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Friday, May 2, 2008

Most common mistakes pet owners make

5 biggest errors by pet owners
April 29: Most pet owners try to be responsible, but sometimes they make mistakes. Pet expert Andrea Arden and some furry friends visit TODAY with tips on how to avoid common errors.
Companion animals can enrich our lives in an almost endless number of ways. Whether greeting us enthusiastically at the door, keeping us company on daily jogs or simply entertaining us with their play, sharing your life with a pet is a great way to increase the length and improve the quality of your life. For all they add to our lives, we owe it to them to do all we can for them in return. One of the ways to ensure your animal companion enjoys a long, happy life is to avoid the pitfalls of the most common pet-parenting mistakes:

Impulsive adoptions/purchases
Making the commitment to invite any animal to join your family should take a lot of careful consideration. Unfortunately, many people can't resist the temptation of bringing home a cute animal immediately. It is much wiser to first go home and do some research to find out everything you can about this particular type of pet and what caring for and living with them will entail. Be sure to include all family members in the decision-making process. Carefully consider the commitment of time and money, and if this particular animal's size, age, temperament and activity level are a good match for your family.

Buying from a pet store
This can be a hard mistake for people to avoid as seeing a cute young animal in a store can be very tempting, especially since some people consider they are saving that particular animal. But keep in mind that while you may give that animal a good home, with each sale the pet store makes they are that much more likely to bring more animals in from animal mills where the breeding stock is subjected to a life of constant breeding and mistreatment. A much wiser source is a local shelter, breed rescue group or reputable breeder.

Killing with kindness
Because people love their pets so much, they often do things which are inadvertently to the detriment of their pets. Many people feel they are being mean if they don't give their pet everything they want when they want it. This often starts on the first day the pet joins the family and is immediately given free run of the home. The intended goal is often to allow the animal to feel at home and comfortable. However, the result is usually that they get into trouble by eliminating in the wrong place or chewing an inappropriate item. It is much kinder in the long run to set clear rules and boundaries — much like with children — to help your pet stay safe and ensure that he or she is with you for their whole life.

Unfortunately, the result of not setting boundaries and helping your pet learn how to behave is that they make mistakes that they are then punished for. Worse yet, many otherwise lovely animals are surrendered to shelters for simply behaving in a manner that was permitted to become habit due to a lack of clear rules and boundaries.

Focusing on punishments rather than rewards
Considering how much we love our animal companions, it is surprising that one of the big mistakes people make is focusing on punishing their pets for things they don't like rather than rewarding them for what we consider good behavior. A perfect example of this is letting a pup eliminate on the rug (by not supervising them properly) and then yelling at them for doing so. Dogs think in pretty simple terms, so it is unlikely they are thinking they are in trouble for eliminating in the house. They probably think you don't like to see them eliminate, so they learn to hide behind the couch to do so. In this and most cases, punishments don't tend to be very effective and often cause negative side effects as bad as or worse than what they were intended to resolve.

Punishments are also likely to damage your relationship with your pet. Instead, focus on managing them (using supervision and confinement, such as keeping them on a leash or in a pet-proofed room or crate) to set them up for success and rewarding for good behavior. This will prevent problem behaviors from becoming habits, reinforce appropriate behaviors and improve your bond with your pet.

Assuming your pet is a person in fur clothing
It's wonderful that most people adopt pets into their home as full-fledged members of the family. However, while most pets adapt incredibly well to living with people, many people forget they are still animals. Keep in mind that pets tend to think in different and often much simpler terms than we do. They aren't walking around all day plotting how to get back at you for leaving them at home while you go to work or to punish you for what you have or haven't done for them lately. Accusing an animal of being spiteful or stubborn does a great disservice to them and tends to create a barrier to a healthy relationship.

So, the next time your dog digs in the yard, consider that he is probably doing so because it is fun for dogs and he's probably bored, not to punish you and ruin your newly planted yard.

