Pet Scoop: Fugitives Tried to Lose Dogs With Pepper, Tree Kangaroo Gets Wallaby Mom

June 30, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A law enforcement officer and dog search for escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat in New York last week.
A law enforcement officer and dog search for escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat in New York last week.

Escapees Used Pepper on Tracks

The New York State Police say the two prisoners who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility seem to have sprinkled pepper in their tracks to try to throw off the K9s who were searching for them. DNA from David Sweat, the fugitive who was shot and captured Sunday, was found on a discarded pepper shaker. “We did have difficulty tracking, so it was fairly effective in that respect,” said Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. But at least one dog cognition expert says it’s “extremely unlikely that would work.” Although the move could disrupt the dogs’ ability to follow the track, the dogs could pick up the scent from the air and continue to follow the fugitives. “There is no way that people can erase the olfactory information that they are leaving when they move through space and touch things in the world,” said Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, who directs the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York. “The dog is more effective than the escapees’ attempt to elude the dog.” Sweat’s partner in crime, Richard Matt, was shot and killed by law enforcement while on the run Friday. — Read it at The New York Times

Bus Driver Denies Entry to Service Dog and Veteran

After four tours of duty with the Marines, Daniel Wright uses a service dog to help him with his injured left arm and to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. But when he went to board a New Jersey Transit bus recently, the driver closed the door in his face. Wright, a Purple Heart recipient, thinks the driver might not have believed him that Tank was a service dog because he’s a Pit Bull. He was able to convince a second bus driver on the route that Tank was a legitimate service dog. New Jersey Transit officials say they’re looking into the incident, and that service animals are allowed on all of their modes of transportation. — Read it at People Pets

Experts: “Perfect Storm” to Blame for Shark Attacks

Five shark attacks off the coast of North Carolina in just three weeks have left people speculating about the cause. Some people have said the increased number of attacks is due to fishing in the area, but experts say there’s more to it than that. "It's not a certain thing that makes this happen," said George Burgess, of the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History. "It's a perfect storm of factors." Although fishing off a beach where there are swimmers and surfers makes for a “really bad mix,” other factors could include moderate drought that’s given water close to shore a higher salt content that attract sharks and the unusual presence of large schools of Atlantic menhaden and other animals sharks prey on come very close to shore recently. “If you see fishes, seabirds diving, people fishing — these are all no-brainers. Get out of the water," Burgess said. — Read it at Live Science

Orphaned tree kangaroo Makaia survived with the help of a wallaby surrogate mom.
Orphaned tree kangaroo Makaia survived with the help of a wallaby surrogate mom.

Kangaroo Gets Unusual Surrogate

Last November, keepers at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia arrived to find a terrible situation: a falling tree branch had killed a female Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo, orphaning her 5-week-old joey. In a world first, the quick-thinking keepers placed the tiny joey in the pouch of a wallaby. “We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. This joey was completely different from other joeys in body shape and behavior — it certainly wriggled around more than a wallaby joey!” said keeper Gayl Males. “The joey, which we named Makaia, first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January. It was certainly a sight to see a tree kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby!” Males is now a human surrogate for Makaia, who makes his public debut this week. — Read it from Australia’s Adelaide Zoo and see more cute zoo baby photos

Keepers Save Trapped Baby Elephant

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust keepers in Kenya rushed to the aide of a wild elephant calf who’d fallen into a steep-sided water catchment area Saturday. Two wild elephant herds were at the scene trying to protect the baby, but the rescue team used a vehicle to provide a buffer so they could safely intervene. Using straps, they were able to lift the calf to safety “so that she could be tenderly enveloped in her herd once more and reunited with her by now frantic mother,” the Trust said in a Facebook post. “It was the best possible outcome, and it is these sorts of days and happy endings that give us so much satisfaction.” — See photos at Facebook


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