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Mayor's interview interrupted by cat drinking from mug

A mayor who was discussing his city's plans to fix potholes witnessed his weekly interview hit a bump in the road thanks to a thirsty cat.

>> Read more trending news

As Nils Usakovs, the mayor of Latvia's capital, Riga, was talking Sunday, a fluffy black-and-white cat named Dumka walked into the shot and calmly took sips out of Usakovs' mug, before getting spooked and jumping off the desk as Usakovs made a halfhearted attempt to swat it away while chuckling.

The mayor is not shy about his love of cats, and has incorporated them into the town's official tourism campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

7 tips to keep your dog calm during a storm  

During times of rough weather, it can be difficult to keep four-legged friends calm and comforted amid the madness.

According to experts at WebMD, thunderstorm phobia in dogs is quite common and shouldn’t be ignored.

>> Read more trending news 

"Most of the time they don't grow out of it on their own, and many will get worse with time if nothing is done," veterinarian Matt Peuser said.

While there’s no easy fix, here are seven  tips to help relax your frightened fur ball during a storm:

Be prepared.

The best way to be prepared to make arrangements for your dog is to simply check the forecast. According to Pethealth.com, thunder usually occurs in the afternoons. 

You can also set up a pet disaster kit, the Palm Beach Post reported. Fill up a waterproof container with Fido’s medications and medical records, essentials such as a leash and collar, food, water and dishes for both. Other items to include: a manual can opener, grooming supplies, your pet’s blanket and favorite toy, cleanser and disinfectant to handle waste, newspapers or litter, paper towels and plastic bags. 

>>Related: What's the difference between a tornado watch and warning? 

Be home.

If you know your dog tends to be fearful of storms, try to stay home or arrange for someone to stick around.

Reward calm behavior all year.

According to veterinary behavior expert Barbara Sherman, owners often make the mistake of consoling a fearful dog, but this actually just encourages clingy, panicky behavior.

 >> Related: Why you shouldn’t calm your fearful dog 

That doesn’t mean owners should scold their dogs, but instead, train them to settle down on command so that when a storm comes, the dog knows what to do.

Offer distractions during a storm.

Sherman also recommends distractions for your pet during the storm such as offering treats or toys, playing fetch and cuddling.

>> Related: If your neighbor's tree falls in your yard, who pays for cleanup?

Create a sound-proof safe place.

Whether it’s a room in the basement, an open crate or even the bathroom, it’s wise to offer the dog its own soundproof safe place to come and go as it pleases.

You can figure out what the best place for your dog is by watching where it gravitates during a storm.

Try snug-fitting clothing.

Snug clothing such as the Thundershirt have been known to help dogs cope with anxiety by applying gentle, constant pressure to a dog’s torso, similar to swaddling an infant.

Consider medications.

If Fido is seriously affected, refer to your veterinarian or a veterinary behavior specialist for possible medication.

Thief who beat homeowner’s dogs sentenced to 23 years in prison

A man who broke into a home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last October, stole items and attacked the homeowner’s dogs was sentenced Tuesday to 23 years in prison. 

>> Read more trending news

Joshua Keller later took a plea deal on charges of animal cruelty, burglary and larceny.

Kendra Jarrett, who is accused of helping Keller break into the home and steal items, will make her next court appearance on Wednesday.

Vicky Wright, who owns the home that was burglarized, found Keller and Jarrett in her driveway on the day of the incident. They told her that their truck had broken down. She helped them when they told her that they needed gas, then came home and found the crime scene.

Police said Jarrett and Keller stole $1,000 worth of DVDs, a laptop and jewelry and beat up Wright’s two dogs.

Wright said one of her dogs had a gash on its face and the other was limping when she got home.

The dogs have since recovered.

Wright said she believes that justice was served and she is happy about Keller’s sentence. 

Must-see: Florida firefighters rescue kitten, ducklings in distress

Florida's Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue team has been busy fighting fires ... and saving baby animals

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

This week firefighters helped a kitten and some ducks that were in distress. 

Their efforts started Sunday when ducklings got stuck in a drain. Don’t worry, they are safe now.

Animals were in peril again on Monday when a days-old kitten got stuck in a crane. Firefighters were called to Weston after a fisherman said he heard meowing from the machinery, WSVN reported. 

>> Read more trending news

The kitten was saved and brought to a vet for care, according to WSVN.

The firefighters’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed. People on Facebook and Twitter applauded them for saving the animals. 

 

Read more at WSVN.

Nearly 50 dachshunds rescued, looking for forever homes

Two Florida animal rescue facilities have taken in 47 dachshunds and are looking for a forever home for each of them.

WJHG reported  that the Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport, Florida, and the Save Underdogs Rescue in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, took in the dogs.

>> Read more trending news

“They were going to be taken to a local shelter that wasn't a no-kill shelter so ... the reason it was so urgent for us to get them within this 24-48 hour time period was because they were going to be euthanized,” Alaqua Animal Refuge communications director Mary Chris Murry told WJHG.

On Sunday, Save Underdogs shared on Facebook that the 47 dogs were on their way to Florida from Arkansas. 

Save Underdogs founder Terri Bondi told Northwest Florida Daily News she learned of the situation from a friend in Arkansas. The dogs’ former owner, a truck driver, didn’t realize that they could breed when they were 6 months old, Bondi said. He sought help when he found himself with nearly 50 dogs and without a way to care for them.

