<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News - Clear the Shelters]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/localen-usFri, 23 Aug 2019 04:13:41 -0400Fri, 23 Aug 2019 04:13:41 -0400NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Top Stories]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:19:11 -0400]]><![CDATA[The Dodo]]>Wed, 14 Aug 2019 13:30:25 -0400]]><![CDATA[Before You Adopt]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:19:11 -0400]]><![CDATA[Videos]]>Thu, 07 Jun 2018 18:48:24 -0400]]><![CDATA[Amazing Animal Stories]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:19:11 -0400]]><![CDATA[After You Adopt]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:19:11 -0400]]><![CDATA[Full Archive]]>Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:15:32 -0400]]><![CDATA[Second Chances]]>Mon, 22 Aug 2016 10:19:11 -0400]]><![CDATA[Small Business in Virginia Rescues More Than 300 Animals]]>Mon, 19 Aug 2019 19:46:11 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/daves+dogs.jpg

A small business in Virginia has managed to save more than 300 animals by wielding a powerful, tasty weapon. Wendy Rieger reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Dozens of DC-Area Shelters Waive Adoption Fees]]>Sat, 17 Aug 2019 17:12:58 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CTS-Tryptich.jpgHundreds of animal shelters across the country — including locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia — teamed up with NBC and Telemundo stations to find loving homes for pets in need during the fifth annual Clear the Shelters event Saturday, as shelters waived or reduced their adoption fees.

Photo Credit: Humane Rescue Alliance; Claire Savage, WRC-TV; Humane Society of Carroll County]]>
<![CDATA[For Shelter Dog Sally, a Second Chance on #CleartheShelters Day]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Image-from-iOS.jpg

A shelter dog named Sally got a second chance on Clear the Shelters day, as shelters nationwide waived or reduced their fees in an effort to find homes for as many pets as possible.

The 2-year-old pit bull mix left D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance to go to a new home — but her time there was short-lived. She was returned to the shelter after just 15 minutes because she didn't get along with the dog her owners already had.

Fortunately, Alexandria sisters Deirdre and Kirsten Wright were ready for her.

The Wrights had visited four shelters ahead of Clear the Shelters day before they met Sally and fell in love with her Saturday morning — but then another family adopted her.

And then, just like that, she was back.

For the Wrights, still grieving from the recent loss of their pit bull Angel, it seemed like it was all meant to be.

"I think that [Angel] didn't want me to be sad. And she just wanted me to like help another dog," Deirdre Wright said through tears.

The Wrights had lost Angel to cancer after just one year. But they saw similarities between Angel and Sally.

Angel hadn't gotten along with other dogs at first either, Kirsten Wright said in Spanish. But she ended up being loving and friendly.

"At the beginning, dogs can be a bit crazy or anxious, but at the end, when a person gives them love, they return the love," she said. "It's reciprocal."

An animal's typical stay at the shelter is about two weeks, HRA Adoption Supervisor Joel Lopez said. Sally and her sister Jackie — who also was adopted Saturday — had been at the shelter more than three months.

"Their behavior at the shelter is gonna be completely different from their behavior at home," Deirdre Wright said. "So just be patient with the dog, because you're not perfect, either."

Photo Credit: Humane Rescue Alliance
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<![CDATA['Now We're Gonna Go Home': 800+ Pets Adopted Saturday]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2019-08-17_1021.jpg

Hundreds of animals in the D.C. area — and thousands nationwide — found their forever homes Saturday during the fifth annual Clear the Shelters event.

The shelters, which teamed up with NBC and Telemundo stations to find loving homes for pets in need, waived or reduced fees throughout the day. More than 815 animals were adopted in the D.C. area Saturday, while another 255 went to new homes in the Baltimore area, and nearly 100 found homes in the Richmond area.

Prospective adopters got an early start Saturday. People lined up outside D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) well in advance of opening Saturday morning — and a couple of people even slept outside the Prince William Animal Shelter overnight.

The animals were glad to meet them. A pit bull mix named Sally had been at the HRA for four months — but "today she is going HOME!" the shelter posted on social media, sharing images of the very happy dog.

Sally was adopted by two sisters from Alexandria who had been looking for a new dog after losing their pit bull, Angel, to cancer. 

"I think that [Angel] didn't want me to be sad. And she just wanted me to like help another dog," one of the sisters, Deirdre Wright, said through tears. 

D.C. resident Ariana Gevov adopted 3-year-old mixed breed Kingston, whom she was considering renaming Chase. 

Her first thought when she met him: "That he was just so lovable. I mean, he kinda just like fell into you when we were in the greeting area. So, I just knew he was gonna be someone I could bring around to other people, and he would be good with other dogs and things like that," she said.

Gevov grew up with two small dogs, but this will be her first larger dog. She said she was so excited and just knew that she wanted to adopt.

"He was a stray, and now we're gonna go home and have a home," she said.

Another D.C. resident was ecstatic as she talked about her new black cat, a 1-year-old named Queen. "She's black. And she's cute. And she's mine!" she said, smiling ear-to-ear. 

In Virginia, adoptions were brisk at the Prince William County Animal Shelter, where 45 animals found new homes just in the first two hours of the day.

Nationwide over the past three weeks, more than 77,000 pets had been adopted as 5:20 p.m. Saturday. But every year, 6.5 million animals end up in shelters nationwide — and only 3.2 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

The goal of Clear the Shelters is to find forever homes for as many animals as possible.

"I mean, it just goes without saying that every dog deserves a home, and there are too many dogs that are found on the street or that they're being overbred and they're just — there's no reason why you shouldn't go to a shelter and adopt a dog," Gevov said. 

NBC4's Chuck Bell and Wendy Rieger contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Alex Fruin, WRC-TV
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<![CDATA[Rescue Dog Provides Perfect Therapy at Md. Senior Center]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 20:35:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rescue+dog+journey+081619.jpg

A senior center in Chevy Chase adopted Journey, a rescue dog, bringing joy to the residents and their new pet. Aimee Cho reports.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Keep Pets' Safety in Mind in the Heat]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 18:59:45 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/219*120/dog_sprinkler_heat_hot.jpg

Another heat wave is upon us, and Storm Team4 Meteorologist has a reminder about keeping pets safe in the heat.]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Cat Cafe Offers a Comfortable Adoption Experience]]>Thu, 15 Aug 2019 20:37:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cat+cafe+edit.jpg

Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County runs an at-home cat shelter in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that allows guests to interact comfortably with feline friends. News4's Wendy Rieger reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Breaking Down the Pet Adoption Process]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 08:51:45 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2019-08-15+at+3.44.42+PM.png

Thinking about pet adoption but feeling unsure or overwhelmed? The ASPCA's Kelly DiCicco breaks down the process of adopting and acclimating your new pet to your home. ]]>
<![CDATA['Oliver Was Exactly What I Needed:' Vet Tech's Shelter Story]]>Sat, 10 Aug 2019 13:20:56 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/d49fbc1e-bcaf-495a-8bba-7789c8c96a20.jpg

Suzy Deppa, a Registered Veterinary Technician at Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, has always adopted her pets instead of purchasing them from a breeder.

"There are plenty of sweet, loving, amazing animals in shelters, waiting for good homes," she told News4 in an email.

Deppa loves her job in the shelter and considers herself lucky to help animals recover from illness and injury, eventually finding a family that loves them.

About 2 years ago, one of those animals — a dog that was roughly 8 years old — arrived at the shelter where Deppa works.

"He needed extensive medical care after his alter, so he lived in the medical suite for a long time, and we all got to know him well," Deppa said of the dog, now named Oliver.

Deppa already had her own dog when Oliver arrived at her workplace. But about a month later, her dog passed away.

"I was devastated," she said. "Then it hit me one day... Oliver (not his original shelter name) was exactly what I needed. It turns out I was right."

Deppa adopted the tan-colored pooch with pointy ears and gave him his new name. They've been together ever since.

"He's an old man now, 10 years, so he's mostly calm, but also 80 pounds of super silliness," Deppa said.

Oliver is "a super happy boy," who is gentle with everyone from children to the elderly, and all he wants is to be around people. And he loves his stuffed toys.

"He insists on carrying one of his stuffed toys on all of his walks," Deppa said.

He also has a fair number of doggy costumes, including a lion mane and reindeer antlers. Deppa said he's a great sport about wearing them all.

"Oliver, thankfully, doesn't have an opinion on any of his costumes or jackets," she said. "He's very tolerant of all of them."

Deppa had a number of reasons to consider looking at shelter animals.

"They are here through no fault of their own, and giving them a second chance at a loving home is an amazing gift," she said.

And while puppies and kittens may be adorable, Deppa said that she would tell those who are unsure not to rule out older animals or ones with special needs.

"Older animals are often calmer and more settled than youngsters. Not having to potty train a puppy is priceless! As for special needs animals, I think it's very rewarding to be able to give them a loving home for whatever time they may have left."

As for Oliver, Deppa thinks he's amazing.

"I'm a very lucky doggy mama."

NBC and Telemundo stations across the country will team up with shelters nationwide on Aug. 17 for the fifth annual Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive. For a map of participating shelters, tips on how to adopt a pet and more, check out our page on the event.

You can help motivate adoptions by sharing a picture of your adopted pet on social media, tagging @nbcwashington and #CleartheShelters, or hitting "interested" on our Facebook event.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Suzy Deppa
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<![CDATA[Sunrise of Bethesda Hosts Pet Adoption Event]]>Tue, 30 Jul 2019 08:10:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Sunrise_Bethesda_Hosts_Pet_Adoption_Event.jpg

As NBC4 gears up for Clear the Shelters, Sunrise of Bethesda is joining forces with the Humane Rescue Alliance to find homes for puppies at its pet adoption event Tuesday. News4's Molette Green has the story.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Lightning Causes $30K of Damage to New York Animal Shelter]]>Sat, 20 Jul 2019 17:07:44 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/little-shelter-combo.png

Lightning struck the grounds of a Long Island, New York animal shelter, shattering a memorial fountain and shooting the shards across the facility, causing $30,000 of damage, the shelter said Saturday. 

Little Shelter said its industrial air conditioning unit was destroyed, along with a phone system control panel and the central alarm station were destroyed. 

No animals were hurt. 

A thunderstorm on Wednesday night was part of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Barry. A lightning bolt struck a tree at the Huntington shelter at about 10 p.m., then traveled to the fountain, the shelter said. 

The fountain shattered and pieces of it were strewn across the grounds, with one even flying over the cat building, the shelter said. 

Photo Credit: Little Shelter ]]>
<![CDATA[Wee Pups to (Nearly) Take Wing at the Wiener Nationals]]>Thu, 18 Jul 2019 16:14:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/wienernationalslosalamitos1.jpg

What sort of sound or catchphrase or verbal indicator might a Dachshund employ when she is ready to run very, very fast?

"Meep, meep" is already taken, of course. "I'm outta here" conveys the spirit of a Dachshund on the move, but that is something a human might say, not a pup who speaks in bark-ese.

Hmm. This is ruff, er, rough.

We'll just assume that the sweet but fleet Fidos that compete in Wienerschnitzel's famous Wiener Nationals have one thing on their minds: Reaching the end of 50 yards in an impressively quick amount of time.

And plenty of Dachshunds will do just that, on Saturday, July 20 at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California.

This summertime tradition is very much about doting on Doxies, and meeting other humans who love these hounds, but there's something even stronger at its strong heart: Raising money for the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, which assists in "...finding home for stray animals in the Orange County area."

