Weekly News Roundup 12/15 – 12/21

Veterinarian kills dog for barking too much

After a running feud with her neighbors, a Louisiana veterinarian shot the family's dog because he barked too much, officials in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana said. The veterinarian, Dr. Kelly Folse, 35, was arrested Tuesday and booked on felony charges of aggravated animal cruelty and illegal discharge of a firearm, as well as two counts of drug possession after a search of her home turned up two types of narcotics. In an ironic twist, the neighbors took their wounded dog to Abadie Veterinarian Hospital, where Folse works. Sources say Folse was not the treating veterinarian.

Dogs learn while they sleep

Let sleeping dogs lie, and they might learn something. Researchers in Hungary placed wires on dogs' heads to measure electrical activity in the brain. The brain activity, called sleep spindles, takes place in human beings, and has been linked with learning. This is the first time scientists have measured sleep spindles in dogs. One researcher said, “We were able to show that sleep spindles predict learning in the dog.” The study may help researchers understand how human brains change as we age. The study also showed that it was harder for older dogs to learn and retain things. Which may be why you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Virginia considers bill to ban public funding for painful dog and cat research

State lawmakers in Virginia introduced the bill after news of research at a Veterans Administration hospital in Richmond caused a public outcry. Records show that at least 39 dogs were surgically implanted with pacemakers and forced to run on treadmills until some had a heart attack. It is part of a study on cardiovascular disease. All the dogs involved were euthanized, and McGuire whistleblowers called it animal abuse. “I think most Virginian’s would tell you that they don’t want their taxpayer dollars going to fund the maximum pain experiments,” said Virginia state Senator Glen Sturtevant.

Pets eat the darnedest things

Health conditions like malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can cause pets to eat strange stuff. The medical term for eating non-food items is pica, and dogs tend to do it more often than other pets because they use their mouths to investigate objects. Sometimes, they investigate so enthusiastically, they swallow those objects by mistake. Odd and unusual items that have shown up on x-rays of pets include pacifiers, candles, steak knives (!), live ammo rounds (!!), and in once instance that the website Mashable called “a very meta trip to the vet,” the dog token from a Monopoly game.

NEWStat Interesting/unusual