Pet Scoop: Soldier Reunited With Missing Dog, Baby White Rhino Surprises Zookeepers

May 24, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

After 18 months, Alfaba was reunited with soldier Brandon Patterson.
After 18 months, Alfaba was reunited with soldier Brandon Patterson.

Microchip Helps Track Down Owner

Soldier Brandon Patterson was serving in Iraq when he got a call telling him that his dog had disappeared. Alfaba had squeezed through a gap in the sitter’s fence and wandered off. A distraught Patterson asked his friends to post flyers and share the story on Facebook, but they had no luck finding Alfaba. Patterson eventually returned to Atlanta, and kept looking for his beloved dog. Then, Cobb County Animal Control found nearly 40 dogs in the home of an elderly woman — and Alfaba turned out to be one of them. Erika Dillingham, a volunteer who’d been asked to find a home for the Welsh Terrier, could feel a microchip that had been missed on her shoulder. She tracked Patterson down, and was thrilled to see Alfaba reunited with him after a long 18 months. "She started bouncing in the air and her tail was going a million miles a minute," Dillingham said. — Watch it at Atlanta’s 11 Alive

Homes With Dogs Have More Bacteria

A new study by researchers at North Carolina State found that homes where dogs live contain types of bacteria that are rarely found in homes that don’t have dogs, and that bacteria is more prevalent. “We can tell whether you own a dog based on the bacteria we find on your television screen or pillow case,” said co-author Rob Dunn, a biology professor at N.C. State. “For example, there are bacteria normally found in soil that are 700 times more common in dog-owning households than in those without.” The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Discovery News

Mystery of White Tigers’ Coats May Be Solved

Researchers in China say they’ve determined that a single change in a pigment gene changes the color of a tiger’s coat from orange to white. "The white tiger represents part of the natural genetic diversity of the tiger that is worth conserving, but is now seen only in captivity," says Shu-Jin Luo of China's Peking University. Luo and other researchers say that it may be worth considering reintroducing the white tiger to its wild habitat. Their study was published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at Science Daily

Keepers in Australia were surprised by the birth of a rare white rhino.
Taronga Zoo
Keepers in Australia were surprised by the birth of a rare white rhino.

White Rhino Born at Aussie Zoo

When keepers at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia arrived at work on May 14, a delightful surprise was waiting for them: a male white rhino calf had been born overnight. The wobbly newborn was exploring his yard with mom Mopani. The arrival was especially sweet for the zoo’s staff because one year earlier, they sadly lost four white rhinos to an illness. Mopani had been affected by the illness while she was pregnant but survived and gave birth to a healthy calf. “To see Mopani being such a fabulous mother to her first calf is just amazing, she is gentle and caring and seems to be quite proud of herself,” said keeper Pascale Benoit. “Her calf is also doing well and is quite easy going and seems to like being the center of attention.” — Read it at the Taronga Zoo

Cannes Film Festival Goes to the … Cats

Earlier this year, we saw how much trouble casting a cat was for Broadway’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Now, we’re hearing that it isn’t much easier to act alongside a feline on a movie set. While at the Cannes Film Festival, the stars of the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis revealed what it was like to work with the six feline divas who filled one role in the film. "One freaked out and scratched me in the face,” said actor Oscar Isaac. And Joel Coen told reporters, "The trainer pointed out that dogs want to please you, but cats only want to please themselves.” — Read it at People Pets


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