we told you about in March has been named ASPCA Cat of the Year. Koshka was a stray in Afghanistan who stuck by Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott’s side when he lost two of his close friends to a suicide bombing on a military convoy. Knott repaid Koshka by going out of his way to bring her back home to Oregon with a risky and expensive rescue. She now lives happily with the Knotts family in Oregon.

Koshka is among this year’s ASPCA Humane Awards winners, which also includes Dog of the Year Xena, the Warrior Puppy. Xena survived terrible abuse in Georgia before being saved and going on to form a remarkable bond with Jonny, an 8-year-old autistic boy who’s made great strides in communicating after meeting Xena. And the group’s Kid of the Year honor was awarded to Catherine Hubbard, a 6-year-old animal lover who was among the 20 children killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. Her parents asked that donations in her memory go to The Animal Center in Newtown, Conn., which is hoping to build an animal sanctuary in her honor. “This year’s Humane Awards winners not only exemplify our mission of preventing cruelty to animals, but bring greater awareness to the unique and meaningful bond between humans and their pets,” said ASPCA president and CEO Matthew Bershadker.    

Reason for Mysterious Elk Deaths Uncovered

After an investigation, experts say they have finally identified the culprit in the strange deaths of more than 100 elk on a New Mexico ranch in August — pond scum. They believe it was a neurotoxin produced by a type of blue-green algae that devastated the elk. "Based on circumstantial evidence, the most logical explanation for the elk deaths is that on their way back to the forest after feeding in the grassland, the elk drank water from a trough containing toxins created by blue-green algae or cyanobacteria," said wildlife disease specialist Kerry Mower in a statement from the state’s Department of Game and Fish. — Read it at Discovery News

FDA Cautions Owners on Raw Pet Food

In a two-year study, Food and Drug Administration found that raw pet food was more likely than other types of pet food they tested to be contaminated with salmonella and listeria. The FDA’s analysis “identified a potential health risk for the pets eating the raw food, and for the owners handling the product,” said Dr. Renate Reimschuessel, a researcher at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. The agency said the best way to prevent infection was to avoid a raw food diet, but also issued advice for how to handle it. — Read it at the Seattle Times

Zhang Xiang, who was raised in captivity, was released into a protected wild area in China.
Zhang Xiang, who was raised in captivity, was released into a protected wild area in China.

Giant Panda Released Into Wild

Keepers dressed and scented like pandas stood by as they released a 2-year-old female who was born in captivity at a research base into a protected wild area in China’s Sichuan province. Zhang Xiang was taught to survive in the wild, but it took a long time for her to leave her crate and take her first steps to freedom. She’s the third panda in the last seven years to be released into the wild there. — Watch it at Reuters via Yahoo

Game Aims to Help Shelter Animals

For the month of November, you can help save animals’ lives by playing Pet Pals Slots on a Facebook app. The slots game lets you play for tokens by matching dogs and cats, then in a bonus round, allowing players to select a door to reveal a family waiting to adopt a pet. This month, GSN Games says it will turn gameplay of the limited edition game into a donation of up to $30,000 to the Best Friends Animal Society.  


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