Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why do we allow these creatures in the house?

It's old news, but it bears repeating. We reported over a year ago that over 86,000 emergency room visits per year are caused by people's pets.

A new paper in the Journal of Safety Research gives some of the details behind that number, such as
-Dogs were almost 7.5 times as like to cause injuries as cats
-Women were twice as likely to be victims than men
-Watch where you're going: A third of dog-walking injuries happened when the person tripped over the dog
-Wait for them to come to you: 12 percent of cat-related injuries happened when chasing the cat around the house

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to find that there are still people who blame anyone but the animals. Scientific American talked to a woman who broke her ankle chasing her puppy around the dining room and spent seven weeks in a cast. Now walking with a cane and undergoing physical therapy, she says:
"I can't blame the dog. I can only blame myself and the slippery floors... I was angry at myself for trying to keep pace with a 10-month-old puppy as a 44-year-old woman."

Graphic from - see the whole thing and find out the most risky pet-related activities, here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bad animals and humans

The deluge of bad animal news continues, along with the usual humans who don't know what side they are on:

In Australia, a rampaging goat put three people in the hospital when it invaded the grounds of a nursing home:

The goat butted the gardener before attacking a second man, aged in his seventies, who rushed over to help. Both of the men suffered suspected spinal injuries during the incident and the gardener, aged 60, was also left with cuts to his head and elbow.

A woman who had witnessed the furore injured her ankle as she ran for help.

Of course, some made excuses:
Peter Balassone, who lives next door to the goat's owners, said he was surprised to hear of the drama.

"The goats have been fine, believe it or not. Not a problem at all," he told the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper.

Then this neighbor reveals what might be the reason why there have not been problems before: it's not the goats' good nature, it's technology:

"But he does have an electrified fence on his side (of our fence)."

Also in Australia, a water aerobics class had to be delayed when a freshwater crocodile was found in the pool.

And finally, in Florida, where that monkey is still on the loose, people not only have to be warned not to feed it, some have actually threatened the trapper who's trying to catch it:

"I've had two different phone calls so far (from people) telling me if I kill the monkey that they're going to kill me," Vernon Yates of Wildlife Rescue and Rehab told

Follow the continuing monkey coverage at

Bad goat painted by Flickr user i eated a cookie.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bad News Briefs

We can hardly keep up with the deluge of bad animal news lately:

In Alaska, a polar bear sick of being put on a pedestal by nature enthusiasts let three photographers off with just a warning by stealing their tripod. It's not clear that they got the message, as the man who took the picture above seemed to find the whole thing amusing:
"It was a great surprise when one bear picked up the tripod. When he walked off with it we couldn't stop laughing and joking as he had selected the most expensive."

In Nepal, hundreds of students waiting for the results of exams told that their papers, allegedly safely under lock and key at the police station, had been eaten by rats.

And in England, mail delivery has been halted to a woman in Leeds because delivery workers have been repeatedly attacked by her cat. The cat is apparently not only vicious but also deceptive: He's putting on such a good act the rest of the time, that its owner is convinced that the attack stories are impossible:

She said: "Tiger is 19 years old, he dribbles when he sleeps and snores - he sleeps for 20 hours a day... If Tiger climbs up a tree he is done in for the rest of the week. I find it really hard to believe."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Fever

It's the time of year when an animal's fancy turns to thoughts of perpetuating the species, but as we've seen here many times before, some of them are doing it wrong.

Usually this inconveniences no one but the animals themselves. We've seen more than one case where a male mates a female to death, not exactly an effective way to pass on one's genes, as well as a duck mating with a dead duck of the same sex. Even the ones who have sex with a different species usually only bother other animals, although not always.

But this sort of thing gets out of hand when an innocent bystander is held hostage to animal perversion: In Witt, Illinois, a woman was trapped in her house for several hours when a goose tried to mate with her concrete lawn ornament (pictured above).

