Pet Scoop: Pets May Help Autistic Kids Boost Social Skills, New Bird Flu Found in Seals

August 2, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

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Children With Autism Benefit From Furry Companions

A new study by French researchers reinforces what clinicians have heard anecdotally for years: bringing pets into the homes of autistic children may help them develop better social skills. Kids who got a pet after they turned 5 showed the most improvement in the study, which was published in the journal PLoS ONE. According to the study's author, pets may provide autistic kids a distraction in stressful situations, and help the family become more cohesive. — Read it at HealthDay News

Bird Flu Spreads to Harbor Seals

A new strain of the flu virus, H3N8, has been detected in New England harbor seals — and it could pose a threat to humans. Researchers say that we should be concerned about this latest strain, which originated in birds, because it has followed a path similar to that of H1N1, also known as the “swine flu.” — Read it at Medical News Today

Cat Food Recalled Over High Preservative Levels

The Los Angeles-based Arthur Dogswell, LLC, is working with the FDA to recall about 1,000 cases of its Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins due to high levels of the preservative known as propylene glycol. There have been no cases of illness reported yet. — Read it at the Examiner

Two Rehabbed Hawksbill Sea Turtles Are Released

They were just two months old when they were rescued in March, but two endangered Hawksbill sea turtles have since been released back into the ocean after months of physical therapy with SeaWorld Orlando’s animal care team. The team traveled six miles off shore to release the juvenile turtles into the “weed line,” a floating mass of vegetation where hatchlings go to live after leaving the coast. — Watch it at the Orlando Sentinel

Plus: A young bald eagle who was found on the ground in Washington, D.C., in May, suffering from dehydration and facial wounds, was rehabilitated at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. On Wednesday, she was released outside of the nation’s capital. The center plans to release a second bald eagle today. — See the photos at the Washington Post

New Pets Debut on the Set of Modern Family

As the popular sitcom begins taping its fourth season, two animal stars are already stealing the spotlight. Actor Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron, was photographed cuddling a gray kitten on the set for a scene in which he picks out a pet for his daughter, Lily. Meanwhile, the role of Stella is being played by a new French Bulldog. — Read it at People Pets

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