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Cat reunited with family 7 weeks after Santa Rosa fire

A California family who thought their beloved cat, Thomas, was killed in the wildfires that destroyed their home in October received a pleasant, purring surprise this week.

Dani Stockham can thank a compassionate park ranger, and a microchip for the miraculous reunion.

>> Read more trending news

After a cat's remains were found in the rubble of the Stockham's residence days after the fire, the family assumed it was Thomas and said their goodbyes, KTVU reported.

Seven weeks later, San Francisco Park Ranger Shannon Jay contacted the family with good news. He had been setting traps to capture pets lost in the wildfires. The cat's microchip was scanned, confirming that the Stockhams were the owners. Jay was able to reach the Stockham family via email, KTVU reported.

The Stockhams said that 45 days in the wild has left Thomas a bit thinner and exhausted, but he was meowing and purring when he was reunited with his family.

Pet dies after dog walker's error

A pet is dead after a dog walker made an error

The owners of Bandit, a 4-year-old Lab-border collie mix, said he vanished after a dog walker they found through the app Wag! didn’t follow their instructions and didn’t use a harness when taking the dog out for a walk. 

>> Read more trending news 

Bandit's owners, Michelle Morrissey and Kelsey Burke, were in Illinois for Thanksgiving.

“There’s instructions you give your wag walker and it’s there: 'He always needs his harness for his walk,'” Morrissey said. 

They said they got a call on Saturday evening. The dog walker hadn't used the harness, and Bandit was gone. 

“Essentially, as soon as they got outside, he pulled back to the apartment and slipped out of his leash,” Morrissey said. 

She and Burke immediately cut their trip short and flew back to Seattle

>> Related: Dog mauled, killed by pit bull at PetSmart during grooming appointment

KIRO-TV tagged along with the owners Monday morning as they posted and handed out flyers in Olympic Sculpture Park. 

“Take it somewhere. Hang it. If you see him, we’d love to hear from you,” Morrissey said as she handed a flyer to someone walking a dog. 

Just a few hours later, she and Burke found out someone had discovered Bandit’s body. The owners say they believe Bandit was hit by a car, sometime between Saturday night and Monday.

“It’s not the way we wanted this story to end, and we really wanted to bring him home and just (are) sad that we can’t,” Burke said. 

They say the people who found Bandit were geocaching and found him under a wooden walkway, about 100 feet away from where they were standing during an interview with KIRO-TV.

“To know we were so close and we couldn’t find him is hard,” Burke said.


Now Burke and Morrissey are remembering Bandit.

“He had this spot on the couch that was his spot, and I just loved turning the corner and seeing him and his smile. He just had the biggest smile,” Burke said through tears. 

>> Pit bull owner apologizes after dogs kill 12 neighborhood cats

Wag! said a dog getting loose on a walk is “extremely rare” and sent KIRO-TV the following statement:

"We are terribly sorry to inform you that Bandit has unfortunately passed away. Bandit was found in (Olympic Sculpture Park) this afternoon, and we are in close contact with the owners. Wag! had gone to extraordinary lengths to bring Bandit home. We are heartbroken by this outcome. The walker has been removed from our platform pending an investigation. Our thoughts are with Bandit's owners at this difficult time."

Bandit’s owners say they’ve used the app before and this is the first time they’ve had a problem.

“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time it’s fine. This 1 percent it’s not. (Bandit’s) not coming home tonight and we just want to make sure people weigh that flexibility with the risk,” Burke said. 

Burke and Morrissey said they’ve both walked for Wag! as dog walkers and urge all dog walkers to pay attention to the instructions left by dog owners, saying it could help prevent another accident.As for what Wag! did to help find Bandit after he ran away, the company said: “Wag! activated a search party of numerous people to look for Bandit from the moment he escaped; printed and distributed hundreds of flyers, printed and hung two large banners and activated a Pet Amber Alert as well as PawBoost. It deployed a special dedicated tip line for sightings and stayed in constant contact with the dog’s owners, as sightings came in.”

Dog owners less likely to die of heart attacks, study suggests

Owning a dog could quite literally save your life, a new study has revealed.

>> Read more trending news

Dog owners who live alone have a 36 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those without dogs. When it comes to dog owners who live with family members, the risk decreases by 15 percent.

"A very interesting finding in our study was that dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household," Mwenya Mubanga, a study author and PhD student at Uppsala University in Sweden, told CNN.

» RELATED: This Texas woman’s heart literally broke when her dog died, doctors say

Published in “Scientific Reports,” the study was conducted by researchers in Sweden who examined medical and pet ownership records of 3.4 million people. Those analyzed by the study were between 40 and 80 years old. Participants were followed for up to 12 years, with around 13 percent owning pet dogs.