Lots of people show with their pooches, hoping they can run, but there are rules to know.

Like? A toy or treat may be employed to "entice" your pumpkin to run, but there is no jogging alongside (two people are permitted with each canine participant, one at the starting gate and one waiting at the finish).

Everything to know? Woof woof: It's right here. There's a release waiver, too.

The cost to enter and cheer on these lil' Lassies and Laddies? It's three bucks, and young people 17 and under will be admitted for free.

Los Alamitos calls the Wiener Nationals the venue's "most popular event" of the year, and over 8,500 people attend, per the course.

So arriving early, whether you have a racing pup in tow or not? Smart move.

Dachshunds are famously smart, after all, and if they could talk, they'd certainly advise anyone to head for the Cypress destination well ahead of the first race of the evening, which begins at 6:30 p.m. (gates open at 4:30 p.m.).

Nope, Dachshunds can't fly, but watching all four of their wee feetsies leave the ground at once, as they attempt to reach the finish line first, can make you feel as though you're heart is in flight.

Yes, we said "wee feetsies." Nope, we're not taking it back.

Photo Credit: Wiener Nationals]]>
<![CDATA[How to Enter Pat's Prized Pets Challenge]]>Tue, 16 Jul 2019 08:25:06 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/pettricks071519.jpg

News4's Pat Collins has ditched the snow stick and is filling the "dog days of summer" with something extra special.

Starting Monday, July 15, NBC4 viewers in the D.C. area can show off their furry friends in Pat's Prized Pets Challenge for a chance to win the Pat's Prized Pet Bowl.

The contest comes ahead of NBC4's Clear the Shelters campaign, which helps pets in animal shelters and rescue centers find their forever homes. With this year's pet adoption initiative happening Aug. 17, it's a great time to show the community just how fun pets can be.

For this challenge, all you have to do is show us your pet's best trick. To submit, tag @nbcwashington and use the hashtag #PatsPrizedPets on social media, or send them to us at isee@nbcwashington.com

Remember: You should never put any animal in danger, and no filters are allowed. Participants have one week to submit entries. 

The top four finalists will be announced Monday, July 22, during the 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows. The winner will be announced during the 4 p.m. show on Tuesday, July 23.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[120 Dogs, Cats in Path of Tropical Storm Barry Arrive in Va.]]>Mon, 15 Jul 2019 06:31:54 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/hsus_photo_486159.JPGMore than 120 dogs and cats were rescued from an animal shelter in Louisiana and flown to Manassas, Virginia, ahead of Tropical Storm Barry. Staff and volunteers with the Humane Society of the United States helped unload the pets from the plane and put them in the care of local shelters in the D.C. area.

Photo Credit: Eric Kayne/AP Images for Humane Society of the United States]]>
<![CDATA[Meet the Feral Cats Used to Hunt Rats in DC's Neighborhoods]]>Sat, 04 May 2019 13:08:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/238*120/blue+collar+cats.JPG

Washington, D.C. has a well-known rat problem. Rodent complaints to the city’s 311 line have been steadily increasing over the last few years and the city’s mayor has now led two rat walks in an effort to track the growing rodent infestation. The District is even trying birth control on rats.

But for the last few years, the Humane Rescue Alliance has been spearheading a creative, though not exactly unheard of, way to fight the rat kings and queens of the District of Columbia: pairing local businesses and communities with feral, unsocialized cats to hunt and kill their natural prey.

First developed in 2017, the HRA’s “Blue Collar Cats” program takes stray, feral cats that end up in its care, spays and neuters them, and then matches them to businesses or homes to catch and deter unwanted rodents, HRA Vice President Lauren Lipsey told News4.

“Our original goal was to do a handful in the first year, but we didn’t recognize the number of property owners that would be interested,” Lipsey said.

The program started off with a bang, with 20 feline placements around the city and a waiting list more than 40 people long, Lipsey said.

“We had an initial boost with great publicity,” Lipsey said. “It became attractive to cat aficionados and people who previously did not have an interest in cats.”

Now, Blue Collar Cats are at work in the most populous area of the city, prowling the streets of Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Dupont Circle, Petworth and Shaw for those squirmy tails and furry shadows that haunt D.C. residents.

Lipsey also said that she and the HRA were surprised to see how many homeowners were interested in sponsoring a Blue Collar Cat in their neighborhood, given that they marketed the program as a way for businesses to deal with pests.

“We anticipated mostly businesses, and then homeowners contacted us, which was not necessarily how we marketed the program,” Lipsey said. “But there was also excitement to see properties accept pairs of cats together.”

To assign a pair of cats together is a big accomplishment, Lipsey said, because their feral nature makes them fearful of humans and other animals. By definition, feral cats are unsocialized, usually wandering cities lonelily and scavenging for food.

“If we get two cats and we can match them together, they can be social with each other,” Lipsey said. “It works with cats because unsocial cats can wander alone when they are spayed and neutered.”

And 2018 was another year of success for the program, Lipsey said. The HRA was able to place 110 cats around the city, with 17 businesses taking 25 cats and 62 homes taking 85 cats.

One of those businesses is D.C.’s own Right Proper Brewing Company in Northeast Washington.

At this Brookland facility, co-owner Thor Cheston said his feline staff member does his fair share in keeping the barley and hops fermenting.

“There is a theory that links the domestication of cats to the development of brewing, that the reason why cats were domesticated in the first place was to guard grain,” Cheston said. “Cats were following the food source, rodents, and the rodents were following their food source, grain.”

Cheston said this history drew him to want to recruit a Blue Collar Cat.

“Breweries having or ‘employing’ a cat or multiple cats goes back centuries,” Cheston said. “So when I learned about the Blue Collar Cat program, I jumped all over it. It just seemed so natural.”

Right Proper Brewing has had two rat-hunting cats, Cheston said. Their first employee, named Barley, worked for the brewery for six months before running off in 2017. The brewery now has a younger cat, named Oats, who joined the team in 2018.

“Barley was great. He was a little bit older so he didn’t grow as attached to us as our current cat is now, so eventually he did run away,” Cheston told News4. “But he was very effective at his job.”

Still, though Oats, is more energetic and relatively more friendly, he still keeps his distance, Cheston said.

“He still doesn’t let us touch him, we can’t pet him, he does not care too much for that interaction but it’s almost like we have an understanding,” Cheston said. “We have a professional courtesy I would say.”

Lipsey said Right Proper is a perfect example of the kind of relationship between cat and partner that succeeds.

“They’ve been huge supporters and they are a good member of the community,” Lipsey said. “They really serve as an example to other businesses.”

And Cheston said the presence of a cat is often enough to scare away rats.

“We had an issue with this one rat that was eating through installation and working his way through drywall and barley and he nixed that. I think the word got out very quickly,” Cheston said.

And Cheston said he has no intention of letting Oats go.

“We haven’t seen any activity since he’s been here,” Cheston said. “He’s our guy.”

Learn more about the Blue Collar Cats program here.

Photo Credit: Christian Paz]]>
<![CDATA[Humane Rescue Alliance Shelters in Need of Bedding for New Dogs]]>Thu, 28 Mar 2019 19:15:08 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/dog_shelter_00+copy.png

The Humane Rescue Alliance is asking for donations for bedding, including blankets, sheets and towels as they take in 60 new dogs over the next week.

Shelters and rescue centers in the south are struggling with the exponential intake numbers of dogs recently, and there are limited adopter pools, said the HRA. They hope to help relieve these shelters from the overcrowding they are experiencing.

On Saturday, the HRA will take in about 30 dogs from the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, many of which will be available for adoption this weekend. They are expecting more next week.

The HRA is asking that people donate bedding materials to help offset this sudden rise in animals in their shelters.

Donations can be dropped off at either of the adoption centers’ locations at 1201 New York Ave. NE or 71 Oglethorpe St. NW. However, the HRA said the Oglethorpe Street adoption center is in more need than the other. All animals in the shelter are also up for adoption.

Photo Credit: Humane Rescue Alliance]]>
<![CDATA[Bond Between Donkey, Emu May Make Adoption Difficult]]>Thu, 08 Nov 2018 09:35:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/donkey+and+emu1.png

A North Carolina animal shelter says the close bond between a donkey and an emu that can barely stand to be separated may complicate an adoption. 

The male donkey and female emu were rescued from Kershaw, South Carolina when their owner suddenly vanished last week, The Charlotte Observer reports. Jennifer Gordon of nonprofit Carolina Waterfowl Rescue near Charlotte says the owner also left behind other animals. 

She says the shelter, which has not yet named the animals, tried separating them. But the donkey cried and the emu became frantic. 

She says the donkey doesn't even like the shelter's other donkeys. She says the two cuddle and sleep together. She says they can't be separated, so someone needs to adopt both animals and "that may not be easy.''

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Carolina Waterfowl Rescue ]]>
<![CDATA[Looking for a Pet? DC Shelter Overwhelmed by Turtles]]>Tue, 30 Oct 2018 06:45:56 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2018-10-30_0644.png

If you're looking for a new pet, why not look beyond the obvious dog or cat? The Humane Rescue Alliance has an influx of red slider turtles. News4's Molette Green shares how you can give a turtle a new home.]]>
<![CDATA[Top Things to Do When You Get a New Pet]]>Fri, 28 Sep 2018 14:13:18 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Top_Things_to_Do_When_You_Get_a_New_Pet.jpg

Thinking about getting a new pet? Here's how you can make your home pet friendly. ]]>
<![CDATA[Volunteers Help 45 Shelter Pets After Van Breaks Down in NC]]>Thu, 13 Sep 2018 11:02:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/lucky+dog+rescue.jpg

After rescuing 45 dogs and cats from a shelter in the path of Hurricane Florence, a local animal rescue group found themselves in a "ruff" situation when their van broke down 90 minutes into the 6-hour trip back home. 

But thanks to the community, the rescue and all their pets made it back safely. 

Lucky Dog Animal Rescue went to Florence, South Carolina, Wednesday to pick up 38 dogs and seven cats. On their way back to the D.C. area, their van broke down outside Fayetteville, North Carolina.

The staff and van full of pets were left stranded at a gas station on a sweltering 90-degree day. The shelter sent out an urgent message on their Facebook page, asking for help.

"EMERGENCY!!! NORTH CAROLINA SUPPORTERS. THE VAN IS BROKEN DOWN ON INTERSTATE 95. Exit 40. 911. We need help for the driver who is unloading the dogs to shade. EMERGENCY," the desperate post read. 

The community quickly responded, and more than 55 people showed up to help unload the dogs, give them water and keep them cool. Lucky Dog says a van from Looney's K9 Rescue Transport, which is based in South Carolina, showed up and took the animals the rest of the way. A kindhearted citizen even paid to replace the group's broken alternator. 

"Today, in the face of one of the worst storms the Carolinas have ever seen, 55 amazing people took time out of their own preparations to help our dogs and cats. We are truly LUCKY to have them in our lives," the shelter said in a news release Thursday. 

The rescue group says all of the dogs that were brought back will be available for adoption this weekend at the PetSmart on Kentlands Boulevard in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

The 3-week-old kittens the group rescued from the shelter in South Carolina are too young to be adopted at this time, but the group says they should be available in about five weeks. 

Photo Credit: Lucky Dog Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Recovering from Liver Transplant Adopts Pup]]>Sat, 18 Aug 2018 20:11:41 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/081818_eva_pup.jpg

Before a Maryland woman received a new liver three months ago, she spent a lot of days in the hospital.

Jessica Gallogly was so sick that she could no longer take care of the two dogs she'd had for two years. Eventually, she put them up for adoption.

