July 18, 2014: We’ve scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it’s all right here.

Ace, a 2-year-old Pit Bull, licked a sleeping deaf boy's face until he woke up to alert him to a fire in their home.

Dog Hailed as Hero

Ace, a 2-year-old Pit Bull, is being credited with saving 13-year-old Nick Lamb from a fire in his Indianapolis home. Lamb is deaf and had taken his cochlear implants off to take an afternoon nap Wednesday. His mom was at work, and this is the first summer Lamb has been allowed to stay home alone. He was awakened by Ace, who licked his face until he woke up. Lamb thought Ace wanted to be fed or to go outside until he smelled the smoke. He covered his face with his shirt and ran out the back door of the house with his dog. The teen called 911 and his mother, who raced home from work. "It’s amazing, because if [Ace] wouldn’t have been there, he probably wouldn’t have even woke up," said the boy’s mother, Lindsay Bernard. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but the homeowners think it was electrical and started in the garage. — Read it at USA Today

Neutering Timing Linked to Joint Disease, Cancer

A new study from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine finds that Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers who were neutered at less than 6 months of age had an increase in joint problems and cancers. “The incidence rates of both joint disorders and cancers at various neuter ages were much more pronounced in Golden Retrievers than in the Labrador Retrievers,” lead researcher Benjamin Hart said. Labs neutered before 6 months had twice the rate of joint problems than non-neutered dogs of the same breed, while Goldens neutered younger than 6 months had four to five times more joint problems than non-neutered dogs. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at Science Blog

Voice Recognition System Can Tell Bird Chirps Apart

Scientists have developed an automated analysis technique and classification algorithm that can help determine which kinds of birds are singing and which are “talking” to each other. "Automatic classification of bird sounds is useful when trying to understand how many, and what type, of birds you might have in one location," said study researcher Dan Stowell, a computer scientist at Queen Mary University of London. Scientists are hoping to understand more about how human language evolved by studying recordings of birdsong. The study was published in the journal PeerJ. — Read it at Live Science

David Shepherdson of the Oregon Zoo rappelled down a 70-foot cliff to take a blood sample from golden eaglets.

Scientist Rappels Down Cliff to Reach Golden Eaglets

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needed to reach a nest of golden eaglets halfway down a sheer 70-foot cliff in Oregon, they turned to David Shepherdson, an Oregon Zoo conservation scientist with extensive mountaineering experience. The FWS is investigating whether golden eagles are bringing home lead-tainted prey to feed their young, and they needed to take blood samples from the chicks — and quickly so that their parents could return to the nest. Shepherdson was able to rappel down to the nest and get the samples. The research team has now obtained blood samples from more than 100 golden eagle chicks at 60 nest sites in central and eastern Oregon. — Read it from the Oregon Zoo

Rescued Dog Grateful for Her Makeover

Ellen was covered with so much matted fur when the Trio Animal Foundation found her at a Chicago shelter that her rescuers weren’t even sure where her face was. "We had to get a treat to see which end lifted up to sniff," said the group’s founder, Sue Naiden, on Facebook. A groomer spent more than 90 minutes shaving off two pounds of hair. "The first time that she could feel the touch of my hand on her newly shaven back, she looked me in the eyes and it was as if she was saying thank you,” Naiden says. The foundation is now looking for a good home for Ellen. — See photos at E! Online