Researchers also noted that individuals who owned dogs originally bred for hunting, such as terriers, retrievers and scent hounds, saw even greater benefits. It's unclear exactly why this is, but researchers suggest that these breeds require more exercise, meaning the owner is necessarily more active and healthier.

» RELATED: Research shows why kids feel the loss of a pet so deeply

However, while the study clearly shows correlation between dog ownership and better heart health, it may not necessarily prove causation.

"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how dogs could protect from cardiovascular disease," Tove Fall, a professor at Uppsala University and senior author of the study, told the BBC.

» RELATED: Research shows why kids feel the loss of a pet so deeply

"There might also be differences between owners and non-owners already before buying a dog, which could have influenced our results, such as those people choosing to get a dog tending to be more active and of better health."

At the same time, previous research has also pointed to the positive health benefits of owning dogs. For example, one study showed that children with dogs at home had a 15 percent reduced risk of asthma. Authors of that study suggested this was due to the "hygiene hypothesis," which posits that too clean of an environment actually increases an individual's susceptibility to allergies.

» RELATED: Sheriff: Toddler’s dog stayed with him while he was missing

In fact, the authors of the new study also said a possible reason for the positive effect of dogs on the heart may be connected to bacteria. According to the researchers, dogs actually change the dirt in their owners’ environment, meaning they may also influence their owner's bacterial microbiome. This collection of microscopic species lives in the gut and may benefit cardiovascular health.

But perhaps the biggest factor the research points to is the social aspect of owning a dog.

» RELATED: Ever wonder why dogs are so darn friendly? Science says it’s in their genes

"[Dog ownership] may encourage owners to improve their social life, and that in itself will reduce their stress level, which we know absolutely is a primary cause for cardiovascular disease and cardiac events," Dr. Rachel Bond, associate director of women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told CNN.

And of course, dogs definitely increase an individual's overall happiness.

» RELATED: 7 dog hacks for pet parents in the city 

"As many dog owners may agree, the main reason for owning a dog is the sheer joy," Dr. Mike Knapton of the British Heart Foundation told BBC.

"Dog ownership has many benefits, and we may now be able to count better heart health as one of them,” she said.

» RELATED: Do people care more about suffering dogs than suffering humans?

Denver passes bill banning cat declawing

A proposed bill that would ban declawing cats was unanimously passed at a Denver City Council meeting in Colorado on Monday.

WUSA reported that the ordinance is effective immediately.

>> Read more trending news

Declawing occurs in a procedure known as onychectomy. In the operation, an animal’s claws are removed and most or all of the last bone of each of the front toes of an animal is removed. Nerves, tendons and ligaments are severed. 

“Onychectomy is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery,” according to the American Veterinary Medical AssociationThe Humane Society of the United States says the effects of the surgery can include death of tissue, paw pain, infection, back pain, lameness and death. 

According to The Denver Post, practicing veterinarian Casara Andre said declawing can be performed in a way that prevents pain for the pet, although she opposes the surgery as a routine operation.

“A decision to declaw a cat is affected by many human and animal factors,” Andre said at a public hearing Nov. 6. “The well-being of the animal and their human family is best defended by providing owners with education about alternatives to declawing, appropriate training for family cats, and well-informed discussions between that pet owner and their veterinary medicine provider.”

Kirsten Butler, a veterinary technician, said she no longer participates in the procedures.

“Having run anesthesia on declaw procedures, I can tell you it is an awkward and disheartening feeling to keep something alive while it is mutilated in front of you,” she said at the hour-long hearing.

Eight cities in California, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have passed bans on declawing. Australia, Japan, Brazil, Israel and multiple countries in Europe also have similar bans.

Alternatives to declawing include regular trimming of cat’s claws, stable scratching posts around the home, soft plastic caps for the cat’s nails and a special tape that can deter cats from scratching furniture.

'Cheetah' spotted roaming streets in Pennsylvania turns out to be big African cat

Residents thought they saw a cheetah running free in the streets of Reading, Pennsylvania. But when authorities responded to the scene recently, they found a rare African serval cat instead.

>> Watch the news report here

The spotted feline was out for a walk when staffers from the Animal Rescue League of Berks County arrived.

The 1- or 2-year-old cat was docile, declawed and friendly, leading the rescuers to think she was a pet.

>> Read more trending news

It is illegal to own these types of cats in Pennsylvania without a license.

A big-cat group is now in possession of the animal.