"Both of my dogs that I had to give up were [my kids'] birthday present a couple years ago," she said.

Even though she normally got her dogs from breeders, Jessica started to believe in animal shelters after her pets found a home.

Once she started to recover from her liver transplant, her daughter Madison knew it was time to convince her to get a new pet.

"Since she just got a liver transplant and she's starting to feel better I've been like, 'Please, please, please!' And just annoying her to death," Madison said.

Then there was a sign: Jessica was watching the news like she did every morning when she noticed the Clear the Shelters event. She went online to find a participating shelter nearby, and as soon as she clicked on Eva's face, News4's Sheena Parveen appeared near Eva's stall.

Then, she woke up her daughter and told her they were going to head to the Humane Rescue Alliance on Oglethorpe Street to get a dog.

"It was the fastest she got up, ever," Gallogly laughed.

With Eva joining the family, Gallogly's son Brady is even more outnumbered by ladies in the house. 

"I wanted a girl," Madison said. "I don't really like the boys that much."

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[1,000+ DC-Area Pets Find Homes During Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 18 Aug 2018 19:12:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/thumbnail42.png

More than 1,000 animals in the D.C. area found their forever homes Saturday thanks to Clear the Shelters. News4's Wendy Rieger was at a shelter in Alexandria, Virginia, as people lined up to find their best furry friends.]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Pets Find New Homes During Clear The Shelters]]>Thu, 21 Feb 2019 12:22:24 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_36_21.Still003.jpg

Across the country thousands of animals are finding forever homes. Watch some of these lucky pets as they meet their new families for the very first time.]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Shelter Pets Get Forever Homes on Clear the Shelters Day]]>Sat, 18 Aug 2018 17:08:36 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*161/Alexandria_Chloe.jpgShelter pets are finding their forever homes Saturday. NBC and Telemundo have teamed up with shelters across the U.S. that are waiving or reducing adoption fees.

Photo Credit: Heather O'Hara, NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: 1,000+ Local Pets Find Forever Homes]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/comp2018-08-18_1541_001.jpg

More than a thousand local shelter pets found their forever homes Saturday thanks to Clear the Shelters, as NBC and Telemundo stations teamed up with shelters across the country to find loving homes for pets in need.

Hundreds of shelters — including dozens of locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia — waived or reduced adoption fees Saturday. The goal was to #ClearTheShelters by finding forever homes for as many animals as possible.

At least 1,113 D.C.-area pets had been adopted by 8 p.m.

By the end of the day, Ginger and Cici, the two longest canine residents of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA), had finally gone to their forever homes -- and so had every other dog at that shelter.

"We are so excited to say we have no more dogs left for adoption today! BUT, we do have LOTS of adult cats still looking for homes, so please spread the word!" the shelter said on Twitter.

In addition to their 26 dogs, the Arlington shelter also adopted out 17 cats, four guinea pigs, two rabbits and a gerbil. Shelter workers posted a video on Twitter, posing in the empty kennels.

At one of D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) locations, one of the first adoptions of the day wasn't a dog or a cat, but a guinea pig.

"His name now is Oreo," said his new human, a woman from Riverdale, Maryland.

She has two guinea pig siblings waiting for him at home.

"We connected right away," she said.

The HRA opened at 10 a.m. Saturday, but the first person in line showed up at 3:30 a.m. Both AWLA and Baltimore's Maryland SPCA shared videos on Twitter of lines of eager potential adopters.

One adopter at HRA, Jessica Gallogly, was recovering from a liver transplant when she heard about the event. She headed down to the shelter location on Oglethorpe Street with her kids and fell in love with a 3-year-old dog named Eva. 

"Both of my dogs that I had to give up were [my kids'] birthday present a couple years ago, but because I got so sick, we couldn't take care of them," Gallogly said. "They were both adopted, thank God. So, I believe in it."

A woman in her late 60s went to the Cecil County Animal Shelter in Maryland hoping to find a new companion after her 18-year-old dog died, Director Abigail Bingham said. The woman adopted a mixed-breed senior dog that had been abandoned in a neighborhood.

"It was a great fit for both of them," Bingham said.

Clear the Shelters also marked a huge first for one local rescue organization. On Saturday, volunteers opened the doors to the Chesapeake Feline Association for the first time ever.

The no-kill shelter in North East, Maryland, finds home for only adult cats and has been operational since 2009, but in the past only allowed potential families to meet cats by appointment. People interested in adopting had to fill out an application for the cat before they even met it, and that was off-putting to some, said Karen Burkhardt, adoption manager.

"We weren't really able to get anybody into the shelter,"she said.

Shelter organizers had to go in front of Cecil County lawmakers to get special permission to have open hours at their current facility, which is in a residential area of town. They finally got that permission this August. 

It's been a huge milestone for Chesapeake and its volunteers.

"I tell you I'm elated," Burkhardt said. "I have tears in my eyes."

Kittens can find homes easily, but adult cats are harder to get adopted, she said.

Three cats were adopted Saturday from the Chesapeake Feline Association, all adults, one of whom was a black cat, which some would-be adopters can be wary of due to superstitions.

"It's a big deal for me," she said.

All participating D.C.-area shelters have now closed for the day. 

Here are the shelters that participated:

  • Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
  • Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Animal Welfare Society of Howard County, Inc.
  • Anne Arundel County Animal Control
  • Baltimore County Animal Services
  • Baltimore Humane Society
  • BARCS Animal Shelter
  • Baywater Animal Rescue
  • Billy the Kidden Rescue
  • Chesapeake Feline Association
  • Cecil County Aninal Shelter
  • City of Manassas Animal Shelter
  • Equine Rescue League
  • Fairfax County Animal Shelter
  • Fancy Cats Rescue Team
  • Frederick County Esther Boyd Animal Shelter
  • Fredericksburg SPCA
  • Forgotten Felines of Culpeper
  • Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
  • Humane Rescue Alliance (New York Avenue)
  • Humane Rescue Alliance (Oglethorpe Street)
  • Humane Society of Charles County
  • Humane Society of Harford County
  • Humane Society of Loudoun County
  • Humane Society of Warren County
  • Humane Society of Washington (Md.) County
  • Loudoun County Animal Services
  • Maryland SPCA
  • Paws for Seniors
  • Prince George's County Animal Management Division
  • Prince William County Animal Shelter
  • Prince William Humane Society
  • RappCats
  • SPCA of Anne Arundel County
  • Spotsylvania Animal Shelter
  • Stafford County Animal Shelters
  • Tri-County Animal Shelter
  • Westmoreland County Animal Shelter

More than 61,000 pets were adopted during last year's event, including more than 1,300 in the D.C. area. One of those was a dog named Odysseus, then 10 years old. The odds weren't necessarily in his favor: He was a senior dog and also a large one, at 73 pounds. But the German shepherd went home with his new humans that day and found his happily ever after.

"He is a fully integrated member of the family," one of his new pet parents, Tammy Garrett, told NBC Washington. "He loves affection and loves to snuggle at our feet. If he sees my husband and I hug, he immediately wiggles in between us so he can get some hugs too!"

Millions more pets remain homeless. Every year, 6.5 million animals end up in shelters nationwide — and only 3.2 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

But the number of dogs and cats going into shelters each year has declined in recent years.

The number being euthanized has also declined, and the ASPCA attributes the decline in part to an increase in the percentage of animals being adopted and an increase in the number of strays being returned to their humans.

Still thinking about adopting? Check out these resources:

Photo Credit: AWLArlington/Maryland SPCA/Heather O'Hara, NBC4
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Alexandria Shelters Finds Homes for Rural Animals in Need]]>Sat, 18 Aug 2018 09:31:22 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Alexandria_Shelters_Finds_Homes_for_Rural_Strays.jpg

Wendy Rieger is at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, where staff work with rural shelters to make sure all pets can find forever homes.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Pup Named Star-Lord Needs a Forever Home]]>Sat, 18 Aug 2018 09:14:11 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelters_Star_Lord_Needs_a_Forever_Home.jpg

Sheena Parveen and Chuck Bell are at the Humane Rescue Alliance, where a pup named Star-Lord is waiting for his forever home.]]>
<![CDATA[Pit Bulls Are in Special Need of 'Forever Homes' Amid Bans]]>Fri, 17 Aug 2018 19:01:16 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/081718+nettie+and+delilah.jpg

When Amy Schindler went to an animal shelter in 2003, she was looking for a little dog. She was thinking her new pet would be under 10 pounds.

But she fell in love with a 70-pound pit bull mix and adopted him instead.

Schindler, the animal behavior director at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, urged anyone looking to adopt a dog to keep an open mind, particularly when it comes to pit bulls.

"Try to remove any preconceived notions about who you want or what you want, and try to focus on the individual dog," she said.

Ahead of the annual Clear the Shelters adoption event, animal experts said preconceptions can be strong as they relate to pit bulls. The category encompasses several breeds of muscular, block-headed dogs, including American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American bulldogs.

Shelter officials and rescue organization leaders say it's especially hard to find homes for pit bulls in the Washington, D.C. area because of preconceptions combined with breed bans in apartment buildings, homeowners associations and all of Prince George's County, Maryland.

"As a result of prejudice, it is hard to find a home for these dogs," said Tamela Terry, president of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County (PGSPCA).

The PGSPCA is one of several organizations in the D.C. area — including county shelters and rescue groups — that find homes for pit bulls that need to be relocated from Prince George's County.

When pit bulls go into the county's Animal Services facility, they must be sent elsewhere. Since 1997, it has been illegal in the county to own, harbor, sell or give away any dogs that "exhibit the characteristics of a pit bull more than any other breed of dog." Anyone who violates the ban can face a fine of as much as $1,000 or six months in jail. 

Supporters of the ban say it helps keep dogs that are trained to be aggressive out of neighborhoods. Critics say the ban is expensive to uphold and unnecessarily kills dogs that are loving pets or can be rehabilitated.

The county shelter cares for, on average, 30 to 40 pit bull mixes every day, making up as much as a quarter of their total dog population, Chief Rodney Taylor said.

Rescue coordinators place most of these dogs with rescue organizations and shelters in neighboring counties. But about 15 dogs of all breeds need to be put down every month because of behavioral issues, Taylor said.

Of the pit bulls that are ready for adoption, the PGSPCA neuters and spays them, and helps find them homes.

Terry, the organization's president, blamed irresponsible owners for raising aggressive pit bulls.

"People want dogs that look tough and then fail to manage them," she said.

Vindicated Pit Bull Rescue, which operates in Northern Virginia, also takes pit bulls from the Prince George's County shelter. President Amy Osterman said some of the dogs show signs of abuse and neglect by their owners. But others are well-trained, even as service dogs.

"They're great dogs," Osterman said. "They're friendly, they're goofy, they're intelligent."

"But they're still a really misunderstood breed," she added.

The rescue group takes as many pit bulls as possible, based on the number of foster homes they have. On Thursday, they had 15, all confiscated from the same home in Prince George's County.

The shelter in Arlington County, Virginia, also takes pit bulls from Prince George's County. At the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, pit bulls make up a quarter to half of their total population of dogs. Schindler, the shelter's animal behavior director, said bans on pit bulls by property managers and homeowners associations are the biggest barrier to adoption that they see.

If you're interested in helping pit bulls, shelter officials and rescue organization leaders urge you to adopt, foster or donate time or money. Terry, of the PGSPCA, asked residents of Prince George's County to urge their elected officials to eliminate the pit bull ban and instead support "broad, effective dangerous-dog laws."