Not spaying or neutering pets
This is a common mistake pet owners make with some of the most serious consequences. Unfortunately, some people still think that if they spay or neuter their pets they will get lazy and fat or that it is kind to let their pet have just one litter. Aside from the fact that there is a serious pet overpopulation problem that spaying and neutering can help decrease, doing so also means your companion is less likely to wander away to look for a mate and in doing so potentially get lost, hurt or contract diseases.

For males, neutering eliminates the chance of developing testicular cancer and may reduce problems with aggression, as well as decreasing inappropriate urination issues. For females, spaying decreases the chance of developing breast cancer down to almost zero if done before the first heat cycle. It also eliminates the chance of developing pyometra (a potentially fatal infection of the uterus), decreases or eliminates mood swings associated with heat cycles and eliminates spotting. Overall, spaying and neutering will greatly increase the length and quality of your pet's life.

Lack of supervision between pets and children
While many animals are very tolerant of and even enjoy interaction with children, all animals should be supervised at all times when together with kids. Regardless of the breed or type of animal you have, there is always a risk when leaving children and pets unattended together. What many people don't understand is that an animal can be tolerant for years, but if pushed too far (e.g., rough play, overexcited behavior), they may react. Unfortunately, the most likely person to be bitten or scratched by a dog or cat is a family member.
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World's first cloned horse has foal

Prometea with her foal Pegaso, world's first cloned horse has foal
Prometea with her foal Pegaso: The development may help the breeding of champion racehorses

Pegaso, her son, is the first offspring of an equine clone confirms, once again, that cloned animals can grow and reproduce normally, giving rise to healthy offspring.

The world's first cloned horse, Prometea, has had a foal.

  • Going is good for the first cloned horse
  • Vatican vows to expel stem cell scientists from Church
  • From Dolly to Noah - a history of animal cloning
  • Pegaso, her son, is the first offspring of an equine clone confirms, once again, that cloned animals can grow and reproduce normally, giving rise to healthy offspring.

    Prometea with her foal Pegaso, world's first cloned horse has foal
    Prometea with her foal Pegaso: The development may help the breeding of champion racehorses

    The name Prometea, a Haflinger mare, is a reference to Prometeo (Prometheus), who was punished for stealing fire from Olympus for the benefit of mankind.

    She entered the history books in 2003 when she was unveiled as the world's first horse clone, one that offered a way to preserve the genetic heritage of many exceptional horses whose genes are presently lost because champion geldings are castrated.

    "During these five years Prometea has been in very good health and often at the centre of media attention," says her creator, Prof Cesare Galli of the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies in Cremona.

    "The ultimate proof of her normality has just come with the birth of Pegaso, on March the 17th 2008, after a single insemination with the semen of the Haflinger stallion Abendfurst."

    Pegaso has special significance in racing because sporting horses are castrated at a young age. "When they become adult and demonstrate to be champion horses, they are unable to reproduce and it is therefore impossible to obtain the next generation: the champion's offspring," says Prof Galli.

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    "This is a bitter reality that clashes with the driving principle of animal breeding and selection that is based on the reproduction of superior individuals to pursue genetic improvement of the breed.

    "Therefore, today, horse cloning is simply an assisted reproduction technique that allows us to obtain copies/clones of castrated champion horses and finally, from these clones, the champion's offspring that otherwise would never be born."

    Prof Galli showed the technology could revolutionise blood stock breeding when he unveiled a cloned foal of Pieraz, an Arab endurance champion, in 2005.

    He has cloned cattle and pigs too, and worked with human embryo cells, which led to him being excommunicated by the Catholic Church, even though he did not himself destroy embryos but used embryonic stem cells that had been derived in other countries.

    Prof Galli first encountered problems with the authorities when he unveiled Galileo, Italy's first cloned bull, which was confiscated by Italy's Health Ministry.

    "After having being nearly arrested by police for having cloned Galileo, the bull, I think I can bear the excommunication," he said at the time. "I suppose I will not need a criminal lawyer for that like in the days of the bull Galileo, though it will be same fun and much cheaper."

    Dr Eric Palmer, a pioneer of equine IVF, has set up a company, Cryozootech, in Evry, France, to "rescue" gelding genetics.