Every time Joanne Martin tried to open her front door, the lust-crazed gander attacked her. Eventually six men were trying to assist, without success.
“Brent Bourke beat the heck out of him with a stick,” says Joanne, “and ran him out on Highway 16. My house is on 16. He was going pretty good, but then the goose turned around and came back at him. That was the funniest part.”

Brent, with the stick-defying goose at his heels, beat a hasty retreat and ended up back in the house with the rest of them. The goose was still king of the yard.

But that stick thing had worked as well as anything, so Bill Harris, another would-be rescuer, took a stick and whacked at the goose. Bill was soon back in the house as well.

The goose was undeterred from its mating frenzy when firecrackers were thrown at it, as well. Finally, in a concerted effort, a couple of the men held the goose at bay long enough for the others to grab the statue and close it in a shed. With the object of his passion now inaccessible, the frustrated goose eventually wandered off.

The story was over... or was it? A reporter visiting a few weeks later made an ominous observation:
The day I visited Joanne, I hauled her concrete goose out of the shed just long enough to get a picture, then I put it back. It’s a nice-looking concrete goose, sure, but nothing to get all that excited about.

As I pulled away, the goose safely back in the shed, I noticed it wasn’t Joanne’s only lawn ornament. She has two concrete deer.

Read the whole story by Dave Bakke at the State Journal-Register. I'm serious, go read it, and read all the way to the author's contact info at the end which includes this wise observation:
Everybody has a story. The problem is that some of them are boring.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Amnesty for illegal aliens?

We've come a long way since the days when people would purposely introduce species to a new country. The havoc wrought by the cane toad has taught us a lesson, as well as the effects of accidental tourists like the brown tree snake.

Efforts to eradicate invaders are costly and not often successful, and the Times reports that scientists in England have suggested that in some cases, we just give up: some species are so established that they should be granted "ecological citizenship."

It's clear that these scientists have no problem with rewarding bad behavior with the privileges of citizenship:

The grey squirrel would probably be among the candidates for such a reassessment.

Introduced to Britain in 1828, it has spread across most of the country, driving out the smaller red squirrel and possibly damaging wild bird populations by eating their eggs.

They note that some species have already benefited from a sort of de facto policy of this sort:

Some invaders are already ecological citizens. One such is the brown hare, which was introduced to Britain by the Romans but which is so widely accepted that its recent decline has prompted government to list it as an endangered species.

Similarly, rabbits, brought to Britain in the 11th century and now responsible for £115m of losses to farmers each year, are also seen as British.

Finally, they even call for politically correct language to describe the invaders:

Objecting to such terms as “American tree-rats” to describe grey squirrels, they said: “Terms like ‘alien species’ can risk jingoistic or moralistic stances.”

They suggest that researchers should instead use such neutral terms as “non-native”.

I leave it for you to decide: Is this any way to teach bad animals a lesson?

Squirrel in your face by Flickr user satosphere.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wombat behaving badly

I present this article from The Telegraph in its entirety without comment except to say that I had nothing to do with it.

Bruce Kringle, 60, was stepping out of his caravan in the rural town of Flowerdale, when he felt something attack his leg.

In an assault that lasted 20 minutes, the wombat brought him to the ground before climbing onto Mr Kringle's chest to continue the attack.

Luckily, Mr Kringle was able to reach for a nearby axe and kill the animal.

Mr Kringle, who survived the Black Saturday bush fires in 2009 and is in the process of rebuilding his home, was treated at the scene by paramedics and transferred to hospital where last night he was in a stable condition.

Paramedics said he had suffered puncture wounds to his arms and legs.

Wombat experts have described the attack as "highly unusual".

On the list of Australia's most dangerous animals, the wombat does not feature highly.

The furry marsupials, which resemble badgers, are known for their cute and cuddly looks, and are considered one of the more docile native creatures in the country.

Geoff McLure, a spokesman from the Department of Sustainability and the Environment, said the wombat was probably suffering from mange, which could make it irritable and violent.

"It probably saw the man as a threat and rushed at him," Mr McLure said.

"If it had mange, it would have been suffering a great deal and would be very intolerant to human interference."

