Weekly News Roundup 7/20–7/26

Nation’s capital to conduct cat census

Counting cats, much like herding them, is a complicated proposition. But a coalition of groups in Washington, DC, is giving it a shot. PetSmart Charities, the Humane Society, the Humane Rescue Alliance, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute are collaborating on a project called the DC Cat Count, which aims to create a more accurate estimate of the city’s entire cat population—both feral cats and pet cats. The project is anticipated to take three years and cost $1.5 million. The groups hope the data will help improve efforts to manage the cat population. No word on what the census takers will do if a cat hides behind the couch and pretends he’s not home.

Delta faces backlash on pit bull terrier ban

Dog owners and animal advocates say Delta Airlines’ new ban on pit bull terriers as service and support animals is unfair, and they are calling for the ban to be lifted. Thousands of people around the world signed a petition against Delta’s ban, which went into effect on July 10. The airline prohibited all pit bull–type dogs from flying on their planes as service or support animals. Now, the company is facing backlash worldwide. At Mineta San Jose International Airport in San Jose, California, a professional service dog trainer said he understands the airline’s pit bull concerns but blames owners for skipping the right kind of training. It’s not the breed, he said. “I’ve seen little dogs [who] were more dangerous than pit bulls.”

The origin of waving cats

Maneki-neko is known as the waving cat, the lucky cat, or the beckoning cat. There are even more variations in its purpose. It’s generally believed that a lifted left paw invites success in business, while a raised right paw is for protection at home. While many may associate the mechanical talisman with Chinese business establishments, their origins actually reside in Japan. There’s some debate as to which city gave birth to the legend, but Setagaya City, a district in Tokyo, has the strongest claim—that’s where the original feline inspiration for the figurines has her own temple.

Men who broke dangerous dog out of jail arrested after comedy of errors

Two men face charges for busting a quarantined dog out of the Plainfield Animal Control office in Plainfield, Connecticut. Plainfield police said the two men are accused of stealing the dog, whom police described as “dangerous”—he’d been quarantined for biting people four times, including two juveniles. Officers were first called to the animal control office on April 8, where they learned that a German shepherd dog named Vada had been taken sometime overnight. Through an investigation that included several police departments, including investigators from North Carolina, the dog was recovered from a home in Roxboro, North Carolina, and brought back to Connecticut.

Michigan town elects cat mayor

Some people compare politics to the circus. In Omena, Michigan, it’s more like an animal shelter. The 280-person town recently held an election for a new mayor, and all of the entrants were animals. Candidates included 2 cats, a peacock, a chicken, 13 dogs, and 1 goat. A nine-year-old feline named Sweet Tart scooped up the most votes and is now mayor. The calico cat was running on a platform of experience and having “no naughty deeds,” according to her election profile.