    "This is a bitter reality that clashes with the driving principle of animal breeding and selection that is based on the reproduction of superior individuals to pursue genetic improvement of the breed.

    "Therefore, today, horse cloning is simply an assisted reproduction technique that allows us to obtain copies/clones of castrated champion horses and finally, from these clones, the champion's offspring that otherwise would never be born."

    Prof Galli showed the technology could revolutionise blood stock breeding when he unveiled a cloned foal of Pieraz, an Arab endurance champion, in 2005.

    He has cloned cattle and pigs too, and worked with human embryo cells, which led to him being excommunicated by the Catholic Church, even though he did not himself destroy embryos but used embryonic stem cells that had been derived in other countries.

    Prof Galli first encountered problems with the authorities when he unveiled Galileo, Italy's first cloned bull, which was confiscated by Italy's Health Ministry.

    "After having being nearly arrested by police for having cloned Galileo, the bull, I think I can bear the excommunication," he said at the time. "I suppose I will not need a criminal lawyer for that like in the days of the bull Galileo, though it will be same fun and much cheaper."

    Dr Eric Palmer, a pioneer of equine IVF, has set up a company, Cryozootech, in Evry, France, to "rescue" gelding genetics.

    Original here

    Mukesh Ambani's $2 bn home world's most expensive: Forbes

    NEW YORK: The 27-storey skyscraper being built in Mumbai by Mukesh Ambani, the richest person in India, could be the world's largest and costliest home with a price- tag nearing two billion dollar, according to Forbes magazine. ( Watch )

    "When the Ambani residence is finished in January, completing a four-year process, it will be 550 feet high with 4,00,000 square feet of interior space," Forbes said in a report on its website.

    Earlier in March, Mukesh Ambani was ranked as the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of 43 billion dollars by the Forbes magazine in its annual list of world's wealthiest billionaires. While Lakshmi Mittal, who is an Indian citizen was ranked higher at fourth, he is a British resident. Among resident Indians, Mukesh was ranked at top.

    "The only remotely comparable high-rise property currently on the market is the 70 million dollar triplex penthouse at the Pierre Hotel in New York, designed to resemble a French chateau, and climbing 525 feet in the air," Forbes said in its report titled, "Inside The World's First Billion-Dollar Home."

    Mukesh Ambani heads India's most valuable firm Reliance Industries, an oil and petrochemicals giant.

    "Like many families with the means to do so, the Ambanis wanted to build a custom home. They consulted with architecture firms Perkins + Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates, the designers behind the Mandarin Oriental, based in Dallas and Los Angeles, respectively," the report said.
    "Plans were then drawn up for what will be the world's largest and most expensive home: a 27-story skyscraper in downtown Mumbai with a cost nearing 2 billion dollars."

    According to Forbes, Mukesh, along with his wife Nita Ambani and three children, currently live in a 22-story Mumbai tower.

    The report further noted that the cost for the Ambani residence, called Antilla whose shape is based on Vaastu, would be more than a hotel or high-rise of similar size because of its custom measurements and fittings.

    While a hotel or condominium has a common layout, replicated on every floor, and uses the same materials throughout the building, the Ambanis' home has no two alike in either plans or materials used, it said.

    "At the request of Nita Ambani, say the designers, if a metal, wood or crystal is part of the ninth-floor design, it shouldn't be used on the eleventh floor, for example. The idea is to blend styles and architectural elements so spaces give the feel of consistency, but without repetition," it said.

    "Atop six stories of parking lots, Antilla's living quarters begin at a lobby with nine elevators, as well as several storage rooms and lounges. Down dual stairways with silver-covered railings is a large ballroom with 80 per cent of its ceiling covered in crystal chandeliers."

    The report said that Ambanis plan to use the residence occasionally for corporate entertainment also and they want its interiors to have a "distinctly Indian" look and feel.

    "The top floors of entertaining space, where Ambani plans to host business guests (or just relax) offer panoramic views of the Arabian Sea... For more temperate days, the family will enjoy a four-story open garden," it noted.
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    Ecuador considers enshrining women's right to sexual pleasure

    QUITO, Ecuador - A new inalienable right could be enshrined soon in Ecuador's constitution: the pursuit of sexual happiness for women.