7 things to know about The National Dog Show

The National Dog Show, one of the most anticipated dog shows in the nation, returns Nov. 18 and 19 in Philadelphia. Since 2002, television viewing of the National Dog Show has been a Thanksgiving tradition in homes across the nation. Presented by Purina and hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show features more than 150 American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds and varieties competing for Best of Breed, First in Group and the top-dog spot: Best in Show. Here’s what you need to know about the show that celebrates man’s best friend. 1. You don’t have to go to Philadelphia to catch the show. There’s no need to book a trip to The National Dog Show: NBC’s top-rated broadcast of the show airs at noon Thanksgiving Day, immediately following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The two-hour show features hosts John O’Hurley, Mary Carillo and David Frei and regularly reaches nearly 20 million dog-lovers in the comfort of their homes. 2. The show has been airing since 2002, but it’s been around for much longer than that. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show has been in existence since 1879 with minimal interruptions. When NBC Sports began airing the show in 2002, it was rebranded as The National Dog Show.  The show is one of only three major dog shows in the nation, ranked along with the AKC National Championship and the Westminster Dog Show3. There are seven groups of dogs. There may be more than 2,000 dogs entered in the show, but when the coveted Best in Show competition takes place, you’ll only see seven dogs. These canines are the best of the best, representing seven groups and the characteristics and functions for which the breeds were originally intended: the Terrier Group, the Toy Group, the Working Group, the Sporting Group, the Hound Group, the Non-Sporting Group and the Herding Group. 4. There’s no new breed this year, but you can catch a glimpse of 2018’s new sanctioned breed during the show. For the first time since 2006, no new breed has been added to The National Dog Show competition. But viewers don’t have to wait to find out if 2018 holds the same fate: the newly sanctioned bred for next year’s competition - the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje - will be a participant in the Miscellaneous Class at this year’s show. A spaniel-type dog of Dutch descent, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje will join the Working Group in 2018. 5. It’s a benched show, and that’s kind of a big deal. An untrained dog-show enthusiast may be wondering why a benched distinction makes a difference. Participating dogs are required to stay on assigned benches when not in competition, an awesome feat of discipline and character.  The benching makes the canine competitors accessible to all on site and allows for interaction and provides an easy way to ask questions and share information. 

The National Dog Show is one of the oldest and few remaining benched shows in the United States.  6. The judges are picky, and rightly so.Over the course of the show, judges will have seen hundreds of dogs. But what exactly are these discerning individuals looking to find? The questions are tough: Is the dog able to perform the job the breed was originally bred to do? Does the dog have all of the physical characteristics typical of their breed? How fit is the dog? Does the dog have the correct gait?  But wait, there’s more: Judges are also looking for happy dogs that enjoy the competition so each dog’s expression and general demeanor receives extra scrutiny. 7. Those long names may sound excessive, but there’s a good reason for them. Gia, a greyhound, was 2016’s Best in Show, but her proper name is GCHS CH Grandcru Giaconda CGC. While it may seem a little crazy, there’s a method to the madness of the competitor naming. 

That long and hard-to-read name reads like a history lesson on the dog’s life. Components of the dog’s name can be pulled from many different places: the name of the kennel where the dog was born, notations about the dog’s qualifications or prizes and a part of the name that’s specific to the dog.

Puppy revived with Narcan after eating discarded opioid

A 4-month-old Andover, Massachusetts, puppy passed out last week after eating a discarded opioid.

>> Watch the news report here

Pete Thibault said he was walking his dog recently when she started chewing on something. Moments later, the dog collapsed. 

>> What is Narcan? 12 things to know about the drug

“We got about as far as that tree,” Thibault told WFXT, pointing to a tree across the street from his home. “There was an empty pack of cigarettes in it … she picked it up and put it in her mouth.”

Thibault grabbed the container, worried she may swallow foil in it and gotten sick.

“We got probably got as far as the other side of the street, where she just collapsed. She was completely unresponsive,” he said. 

>> Read more trending news 

Thibault called a nearby animal hospital, which had its ER and a vet ready for them as he rushed her over. 

“She's had a history of digestive issues, so I thought it was maybe something she ate. Opioids was the last thing on my mind at that time,” he said. 

Thibault says the doctor gave Zoey multiple doses of Narcan and told him she had ingested some form of fast-acting opioid. 

Thibault and his family are thrilled to have Zoey back in good health, but he says his concerns about opioids are even greater now than before.

>> Walgreens to begin selling OTC Narcan to combat opioid epidemic

“The greater community is a bigger concern, the fact a kid could have picked it up," he said. 

Police were alerted to the incident with Zoey and found the empty cigarette container. 

Andover police say they get calls about needles at times, but this was highly unusual.

Pit bull attack: Child's death reignites official's call for banning breed

A Lowell, Massachusetts, city councilor plans to call for a citywide ban on pit bulls following the death of a 7-year-old boy. Police told WFXT that the boy was brutally attacked by two dogs of that breed. 

>> Watch the news report here

Candles and flowers now sit at the place where a little boy was mauled to death Saturday night.

While the Middlesex District Attorney handles the investigation, a local lawmaker is calling for a citywide ban on the breed that caused this tragedy.