"The pit bulls need all the help we can give them," she said.

Photo Credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington; Dirty Paw Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Sick Cat Nursed to Better Health at Maryland Shelter]]>Fri, 04 Jan 2019 15:44:14 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Sick_Cat_Nursed_to_Health_at_Shelter_Clinic.jpg

When News4's Wendy Rieger found Reggie, he was wounded and starving. Now, he's on his way to better health thaks to the Mary E. Parker SPCA shelter in Annapolis, Maryland. UPDATE: Reggie has been adopted as of Jan. 4, 2019.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Choose the Right Veterinarian For Your Pet]]>Thu, 16 Aug 2018 13:06:41 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Choosing_the_Right_Vet.jpg

Owning a pet can be expensive, especially when it comes to medical costs. A local consumer group found substantial price differences among local veterinarians. ]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Animal Shelter Has Condos for Senior Dogs]]>Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:30:07 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Senior_Dogs_Get_a_Dog.jpg

The Friends of Homeless Animals shelter in Loudoun County, Virginia, offers older and long-term resident dogs a comfortable life in individual condos complete with pools, air conditioning, a comfy bed and more. News4's Sheena Parveen has the story.]]>
<![CDATA[This Fanged Kitty Is Just Looking for a Forever Home]]>Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:13:46 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/gabana.jpg

This D.C. cat may have had some scary-looking fangs, but her foster mom says she's more into belly rubs than hunting.

Meet Gabana, a 10-year-old tortoiseshell cat looking for a forever home after her previous owner moved away. 

When Gabana arrived at D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance, she sported a notable pair of fangs, with one protruding more than the other. Her fangs shot her to popularity on Reddit, where she gained more than 5,800 upvotes. Users on the Washington, D.C. Reddit page complimented her look, with some saying they hope she'll find a forever home soon.

However, the protruded fang made Gabana's lip move differently, so she had to have it removed, her foster parent Marissa Clingen said. The remaining fang is now more of a snaggletooth that doesn't stick out as much. Clingen said that Gabana's lip moves normally now and she can eat easily now.

Gabana's been a foster cat in Clingen's Rockville, Maryland, home since July due to overcrowding at the shelter. Clingen, a long-term foster parent, liked how Gabana looked like a vampire version of her own cat.

When Clingen saw Gabana's high-fashion-inspired name, she thought the shelter had taken in a pair of cats named for the high-end brand Dolce and Gabbana.

"I was expecting there to be a Dolce too but she's a really pretty cat without fangs," Clingen said.

Instead, there's just Gabana. She hasn't let the fame of her name get to her head, though. She's a very low-maintenance cat and very affectionate, according to Clingen.

"She loves to rub up against you and she purrs loudly," Clingen said. "She loves when I read, she's constantly in my face with a book."

Gabana would be a good cat for a quiet home, Clingen said. 

"She doesn't mind alone time," Clingen said. "She just wants to sit next to you and purr and be affectionate."

While Gabana is a senior cat who likes to lay around, she's still very spunky and talkative for her age.

"She'll be hiding somewhere in the room then she'll come out and [she'll say] 'meow meow'," Clingen said.

You can meet Gabana and other animals looking for forever homes this Saturday, when NBC and Telemundo stations team up with animal shelters across the country for their Clear the Shelters event. Adoption fees will be waived at the D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance's locations on New York Avenue in Northeast and on Oglethorpe Street in Northwest. Gabana will be at the New York Avenue location that day.

See Gabana's adoption profile here, and find more participating shelters in your area here.

Photo Credit: DC Humane Rescue Alliance/Marissa Clingen]]>
<![CDATA[One Year Later: Senior Dog Happy, Snuggly at New Home]]>Sun, 19 Aug 2018 19:55:42 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/081418+ody+3.jpg

At 10 years old, senior dog Odysseus had been living at D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance for six months before he struck gold: a new home with a pair of newlyweds.

Tammy and Michael Garrett adopted him at last year's Clear the Shelters event, when NBC and Telemundo stations pair with hundreds of animal shelters across the country to offer discounted or waive adoption fees for the annual initiative. 

A year later, he couldn't be happier.

"He's very fortunate that we both work from home," Tammy Garrett told NBC in a phone interview, the German shepherd panting excitedly in the background. "He doesn't get left alone very often. He's very happy that he has us."

Odysseus, whom Tammy and Michael nicknamed Ody, was taken to the shelter in early 2017 after his owner passed away. His size (73 pounds) and his age meant he was a large, senior dog at the shelter, HRA Digital Director Dani Rizzo said, and since many adopters usually look for younger pets, those factors made it harder for him to get adopted.

Although Odysseus hates taking pictures, it was a photo of him on the HRA's website that caught Michael's eye, Tammy said.

"He was the right size dog we were looking for," Michael said. "I liked him the first time I saw him."

The Garretts had only been married for a little more than a month when they went to the shelter to meet Odysseus in person. One look was all it took.

"We weren't sure how it would be living with a larger dog, but it turned out wonderfully," Tammy said. "He loves it and we love him. Literally, he's like my child."

It took about a week for Odysseus to get used to his new humans. For the first few days, he was "quiet and aloof," she said.

He slept on the living room rug instead of the new bed the couple put in their bedroom. He got up to go to the restroom, but that was it, Michael said.

Odysseus had lost another piece of his old family while he was at the shelter. He and his brother Beowulf were put up for adoption at the HRA at the same time, but Beowulf was adopted in March 2017, before Odysseus was, and the two haven't seen each other since.

"If Beowulf's owner is willing, we would be so excited to get them both together," Tammy said in an email.

Finding a way for the brothers to reunite has been tough since the couple doesn't know the owner's name. Still, they asked that the HRA give them a call if Beowulf is put up for adoption again.

When Odysseus finally adjusted to his new home, there was a rush of love.

"He is a fully integrated member of the family," Tammy said. "He loves affection and loves to snuggle at our feet. If he sees my husband and I hug, he immediately wiggles in between us so he can get some hugs too!"

Odysseus loves being social, extending the amount of love and affection to his other family members around Christmastime last year. Everyone constantly hugged him and fed him treats, Tammy said.

"He loves being around people. The more people the merrier," she said.

An older gentleman of a dog, Odysseus loves taking long walks and hardly ever barks. He also loves chasing cats, and is "enamored" by deer, Tammy said.

"Everyone's amazed at how well-behaved he is," she said. "He's a star."

Some of Ody's other favorite hobbies include playing with toys, snuggling and sniffing.

Tammy thanked Clear the Shelters for giving them their "son."

"I really couldn't imagine life without him," she said.

The next Clear the Shelters event is coming up Saturday, Aug. 18. Find participating shelters in your area here.

Photo Credit: Humane Rescue Alliance
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Rescue Group Hopes Horses Can Find New Home]]>Wed, 15 Aug 2018 09:58:10 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/2018-08-14_1247_001.pngDog and cats aren't the only pets looking for forever homes. The Equine Rescue League is hoping some of their horses can find new families.

Photo Credit: Equine Rescue League]]>
<![CDATA[Map: Animal Shelters Waiving Adoption Fees This Saturday]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-08-19_1534.jpg

Animal shelters across the country are teaming up with NBC and Telemundo stations to find loving homes for pets in need.

The fourth annual Clear the Shelters event, a nationwide pet adoption initiative, will be held Aug. 18. Hundreds of shelters — including locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia — will waive or reduce fees as part of the one-day adoption drive.

The goal is to #ClearTheShelters by finding forever homes for as many animals as possible.

More than 61,000 pets were adopted during last year's event, including more than 1,300 in the D.C. area. One of those was a dog named Odysseus, then 10 years old. The odds weren't necessarily in his favor: He was a senior dog and also a large one, at 73 pounds. But the German shepherd went home with his new humans that day and found his happily ever after.

"He is a fully integrated member of the family," one of his new pet parents, Tammy Garrett, told NBC Washington. "He loves affection and loves to snuggle at our feet. If he sees my husband and I hug, he immediately wiggles in between us so he can get some hugs too!"

Millions more pets remain homeless. Every year, 6.5 million animals end up in shelters nationwide — and only 3.2 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA.

But the number of dogs and cats going into shelters each year has declined in recent years.

The number being euthanized has also declined, and the ASPCA attributes the decline in part to an increase in the percentage of animals being adopted and an increase in the number of strays being returned to their humans.

Dozens of local shelters will take part this year in Clear the Shelters, searching for homes for dogs, cats, rabbits and even horses.

We've listed them all below. You can also search on the interactive map above for the one closest to you.

Participating Shelters:

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

Animal Welfare League of Arlington

Animal Welfare Society of Howard County, Inc.

Anne Arundel County Animal Control

Baltimore County Animal Services

Baltimore Humane Society

BARCS Animal Shelter

Baywater Animal Rescue

Billy the Kidden Rescue

Chesapeake Feline Association

Cecil County Aninal Shelter

City of Manassas Animal Shelter

Equine Rescue League

Fairfax County Animal Shelter

Fancy Cats Rescue Team

Frederick County Esther Boyd Animal Shelter

Fredericksburg SPCA

Forgotten Felines of Culpeper

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue

Humane Rescue Alliance (New York Avenue)

Humane Rescue Alliance (Oglethorpe Street)

Humane Society of Charles County

Humane Society of Harford County

Humane Society of Loudoun County

Humane Society of Warren County

Humane Society of Washington (Md.) County

Loudoun County Animal Services

Maryland SPCA

Paws for Seniors

Prince George's County Animal Management Division

Prince William County Animal Shelter

Prince William Humane Society


SPCA of Anne Arundel County

Spotsylvania Animal Shelter

Stafford County Animal Shelter

Tri-County Animal Shelter

Westmoreland County Animal Shelter

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Shelter Pets Get a Day Out With Visitors at This Va. SPCA]]>Tue, 14 Aug 2018 12:07:01 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2018-08-14_1018.png

An animal shelter in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is making sure some of its longer-term residents get the fresh air they need and deserve.

The Fredericksburg SPCA's Adventure Tails program allows animal lovers to visit the shelter and take a cat or dog out for the day.

"People think the jumping and barking is how they'll act at home, and it's not. This lets the public see what they're like outside," said Von Young, a social media specialist at the shelter.

The SPCA hopes Adventure Tails and other programs will help break down some of the barriers that keep potential pet owners from adopting, and they've already seen some results.

Since the program's start in April 2017, the shelter has seen a 20 percent increase in adoptions.

"People see a shelter as a jail and it's the complete opposite. We want the animals to feel like they're in a hotel, so taking them out really does help them," Young said.

Here's how it works.

Anyone over age 18 can go to the shelter during its normal operating hours and ask to participate in the Adventure Tails program.

If you don't have a lot of experience with pets, don't fret! The SPCA will pair you with an animal that suits your needs and experience level. But pets who have been at the shelter longer are typically at the top of the Adventure Tails list.

Before you leave, staff members will outfit you with a swag bag, complete with Adventure Tails-themed gear, waste bags, water and a collapsible bowl.

Cat lovers will get a stroller or a plastic backpack with a pod-like window to transport their feline friend.

"Cats can be very stressed out when taken out of the environment they know, but we have lots of cats that love getting out," Young said.

There are many activities you can do with your cat or dog, but Young said most participants take their new furry friend to one of the city's many parks and trails.

The SPCA has also partnered with businesses in downtown Fredericksburg to offer treats and discounts to anyone who stops by, which Young says makes a great date night.

