Pet Scoop: Press Corps “Smitten” With Sunny, U.S. Cracks Down on Internet Pet Sales

Sept. 11, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Sunny Obama is surrounded by adoring members of the press outside the White House.
Sunny Obama is surrounded by adoring members of the press outside the White House.

Sunny Obama Meets the Press

As journalists waited at the White House on Monday to interview President Obama, the newest member of the first family stopped outside the briefing room to entertain them — and soak up a little attention. The 1-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, who joined 4-year-old Bo at the White House last month, indulged in neck scratches before rolling over for a belly rub from reporters. "It's safe to say the press corps is smitten," said NBC’s Peter Alexander. The photos of Sunny’s rare appearance brightened our morning on an otherwise solemn and reflective day. — See photos at People Pets

Recorded Growls May Help Save Elephants

A new study suggests that Asian elephants can tell the difference between the growls of various big cats, and recognize those that pose more danger to them. Using hidden video cameras, researchers with the University of California-Davis captured the elephants’ reaction to pre-recorded tiger and leopard growls near farms in India, where the pachyderms are known to raid the crops. The elephants crept away when they heard a tiger, and stomped, circled and gave trumpet calls before retreating when they heard leopards. (Tigers pose more of a danger to elephants.) There’s hope that if farms broadcast the sounds, it could reduce the incidents of human retaliation on the elephants for crop raids. The study was published in the journal Biology Letters. — Read it at National Geographic

Panda Poop Could Make Biofuels

A research team from Mississippi State University has identified more than 40 microbes living in the intestines of giant pandas at the Memphis Zoo that could make biofuel production from plant waste easier and more affordable. Pandas are able to quickly digest a diet of bamboo. “We have discovered microbes in panda feces might actually be a solution to the search for sustainable new sources of energy,” said research leader Ashli Brown. “It's amazing that here we have an endangered species that's almost gone from the planet, yet there's still so much we have yet to learn from it." The team plans to expand its studies to include the red pandas at the Memphis Zoo, who also eat bamboo, and giant pandas at the Toronto Zoo. — Read it at Science Daily

Puppies sit behind a fence

New Rules for Internet Breeders

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that dog breeders who sell puppies over the Internet will now be forced to apply for federal licenses, meaning they’ll face the same oversight as wholesale animal breeders. This closes a loophole for online breeders who’d classified themselves as retail pet stores, which are exempt from licensing requirements. The rules are targeted at dog breeders, but could impact breeders of other animals, too. The move was welcomed by animal advocates. “The ASPCA has witnessed the abhorrent cruelty that often exists behind the pictures of happy puppies posted on a breeder’s website, and this rule will crack down on the worst Internet breeders,” said the ASPCA’s Nancy Perry. — Read it from the AP via Yahoo

9/11 Hero Dog Saved Woman Trapped in Rubble

Animal Planet’s new documentary, Hero Dogs of 9/11, premiered last night. Among the stories it showcased was that of Genelle Guzman-McMillan, who was found 27 hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, thanks to a search and rescue dog working at the scene. She was the last person to be found alive. “It’s so awesome that the dogs could have this kind of sense, to find people buried under the rubble,” Guzman-McMillan said. “I felt total renewed life in me. ... That was the most joyful moment.” — Read it at Today


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