Category Archives: News

City Seeks to Evict Bicycle-Riding Rooster

Photo and story courtesy

Mr. Clucky is a hit among tourists and locals on Miami Beach, but now his ways of early-dawn crowing have landed him in the hot seat. He’s been served an eviction notice by the city.

The plucky Mr. Clucky was just another site in the long line of Miami Beach eccentricities, but now the bicycle-riding rooster has gone from a famed tourist attraction to an infamous nuisance.

Thanks to Mr. Clucky’s habit of 6 a.m. crowing, owner Mark Buckley was ticketed by a code enforcement officer on May 27 for keeping a farm animal.

“People seem to love Mr. Clucky. They love to hear him crow,” Buckley said in an April ZT Pet News interview. “It’s kinda something different for them, kinda bringing a little nature to the beach.”

That public sentiment might have changed since the city received a complaint and went to investigate. Now Buckley faces a $50 fine, as well as an order to get rid of the famous fowl.

Mr. Clucky draws a crowd not only because of his ability to perch on a bike’s handlebars while cruising through popular outdoor retail areas, but also due to his activism.

Mr. Clucky was named Miami Beach’s “Activist of the Year” by MetroMix Magazine in 2008.

The honor comes after Mr. Clucky’s involvement with several animal welfare causes, such as leading the “Walk for the Farm Animals,” joining a local eighth grader’s protest against Kentucky Fried Chicken’s alleged torture of animals and being the mascot for Critical Mass, Miami’s Earth-friendly activist and bike riding enthusiast group.

The celebrity bird was also grand marshal of last fall’s King Mango Strut in nearby Coconut Grove.

But the work Mr. Clucky and Buckley do in volunteering — with organizations such as EarthSave and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — is something near and dear to their hearts.

“I found Mr. Clucky in my neighborhood in Miami Beach,” Buckley previously told ZT Pet News. “He was hurt in the bushes, his beak was cut off to his face and he had a cut on his head.”

Buckley says he believes the rooster escaped from some sort of religious ceremony. He nursed him to recovery and the pair have been best friends for the past three years.

Now their friendship hangs in the balance. Buckley could receive repeated citations and higher fines if he doesn’t comply with taking Mr. Clucky out of the city.

But officials say an arrest is not likely.

Ironically, Buckley joked with ZT Pet News in April that he wished he could train Mr. Clucky to “stop screaming early in the morning and sleep a little later.”

Although Buckley could not be reach as of press time, his Web site indicates the duo plan to fight city hall for Mr. Buckley’s right to remain a Miami Beach resident.

For more information on Mr. Clucky and Buckley’s petition to the city of Miami Beach, visit


Slobbery Kisses from ‘Man’s Best Friend’ Aid Cancer Research

Photo and article courtesy

Fido’s wet licks might hold more than love. They could provide the DNA keys to findings new treatments for rare cancers and other diseases in both dogs and human patients.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) have created the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium, a program designed to study naturally occurring cancers in dogs to better understand why both pets and people get sick.

“Rare diseases in humans also show up in dogs. By studying the DNA of canines, we expect to more quickly discover the genomic causes of disease and more quickly find ways to better treat dogs, and people,” said Dr. Mark Neff, director of the new TGen-VARI Program for Canine Health and Performance.

Using voluntarily donated saliva, blood and tumor samples from many breeds of privately owned dogs, researchers hope that by studying canine cancers they can pinpoint the causes of human cancers. The goal is to translate that knowledge into therapeutics useful to both veterinarians and clinical oncologists.

No dogs will be harmed and many should be helped. Nearly half of all dogs 10 years and older die from cancer. Dogs will be treated as patients at veterinary clinics nationwide. The research is endorsed by the American Kennel Club and by the Morris Animal Foundation. Samples will be gathered with the consent of owners and veterinarians.

In addition to cancer, TGen and VARI eventually will study neurological and behavioral disorders as well as hearing loss and other debilitative conditions in dogs that could relate to people.

The cancer research will be supported by the recent approval of a 2-year, $4.3 million federal stimulus grant to the Canine Hereditary Cancer Consortium, which includes TGen and VARI in partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan State University, dog breeders and veterinarians.

The public-private program also is funded by $1 million in grants from businesses involved in pet care — $500,000 from PetSmart, and $500,000 from Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

“We’re proud to be part of such an innovative approach that fully supports our mission of providing total lifetime care for pets, and one that will offer hope to people and dogs who are suffering from these illnesses,” said Phil Francis, Executive Chairman of PetSmart.

Neil Thompson, President and CEO of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, said support of cancer research in dogs “goes hand-in-hand with the company’s mission of enriching and lengthening the special relationships between people and their pets. Maintaining the health of dogs goes beyond good nutrition. We support this research and the hope it provides, which will ultimately benefit dogs and dog lovers everywhere.”