    The proposal by a member of the ruling party has created a stir in this socially conservative Andean nation, where a constitutional assembly is at work.

    Assembly member Maria Soledad Vela, who belongs to President Rafael Correa's party and sits on a committee defining fundamental constitutional rights, said women have traditionally been seen as sexual objects or in a solely reproductive role in Ecuador.

    On Monday, Vela said the right to sexual enjoyment means ensuring women can make free, responsible and informed decisions about their sex lives.

    Fellow committee members proposed separate provisions for women's sexual and reproductive rights, an alternative Vela approved.

    Opposition Assembly member Leonardo Viteri accused Vela of trying to decree orgasm by law, saying it "isn't possible."

    "I never asked for the right to orgasm, only the right to enjoyment," Vela responded.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Will cards for inmates solve crimes?

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Inmates in 58 county jails across New York are getting playing cards with the pictures of missing persons in hopes the photos will jog memories and help solve cold cases.

    Under a state Senate pilot program, 7,200 decks of cards are being sent to the jails. They include telephone numbers of tip lines that offer rewards to anyone -- including prisoners -- who provide information about the crimes.

    The cards were paid for with a $10,000 grant from Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno from funds he controls.

    "This program seeks to go right to the source of crime, providing incarcerated criminals information via playing cards who, in turn, may have credible information or leads that help solve these crimes," Bruno said in a statement

    A spokesman for Bruno said a similar scheme in Florida prisons had resulted in leads that helped close old cases.

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    People of Lesbos take gay group to court over term 'Lesbian'

    A Greek court has been asked to draw the line between the natives of the Aegean Sea island of Lesbos and the world's gay women.

    Three islanders from Lesbos - home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women - have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.

    One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, "insults the identity" of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

    "My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.

    The three plaintiffs are seeking to have the group barred from using "lesbian" in its name and filed a lawsuit on April 10. The other two plaintiffs are women.

    Also called Mytilene, after its capital, Lesbos is famed as the birthplace of Sappho. The island is a favored holiday destination for gay women, particularly the lyric poet's reputed home town of Eressos.

    "This is not an aggressive act against gay women," Lambrou said. "Let them visit Lesbos and get married and whatever they like. We just want (the group) to remove the word lesbian from their title."

    He said the plaintiffs targeted the group because it is the only officially registered gay group in Greece to use the word lesbian in its name. The case will be heard in an Athens court on June 10.

    Sappho lived from the late 7th to the early 6th century B.C. and is considered one of the greatest poets of antiquity. Many of her poems, written in the first person and intended to be accompanied by music, contain passionate references to love for other women.

    Lambrou said the word lesbian has only been linked with gay women in the past few decades. "But we have been Lesbians for thousands of years," said Lambrou, who publishes a small magazine on ancient Greek religion and technology that frequently criticizes the Christian Church.

    Very little is known of Sappho's life. According to some ancient accounts, she was an aristocrat who married a rich merchant and had a daughter with him. One tradition says that she killed herself by jumping off a cliff over an unhappy love affair.

    Lambrou says Sappho was not gay. "But even if we assume she was, how can 250,000 people of Lesbian descent - including women - be considered homosexual?"

    The Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece could not be reached for comment.

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    Pittsburgh surpasses Los Angeles as nation's sootiest city

    In this July 2, 2003 file photo, the skyline of Pittsburgh is seen through the morning haze from across the Allegeheny River. A city outside California has for the first time been named the sootiest in the nation, one of the categories the American Lung Association uses to determine the most polluted cities in the country. Pittsburgh overtook Los Angeles in the category that measures short-term particle pollution or soot. Los Angeles still took the all-around pollution title. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

    LOS ANGELES - A city outside California has for the first time been named the sootiest in the nation, one of the categories the American Lung Association uses to determine the most polluted cities in the country.

    Los Angeles still took the all-around pollution title, though.

