Weekly News Roundup 6/28 to 7/3


Woman charged with letting her cat lounge on front lawn

A Utah woman is asking local law enforcement to let sleeping cats lie. Kate Anderson of Murray, a suburb of Salt Lake City, thought something had gone terribly wrong with her orange tabby, Milo, when she was visited by animal control officers. Instead, they handed her a citation—two misdemeanor charges—for allowing her cat to nap in her own front yard. Anderson, who says she considers Milo not just a pet, but part of the family, says he’s allowed to do as he pleases: “He’s got a cat door, so he just comes and goes and is a cat.” This past Monday went much like any other, with Milo seeing himself out to the lawn to relax outdoors. As the furball dozed, someone apparently snapped a photo and reported the so-called crime. When animal control received the report, they went to Anderson’s home and laid down the law. . . . more

Ohio State–run veterinary camp introduces high school students to the field

The coonhound barked, looking at the audience that was observing him from outside the fenced-in yard. It was not a threatening bark—the wagging tail gave it away. His audience members consisted primarily of 10 high school students sitting on chairs, their eyes glued to the 10 dogs interacting inside the play yard at the Franklin County Dog Shelter and Adoption Center in Columbus, Ohio. As the students watched, a staff member at the shelter described the importance of observing the canines’ behavior and how it is done by trained volunteers in the play yard. Fifty high school students from across the country were present at the shelter part of the Buckeye Summer Vet Camp, organized by The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. “This camp gives them the tools they need to go into this profession,” said Jae Denson, director of student recruitment, admission, and diversity at the veterinary school. . . . more

Service dog’s summit of Mount Rainier believed to be first on record

A service dog is believed to be the first to reach the summit of Mount Rainier in Washington State. The medical alert dog, Loki, made the trek with his owner, Elizabeth Briggs. They were joined by Mel Olson and McKenzie Johnson, who led the journey. This was Johnson’s seventh Rainier summit. This particular climb has been two years in the making, starting when Johnson and Briggs met. “The topic of climbing Rainier came up almost immediately after we met and the idea intrigued me,” Johnson said. “Though I knew it would take more planning and education than the usual trip up Rainier, it was something I wanted to help them do.” In the past two years, Johnson, Briggs, and Loki have spent time hiking, ice climbing, and completing a winter Colorado 14er (a mountain peak exceeding 14,000 feet) to prepare to take on Rainier. . . . more

Engineer develops artificial intelligence–powered cat door to keep cats from bringing home dead animals

An engineer developed an artificial intelligence–powered cat door that automatically locks whenever his pet attempts to bring home a dead animal. Ben Hamm, a senior product manager at Amazon, explained how the contraption came to be during a talk at Ignite Seattle last month. After his “sweet, murderous cat” Metric repeatedly brought him birds and other half-dead creatures while he attempted to sleep, Hamm came up with the ingenious idea of using machine learning to solve the problem. Hamm first attached an Arduino microcontroller to a lock on his cat door and placed one of Amazon’s DeepLens cameras directly above it. The engineer spent months collecting photos of Metric coming and going before feeding more than 23,000 images into Amazon’s machine learning service, SageMaker. If the tool detected Metric approaching with an animal, the door would lock for 15 minutes. . . . more

Researchers find way to eliminate HIV in mice, could lead to cure for HIV in humans

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) shared their findings from a groundbreaking research project, which they say could lead to a possible cure for HIV in humans. They say they have managed to eliminate HIV in animal subjects. UNMC officials say HIV in humans could be eliminated with two injections based on their research, which was carried out in mice. They say there’s still a lot of work to do but their findings are promising. The study is “the first in the world to actually have been able to successfully eliminate HIV from an infected animal,” said lead researcher Howard Gendelman, MD. . . . more

NEWStat Advancements & research Interesting/unusual