In addition to granting some of the shelter's most stressed and long-term residents some time away, Young said the program also helps the shelter learn more about the animal. When dogs and cats are returned to the shelter, participants are asked to fill out a form on how the animal behaved during their adventure.

"We may not have had that information before," Young said.

The Fredericksburg SPCA is open seven days a week from noon until 6 p.m. For more information about the program, click here

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[News 4 Your Sunday: Clear the Shelters]]>Mon, 13 Aug 2018 15:14:07 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/News_4_Your_Sunday_Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

Human Rescue Alliance Vice President of Community Programs Lauren Lipsey, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Senior Manager of Public Regulations Gina Hardter and veterinarian Wendy Weirich, BS, DVM, MSC, of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Inc. discuss what potential pet owners should know before adopting a pet as we get ready to clear the shelters.]]>
<![CDATA[Several Local Shelters Nearly at Their Limit for Cats]]>Sat, 11 Aug 2018 11:08:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Several_Local_Shelters_Nearly_at_Their_Limit_for_Cats.jpg

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is halving fees for cats 7 months and older during August. They'll also particpate in NBC's and Telemundo's Clear the Shelters event Aug. 18, when all adoption fees are waived.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear The Shelters: How to Choose the Best Pet for You]]>Fri, 10 Aug 2018 12:44:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Finding_the_Best_Pet_For_You.jpg

With Clear the Shelters just around the corner, are you ready to adopt? The Humane Rescue Alliance's Lauren Lipsey gave News4 some advice on choosing a pet that's perfect for you. ]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrate National Dog Day With DC-Area Yappy Hours]]>Fri, 24 Aug 2018 10:03:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dog+and+cocktails.jpg

Looking for new places to take your furry companion besides the park? Want to hang out with more dog owners? Check out a local "yappy hour," where dogs can mingle and owners can relax with a drink. 

National Dog Day Specials

Celebrate your favorite furry friend with National Dog Day on Sunday, Aug. 26. We've rounded up some ways to celebrate.

In the meantime, tag NBC Washington in your favorite photo of your dog on Instagram and Twitter.

Brunch at Radiator

Bring your pup to Radiator’s patio near Logan Circle for a completely dog-friendly brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You'll find a special menu of chicken and rice, burger patty and steak with a side of doggy treats made just for fido.

The Blaguard

Bottom's up for pups (and kitties)! The Humane Rescue Alliance mobile adoption unit will roll up to The Blaguard in Adams Morgan on Saturday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. for dog and cat adoptions  Even if you’re not ready to add a new pet to your life, you can support the Humane Rescue Alliance by buying a $5 Tito’s vodka or Hellbender Kölsch. Just decide if you want to adopt before sipping too much vodka.

Art and Soul Bark & Brunch

Go for a walk around Senate Park with your four-legged friend then stop by Art and Soul on New Jersey Avenue NW where you and your dog can both enjoy a bite. Art and Soul has a variety of doggie treats on their pooch patio menu, from pupsicles to non-alcoholic Bowser Brew. Tito's Vodka partnered with the restaurant to benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance on National Dog Day. You can make a reservation here.

DC Yappy Hours and Dog-Friendly Patios

Wet Dog Tavern

Wet Dog Tavern in the U Street corridor loves dogs whether they’re wet or dry. Hang out with dogs on their outdoor patio any day of the week for drinks and burgers.

The Midlands

The beer garden on Georgia Avenue opens their outdoor patio to furry friends. There's even treats and water bowls.

Cafe Saint-Ex

Bring your pup out to this Logan Circle spot anyday, but head over Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. if you're looking for $5 wine and cocktails, $2 off beer and food specials.

Silver's Pups on the Patio

Silver in Cathedral Heights in DC hosts yappy hour every Thursday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Mention “Pups on the patio” and 10 percent of your check will be donated to a local animal charity featured each week. You can also buy a Tito’s Handmade Vodka happy hour cocktail and $1 will be donated. The Bethesda location offers the same deal.

City Tap House

The Dupont Circle spot has a patio for pups.

Virginia Yappy Hours and Dog-Friendly Patios

Palette 22

Palette 22 in Arlington, Virgina, has yappy hours every Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. Dog owners can check out a variety of drinks under $5 and dogs can enjoy $5.22 pupsicles and $7 grilled sirloin.

8 Chains North

This dog-friendly, boutique winery in Waterford even has a dedicated fenced park where pups can play off their leash. Leashed dogs are welcome in the tasting room.

Oz Yappy Hour

The Australian restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, has food for humans and dogs at their monthly yappy hours. Any purchase enters you in a chance to win a gift basket of doggie treats. Check their Instagram for dates.


Quinn’s on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington hosts yappy hour every Monday from 3 to 7 p.m. Dogs can cool off with free dog ice cream or snack on a treat. Owners can get a $10 snack basket with wings, mini burgers and quesadillas along with drink specials.

Jackson 20

Hang out with your pup at Jackson 20 in Old Town Alexandria. The restaurant hosts yappy hour in their courtyard every Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. Have a toast with your dog with special pup-tails.

Spanky’s Shenanigans

Spanky’s Shenanigans in Leesburg, Virginia, opens up the back deck to the dogs every Wednesday. Dogs can play and owners can mingle from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. with 10 percent of food sales donated to Operation Paws for Homes.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Terminally Ill Virginia Dog With Bucket List Now Has a Home]]>Fri, 03 Aug 2018 09:49:42 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/196*120/zzzzzz+two+ezgif.com-crop+%281%29.gif

A terminally ill dog now has a family to help him make the most of his final days.

Smoke, a 10-year-old hound mix with cancer, was adopted Thursday. Adding to the good news, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington said volunteers helped check two items off his extensive bucket list: he visited Nationals Park and rode in a police car.

"We're so happy Smoke found his forever home. He was adopted by a loving family that has experience with senior rescue animals," shelter president Sam Wolbert said in a statement.

Photos show the happy pooch trotting around Nats Park and happily riding in an Arlington police car. 

Last week, the shelter announced Smoke's cancer diagnosis on its Facebook page and said the "ridiculously handsome hound" still needed a home. 

"We don’t know how long Smoke has left with us - it could be six months, or it could be just a few weeks," reads the post. "What we do know is that Smoke deserves to live the rest of the time he has left in a home, with a family that loves him. We are hoping that someone will come and adopt this big, goofy boy and give him as much love as they can during his last weeks and months."

But Smoke isn't going to just sit around waiting for a home; he's going to be busy living the good life while he can. 

Here was his full bucket list: 

  • Find a forever family
  • Go on a hike
  • Eat ice cream
  • Go to the beach
  • Have a birthday party
  • Ride in a fire truck
  • Eat a cheeseburger
  • Have breakfast in bed
  • Meet a celebrity
  • Ride in a police car and bay with the sirens
  • Get a full-body doggie massage
  • Go camping
  • Meet Santa
  • Be on TV
  • Jump in a big pile of leaves
  • Get a professional photoshoot
  • Go on a road trip
  • Get his own Instagram account
  • Ride in a convertible
  • Get a huge box of toys to play with and share with his shelter friends!

On August 18, NBC and Telemundo stations around the country will team up with hundreds of shelters for the Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive. Shelters will waive or discount fees as part of the one-day event. Go here for more information.

Photo Credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington / NBC Washington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[After 6 Months, Shelter Hopes Black Cat's Luck Will Change]]>Mon, 06 Aug 2018 06:11:12 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2018-08-02_1049.jpg

Update: Good news! The Humane Society of Warren County says Cassidy was adopted Aug. 3.


A black cat named Cassidy has called the Humane Society of Warren County home for a whopping six months, but the shelter is hopeful his luck will change — despite many people's superstitions about black cats.

The 5-year-old black cat arrived at the shelter in Front Royal, Virginia, on Feb. 11 as a stray. Tiffany Rothgeb, a caregiver there, said someone found the cat in their neighborhood.

At nearly six months, Rothgeb says Cassidy has been at the shelter longer than most. 

"He's overlooked, I would say, but he's a good cat. There's no reason no one shouldn't want him," Rothgeb said. 

With glowing green eyes, Cassidy is almost completely black. A photo of him on the shelter's website reveals a few peeks of white fur. Rothgeb suspects his age and coloring could be the reason no one has adopted him yet. 

"It's really hard to tell. He's a little older. Or maybe [it's] because he's black-and-white. A lot of the time, people don't like black cats because of the spooky thing," she said.

The shelter has an entire room full of black and black-and-white cats. 

They have nearly reached their capacity for cats and are no longer taking in strays. 

Brown cats and Siamese cats are quickest to get adopted, Rothgeb said. 

Cassidy is a sweet cat who gets along with other cats and would love to lounge around in his new owner's home. He's already neutered. 

"He's pretty sweet. He does play some, but he's just a kind of ordinary, lazy, lovable cat," Rothgeb said.

The adoption fee for a cat at the shelter is $15. 

The Humane Society of Warren County is located at 1245 Progress Drive. The shelter is open Thursday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

<![CDATA[Terminally Ill Va. Dog With Bucket List Still Needs Home]]>Wed, 01 Aug 2018 13:12:15 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/smoke+the+dog.jpg

Can you help a terminally ill dog make the most of his final days?

Smoke, a 10-year-old hound mix, has cancer. But the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is hoping someone will adopt him and help check items off his bucket list. The list includes getting a full-body doggie massage and getting his own Instagram account.

Smoke recently stayed with a foster family, but it wasn't a good fit, shelter spokeswoman Chelsea Lindsey said Tuesday. So Smoke still needs a home.

"He's a big, loveable goofball of a hound," she said. 

The shelter said in a "pupdate" that a few items have been knocked off Smoke's bucket list: He rode in a firetruck and ate a cheeseburger. Later this week, he's set to ride in a police car. 

Last week, the shelter announced Smoke's cancer diagnoses on its Facebook page and noted the "ridiculously handsome hound" still needed a home. 

"We don’t know how long Smoke has left with us - it could be six months, or it could be just a few weeks," reads the post. "What we do know is that Smoke deserves to live the rest of the time he has left in a home, with a family that loves him. We are hoping that someone will come and adopt this big, goofy boy and give him as much love as they can during his last weeks and months."

But Smoke isn't going to just sit around waiting for a home; he's going to be busy living the good life while he can. 

Here was his full bucket list: 

  • Find a forever family
  • Go on a hike
  • Eat ice cream
  • Go to the beach
  • Have a birthday party
  • Ride in a fire truck
  • Eat a cheeseburger
  • Have breakfast in bed
  • Meet a celebrity
  • Ride in a police car and bay with the sirens
  • Get a full-body doggie massage
  • Go camping
  • Meet Santa
  • Be on TV
  • Jump in a big pile of leaves
  • Get a professional photoshoot
  • Go on a road trip
  • Get his own Instagram account
  • Ride in a convertible
  • Get a huge box of toys to play with and share with his shelter friends!

The shelter is asking anyone who can help fulfill some of the activities on Smoke's bucket list to email mail@awla.org or call 703-931-9241.

The bucket list is also a way to get the word out in the hopes of finding him a home.

"We hope to start crossing items off his bucket list now, and that whoever adopts him will keep it going," the shelter said on Facebook.

People interested in adopting or fostering Smoke can visit the shelter on 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. anytime during business hours.

On August 18, NBC and Telemundo stations around the country will team up with hundreds of shelters for the Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive. Shelters will waive or discount fees as part of the one-day event. Go here for more information.