    Pittsburgh overtook Los Angeles in the category that measures short-term particle pollution or soot. Los Angeles, the country's longtime soot and smog leader, has enacted aggressive measures to tackle sources of pollution, resulting in a substantial drop in particle pollution levels, said Janice Nolen, the association's assistant vice president of national policy and advocacy.

    "It's not that Pittsburgh has gotten worse; it's that Los Angeles has gotten better," Nolen said. "If the trend continues, Pittsburgh will top two lists, and LA will only be leading the nation in ozone."

    Still, Los Angeles held its own in two other categories measuring year-round soot levels and smog. And statewide, 26 of California's 52 counties with air quality monitoring stations got failing grades for having either high ozone days or particle pollution days.

    The association's "State of the Air: 2008" report, being released Thursday, was based on air quality measurements reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by state and local agencies between 2004 and 2006. The study looks at three key pollution measures.

    The eight metropolitan areas considered to be the nation's most polluted by every measure were Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia-Porterfield and Hanford-Corcoran, all in California; Washington-Baltimore; St. Louis; and Birmingham, Ala.

    The cleanest cities were Fargo, N.D., and Salinas, Calif.

    The rankings were based on ozone pollution levels produced when heat and sunlight come into contact with pollutants from power plants, cars, refineries and other sources. The lung association also studied particle pollution levels emitted from these sources, which are made up of a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air.

    The study found that about 42 percent of residents nationwide live in counties with high levels of particle or ozone pollution.

    "When you think of the impact of ozone on our respiratory tracts, imagine putting acid right in your eye. It's that corrosive," said Tony Gerber, a pulmonary specialist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. "This corrosiveness causes severe irritation and leads to problems like asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, chest pain and even death."

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    Pink Floyd's missing giant pig has landed

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    1 of 1Full Size

    By Syantani Chatterjee

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A giant inflatable pig that went missing from a Southern California music festival at the weekend has been found in tatters in a desert town.

    The pig, which has been a signature Pink Floyd stage prop since its appearance on the 1977 cover of "Animals" and the song "Pigs on Wings," broke away from its tethers on Sunday night at Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival.

    The festival organizers offered a $10,000 reward for the two-story inflatable pig belonging to ex-Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.

    Two couples said on Wednesday they had found the shredded plastic remains of the pig outside their homes.

    The pig, bearing political slogans and the word "Obama" next to a ticked ballot box for U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, was used by Waters during his set at the festival in the desert east of Los Angeles.

    Steve Stoltz found a big pile of shredded plastic in his La Quinta, California, driveway early on Monday morning when he went to get his newspaper.

    "We didn't even know what it was then, but that's all I hear about now," his wife Susan Stoltz told Reuters.

    Her neighbor, Judy Rimmer, found an even bigger pile in her driveway. Since then the neighbors have shared several pork jokes, she said.

    "My sons who are in their 20s will think I'm pretty cool," said Susan Stoltz.

    At first the couples thought they were victims of a practical joke. But after reading mass media coverage of the missing pig they contacted festival organizers who authenticated the remains.

    "They were really anxious to have the pig's remains, but we kept souvenirs," Susan Stoltz said.

    Stoltz said the two couples will split the $10,000 reward offered by the festival organizers and will each get four festival tickets for life.

    (Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)

    Original here

    Man accused of trying to cash check for $360,000,000,000

    From Staff Reports

    A man has been accused of attempting to pass a $360 billion check, which he claims was given to him by his girlfriend’s mother to start a record business, Fort Worth police said.

    Charles Ray Fuller

    Charles Ray Fuller, 21, of Crowley, was arrested on April 22 on an accusation of forgery, police said.

    Police responded to a report of a man attempting to pass the check about 4 p.m. that day at the Chase bank in the 8600 block of South Hulen Street, Fort Worth police Lt. Paul Henderson said.

    The personal check was not made out to Mr. Fuller and when the bank contacted the check owner, the woman said she did not write a check for $360 billion.

    Mr. Fuller was also accused of unlawful carrying of a weapon and possession of marijuana, Lt. Henderson said. He may also face a theft charge in Crowley.

    Lt. Henderson said he did not know if Mr. Fuller and his girlfriend were still together.

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