Vol. 14, No. 02 – Oct 21 – Nov 3, 2020 – The Pet Page

∙SPAN Thrift Store is now open to the public and looking for donations of adult clothing, household items and tools if you’ve got items you no longer use.

SPAN Thrift Store is providing $10 spays and neuters for low income households with cats and dogs.

Two upcoming clinics are:

Friday, October 3rd at SPAN Thrift Store parking lot 110 N. Olive St. (behind Vons on Main), and a second at Albert H. Soliz Library – El Rio, 2820 Jourdan St., Oxnard, 93036 on Friday, November 6th.

Please call to schedule an appointment (805) 584-3823.

∙ “As someone who has both studied animal behavior and is a cat owner, it’s great to be able to show that cats and humans can communicate in this way. It’s something that many cat owners had already suspected, so it’s exciting to have found evidence for it,” study supervisor Karen McComb, a professor of psychology at the University of Sussex in England, said in a news release.

“It is something you can try yourself with your own cat at home, or with cats you meet in the street. It’s a great way of enhancing the bond you have with cats,” McComb added.

Here’s what you need to do: place yourself in front of your cat, narrow your eyes like you would in a relaxed smile, then close them for a couple of seconds, mimicking a slow-motion blink.

“You’ll find they respond in the same way themselves and you can start a sort of conversation,” McComb said.

To test the technique, the researchers conducted two separate experiments. The first involved 21 cats from 14 different households. Owners were taught how to “slow blink” while sitting about three feet away from their cat.

The experiment showed that cats are more likely to slow blink at their owners after their owners slow blinked at them, compared to no interaction between the two, according to the study.

The second experiment was similarly set up but with 24 different cats from eight different homes. This time, the cat was partnered with an unfamiliar researcher for the stare down.

The stranger either slow blinked at the cat or put on a neutral expression without direct eye contact. They were also instructed to stretch out an open palm to the cat or just sit across from it. Turns out the cats were more likely to approach the stranger’s outstretched hand after they slow blinked at it, compared to when they had a neutral face.

The researchers speculate cats behave more friendly when their owners narrow their eyes at them because over time, humans may have rewarded them for the action in a positive way.

Another theory is that cats slow blink because it’s a way to break up intense staring, “which is potentially threatening in social interaction” with other cats or species, the researchers said.

Although cats may be more mysterious than dogs, past research has broken down that wall between human and feline miscommunication.

For example, we know that cats can attract and manipulate human attention through purring, they can differentiate their name from other words and they can be “sensitive” to human emotions by rubbing or butting their heads against their owner to provide support, the researchers said.

These actions have long been a part of what make cats such popular pets, but studying their natural behavior, and providing evidence through experiments, can provide “rare insight into the world of cat-human communication,” study co-supervisor Dr. Leanne Proops from the University of Portsmouth in England, said in the release.

∙ On September 18th, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 573 into law for the state of California. Effective January 1st, 2021, public animal shelters and animal control agencies will be prohibited from releasing a dog or cat to an owner seeking to reclaim or adopt the animal unless it is or will be microchipped. The microchip must have the current information of the new or present owner acquiring the animal.

If the agency, shelter, or group does not have microchipping capabilities on-site, the agency, shelter, or group must make a good faith effort to locate free or discounted microchipping services and provide that information to the owner. The owner must agree to have the dog or cat microchipped within 30 days of reclaiming or adopting the animal. Proof of the procedure must be provided to the agency, shelter, or group in which the animal came from.

Animals that are medically unfit to be microchipped are exempt from the bill. Owners who sign a form stating the cost of microchipping their dog or cat would impose an economic hardship are also exempt. For more information on this bill, please visit California Legislative Information website.

∙Southern California has been experiencing a scorching heatwave with temperatures soaring into the 100s on some occasions. Remember that when the weather is hot for you, it is much hotter for your furry friends. To demonstrate this, the HSVC is providing a daily heat report to show just how hot common surfaces outside can get.

“We used a heat gun to take the temperature of several surfaces outside our shelter in Ojai including the sidewalk, pavement, and inside a vehicle. All of the temperatures were more than 20 degrees hotter than the temperature outside! With this in mind, please make sure to give your pets plenty of water, access to shade, and lots of rest on hotter days.”

Never leave your animals in a hot car for any amount of time and keep them in an air-conditioned space as often as possible. Avoid taking your dogs for walks on hot surfaces. If your animals enjoy playing in the water, consider setting up a kiddie pool or sprinkler for your pet so they can have fun in the sun and stay cool.

∙The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension formally welcomed the state’s first electronic device-sniffing dog into its ranks.

Sota the British Labrador has already assisted the BCA on 10 cases since May and has so far located 21 different pieces of evidence, the bureau said. Though she is trained to work on violent crime and financial crime investigations, BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said, she will primarily aid authorities on child exploitation cases.

“Those are the cases where we’re locating people that are trying to exploit our children online. Whether it be through child pornography investigations or those contacting our children online, these types of evidence are critical to proving those cases, to holding those accountable who choose to try to hurt our children across our Minnesota,” Evans said at a press conference Thursday.

Sota can locate electronics like cell phones, and even small devices such USB drives and memory storage cards, because she is trained to recognize the scent of triphenylphosphine oxide, or TPPO, a type of chemical coating. During a homicide investigation, Evans said for example, she managed to locate a concealed cell phone later used as evidence.

The $15,000 cost of purchasing and training Sota was paid for by Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit anti-human trafficking group. According to a BCA news release, Sota was first trained to be a service dog in Michigan.

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