Through the federal grant, researchers also will draw on experts at the National Cancer Institute’s Pediatric and Genetics Branches and Comparative Oncology program, including Dr. Paul Meltzer, Chief of NCI’s Genetics Branch. Dr. Meltzer and his colleagues will use gene expression profiling to identify genes involved in osteosarcoma to determine if the same genetic markers, alterations, and targets found are also found in human osteosarcoma, and in dogs. Comparing data between humans and dogs has the potential to significantly advance understanding of this cancer.

Dr. Meltzer indicated he is hopeful the study will pinpoint the genetic causes of osteosarcoma, as well as identify individualized treatment options.

The program’s “bark-to-bedside” approach represents an unprecedented alliance of veterinarians, basic scientists and private practice clinicians, non-profit research institutes, universities, industry and government. The project also will involve TGen Drug Development Services (TD2), a subsidiary of TGen, which will seek partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.

Why study dogs?

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Research Director for TGen and VARI, said that it is difficult to study rare cancers in people, because there is insufficient data. But by studying similar types of cancers more prevalent in dogs, researchers should be better able to help those who currently have little hope.

“There’s no question that you are doubly-cursed if you get a rare cancer. You may have a very difficult disease course, and you have very little information about how to guide the physician, and what treatment would be best. For some of these rare cancers, we don’t even have consensus on what the best treatments might be,” Dr. Trent said.

For example, children with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, still often results in the loss of limbs.

“Many rare human cancers are very common in dogs. We’re excited about the idea that we may be able to identify areas that could be mutually beneficial — that could help the canine patient and can help the human patient with these various cancers,” Dr. Trent said. “The unique and exciting aspect of this is that it’s a rare occasion where industry, academia, government and the private sector are joined together in a common goal of obtaining information to advance both pet and human health.”

Study will investigate many diseases

The study is focused on sarcomas, those cancers that originate in the connective tissues such as bone, cartilage and fat.

“The sad reality of sarcoma, because it is such a rare human disease, is that very few scientists take the time to do any research on it because it is not possible to get the number of samples you need for those kinds of studies,” said Dr. Nick Duesbery, co-director of VARI’s Center for Comparative Biology and Genetics.

The project began with the study of hemangiosarcoma — angiosarcoma in humans — a cancer for which there are currently no effective treatments. These tumors start in the lining of blood vessels and in the spleen. They are highly malignant and can be found most anywhere in the body.

Although rare in humans, these tumors are relatively common in certain breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Clumber Spaniels. After as many as 150 years of breeding, there are few genetic variations in these dogs, making it easier to identify the few genetic differences that can affect cancer susceptibility and response to drugs.

Study initiated by VARI

With the support of the American Kennel Club and the Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation, VARI in February 2008 began to study hemangiosarcoma in Clumber Spaniels. Researchers are using new genetic technologies developed at VARI to create genetic screens, diagnostic tests and treatments for hereditary canine cancers. VARI is analyzing the DNA and RNA of Clumber Spaniels, looking for genetic patterns that eventually could indicate if a particular dog is a carrier of a

defective gene that could cause cancer.

With the addition of TGen and federal and private funding, the program is expanding to study four other cancers among as many as 20 breeds of dogs.

In the first two years, the project also will study osteosarcoma, oral melanoma, malignant histiocytosis, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Information from these studies will be used to develop diagnostic DNA tests for larger groups of dogs, enabling researchers to look for genes that influence cancer.

“We’ve got an incredible advantage here with the dogs, because these diseases are much more common in dogs than they are in humans. We can get some insight into the biology. Our strongest hope and desire is that we can translate that into therapies we can use for people,” Dr. Duesbery said.

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Alaska dog honored for leading troopers to fire

Photo and story courtesy AP.

In the US state of Alaska, Buddy the German shepherd was hailed Friday as a hero for guiding State Troopers through winding back roads to a fire at his owners’ workshop.

“Buddy is an untrained dog who for some reason recognized the severity of the situation and acted valiantly in getting help for his family,” Col. Audie Holloway, head of the troopers, said Friday at a ceremony for the 5-year-old dog, who stood quietly before an adoring crowd.

Buddy, whose good deed was caught on a patrol car’s dashcam video, received a stainless steel dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from troopers for his “diligence and assistance.”

Buddy also received a big rawhide bone, and his human family got a framed letter documenting his efforts.

“He’s my hero,” owner Ben Heinrichs said, his voice breaking. “If it wasn’t for him, we would have lost our house.”

The dashcam video shows Buddy meeting the trooper’s vehicle, then dashing to their property about 55 miles north of Anchorage on April 4.

Heinrichs said he was working on parts for his truck when a spark hit some gasoline and ignited, lighting his clothes blaze. The 23-year-old man ran outside to stomp out the flames by rolling in the snow, closing the door to keep the blaze from spreading.

Heinrichs then realized Buddy was still inside the burning building and let the dog out. Heinrichs suffered minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand, which was still heavily bandaged Friday.

Buddy was not injured.

“I just took off running,” Heinrichs said. “I said we need to get help, and he just took off.”

Buddy ran into the nearby woods and onto Caswell Loop Road, where the dog encountered the trooper, Terrence Shanigan, whose global positioning device had failed while responding to a call about the fire. He was working with dispatchers to find the property in an area with about 75 miles of back roads.

