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Facial Recognition Technology Aids Pet Finding

New Way to Find Lost Pets

Officials in the Solano County animal care department and the local sheriff’s office have begun using new facial recognition technology to reunite lost pets with their owners.

They started using an app, Finding Rover, which allows them to take a photo of a shelter dog and then compares it with other images of found dogs, potentially resulting in a match. The info is shared with 180 municipal shelters throughout the county. Owners who lose dogs can upload info and pictures of their missing pet to the database, and anyone who finds an animal can do the same. The technology considers 128 facial points and features and is about 98 percent accurate. When a match occurs the owner or shelter is notified. It will soon be available for cats, too.

Dogs leashed at Cal

Dogs on the UC Berkeley campus must be on leashes.

Cal banned dog owners from letting canines run free on campus recently after several incidents reportedly involving threats initiated by an off-leash dog against a service dog.

The new rule became effective Aug. 1, and dog owners who use the campus as an exercise option have been miffed, particularly upset because the ban was enacted with little public input.

The UC Berkeley new rule does not apply to off-leash dog areas on university-owned property such as the Strawberry Canyon fire trail. It does not apply to service dogs.

Treats or Rubs?

Believe it or not, most dogs respond more positively to a pat on the head or a belly rub than treats during training.

That is the finding of a new study in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, which reported, according to Science, that when researches scanned the brains of 15 dogs of differing breeds, 13 images indicated that when dogs were praised, “equal or greater levels of brain activity in the region that controls decision-making and signals reward than when they received food” resulted.

The scientists think by looking at brain scans, they might be able to tell which pups might be better service dogs by selecting those with a preference for praise over food for independent roles.

Park Off Limits to Dogs

A new park in Bend, Ore., Riley Ranch Nature Reserve, will ban dogs altogether.

Formerly known as Gopher Gulch, the park is being planned as a nature area near the Deschutes River on 148 acres north of Awbrey Butte. As such, dogs—neither leashed or unleashed—are allowed.

At least two member of DogPAC, a Bend political action committee successful at gaining an off-leash area at Shelvin Park, have voiced concern over the Bend Park & Recreation District decision ban, which conservationists endorse. The park should open next summer.

Is Smaller Better?

The dogs that Brits own are apparently getting smaller.

The Economist crunched data from the Kennel Club for that last decade that showed the weight of the average British dog has dropped by about 12 percent. One reason is the simple rise in small-breed popularity, but The Economist also noted economics may have something to do with the trend, too, with pinched wage earners recognizing the care and feeding of something small costs less than a larger counterpart. At the same time, exorbitant housing costs mean Brits are living in smaller spaces, which are also more suitable for little guys. And small dogs need less walking, which may prove attractive to a non-sporty set of humans.

A Winning Startpup

And the best startpup dog is Amelie, a French bulldog who is the office dog of London’s Rooster Punk.

Wistia, a video and analytics platform, joined up with the Humane Society International to find the best “startpup” dog, inspired by Wistia’s own awesome office dog, Lenny. Participants sent in videos of their office dogs, and three judges chose winners, with Amelie, “head of client services,” getting top honors.

“It is obvious to me that wherever you are, office pups can be a positive and welcome influence at work,” Chris Lavigne, Wistia’s video production head, said in a statement. “The variety of videos submitted shows that even though dogs and companies come in different shapes and sizes, the best friend bond is always there.”

Pets at Work

Speaking of work and pets, more employers are letting their workers bring pets to work.

The Society of Human Resource Management said 7 percent of employers let their employees bring pets to the office, up from 5 percent five years ago. HR folks tend to believe in the goodwill pets-at-work policies foster toward balancing life-work issues for their workers. Such policies also may help with worker retention, lower stress hormones, increase morale, and boost productivity.

