Dec. 18, 2012: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

Snowy now has a permanent home with the Ostranders.

Shelter Pup Becomes a Hero

A foster dog earned herself a forever home when she alerted the sleeping family she was staying with to high levels of carbon monoxide in their Utah apartment. While trying to find the right dog for her legally blind daughter, Chahela, Tonya Ostrander had taken in Snowy, a Chihuahua mix. One night last week, Snowy, who was sleeping in Chahela’s room, started “barking and barking and barking. Woke us both up” at about 2:30 a.m., said Tonya Ostrander. She and her daughter both felt sick and realized something was wrong, so they got to the hospital right away. Their carbon monoxide levels were high, but thanks to Snowy, they were able to recover. “If she hadn't had woken us up then things would have been real bad. We could have just slept right through it and maybe died,” Ostrander said. The mother and daughter thanked Snowy by making her a permanent part of their family. — Watch it at Utah’s ABC 4, and see our Top 5 Hero Pets of 2012

Virus Pushes Parrots to Brink of Extinction

On the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Dr. Steve Boyes, a National Geographic Explorer, is racing to save the last remaining Cape parrots. With deforestation wiping out the yellow tree, which produces a fruit that’s their main food source, the birds have been forced to find alternative foods. That’s made them more susceptible to a beak and feather disease, which has left only about 1,000 of the birds in the wild. Boyes captures the sick parrots and nurses them back to health, hoping to help save the species. — Watch it at National Geographic

Scientists Uncover Panda Population History

Researchers from the Institute of Zoology of Chinese Academy of Sciences and BGI carried out a genome resequencing of 34 wild giant pandas to investigate their continuous population history. They found that while climate change was the primary reason for fluctuations in the panda population for millions of years, human activities are likely the underlying reason for the population’s more recent serious decline. The study was published in the online journal Nature Genetics. — Read it at Science Daily

Chinese yellow headed box turtle

Rare Chinese Turtles Hatch in N.Y.

Five very rare Chinese yellow-headed box turtles have hatched at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. Staff at the zoo had to set the right mood for the turtles to breed, creating just the right climate and environmental conditions. There are only an estimated 150 of the turtles left in the wild, and the species is on the list of the top 25 most endangered turtles in the world — Read it at Live Science

Kathie Lee Gifford Shares Doggie Christmas Card With Viewers

Hoping to bring smiles to her audience after a difficult few days talking about the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Today host decided to share her Christmas card with viewers. The card features a picture showing her two fluffy white dogs, with Louis pulling Bambino in a tiny sled. "They didn't get very far," Gifford said. "But they made an attempt … and in the end, that's all that matters."— See photo at Today