Pet Scoop: Bear Dog Gets Special Treatment, Guinea Pigs Help Kids With Autism

March 1, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Bear Dog is a much-loved resident of Castle Rock, Wash.
The Daily News / AP
Bear Dog, 18, is a much-loved resident of Castle Rock, Wash.

Washington Town Adores Its Famous Four-Legged Resident

Meet Bear Dog. Over the years, this lovable 18-year-old black Labrador Retriever mix has stolen the hearts of the entire town of Castle Rock, Wash. He walks kids home from school, and hangs out at the local ball field to watch their games. In fact, an official sign at the field reads, “No pets allowed inside baseball complex or on soccer fields, except Bear Dog.” People from out of town stop by owner Don Caulfield’s mobile home just to meet Bear Dog, and the locals look out for him, calling Caulfield if they see the dog wandering around town. Bear Dog is “quite the legend out there,” Castle Rock Mayor Paul Helenberg told Washington’s Longview Daily News. — Read it at the U.K.’s Daily Mail

Could Snake’s Venom Save Lives?

The saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus is responsible for the most snake attacks on humans, and their venom can result in a lack of blood clotting, hemorrhage, renal failure and stroke. But a new study finds that their venom contains both anticoagulants and coagulants, making it a potential source of drugs to save human lives. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases.— Read it at Science Daily

Owners Suspect Foul Play in Show Dog’s Death

The owners and handler of Cruz, a 3-year-old Samoyed, are questioning whether the dog was poisoned. He died four days after competing in the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club dog show. No official cause of death was determined, but veterinarians who treated Cruz said he may have been accidentally poisoned. "Dogs are dogs," said Molly Comiskey, one of Cruz's doctors. "It's not anyone's fault. They eat stuff; they get into things; they make bad decisions." Robert Chaffin, Cruz’s handler, said he suspects an animal rights activist could have thrown something into the dog’s crate while they were at Westminster. In a statement posted on Facebook, Westminster spokesman David Frei said, “Unfortunately, no autopsy was performed, so there are a lot of unanswered questions.”— Read it at The New York Times

A child holds one of the guinea pigs used in the study.
Erin Burnett
A child holds one of the guinea pigs used in the study.

Autistic Kids More Social When Animals Are Present

Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, looked at how children with autism spectrum disorders between the ages of 5 and 13 interacted with adults and peers while in the presence of two guinea pigs compared to how they acted while playing with toys. They found that while the animals were present, the kids demonstrated more social behaviors like talking, looking at faces and making physical contact. They also had increased instances of smiling and laughing while the guinea pigs were around. "There's something about having an animal present that gets people talking," said researcher Maggie O’Haire. The study’s findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at NPR

Helicopter Helps Rescue Deer From Ice

When fawn and its mother got stuck on ice in Nova Scotia, people wanted to help, but ice was too thin to walk out on. It was slippery too, as the mom, who had fallen, struggled to stand back up on the surface. Fortunately, a helicopter was quickly flown in and the downdraft from its rotor blades was used to blow the deer to shore, one at a time, creating a happy ending for all. — Watch it at Today

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