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March 20, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Jasper the Whippet demonstrated what pure happiness looks like when he was reunited with his owner, Michael Ford, at a veterinary clinic in England last week. The 1-year-old dog was reported missing in September, and Ford believed he had been stolen. “We honestly thought that we’d never see Jasper again,” he told the London Evening Standard. A local woman found the dog and brought him to the clinic last week, and the staff was able to track down Ford, who lives 100 miles away, using Jasper’s microchip. When he saw his owner, Jasper bounded enthusiastically across the room, barking, wagging his tail and jumping on Ford. “You’re still beautiful, aren’t you? And very happy to see me,” Ford laughs in the video, which was posted on YouTube Monday. — Watch it at Today
A new study by researchers at the University of Arizona aims to see if bacteria found on dogs and in their saliva can help a human’s immune system. The study will match people between the ages of 50 and 60 with dogs and monitor their immune response over the course of 12 weeks. The researchers theorize that the dog could act like a probiotic and help build healthy colonies of bacteria in the human owner. “If the dogs and human owners look similar microbiota-wise ... then it means dogs are basically having probiotic-enhancing microbiota of human owners,” said lead researcher Dr. Charles Raison of the University of Arizona. — Read it at ABC News
Two Dalmatian pelican chicks, who are 2 days and 11 days old respectively, will be hand-reared at the San Diego Zoo after their parents were deemed unable to care for them. They are part of the rarest and largest of the pelican species, and will have a wingspan of about 12 feet when they’re fully grown in 6 to 7 months. The chicks will be hand-raised for 60 days before they’re returned to their flock at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Right now, the chicks look “plucked,” but they’ll be covered in downy feathers in a few weeks. — See photos at Discovery News
After 10 months of rehabilitation at the Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts, an orphaned river otter was successfully returned to the wild Thursday morning. “It was very inspiring to watch an animal we'd raised from a fragile, two-month old infant eagerly regain her freedom as a strong and healthy adult!” her caretakers wrote in a Facebook post. Her rehabilitators were careful to ensure the otter didn’t develop a dependence on them, and she didn’t show any signs of attachment when she was released, reported the Cape Cod Times. She quickly took off into her new environment, where she’ll have plenty of food and places to build a home and raise her young. — Watch it from the AP via Science Daily
A mother dog named Blacky is being hailed as a hero for protecting her newborn puppies from a forest fire in Chile last weekend. With the fire encroaching, the mom dug a hole and used a metal container to create a makeshift shelter for her family. Firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze saw Blacky in action and went searching for the puppies after they had the flames under control. They found all nine of her puppies safe from harm. Several local residents have said they were interested in adopting Blacky and her puppies. — Read it at People Pets
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