City councilor Rodney Elliott believes this is an issue of public safety. Although he knows banning pit bulls is a controversial issue, he believes that's the necessary measure needed to keep people safe.

>> On 7-year-old mauled to death by dog in Lowell

Elliott believes the city of Lowell is too crowded, and therefore there's no room to safely keep pit bulls. 

"I just don't want to see this happen again," Elliott said. 

However, this isn't a new cause for Elliott as he's been calling for a pit bull ban for years. In 2011, following a number of pit bull attacks, he helped spearhead an ordinance to regulate pit bulls and pit bull mixes within the city limits – and it passed. 

"We're an urban city. We have 108,000 people living in 13 square miles. You can go to some very densely populated areas in the city and I think that would be appropriate," Elliott said. "I don't think the law in the books is effective enough, and I do think the responsibility is on the owner, but if we didn't have pit bulls in the city, this attack would never have happened."

>> On Neighborhood mourns 7-year-old boy mauled to death by pit bulls

The state then passed its own law prohibiting cities and towns from labeling specific breeds as "dangerous" and regulating them. Elliott believes it should be up to each community to make that decision.

"At the very least, give us the authority to implement strong measures as we did in the past to hold dog owners accountable," Elliott says.

However, many strongly disagree with Elliott, saying the majority of pit bulls are gentle, loving creatures. 

WFXT reporter Stephanie Coueignoux spoke with Mike Keiley, the director of adoption centers for the MSPCA by phone. 

Keiley told WFXT that proper training, socialization, and spaying or neutering a dog play a large role in their behavior. 

>> On Family and friends hold vigil for 7-year-old killed by dogs in Lowell

"These particular dogs are the dangerous animals that we are talking about. There are so many other pit bulls out there that never would be involved in this type of situation," Keiley said.

Elliott said there are 74 registered pit bulls in Lowell, but he says many more are being illegally bred. Overbreeding is a problem that can easily lead to overly aggressive dogs. 

Keiley said the issue arises when people who aren't properly trained mate two overly aggressive pit bulls together and can end up breeding an increasingly aggressive generation of dogs. 

"I think that's why you're seeing aggressive dogs continuing to be in the community because they're continuing to be allowed to breed and continued to give a bad name to this breed of dog," Keiley said.

>> Read more trending news

Keiley said pit bulls are loving and gentle by nature, but lack of training and care can lead to aggressive behavior. 

The department of public health said the number of injuries caused by dog bites is a "pretty rare set of circumstances." 

In 2014, 189 people were hospitalized due to dog bites, which accounts for a total of 0.3 percent of all hospitalizations in Massachusetts for that year. 

Elliot said that if Lowell can ban raising chickens because of health concerns, the city should be allowed to ban pit bulls for safety reasons. 

"That makes no logical sense to me. There are other animals and species in this city, in this state, in this country so when we feel there is a problem with a particular breed – and there is," Elliott said.

Last year, on Oct 3, a citywide ban on pit bulls went into effect in Montreal following a pit bull attack that killed a woman in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec. 

The attack has since been contested by animal rights organizations and pit bull owners who say the ban is senseless and that there was no forewarning regarding the ban. 

Elliott plans on raising the issue at a council meeting Tuesday.

The MSPCA said Lowell is one of a number of local cities with what they call an overpopulation of pit bulls, so the organization is now offering free spaying and neutering of pit bulls in those communities. 

More information regarding their "Pit Pals" program for spaying and neutering pit bulls and to check if you're eligible to receive those services for free, check out their website here.

Hank the pit bull, wrongly accused of killing livestock, set free

A pit bull named Hank that was wrongfully blamed for killing livestock last year is now free.

>> Read more trending news

A judge in Thurston County, Washington, on Wednesday voided a Lewis County euthanasia order and ordered that Hank be released to his adoptive family in Centralia, Washington. 

Though witnesses said the pit bull that killed the livestock was not Hank, a Lewis County judge ruled Hank a dangerous dog and directed he be put down.

Hank's owners have been fighting in court for five months and finally won on Wednesday.

“It feels wonderful! It's like I can't tell you how great it is,” Hank’s owner, Jann Propp-Estimo, told KIRO.

The family said they planned on spoiling Hank.

WATCH: 'Izzy's here!' Men find family dog thought killed in California wildfire

A tearful reunion was caught on camera as two men located their family dog alive after a wildfire tore through their mother’s home in California.

>> Click here to watch

The men hiked for miles to survey the damage and said they figured their beloved dog, Izzy, was killed in the blaze.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

But to their surprise, she was completely unharmed.

“It was one of the greatest moments of my life,” Jack Weaver said. “It was elation. We came walking around the corner; we didn’t expect to see her. We were just there to video the house for my parents.”

>> Read more trending news

The men said their mother was ecstatic to learn that Izzy was alive.

Izzy is now resting comfortably at home with the rest of the family.

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