Photo Credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Shelter Creates Bucket List for Dog With Terminal Cancer]]>Tue, 31 Jul 2018 12:08:34 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/smoke+the+dog.jpg

A local shelter is asking for your help to make the very best of a handsome hound's last days.

Smoke is a 10-year-old hound mix living at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

The shelter announced on its Facebook page on Thursday that it recently found out Smoke has terminal cancer.

"We don’t know how long Smoke has left with us - it could be six months, or it could be just a few weeks," reads the post. "What we do know is that Smoke deserves to live the rest of the time he has left in a home, with a family that loves him. We are hoping that someone will come and adopt this big, goofy boy and give him as much love as they can during his last weeks and months."

But Smoke isn't going to sit around waiting for a home. Thanks to his shelter caretakers, he is going to be busy living the good life while he can.

They've created a bucket list for him that includes eating ice cream, taking a trip to the beach, getting a "full body doggie massage," meeting Santa, riding in a convertible — and the list goes on.

Check out the full list:

  • Find a forever family
  • Go on a hike
  • Eat ice cream
  • Go to the beach
  • Have a birthday party
  • Ride in a fire truck
  • Eat a cheeseburger
  • Have breakfast in bed
  • Meet a celebrity
  • Ride in a police car and bay with the sirens
  • Get a fully body doggie massage
  • Go camping
  • Meet Santa
  • Be on TV
  • Jump in a big pile of leaves
  • Get a professional photoshoot
  • Go on a road trip
  • Get his own Instagram account
  • Ride in a convertible
  • Get a huge box of toys to play with and share with his shelter friends!

The shelter is asking anyone who can help fulfill some of the activities on Smoke's bucket list to email mail@awla.org or call 703-931-9241.

The bucket list is also a way to get the word out in the hopes of finding him a home.

"We hope to start crossing items off his bucket list now, and that whoever adopts him will keep it going," the shelter said on Facebook.

People interested in adopting or fostering Smoke can visit the shelter on 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. anytime during business hours.

On Aug. 18, NBC and Telemundo stations around the country will team up with hundreds of shelters for the Clear the Shelters animal adoption drive. Shelters will waive or discount fees as part of the one-day event. Click here for more information.

Photo Credit: Animal Welfare League of Arlington
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Madrid Police Dog 'Performs' CPR on Partner]]>Tue, 26 Jun 2018 10:28:49 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/20180626_cpr_dog_SOCIAL.gif

Poncho is ready to save a life! Madrid's municipal police department shared a video of K-9 Poncho "performing" CPR on his human partner as a way to promote adoption. ]]>
<![CDATA[Adoptable Pets Near You]]>Fri, 17 Aug 2018 10:33:04 -0400]]><![CDATA[Hogan, First Lady Adopt 2 Rescue Dogs From Animal Shelter]]>Fri, 18 May 2018 12:53:23 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hogan+with+dogs.jpg

Two dogs from a Baltimore animal shelter are soon moving into swanky new digs: The Maryland governor's mansion. 

Gov. Larry Hogan and his wife, Yumi, have adopted a pair of rescued Shih Tzus. The Republican governor and the state's first lady got the female dog and one of her four puppies on Thursday. 

They adopted them at the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. The mother dog's other puppies were taken by Hogan's granddaughter and his press secretary and her family. 

The fluffy Shih Tzus were recently brought to the State House when Hogan signed legislation ending puppy mill sales and encouraging adoption. 

Hogan says he and his wife are "incredibly excited to be adopting these adorable dogs."

He's seeking public input about what to name the pets. Click here to submit your pick.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Larry Hogan
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Blind Dachshund Reunited With Guide Dog After Messy Adoption]]>Mon, 30 Apr 2018 07:52:49 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/2018-04-30_0717.png

A 6-year-old pit bull and a blind 12-year-old dachshund have been reunited after the two were briefly split during a messy adoption. 

Blue Dozer, the pit bull, and OJ were surrendered at a Richmond, Virginia, shelter on April 20 after their owner became homeless.

The shelter posted on Facebook that the pair needed to be adopted together as OJ needs Blue Dozer to guide him. 

They were adopted together last week but OJ was found wandering alone more than 100 miles away days later, The Washington Post reports.

The woman who adopted them said the shelter could keep OJ, but she wanted Blue Dozer. She eventually returned Blue Dozer, and the two reunited Wednesday. The shelter says the next owner will sign a form promising to keep them together.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Richmond Animal Care and Control]]>
<![CDATA[Arlington Animal Shelter Takes in 70 New Dogs and Cats]]>Fri, 13 Apr 2018 09:10:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Puppy5thumbnail.jpgAn inside look at some of the 70 dogs and cats the shelter took in recently.

Photo Credit: Animal Welfare League Arlington]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for New Pet Owners]]>Fri, 25 Aug 2017 18:41:49 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/F11A+SHEENAS+PET+SEGMENT.jpg

News4's Sheena Parveen talks with Alexandra Dilley of the Humane Rescue Alliance and learns tips for training new pets.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[#CleartheShelters: Over 1,300 Pets Find Forever Homes]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:33:06 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/gallery13.jpg

More than 1,300 cats, dogs and other pets have been adopted in the D.C. area as shelters across the country waived adoption fees Saturday for Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive.

One of those animals was Pookie, a 9-year-old brindle hound who faced a long journey to his forever home.

He was born in West Virginia and lived with two families there. When one of his owners got sick, she gave him up to a West Virginia rescue. That rescue transferred Pookie to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, where the shelter groomed his matted fur and treated his skin irritations. Then they put Pookie's photo online.

And that is how Roger of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, found his new furry friend.

"He had just fallen in love with him from a picture," said Chelsea Lindsey, a communications specialist at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Saturday afternoon, Roger and Pookie made the 4-hour drive home to Pennsylvania together.

Though Clear The Shelters may be over, there are still animals hoping for a home. Check our interactive map for a list of shelters who were our partners in the event.

Hugo, a deaf, white-and-brown dog with perky ears, was still waiting for his forever home Saturday afternoon. He cannot hear, but he knows his own sign language and will sit with a simple hand signal. Hugo is at the Humane Rescue Alliance on Oglethorpe Street in northwest Washington.

Kathy, from Montgomery County, visited a shelter to find a new companion after her long-time cat passed away. She spoke to NBC Washington while holding a tabby kitten.

"There's so many animals here. Adopt, don't shop," she said.

Many people were lined up hours before opening Saturday at the Humane Rescue Alliance.

A would-be adopter named Maria said she arrived at 2 a.m., hoping to adopt a Labrador puppy that she'd seen on News4.

Around 10:30 a.m., the Baltimore Humane Society announced its first adoption: a dog named Maxamillion.

Marcel Green was another early adopter. He started waiting outside the Humane Rescue Alliance at 4 a.m. Saturday to adopt a pup for his mom. More than six hours later, Green and his father, Bruce Green, went home to Gaithersburg, Maryland, with a 2-month-old chocolate-colored puppy. 

Tanya, a social worker from Silver Spring, adopted a boxer mix named Roxy.

"As a social worker, I work on putting children with families," she said. "I'm really happy to have an event like this because animals need love and affection, too."

Many shelters require every person in a household to meet an animal before adoption. Tanya brought her children to meet Roxy at the Humane Rescue Alliance.

"We're a dog family," she said. "It was a family decision."

Kristie talked with NBC Washington while volunteering at the Human Rescue Alliance.

"Rescues are the best way to go," Kristie, who has three rescued cats, said. "It's always a win-win situation."

She watched several people adopt cats today. One of those people was D.C. resident Raymond White. He was watching News4 when he saw a gray and white cat.

"They said come and adopt a cat, and I always wanted one," he said.

White named his new furry friend Blessed.

Nationwide, more than 61,600 pets have been adopted during 2017's Clear the Shelters.

In addition to dogs and cats, plenty of more unusual animals were adopted Saturday. The first adoption from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington was a group of seven mice.

A colorful sun conure bird named Beaker will brighten the homes of his new owners. Other adopted animals included guinea pigs, ferrets, miniature pigs and rabbits.

Clear the Shelters is a partnership with NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Scenes From #CleartheShelters Day 2017]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 15:37:21 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-08-19_1534.jpgShelters across the country waive adoption fees for Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive. These photos show scenes from 2017's event at shelters across the D.C. area. (Share yours @nbcwashington or email them to isee@nbcwashington.com.) ]]><![CDATA['They Look Up at You': MPD Dogs Sniff Out Threats]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 15:45:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/RSteveRoselleTeo+2.jpg

Playing Frisbee, running through the grass and riding with his human in the car are all activities that Officer Aida Rodriguez's high-energy Belgian malinois, Tiger, enjoys.

Yet there's something different about him. When an unattended bag is found in D.C., Rodriguez and Tiger are first on the scene. Tiger sniffs through the area, sitting down when he detects something suspicious.

That's when a bomb tech, which Rodriguez is training to be, steps in to render the package safe.

"You have to be able to read him," said Rodriguez, the Metropolitan Police Department's only female canine handler. "They look up at you."

Tiger graduated from the Special Operation Division Canine Patrol Unit's training program, where he underwent eight hours of training per day for 16 weeks. Dozens of dogs graduate from this program, becoming bomb-detecting dogs like Tiger, or patrol pups, trained to find criminals, evidence and missing people.

"I'm building apex predators," said Officer Kelvin Dyson, canine handler and trainer for MPD's current patrol dog class. "These dogs go into the woods looking for a murder suspect."

"You've Got to Crawl Before You Walk"

Only German shepherds and Belgian malinois can enroll in patrol dog training. They're professionally bred, entering the class between their first and second birthdays with little outside training.

The course starts with agility and obedience training, eventually advancing to box searches and human tracking.

"This is a process," Dyson said. "You've got to crawl before you walk."

Temperament matters. Dogs that show cowardice are dropped from the program. Environmental factors are also play a role. The dogs will practice on different surfaces regularly, Dyson said.

"You never want your dog to see something for the first time on a call," said Officer Stuart Jewell, a canine handler.

The officers learn to become handlers alongside their partners, forgoing regular work for the four-month-long class. Five officers and their dogs are currently enrolled in Dyson's course.

After training ends, the dogs will return to class once per month while spending eight to 10 years serving with one handler. They'll live with their handler when they're off-duty, forging a strong bond between the families and dogs.

"What Do I Have to Do to Come Into Canine?"

The Special Operations Division's Canine Unit is one of the most popular in the Metropolitan Police Department, Dyson said.

There's rarely a vacancy in the unit, making open positions rare and highly competitive. Applicants go through vetting, physical fitness testing and an interview with a selection board before they're offered the job.

Dyson has seen officers apply up to 10 times, he said.

"Wherever we go, someone says, 'What do I have to do to come into canine?'" Dyson said.

MPD's canine training program draws students from other agencies, too. Two of the five officers currently enrolled are from Manassas and Falls Church. MPD hasn't sent its own officers to outside classes since at least the 1960s, Dyson said.

Dyson said he's proud of being a trainer, teaching younger handlers to serve the unit.

"If you believe in the philosophy of sending the elevator back down, that's what it's all about," he said.

Photo Credit: Courtney Rozen]]>
<![CDATA[Shelter Animals Can Be One Viral Photo Away From Adoption]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:22:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/081617+gunner+dog+before+after+Jenene+Kross+available.jpg

In the first photo, a white-and-orange kitten in a cage looks unsure. The lighting is dim, and the cat's face needs to be cleaned.

In the second photo, he looks curious and dapper, with a gold bow tie and light illuminating his green eyes.

Officials at the the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Virginia, hope the second photo will help the kitten, who they named McMuffin, get adopted. 