Going for a Joyride

Two dogs crashed a car into a West Virginia Walmart store recently. They had been left alone in the car, which was running with the air-conditioner on while their human mom shopped inside. One of the daring duo apparently knocked the vehicle into gear, which allowed it to roll right into the store. The other dog rolled down the car window when the crash stopped the moving car. The dogs weren’t hurt, and no chargers were filed.

Lapping It Up

Apollo Peak of Denver, a pet-based nonalcoholic wine company, has a few new “varietals” for dogs: ZinFanTAIL and CharDOGnay.

Apollo announced releases for cats in June and then followed up with something for clamoring dog lovers soon after. Pre-order them in 12-ounce bottles online. The beverages get their color from beet juice and don’t use grapes or alcohol, substituting calming peppermint and chamomile.

Prescription for Health

Dogs can help their humans thwart stress and fight diseases, and they can detect cancer, all of which prompted Men’s Journal to elaborate on how our beastie besties improve our lives.

The lowdown is related to the dog’s eyebrows, tongue, nose, eyes, fur, paws, and legs, with the most compelling evidence being protein in dog saliva promotes healing; petting a dog releases endorphins serotonin and prolactin while reducing cortisol, the stress hormone; and humans who have dogs walk more, contributing to a stronger heart and longer life.

Alarming Trend

Veterinarians in Arkansas have reported recently seeing increasing instances of dogs on methamphetamines at their practices. The addicting drug puts canines in immediate peril, causing hyperactivity, restlessness, aggressiveness, vocalization, and incontinence.

“They’re high. As far as what goes through their minds, who knows. At best, they are confused. They have no clue what’s going on. They don’t know what they got a hold of,” said Lee Morris, D.V.M., of North Little Rock’s Animal Emergency and Specialty clinic.

“Meth does a lot to the cardiovascular and neurological systems,” explained Richard Scroggins, D.V.M., an internal medicine specialist. Treatment needs to occur immediately and costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. The vets expressed concern the drug may alter dogs indefinitely.

Dogs As Conservationists

Conservationists across the world are turning to dogs to help them protect nature and endangered wildlife.

In New Zealand, dogs are used to detect rodents, cats, ferrets, stoats, and ants that might be on ships about to dock at islands to keep the nonnative hitchhikers from harming native species. Meanwhile, in Spain, dogs help find poisons to protect endangered wildlife, and in Montana, dogs have been trained to protect wildlife and wild places.

Canine Heroes

Four dogs were awarded K-9 Medal of Courage awards from the American Humane Association for the military service the performed in Afghanistan by saving humans’ lives by sniffing out explosives. The dogs were presented the medals on Capitol Hill and included Matty, a Czech Germ shepherd; Freddy, a black Labrador retriever; Bond, a Belgian Malinois; and Isky, a German shepherd.

AKC Admits Pumi

The American Kennel Club has recently admitted a new breed member, the Pumi, pronounced POOM-ee. Originally from Hungary, the breed was used to herd sheep and cattle and have characteristic corkscrew-curly coats and flop-tipped ears. Active, intelligent, energetic, and whimsical, they are related to the Puli, which sports the dreadlocked coats. The Pumi marks the AKC’s 190th recognized breed

And the Smartest Breeds Are

The 10 smartest dog breeds, based on data from University of British Columbia’s psychology professor Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs, are, in alphabetical order: Australian cattle dog, border collie, Doberman pinscher, German shepherd, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, papillon, poodle, Rottweiler, and Shetland sheep dog.

Limiting Dogs

In San Luiz, Ariz., a proposed ordinance sets forth minimum standards for dog owners who want to keep more than six dogs in that town.

The ordinance would require that people with seven dogs and up have personal dog kennel permits, and to get one, they’d have to prove an ability to operate a sound facility through the city. The regulation was suggested to deal with concerns over nuisance barking, foul odors, and other complaints resulting in 445 calls to animal control over a year. So far, the ordinance draft hasn’t outlined specifics, such as penalties or enforcement actions, so it’s far from being adopted.