Shanigan was about to make a wrong turn when he saw a shadow up the road. His vehicle lights caught Buddy at an intersection, and the dog eyed the trooper and began running down a side road.

“He wasn’t running from me, but was leading me,” he said. “I just felt like I was being led … it’s just one of those things that we’re thinking on the same page for that brief moment.”

The video shows Buddy occasionally looking back at the patrol car as he raced ahead, galloping around three turns before arriving in front of the blaze, which was very close to the Heinrichs’ home.

From there, the trooper guided firefighters to the scene.

The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.

The Heinrich family said they knew Buddy was smart ever since they got him six weeks after he was born to a canine-officer mother and that he was brave, twice chasing bears away while Ben Heinrichs was fishing.

But saving their home beat them all.

“Downright amazing, I would say,” said Tom Heinrichs, Ben’s father. “Maybe there was some divine intervention.”

Circus Ringbarkus: Australia’s funniest travelling dog show

It’s Australia’s Funniest Travelling Dog Show live under the little big top in a 90 minute extravaganza of mirth and mayhem. Circus Ringbarkus will have you in stitches as they clown and carry on in this crazy canine comedy circus.

This 5-person, 4-dog troupe combines elements of vaudeville, comedy, circus, magic and illusion, creating a hit show which has seen them emerge as one of the most popular family shows touring Australia today.

In great demand, Circus Ringbarkus have appeared on television’s Talk To The Animals, Sunrise and The Today Show, as well as featured in newspapers and magazines across the country. Paul and Ruth Stanton along with their three children, Julia, Michael and Steven, and their four dogs, Scruffy, Killer, Lulu and Sparkie are Circus Ringbarkus.

What started as a one-man show in Perth in the 1980’s, has grown to become a real family affair. As the family grew so did the show. Now the whole family gets in on the act. The children have learnt a swag of amazing skills from juggling, hoop spinning, and staff twirling to magic, acrobatics and contortion.

In January 1998 they took the show on the road, and haven’t looked back. Living on the road and travelling Australia entertaining the public everywhere they go. Circus Ringbarkus has performed in every Australian state and territory and have been seen by millions on Live National Television.

The real stars of Circus Ringbarkus are the dogs. This lovable collection of motley mutts have been rescued from dog pounds around the country and have taken to their role in the spotlight with enthusiasm.

In 2002 the troupe independently released their debut video Live & Barking to widespread critical acclaim. Copies quickly sold out and now has become a collectors item. Planning is under way for a new DVD however it is the live performance that is their passion.

The road has become their home, as they do what they love most, travelling all over Australia and entertaining families.

For more information including tour dates see

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Tweeting Dog Collar Posts Your Dog’s Movements to Twitter

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Ever wanted to dreamt of seeing your beloved puppy update his status on twitter? Well its soon to become a reality, with Mattel set  to launch a toy that gives your dog the ability to send Twitter updates about what he or she is doing.

Dubbed, the ‘Puppy Tweet’, it is a collar that detects when your dog moves or make a sound, and then randomly selects one of 500 pre-written tweets to post to Twitter.

Your dog has to be within a reasonable distance of the room with your computer in it, though; the tweets are sent wirelessly from the collar to a USB receiver that has to be plugged into a supported Internet-connected device.

Naturally, the tweets don’t necessarily represent what the dog is thinking at the time, its more of a fun exercise for pet lovers to have a connection with their dog when they aren’t necessarily together. Plus, its very, very cute.

Thanks to Avril Henry for sharing Benny with us!

Some examples of what your dog’s status update might be are “I finally caught that tail I’ve been chasing, and . . . OOUUUCHH!” and “I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home.”

Mattel Brands President Neil Freidman said that tweeting with your pooch isn’t that different from tweeting with a person, “Eventually (the Puppy Tweet) will certainly repeat itself, but people repeat themselves, too.” True enough.

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Patch the guinea pig receives wheel chair

Story and picture courtesy of

PATCH the guinea pig has got a new lease of life – after an engineer built it an ingenious wheelchair.

Family friend Paul Scott stepped in to help after the beloved pet lost the use of its back legs during an unfortunate accident.

Patch’s owner Helena Auty, 6, and her little brother Rowan, 3, were desperate to get their one-year-old guinea pig moving again.

Paul used a few items he had lying around the house and a lot of creativity to design a special wheelchair for the tiny pet.

Mum Becky Auty, said her children were absolutely delighted to have Patch back to her old self.

Mr Scott said he built the wheelchair with a pair of wheels from a child’s wagon, an adult-size skateboard knee pad and some elasticated Velcro.

The Saffron Walden-based craftsman added: “Helena and Rowan were really upset when Patch wasn’t able to use her back legs any more but now she’s back to her old self.

“She’s eating, socialising and getting about her run just as she used to. It’s great to see.

“I’ve worked on many projects, from furniture making to building custom motorbikes,” he said. “But this has got to be the most unusual request I’ve ever had!”

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