Pet Scoop: Owner in Viral Lake Picture Gets New Dog, Gerbils Likely to Blame for Plague

Feb. 25, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

John Unger recently adopted Bear, a 1-year-old Akita, Shepherd and Lab mix.
John Unger recently adopted Bear, a 1-year-old Akita, Shepherd and Lab mix.

Schoep’s Owner Gets New Pal

We’re sure you remember seeing the tender photo of John Unger of Minnesota cradling his 19-year-old Shepherd mix, Schoep, in his arms in Lake Superior. Taken by photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson in the summer of 2012, the image touched hearts across the Internet as it went viral. The water would help the arthritic dog relax and fall asleep peacefully. Schoep passed away in July 2013 at the age of 20, and it’s taken Unger time to heal from losing his best friend. But on Tuesday, he shared big news with his Facebook followers. “I am whole again ... Ladies and Gentlemen — This Is BEAR!” he wrote with a photo of the 1-year-old Akita, Shepherd and Labrador mix he adopted from the Northwood's Humane Society in Hayward. Thousands of well wishes have poured in for Unger and Bear. — Read it at Minnesota’s Northland’s NewsCenter

Study: Eyelashes Have an Optimal Length

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology examined the eyes of 22 mammals using specimens at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. They found that eyelashes get predictably longer as the animal’s eyes get bigger. The animals averaged an eyelash length that was about a third of the width of their eye opening. "We found that there's a pretty good trend for how lashes change with eye width," said David Hu, a mechanical engineer at Georgia Tech. "That's quite striking because in the mammal-hair literature, you don't see many trends. Hair is usually a function of habitat, activity, things like that." Using mock human eyes and lashes, they found that lashes of the optimal length were best at preventing water evaporation due to wind. The findings were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. — Read it at Live Science

Class-Action Lawsuit Claims Purina’s Beneful Killed Dogs

A lawsuit filed in California this month by dog owner Frank Lucido alleges that thousands of dogs have gotten sick or died after eating Nestle Purina’s popular Beneful dry kibble. Lucido had three dogs who he said were eating Beneful exclusively when they all became ill, and one of them, an English Bulldog, died. The dogs were living in separate locations due to renovations at their home at the time. "The one constant they had was they were all eating the same dog food,” said Jeffrey B. Cereghino, a lawyer representing Lucido. The suit includes more than 3,000 similar complaints made online of dogs becoming ill and in some cases dying after eating the food. The lawsuit alleges toxins in Beneful are to blame. In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Purina said “there are no quality issues with Beneful … We believe the lawsuit is baseless, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves and our brand." It continued, "Beneful had two previous class action suits filed in recent years with similar baseless allegations, and both were dismissed by the courts." — Read it at NBC News


Study Links Gerbils to Plague

A new study may finally exonerate rats from bringing the bubonic plague to Medieval Europe. Instead, researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway have implicated a more beloved rodent: the gerbil. Study co-author Nils Christian Stenseth says that if rats brought the plague to Europe and they’re still in Europe, then the plague should still be found in European cities — but it isn’t. "What we are suggesting is that it was gerbils in Central Asia and the bacterium in gerbils that eventually came to Europe," Stenseth says. They theorize that fleas carrying the plague jumped from dead gerbils to pack animals and human traders, who brought it to European cities. Still, experts say you don’t need to be concerned about domestic gerbils. "If you get your gerbil at a pet store ... you have nothing to worry about," said Ken Gage of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. — Read it at NPR

Now Hiring: Vine Needs an Office Dog

Vine has an unusual job posting on its Web site. The video app platform owned by Twitter is looking for a dog to work in its New York office. The canine in this position would welcome employees to work and make sure they don’t work too hard. But not just any dog is qualified. According to the listing, applicants mush have a "computer science degree from an Ivy League school...[with] boundless enthusiasm for staring into the distance at absolutely nothing whatsoever." They also have to “smell OK” and “look into the camera on command.” The pay? “Up to six treats per day, with an annual bonus of one rawhide bone," said Vine spokesperson Carolyn Penner. — Read it at CNN Money


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