WEAR reported the dogs came from a hoarding situation, although Bondi said that was not the case.

“I thought it was originally 30 dogs and thought I could manage it,” said Laurie Hood, founder of the Alaqua Animal Refuge. “But when it was 50 ... It was perfect timing that Alaqua had space.”

The total turned out to be 47. 

Alaqua took in 26 dachshunds, Bondi said, leaving Save Underdogs with 21. 

The dogs range in age from several months old to 5 years old. Those interested in adopting may visit the Save Underdogs website and the Alaqua Animal Refuge website for more information and to contact the organizations to find a forever friend.

Updated at 9:25 a.m. March 29 with additional information from Bondi.

Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says

Cats have gotten a bad rap, at least according to a new study that found your feline really does like you, even if it doesn’t always know how to show you, and it actually likes interacting with you more than it prefers food.

The study from Oregon State University researchers in the journal “Behavioral Processes” also determined that cats are trainable if given the right motivation.

>> Read more trending news

“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem-solving abilities,” the study authors reported. 

Scientists studied pets and shelter cats and observed what happened when felines were given a choice of different stimuli, including toys, food, social interaction and scent.

Both pets and shelter cats preferred interacting with humans first, followed by food, the study found.

“Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable” according to researchers.

The disconnect could be due to an ignorance about the stimuli cats prefer and what motivates them.

Increase in rattlesnake attack on dogs, Texas vets report

Veterinarians in some parts of Texas have reported an increase in the number of dogs bitten by rattlesnakes this year, according to media reports. 

“The snakes are coming out of hibernation, they’re cranky and are more likely to strike when other times they might try to avoid that,” Jim Holcomb of Hill Country Animal Hospital in Austin told KVUE.

>> Read more trending news

The story does not offer any specific figures to back the claim.

If you live in an area that is especially populated by rattlesnakes, some veterinarians recommend the Red Rock Rattlesnake vaccine, which helps dogs develop antibodies that can neutralize rattlesnake venom. 

Dogs need to be 16 weeks old to receive the vaccine. Although it can help slow the effects of the venom, it is still important to get your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect a rattlesnake bite.

Related: Texas family’s toilet snake surprise leads to discovery of dozens more

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that recent hotter-than-usual weather has at least one upside: rattlesnakes rattle more when its warmer, serving as the perfect warning for you and your best friend.

Dog acting strangely leads man to stranded 3-year-old in ditch

A shelter dog with a difficult past is being called a hero after finding a 3-year-old girl naked, alone and curled up in a ditch in freezing temperatures.

>> Read more trending news 

According to a post by the Delta Animal Shelter in Delta County, Michigan, Peanut led his owner to the girl in a field behind their home on March 20.

“About 11am this morning, Peanut started going crazy at our house. She was running up and down the stairs, barking and yelping,” Peanut’s owner wrote in a note shared with the shelter, which was later shared on Facebook.

Eventually, the family let Peanut outside, and she immediately bolted to a field behind their house.

“My husband followed her and to his surprise, he found a naked, shivering, 3-year-old girl curled up in a ball. He scooped her up, wrapped her in his sweatshirt and brought her inside,” wrote Peanut’s owner.

The family called police. They said all the little girl could manage to say was “doggie.”

The Delta County Sheriff’s office said in a statement that the little girl was taken to a hospital as deputies went door-to-door trying to locate the girl’s home. When they found her parents, they discovered the girl was living in unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

Child Protective Services later took two other children from the home.

“Through all of this sad news, give thanks the children are safe,” the shelter wrote on Facebook.

According to WLUC-TV, Peanut had a sad past of her own. When she arrived at the animal shelter, she had two broken legs, broken ribs and carpet in her belly.

“The good in this heartbreaking story is the heroism of this former abused shelter dog Peanut, and her wonderful adoptive family,” the shelter wrote.

Viral video of big chicken has some crying 'fowl,' but it's probably real

Social media users can't stop squawking about a viral video of a really, really big chicken.

>> Click here to watch

The surprising clip, which started making the rounds over the weekend, ruffled the feathers of viewers who were feeling, well, chicken after seeing the burly bird emerge from its coop.

>> Read more trending news

But even though many cried "fowl," CNN reported that the video "is definitely not fake" and likely features a Brahma chicken – a breed that reportedly can reach 18 pounds.

Read more here.

Lucky shelter dog saved from tragic end in Asia, again in NY

 

A lucky New York shelter dog named Pandy seems to have almost as many lives as a cat.

Pandy was saved from a meat market in Thailand and taken to the Animal Haven shelter in New York. 

>> Read more trending news

“She was rescued from the dog meat trade in Asia — the illegal dog meat trade,” shelter executive director Tiffany Lacey told CBS New York.

Then, as a snowstorm stuck the city on Tuesday, the 4-year-old pooch got spooked and ran off while she was being walked in SoHo by a volunteer.

The frightened dog ran 40 blocks through Manhattan in freezing temperatures all the way to the Lincoln Tunnel, where officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey managed to grab her leash when she was halfway through the tunnel.

The officers took the cold and wet dog with bloody paws to the ASPCA to have her microchip scanned, ABC7NY.com reported.

Animal Haven was relieved and happy to have Pandy back.

“PURE JOY,” the shelter said in a post on its Facebook page.

“We can’t even begin to tell you how grateful we are for the army of animal lovers who helped her find her way back … She is a true miracle dog.” 

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