Weekly News Roundup 1/4 to 1/10


The TSA is getting more floppy-eared sniffer dogs—But you still can’t pet them

The dogs deployed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports nationwide use their noses to sniff out explosives and contraband. But pooches selected for duty these days are picked not just for the ability of their snout—the shape of their ears matters, too. TSA officials say the agency is increasingly replacing retired pointy-eared dogs—think German shepherds—with floppy-eared breeds such as Labrador retrievers because they look friendlier. “We find the passenger acceptance of floppy-ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters during a recent tour of Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. Among other advantages, Pekoske said, floppy-eared dogs don’t scare children. . . . more

Cat owners “more likely to be into bondage” than others because of brain parasite, study finds

A new study published in Evolutionary Psychology has revealed that cat owners are more likely to be into bondage and BDSM, and it’s all because of a parasite. Researchers found that a common parasite in cats’ brains is linked to humans finding dangerous and scary situations a turn on. The study found that people who had toxoplasmosis, caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which can be transmitted through contact with cat feces or infected raw meat such as lamb or pork, had a “higher attraction to bondage [and] violence.” Researchers from the Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic, found: “Infected subjects are more often aroused by their own fear, danger, and sexual submission.” The findings are based on data from more than 36,000 people from Eastern Europe, some of whom had toxoplasmosis and others who didn’t. . . . more

Plague confirmed in Wyoming cat

Health officials say a cat in northern Wyoming has been infected with plague. The Gillette News Record reports the cat, from the Kaycee area in Johnson County, is the third plague-infected feline identified in northern Wyoming in the last six months. No human cases have been reported. Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can kill pets and people if it’s not treated with antibiotics. The disease can be transmitted to humans from sick animals and by fleas coming from infected animals. Only six human cases of plague have been exposed in Wyoming since 1978, with the last one investigated in 2008. There is an average of seven human plague cases each year in the United States. . . . more

Dog shoots man

A former Louisiana State University (LSU) offensive lineman had his leg amputated after he was shot in a hunting accident. And in an unbelievable twist, it was a dog who apparently pulled the trigger. According to The Clarion Ledger, Matt Branch, who played for LSU from 2008–2011, was duck hunting with a group of friends in Mississippi last month when a Labrador retriever named Tito jumped into the bed of an off-road vehicle and stepped on Branch’s shotgun, firing a shot. The 12-gauge shotgun shell tore through the side of the truck and hit Branch’s left thigh.  . . . more

New study finds link between dogs’ gut microbes, aggressiveness

A groundbreaking study by Oregon State University researchers of more than two dozen rescued dogs, some aggressive and some not, showed a clear link between aggressive behavior and the microbes that live in the dogs’ guts. The findings stop short of saying the composition of a dog’s gut microbiome causes aggressiveness or vice-versa—only that there are statistical associations between how an animal acts and the microbes it hosts. Still, the researchers said their work represents an important step toward more effectively dealing with a canine behavioral disorder that daily puts both animals and people at risk of injury or even death. . . . more