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Weekly News Roundup 10/25 to 10/31

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Most popular dog names for 2020

A bad dog name can lead to some awkward interactions in the park (you’ll likely get some funny looks for shouting, “Mr. Snufflebum!”), so it’s important to choose wisely. New data has predicted what the most popular names for our puppy pals are likely to be next year, and popular culture has had a big influence: almost one in five dogs were named after a film character in the last year. Marvel and DC characters are favored, with Jarvis and Loki popular last year, as well as Harley, which could get an extra boost in popularity after the release of Birds of Prey featuring popular DC villain Harley Quinn. Disney-inspired names are also very common, and Coco became the second most popular dog name in 2018, shortly after the film of the same name was released. . . . more

New research to inform best practices in animal-assisted therapy

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute and Pet Partners announced today a grant to the University of British Columbia for a new study, Direct Experimental Assessment of Therapy Dog Handlers on Child and Dog Behavior During Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI). This study aims to determine how different therapy-animal handler styles influence stress behavior in both children and dogs during AAI sessions. Specifically, the study focuses on one largely neglected area, namely how the owner-handler of the therapy dogs interacts with their own dog in the session, and subsequently influences the dog’s behavior and the therapeutic effect of the session. . . . more

New poll: American cat owners devote 20 hours a week to be with their beloved felines

From taking and sharing photos to cuddling their pets, cat owners spend 1,016 hours a year with their feline, according to new research. The survey of 1,000 cat owners examined just how much the felines mean to their owners and found the average respondent has two cats in their home. With nearly 20 hours a week devoted to their feline friends, it comes as no surprise that the average cat owner documents their love frequently. The survey found today’s cat owners take seven photos of their cat daily; that includes three solely of their fluffy friend and four more photos of themselves with their cat. Respondents’ feline love extends to those outside their family, too—with owners following an average of seven cat-related accounts on social media. . . . more

Veterinary students bare all in the name of mental health

A group of future veterinarians in Australia has stripped down to pose for a calendar with strategically placed animals and props—all in the name of mental health. The calendar, which is in its tenth year, features students from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science and benefits the Black Dog Institute, an organization dedicated to mental illness. “With 1 in 5 people battling mental illness at some point in their lives, we hope that supporting the Black Dog Institute will assist their endeavors in helping so many,” said calendar director Lucy Fuchter. “Additionally, as soon-to-be veterinarians and animal scientists, we are entering a workforce in which the suicide rate is four times that of the national average, [so] it is a cause close to our hearts.” . . . more

Alumni donate $15 million to expand veterinary school

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation recently donated $15 million to expand the current University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). The expansion comes after six years of planning, according to SMV Dean Mark Markel, DVM, PhD. SVM was built 35 years ago. About 4 years ago, the class size of the veterinary school increased from 80 to 96. When the next year’s incoming class is admitted, SVM will be full in terms of student capacity, leading to severe space constraints, Markel said. Previously, the UW Veterinary Care clinics saw about 12,000 patients a year. Now, they see 28,000, leading to severe overcrowding, according to Markel. Rachel McNally, UW veterinary graduate student, said the facility doesn’t have the capacity to treat as many patients as they would like to. . . . more