Weekly News Roundup 10/5–10/11
Therapy cat comforts stressed-out airline passengers
Airports across the country have started to employ therapy animals to help stressed travelers deal with delays, jet lag, and layovers. Dogs and pigs aren’t new to the job, but Xeli might be the first airport therapy cat. The chill tabby, who has recently been dubbed a Helping Hero by the Petco Foundation, is part of Denver International Airport’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS), which, despite the acronym, didn’t put its first cat on staff until last year. CATS is the largest airport therapy animal program in the country, according to the Petco Foundation; Xeli is joined by more than 100 certified therapy dogs who help spread cheer and smiles across terminals. Xeli became part of the team in October 2017 after being certified by Pet Partners.
New conference brings veterinarians and beekeepers together
The Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium Conference brought together beekeeping experts from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine (NCSCVM), private industry, and around the world to discuss requirements for veterinarians working with honey bees—requirements mandated by the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because honey bees are classified as a food animal, changes in FDA policy on antimicrobials will affect how veterinarians work with them. Jeffery Applegate, DVM, clinical assistant professor of avian-exotic animal medicine at NCSCVM and an amateur beekeeper, helped launch the Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium. “[The VFD] directive made it essential to include veterinarians in the care of honey bees as they never have been before in the US in an effort to reduce antibiotic residues in products for human consumption—in this case, honey,” said Applegate.
Quadruple amputee dog wins American Hero Dog award
The American Humane Society has named a four-year-old quadruple amputee golden retriever from Arizona as its 2018 American Hero Dog award recipient. Chi Chi lives a life of service as a therapy dog, helping amputees. But before that, she was abused: she was thrown in a trash bag with her legs bound and left for dead in South Korea. She was rescued and made a miraculous recovery, even beating out cancer. Chi Chi, who lives with her adoptive family in Phoenix, walks on four prosthetic legs and inspires people with her perseverance. She bested nearly 300 other brave dogs to earn the award.
Zoetis 2019 scholarships open to veterinary students
Zoetis and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges will partner once again in 2019 to provide scholarships to second- and third-year veterinary students in the US and the Caribbean. Eligibility criteria for interested candidates include academic excellence, financial need, diversity, sustainability, leadership, and career interest. Scholarships will be awarded to students in all areas of professional interest, including food-animal medicine, small-animal clinical medicine, research, government services, public health, and organized veterinary medicine. To date, the Zoetis Veterinary Student Scholarship program has awarded more than 3,000 scholarships totaling more than $6 million.
Cats no good at catching rats
Humans have tolerated the haughty demeanor of cats for at least 10,000 years, in large part because they’re so good at keeping vermin, like mice, under control. But a new research article shows that cats—while quite good at slaying small birds and mice—may have very little impact on rat populations. In 2017, Michael Parsons, PhD, a visiting research scholar in the Department of Biological Sciences at Fordham University, made like a modern Pied Piper by microchipping and monitoring about 60 rats living in a Brooklyn, New York recycling center. His team manipulated the rat population by unleashing various rat pheromones to see how those chemicals would affect the rats’ behaviors. These experiments had an unintended side effect, as feral cats, probably attracted by the smell of potential prey, slinked into the building. With hundreds of video clips as evidence, scientists logged just 20 stalking attempts, three kill attempts, and only two successful kills by the cats during the 79-day experiment. Most of the time the cats ignored the rats.