Pet Scoop: Babies With Dogs and Cats Are Healthier, Shark Follows Cape Cod Kayaker

July 10, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Baby with dogs

Dogs and Cats Can Give Kids a Healthy Start in Life

A new study from Finland, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that children with dogs or cats in their homes were less likely to get respiratory infections during their first year of life. Researchers followed 397 infants from pregnancy to their first birthdays, and discovered that those who grew up with dogs had 44 percent fewer ear infections, and 31 percent fewer respiratory tract symptoms or infections. Babies who had cats in their homes also saw benefits, but to a lesser extent.

"We speculated that maybe the dogs somehow can bring dirt or soil inside the house, and then the immune system is strengthened, or maybe it’s something about the animals themselves," said study researcher Dr. Eija Bergroth, a pediatrician at the Kuopio University Hospital in Finland. — Read it at MSNBC

Plus: The Wall Street Journal covers how dogs are being trained to detect diseases like cancer, and how they're helping patients in distress — including warning diabetics about low blood sugar levels. — Read it at The Wall Street Journal

Canadian Boy Reunites With His Stolen Dog

When a pup belonging to Lukas Smith, a 4-year-old boy with special needs in Canada, was taken from outside a grocery store, his family was devastated. Bailey, a Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix, had been a gift from Lukas’ grandparents after his father died in a car accident two years ago. Following the theft last week, there was an outpouring of support for the family — and this week, the local humane society got an anonymous call that Bailey was tied to a tree. Lukas and Bailey have since been reunited. — Read it at the Huffington Post

A great white shark follows dangerously close to a kayaker.
A great white shark in Cape Cod follows dangerously close to Walter Szulc.

Shark Trails Kayaker in Cape Cod

Walter Szulc was kayaking for the first time in the waters off Cape Cod, Mass., over the weekend, when a crowd of beachgoers began pointing at him and yelling, “Shark!” When Szulc looked back, he saw the dorsal fin of a great white shark a mere 10 feet behind him. “I just paddled like no tomorrow,” said Szulc, who managed to escape from the shark that was about 14 feet long. “I kind of ran out of the water like a little child.” — Read it at ABC News

Elephant Mom Rescues Her Baby From the Mud

After noticing that her little one was struggling on the slippery bank of a watering hole, a quick-thinking elephant mom at the Cabarceno Wildlife Park in Spain crouched down and used her trunk to help her baby out of the tough spot. The herd then paused for a while before moving on. "It was magical to see what seemed like human behavior — a mother helping her baby," said photographer Marina Cano, who captured the amazing moments. — See the photos at MSNBC

PETA Criticizes Supermodel Over Her Dyed Dog

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio was sharply criticized by PETA after she was photographed with her pink-and-purple Bichon Frise. “Our dogs and cats love us regardless of how we look; why not extend the same kindness to them?” the group said in a statement. — Read it at the NY Daily News

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