While wombats might look benign, they are strong, he warned.

"They can be quite big, and can move quickly," he said.

"But it's not known that they will push the attack to where they would physically attack someone."

Photo of wombat preparing to attack a shoe at a Tasmanian wildlife sanctuary by Flickr user mdavidford. The individual pictured is a trained professional wombat handler. Do not try this at home.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Monkeys above their station

Might as well make it an all-primate week, since there's never a shortage of monkey trouble:

-in New Delhi, a bus driver who was letting his pet monkey ride on his shoulder rammed his vehicle into a house, injuring three.

Police said Prabhakaran and his “friend” were sharing a particularly affectionate moment when things went awry: the animal was picking lice from the 22-year-old’s hair, possibly lulling him into a lazy trance, when he lost control.

According to the passengers, the monkey had been a nuisance even when was not playing around with Prabhakaran, a disturbance throughout the journey as it scampered from part of the bus to another.

Prabhakaran confessed to having brought the three-month-old monkey — police officers don’t know yet if the animal answered to a name — from his village as he didn’t want to leave his “friend” back home while he was at work.

The driver narrowly escaped a crowd that police described as "baying for his blood," lost his job, and may go to jail. But - of course - no word on punishment for the monkey, who seems equally to blame.

This bus driver is far from the only one these days who doesn't understand that monkeys need to be kept in their place. In Thailand, a macaque (pictured above)has joined the police force, on the theory that this is going to improve troubled relations with Muslim separatists.

But don't think it's just in Asia where monkeys are being treated in ways that are likely to go to their heads. In the US, your service monkey will probably have a pleasanter experience in the airport than you will: new TSA regulations make sure that monkeys may not be manhandled by screeners.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Primate ingratitude

This is how they thank us: Last week, we reported on a man who was savaged by his service monkey. After describing an attack that he said was worse than his experience in the Vietnam War, his conclusion was still "He's a great monkey."

Guess how he was rewarded for his forgiving nature?

A Chesapeake man bitten by his monkey for the second time in two weeks is out of surgery.

The 7-year-old capuchin monkey went berserk Monday night just after Hamric fed him pork chops, said Hamric's brother, Bill.

"The monkey just attacked him," he said.

Noah, a certified service animal who comforts his owner’s post-traumatic stress, tore into Hamric’s hamstrings and bit his left hand, biting off his pinky.

Hamric wrestled the monkey to the ground and knocked him unconscious before getting him back into his cage, Bill Hamric said.

After he fed him pork chops, even. The local news station that reported on the incident also discovered that the last bite had not been the first offense of this "great monkey." Police had visited the home twice before on reports of bites to other people.

They also report that finally someone has seen the light:

Now, he’s ready to either "put Noah down or give him away," Bill Hamric said.

In other monkey news updates, the Florida roving monkey that we reported on previously now has his own Twitter account. You can also check out all the coverage from the St. Petersburg times in one place, with fancy graphics (like the monkey mug shot above).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dog pays for his crime

Some small amount of justice for a canine offender for a change: After two weeks in the slammer waiting for his date with the judge, Winston, who attacked a police car in Tennessee, has been sent to court-ordered obedience training.

If your dog chases cars and you wonder what he'd do if he caught one, take a look at the following video. Winston reportedly broke through two fences, and then persisted in attacking until he tore the bumper completely off, as recorded by the camera in another police car. Note how enthusiastically he seems to be enjoying the process.

Fortunately, the police don't mess around when you assault one of their own. Winston was called a "model prisoner" and his owner claimed he'd "been a model pet" up to the incident, but despite that - and despite his obvious attempts to use the adorable guilty look in the above photo - officials were not fooled into letting him off easy.

According to the Chattanooga Times,Winston will need to show that he has rehabilitated himself: they will drop the citation for Winston being a "potentially dangerous dog" after six months if he completes obedience training classes successfully and commits no further offenses.

Suspiciously, however, there's no word on what happened to Winston's partner in crime in that video. How did he get off so easy?