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Weekly News Roundup 5/8 to 5/14

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This is what happens to the pets left behind when their owners die from coronavirus

Secured head to toe in a white protective suit, mask, gloves, and booties, animal-welfare enforcement supervisor Sean Gallagher entered an apartment in northeast Miami in late March to take custody of a dog. The seven-year-old German shepherd mix was frightened and snapped at him. The dog’s owner had been hospitalized with coronavirus and Gallagher, along with Miami-Dade Police Department officers, was at the apartment after a family member in New York asked the police to check on the pet. “The dog was reactive and scared,” said Alex Munoz, director of Miami-Dade County Animal Services. “She lost her family.” The shelter named her Linda. They soon learned that her owner died of coronavirus. . . . more

Dogs endure emotional difficulties in puberty like humans, says study

Moody, unpredictable, and with a striking disregard for the rules, teenagers can be hard to handle. Now it turns out the same is true for adolescent dogs. Researchers say they have found that pooches become less responsive to instructions from their caregivers during adolescence. And the parallels go further. “Generally, teenagers [who] have a less secure relationship with their parents are those [who] are more likely to show more conflict behavior toward their parents,” said Lucy Asher, MSc, PhD, coauthor of the research at Newcastle University in the UK. “That’s the same finding that we have [between adolescent dogs and their caregivers].” . . . more

The search for a COVID-19 research animal model

Early in the morning, the day after Mardi Gras in New Orleans—an explosion of humanity unimaginable today, though it was only two months ago—a FedEx truck pulled up to a loading dock at Tulane University. Two people stood waiting. The driver pulled a cardboard box out from among the orders of shoes and toilet paper and delivered it to the woman leading the pair. It contained a frozen vial filled with millions of particles of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that was at the same time silently making its way through the city all around them. This sample was isolated and propagated from a patient in Seattle, and was bound for the Tulane National Primate Research Center. There, it would be used to infect a group of four rhesus macaques and four African green monkeys to see if they could replicate the human disease. . . .more

A much-hyped COVID-19 drug is almost identical to a black-market cat cure

When Robin Kintz’s two kittens, Fiona and Henry, contracted a fatal cat disease last year, she heard of a black-market drug from China. The use of the drug, known as GS-441524, is based on legitimate research from UC Davis, but the ways to get it seemed much less so. “It was, ‘If you want to save your cat, send me thousands of dollars, and I’ll DHL you some unmarked vials,’” she says. And she did. Kintz transferred the thousands of dollars, got the unmarked vials from China, and then injected the clear liquid into her dying cats every day for months. The first remarkable thing, given the nature of the transaction, is that Kintz says the vials actually worked. . . . more

Cat videos needed for Quarantine Cat Film Festival

Cats will come to the rescue of independent cinema this June. The Quarantine Cat Film Festival will come to virtual theaters in the US and Canada on Friday, June 19, to support local movie theaters, which have been closed worldwide for nearly two months. Once the festival premieres, moviegoers will purchase a ticket directly through a participating theater’s website to receive the all-new, feature-length feline film on their computer, mobile device, smart TV, or streaming device. About 50% of each ticket will go directly to a local theater, offering much-needed revenue during the closures. Festival creators Row House Cinema in Pittsburgh are seeking video submissions from cat-loving movie fans through Friday, May 15. Submissions will also be judged in four categories—cutest, funniest, bravest, and most loving—to compete for cash prizes. . . . more