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Sept. 18, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Tillie, a Setter mix, has proved the true meaning of friendship. She stood guard for nearly a week when her Basset Hound best friend, Phoebe, got stuck in an old cistern in Vashon Island, Washington. The dogs’ owners reported them missing, and they were tracked down by Vashon Island Pet Protectors, who spread their photos widely using social media. When a resident called to say they’d spotted a dog who fit Tillie’s description on their property for a few days, volunteers with VIPP went to investigate. “So with a needle in the haystack hope, we made our way into the ravine and after a bit of searching, finally heard that sweet sound we have been waiting for all week: a small one-woof response when we called out ‘Tillie,’” VIPP wrote on its Facebook page. A few minutes later, they found her lying beside the old water tank, resting her head on the concrete — and Phoebe was inside. Tillie had stuck with Phoebe the whole time, only leaving for a few minutes a day to try to find help. “We think this is an amazing story about Tillie being a true friend and heroine, but also about the importance of not giving up when searching for a lost pet,” said Amy Carey of VIPP. “And a reminder that when trying to find a missing dog, us two leggers need to pay attention to even the smallest clues.” — Read it at Seattle’s KIRO TV
New research from Virginia Tech finds birds who eat at bird feeders are more susceptible to disease and are more likely to spread it. By using tiny barcode chips and by observing the birds, they determined that birds who tended to eat at feeders were more likely to contract and spread an avian form of conjunctivitis. The disease can cause red, swollen eyes in house finches that can lead to blindness and even death. "Our results suggest that in this species, a few individuals — those that like eating at feeders — are likely very important in driving disease epidemics," lead study author Dana Hawley of Virginia Tech. "If this is true for other wildlife species as well, we may be able to more effectively reduce disease by targeting these 'high risk' individuals." The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. — Read it from UPI
Hundreds of onlookers gathered at the Isle of Palms in South Carolina Wednesday to watch the release of four sea turtles from three different species. Barnacle Bob, a young green sea turtle, was found off Myrtle Beach; Little Laddy, a juvenile Kemp’s Ridley, came from Morris Island; and two loggerheads who were named Pawley and Midway were found on a sandbar on Pawleys Island. All of the turtles were treated for illness and injury at the turtle hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium. The hospital had its busiest summer yet, admitting 30 patients, and is now planning an expansion for the fall of 2016. — Watch it at North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer
Mishka, a 1-year-old otter living at the Seattle Aquarium, is now the first sea otter to be diagnosed with asthma. She started having trouble breathing when wildfires moved into the Puget Sound area in Washington last month. Veterinarians ran tests and listened to her chest, and determined she needed an inhaler to help her breathe easier. Treats have been key to teaching Mishka how to use the inhaler. “We try to make it as fun as possible,” said Sara Perry, a biologist with the aquarium. “Anytime you’re training a medical behavior, you want to make it nice and positive.” Mishka has responded well to getting her treatments — and her treats. — Read it from the Seattle Aquarium
Australian photographer Robyn Malcolm didn’t even realize the amazing photo she captured while on a whale-watching boat until she later looked at her photos. That’s when she spotted it: a fur seal riding on the back of a whale in southern New South Wales. She caught the image during a rush of activity when the boat cruised by a pod of humpback whales and other marine mammals feeding on small bait fish. — See photo at Discovery News
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