"Just one positive photo can make a huge difference in an animal's life," volunteer pet photographer Marty McKee said in the days before NBC's Clear the Shelters campaign, which helps find "forever homes" for animals across the country every August.

The Alexandria shelter and a growing number of animal shelters in the D.C. area are using the services of volunteer pet photographers.

In the age of social media, taking the time to capture beautiful images of animals matters, McKee said. He takes professional-quality photos for Loudoun County Animal Services and other Northern Virginia animal shelters.

One photo posted on the Loudoun County shelter's Facebook page might reach as many as 10,000 people. If the photo grabs their attention or pulls at their heart strings, they'll share it with their Facebook friends and it's more likely to be seen by someone who's ready to adopt.

"Families have told me, your photo is the reason we came in today," McKee said. "Then, you see the animal is their new, beloved family member or a child's best friend."

A friend recently sent him a text message about a photo he took of a black-and-white cat named Figaro. It caught the eye of her coworker, who welcomed him into her home.

"Marty did you take pics at the shelter of a cat named Figaro? Like 2 weeks ago? He was adopted by a nurse I work with. She said his picture spoke to her," the text said.

The adoption rate at the Loudoun County shelter is up for the year thus far. More than 1,500 animals -- including chickens, reptiles and parrots -- are adopted every year.

Animal Services spokeswoman Nicole Falceto attributed this, in part, to the use of high-quality photos.

"We depend on volunteer photographers, and it truly makes a huge difference in the adoption rate for shelter pets," she said. "Anything that helps shorten the length of stay for a pet and gets them into loving homes is a huge bonus."

A spokeswoman for the Alexandria shelter also said the work of the volunteer photographers helps drive adoptions.

Shelley Castle, a pet photographer who volunteers with the Alexandria shelter, said she believes that photos that evoke love are more effective at getting people to help animals than those that evoke pity.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ad with the Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel," for example, shows lonely-looking animals in cages.

"A lot people can't even look at that," Castle said. "Each one of these animals is special and beautiful. It's far more beneficial to bring out that little, individual personality."

Like McKee, she said she sees her photos get big results.

"People see these photos and they come out of the woodwork to adopt these animals," said Castle, who works as a lobbyist by day.

Both Castle and McKee said the key to taking good pet photos is taking the time to make the animal feel comfortable and safe.

When Castle first met a golden-colored dog named Jordan, he was "absolutely petrified," she said. "But with a little love and trust-building, you can create a picture that shows their cute and bright side." In one photo of him, he gazes into the camera inquisitively, with one ear cocked.

McKee said he pets and talks with the animals he photographs, sometimes for 20 minutes at a time before he even starts shooting photos. 

"My focus is on earning the trust of the animal and getting them to relax and show their personality," said McKee, a network security engineer who comes to pet photo shoots armed with a light kit and multiple lenses that work well for poor lighting conditions.

When he finally gets the perfect shot, he knows it.

"As soon as I click that shutter, I get this tingling feeling and feel like this is it," he said. "I feel like this will make the difference."

Photo Credit: Loudoun County Animal Services
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Here Are Local, Adoptable Pets!]]>Sat, 19 Aug 2017 07:15:26 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tiny-Thursday.jpgShelters in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. will waive adoption fees Saturday, Aug. 19 for Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive that helps find loving homes for animals in need. ]]><![CDATA[Hundreds of Shelters Across US Waiving Adoption Fees Sat.]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:47:29 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

It's time to Clear the Shelters once again! Nearly 700 shelters across the country are teaming up with NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo for a nationwide pet adoption drive this Saturday.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters! Help Animals Find Their Forever Homes]]>Thu, 17 Aug 2017 19:19:52 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelters_Help_Animals_Find_Their_Forever_Home.jpg

Meet some of the animals who are available for adoption at Clear the Shelters on Saturday! During this annual adoption event, adoption fees are waived. Thursday, the staff at the Humane Rescue Alliance were busy preparing each of these animals for a smooth transition to their new homes. News4's Sheena Parveen reports.]]>
<![CDATA[10 Things to Do If You're Adopting on Clear the Shelters Day]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:05:43 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CleartheShelterCrop.jpg

Clear the Shelters Day is coming! This Saturday, shelters around the country will waive adoption fees to help you find your new furry (or feathered or scaly) best friend.

Finding a new family member can be very exciting, but it can also be hectic if you aren't prepared. It's important to know what to expect, especially on Clear the Shelters day, when lots of prospective adopters will be at the shelters.

We talked with Lauren Lipsey, the vice president of Community Programs at D.C.'s Humane Rescue Alliance to get her take on adopting on Clear the Shelters Day and what you need to do before bringing home a pet.

Read on for 10 things to do on adoption day to keep things runnings smooothly:

1. Be patient, and go with a positive attitude.

Clear the Shelters Day gives lots of families the opportunity to meet new pets, which means sometimes lines for adoption are longer than usual. Be prepared to wait in line.

"People need to keep in mind that we are trying to facilitate a lot of adoptions in a very short time span," Lipsey said. "This is more than your average adoption day."

2. Be prepared to stand outside.

Lines could be be long, and depending on the shelter, you may be asked to wait outside. If it's hot, bring water to stay cool. If it's rainy, an umbrella might be a good idea.

3. Bring an ID, and be ready to fill out a questionnaire.

When you arrive at the shelter you’ll be asked to show a photo ID. You'll then fill out a questionnaire that will ask you questions about your home and lifestyle. Shelter staff and shelter volunteers will review the questionnaires to make sure you find a pet that's the perfect fit.

4. Know what kind of pet you're looking for.

The more you know about what type of animal you want to adopt, the smoother the adoption process will go.

Do you want a dog or a cat? Would you prefer an energetic or a relaxed pet? Do you want a puppy or kitten, or would an older animal work better for your family? Lipsey said it's best to think about your schedule, home layout and lifestyle before choosing a pet.

5. Think about transportation.

If you're planning on taking a bus, Metro or Uber or Lyft to the shelter to adopt, make sure you think about how you're going to get your new animal home.

Metro trains and buses do not allow dogs. Uber and Lyft leave the choice up to their drivers. Have a backup plan for how you'll get back home.

6. Be prepared to walk.

Parking might be tight in some shelters, so you may have to park a little farther from the shelter than you normally would. Make sure you're prepared to walk a bit.

7. Be prepared to bring a pet home that day.

Shelters will not hold pets on Clear the Shelters Day, so you'll need to be prepared to bring home your new pet the same day you head to the shelter.

Lipsey said there are a few things you can do to make sure you're ready for your new furry friend.

"Get any and all supplies you might need before that day in anticipation," Lipsey said. Food and water bowls are an absolute must. Also consider purchasing collars, leashes, toys and other items to make your new pet comfortable.

8. Bring a carrier or a leash.

Lipsey said the Humane Rescue Alliance adoption locations will have cardboard cat carriers available for $5. But if you have a carrier, or are planning on getting one for future use, you might consider bringing it for adoption day.

Some shelters may have leashes and collars available for adopted dogs, but go prepared by bringing your own.

9. Be aware that you might still have to pay a small fee.

Clear the Shelters Day means adoption fees will be waived at most shelters. But if you're a resident of D.C., there is a mandatory $15 dog license fee. Make sure you're prepared to pay it.


You're about to make a forever friend in your new rescue pet!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[What to Consider Before You Adopt a Pet]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 15:03:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelters.jpg

There's a lot to consider before you adopt a pet. News4's Sheena Parveen talks with a Humane Rescue Alliance representative about what you should know.]]>
<![CDATA[People Pet Vet Talks Clear the Shelters]]>Wed, 09 Aug 2017 17:07:34 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Talk+Stoop+Clear+the+Shelters.jpg.jpeg

People magazine Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle and celebrity pet vet Evan Antin stop by “Talk Stoop” to chat with Cat Greenleaf about the effort to “Clear the Shelters” on Aug. 19.

Dr. Antin’s biggest piece of advice for those planning on adopting a cat or dog: “Going to a local rescue or shelter and visiting with the dogs, and realizing whether or not this is a good move for you,” he says.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Bathe Your Dog]]>Thu, 07 Jun 2018 19:24:45 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2017-08-05-at-8.25.58-PM.jpg

Is your pup stinky? Watch Ripley the Chocolate Lab get a bath at Bideawee, a no-kill animal rescue in New York City, and see how you can safely bathe your own canine.]]>
<![CDATA[Small Pets Also Seeking Homes During Clear the Shelters]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 13:03:52 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clear_the_Shelter_of_All_Animals.jpg

Our annual Clear the Shelters event is coming up, and it's not just dogs and cats that need a home. Storm Team4 meteorologist Sheena Parveen takes a look at some other animals up for adoption. ]]>
<![CDATA[15 Celebs Who Adopted Rescued Dogs]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 10:58:30 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/AP_473250883425.jpgCelebrities have long had a platform for advocacy. These particular celebrities love animals. Like millions of other pet owners across the United States, some stars opt to adopt their furry friends from animal shelters or rescue groups.

Photo Credit: Casey Rodgers/Invision for Purina ONE via AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Pet Adoption Fees Waived Aug. 19]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 12:14:41 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Pet_Adoptions.jpg

Nearly 700 shelters across the country are teaming up with NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo for Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 19 that helps find loving homes for animals in need. Storm Team4 meteorologist Sheena Parveen has more on the event.

<![CDATA[Puppy Left at Airport Bathroom With Heartbreaking Note]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:20:15 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Chewy+Abandoned+Puppy.jpg

A miniature Chihuahua was left inside a Las Vegas airport bathroom along with a heartbreaking letter from the puppy's owner.

In the handwritten note, Chewy's owner reveals she's a victim of domestic violence and was escaping her "abusive boyfriend," but couldn't afford the airfare for her 3-month-old dog.

"She didn’t want to leave me with all her heart but she has NO other option. My ex-boyfriend kicked my dog when we were fighting and he has a big knot on his head. He probably needs a vet," the note, which was posted on the Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue (CMRD) Facebook page, said. "I love Chewy sooo much – please love and take care of him.”

Since sharing Chewy's story on Facebook, CMDR says there has been “tremendous interest” in the pooch. The Las Vegas-based rescue center said it reviewing all of the interest forms before it selects a new home for Chewy.

"However, there is but 1 Chewy and he can go but to 1 home. Please consider the hundreds if not thousands of "Chewys" loaded with love that are desperately seeking homes in shelters which are at max capacity, rescues are full! Please consider adopting another wonderful companion in his honor!" the shelter added.

Photo Credit: Connor and Millie's Dog Rescue
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Special Needs Corgis Ready for Their Closeups]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:17:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/DSC_9647_Panda.jpgEach corgi in the series has either a behavioral, neurological or other medical need.

Photo Credit: Casey Christopher]]>
<![CDATA[What to Do If Your Dog or Cat Is Too Fat]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 13:36:58 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Weight_Management_Tips_for_Pet_Owners.jpg

Alexandra Dilley of the Humane Rescue Alliance joins News4 to share tips for managing your pet's weight and preventing overfeeding. Diley is joined by Lady, a 13-year-old pit mix available for adoption at the Washington, D.C. shelter.]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know When Adopting a Special Needs Pet]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:32:07 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Adopting_A_Special_Needs_Pet.jpg

Many pets are in need of homes, including special needs pets. COO of Humane Rescue Alliance, Stephanie Shain, explains who should adopt special needs pets and what the shelter does to help out. Shain talks with News4's Sheena Parveen about it.]]>
<![CDATA[Rescued Miniature Horses to Provide Therapy for Wounded Veterans]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 13:33:36 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Horse_Therapy_Helps_Wounded_Veterans.jpg

A riding center in Ramona is bringing together miniature horses saved from slaughter and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) in a program that helps heal all involved.

The Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center adopted two miniature horses on Thursday, and will use them in its program Operation Saddle Up, which provides therapy to wounded service members and veterans suffering from PTSD, according the center.

The miniature horses were rescued from slaughter in a Texas auction house by P.A.W. 4 The Foundation, an animal rescue organization founded by Charlotte Olhausen. 

According to Cornerstone, the horse therapy provided through Operation Saddle Up has brought an 85 percent decrease in suicidal thoughts, 75 percent decrease in PTSD and 90 percent decrease in anxiety for those veterans enrolled in their program.

In addition to helping service members, Cornerstone said the horses will be used to help children with special needs and serve as program ambassadors throughout the community once they are trained.

<![CDATA[Retriever Fever: America's Most Popular Dogs, in Photos]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:55:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/178*120/1GettyImages-519107508_master.jpgThe Labrador retriever is America's best best friend, according to the American Kennel Club. This gallery features "aw"-inducing photos of the top 10 most popular dog breeds in America, as judged by the AKC.

Photo Credit: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Adoption Fees Waived for Cats, Kittens at Md. Shelters]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 17:10:54 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-83284782.jpg

More than a dozen Maryland animal shelters are working to find homes for at least 2,000 cats and kittens across Maryland in July.

The 16 participating shelters are waiving adoption fees for cats and kittens all month long during an event called "Maryland 2,000," according to a release from the Frederick County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center.

However, some smaller charges may remain. For instance, the fee at the Frederick County shelter is typically $97.50. This month, there will only be a $15.50 charge, which will go toward rabies vaccinations and county licensing, according to a press release from the shelter.

At the Maryland ASPCA, adoption fees are typically $55 for cats and $100 for kittens. This month, adopters will pay just $25 for an ID package, which includes a microchip, collar and personalized tag. (Check with your shelter of choice for specific fees.)

Shelters typically have influxes of new kittens who were born during the summer, commonly called "kitten season," which strains the resources offered by shelters across the state, according to the release from the Frederick County shelter.

"Kitten season is a busy time for animal shelters in Maryland," said Linda Shea, director of the Frederick County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center, in the release. "This surge of kittens and moms coming into our already full shelters makes it critical that we find them all homes so we can continue to take in other cats and kittens who need our help."

The 16 participating shelters are:

  • Anne Arundel County Animal Control
  • Animal Welfare League of Queen Anne's County
  • Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter
  • Baltimore County Animal Services
  • Baltimore County Humane Society
  • Caroline County Humane Society
  • Cecil County Animal Services
  • City of College Park Animal Control
  • Howard County Animal Control & Adoption Center
  • Humane Society of Carroll County
  • Humane Society of Harford County
  • Humane Society of Washington County
  • Frederick County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center
  • Maryland SPCA
  • Talbot Humane Society
  • Tri County Animal Shelter

Photo Credit: Michael Nagle / Stringer, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ALS Treatment for Dogs Could Benefit Human Patients]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 12:46:47 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ALS+Dog+1.JPG

Despite the increased awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, few people know that a similar disease affects our canine companions. 

Degenerative myelopathy is a disease similar to ALS that causes progressive paralysis in older dogs. Both neurodegenerative diseases are fatal and there is no cure. 

As in humans with ALS, dogs with degenerative myelopathy eventually die when the respiratory system stops working, but often pets are euthanized before. 

But researchers at the University of Massachusetts partnered with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Massachusetts, to test a new drug therapy in dogs that they hope could one day benefit human patients with ALS. 

Dogs participating in the trial, which began in December 2016, undergo tests and are checked every three months to assess their neurological and motor functions. According to Tufts, four dogs are currently in the pilot study. So far, the therapy appears safe in pets, but researchers say it's too early to determine whether it will stop the disease or reverse it.

"Does it work? That’s the question I wake up and go to bed with every day," said Robert H. Brown Jr., a UMass Medical School neurologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on ALS.

The failure rate with clinical trials for any drug is very high.

"Approximately only 10 percent of drugs that make their way into people is actually approved by the FDA for use in humans," said Dr. Cheryl London with Cummings School.

One reason is that tests are done on mice, which are given the disease or genetically engineered. London says because of these factors, the disease in mice don't accurately represent what researchers see in humans. But diseases in dog, cats and even horses do. Researchers also say because these animals are much closer in makeup to humans than mice, the likelihood of success is greater.

Greta, a 9-year-old boxer, is one of the dogs participating in the clinical trial of the drug therapy and her owner hopes it could stop her disease from getting worse. 

"Her contributing to the research was really important," Greta's owner said. "That it links to human ALS and research in that area, it just seemed like Greta could help dogs and humans, both."


If your dog has generative myelopathy and you would like your dog to take part in this study, click here to see if it meets the criteria.

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Tips for Keeping Pets Safe and Secure Over the Fourth]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 13:30:43 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tips_for_Keeping_Pets_Safe_and_Secure_Over_the_Fourth.jpg

Alexandra Dilley, of the Humane Rescue Alliance, joins News4's Chuck Bell to discuss tips for keeping pets safe and secure of the Fourth of July holiday. The Humane Rescue Alliance has two shelters on New York Avenue and Oglethorpe Street in Northwest Washington, D.C.]]>
<![CDATA[PAWmicon: Comic Canines in Cosplay]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:04:11 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/pawmicon_19.jpgCoo over woofers dressed as superheroes, and villains, too, from movies and comic books, at a sweet San Diego fundraiser.

Photo Credit: The Helen Woodward Animal Center]]>
<![CDATA[Kristen Bell, Charlize Theron Gush Over Their Rescue Dogs]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:08:45 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/KristenBell-CharlizeTheron.jpg

As the Annenberg Foundation prepares to celebrate the opening of the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista, California, some of Hollywood's most famous dog owners are sharing their positive pet stories with fans.

In a new video posted on YouTube, Kristen Bell reintroduces viewers to her dog Lola, who she rescued at a shelter 13 years ago.

"I wanted a dog for my birthday, which was like my first dog as an adult and she was just staring at me from inside her kennel and I felt this instant connection and the woman at the pound said, 'You may not want that dog. She's been returned by two other families,'" the actress recalled. "And I said, 'Nope. That's my dog. That's the dog I want.'"

The rest, as they like to say in Hollywood, is history.

Stars Who Adopted Pets

Charlize Theron also stars in the video with her two beloved pooches Johnny and Berkley. The Hollywood actress couldn't help but emphasize how much pets can become part of the family.

"My children absolutely adore them and they adore my children and I cannot imagine my family without them," Theron shared. "What's better than opening your door and two friendly faces are just happy to see you no matter what? That's what Berkley and Johnny do."

She added, "They're strays, they look weird but they're so beautiful. You don't need a purebred dog."

The Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is described as a community service and pet adoption center that includes veterinary care and animal education.

In fact, the center also focuses on "the celebration and study of the relationship between people and their pets -- and the important and beneficial impact of the human-animal bond."

"Looking out for another living thing is a way of learning how to look out for yourself, learning to have empathy and love and I think that's brilliant for kids," Stephen Moyer shared. "It's a great reminder for us."

Photo Credit: File/AP Photo
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly 1,000 Animals Rescued]]>Wed, 21 Jun 2017 15:17:08 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_rescuedanimals0621_1920x1080.jpg

Nearly 1,000 animals are being cared for after being found in an old moving truck in Fresno, California, Friday. Kendyll Lyons, a kennel worker at Fresno Humane Animal Services, has been working long hours to make sure the hundreds of birds, bunnies, quail and others. A total of 955 animals were rescued, but several have since died.

Photo Credit: KSEE-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Ultramarathon Dog Scores Book and Movie Deals]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:20:07 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_17165751510592.jpg

Gobi, the stray dog who captured hearts when she adopted her human Dion Leonard during a 155-mile race across China's Gobi desert, will be featured in books and a movie depicting how the two met and bonded.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[34 Dogs Saved From 'Deplorable' Conditions in Calif. Home]]>Sat, 17 Jun 2017 18:28:33 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/6-17-17_Dog_Seizure.jpg

Nearly three dozen dogs were rescued Thursday from woeful conditions in a Scotts Valley home, according to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter.

The rescue happened after someone reported that several dogs were suffering from "deplorable and inhumane" treatment at a residence. The animal shelter officers were familiar with the property since there have been similar complaints made in the past, the shelter wrote on Facebook. 

"The conditions were such that [the dogs] needed to be seized," Linda Puzziferro from the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter said. "They were breeding the dogs, and there were many dogs. The conditions were not good."

With the help of warrants and assistance from the Scotts Valley Police Department, the animal shelter retrieved 34 dogs. Most of the canines were Boston terriers, as well as some Tibetan spaniels and one Chihuahua mix.

The pets were not being treated appropriately and will need to be examined by the veterinarians, according to the shelter.

The dogs' owner struggles with hoarding problems and recently suffered a stroke, a man who lives on the property where the dogs were seized told NBC Bay Area. The man added that he understands there were too many dogs in one location, but claimed the pups were healthy.

The shelter is stretched thin, officials said, and asked for donations.

People looking for more information can find it online.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Tubby Tabby: 35-Pound Cat Adopted in DC]]>Sun, 18 Jun 2017 07:51:52 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/symba.jpg

The Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C., found a home for one of its largest residents.

Symba came to the Humane Rescue Alliance's New York Avenue adoption center last week weighing a whopping 35 pounds.

The rotund, 6-year-old cat came to the shelter after his owner moved to an assisted living facility and couldn't take Symba along. 

According to the Humane Rescue Alliance, Symba is 15 pounds heavier than his "goal weight," but he's well on his way to shedding off the pounds. The shelter posted a video of Symba working out on a cat wheel, but the tubby tabby didn't seem too enthused. 

Right now, the shelter says Symba can only take a few steps before becoming short of breath. He's also fed out of food puzzles that are designed to slow down a cat's eating. 

The Humane Rescue Alliance said the person who adopted Symba will have to continue his diet and exercise routine. 

If you're looking for a pet, other animals are available for adoption here

Photo Credit: Humane Rescue Alliance
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Couple Accused of Hoarding 180 Yorkies Pleads Guilty]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 02:48:23 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Poway-Dogs-RESCUED.jpg

A Poway couple, accused of hoarding more than a hundred Yorkie dogs inside their homes and a restaurant pleaded guilty Monday, confirmed prosecutors.

Christine Calvert, 62, and Mark Vattimo, 73, will be placed on three years of probation at their sentencing on July 11, said prosecutors.

Calvert and Vattimo previously pleaded not guilty in March.

Deputy District Attorney Karra Reedy said it's most important that the defendants get help, in order to make sure this never happens again.

The defendants must undergo counseling and are not allowed to own any pets, as part of their plea agreement. They also will transfer the ownership of a 31-foot motorhome to the Humane Society as restitution in the case, said prosecutors.

After 18 months of probation, Vattimo and Calvert may apply to have their felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors, according to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Lewis.

Back in January, the Humane Society received a report from a concerned veterinarian that suggested the Poway couple was keeping 180 dogs in deplorable conditions. The dogs were kept in dark, unsanitary rooms filled with feces, urine, and mice at the defendants' home.

When Humane Society officials went to the scene, they were prevented from entering the home, said Reedy. After a few days, they were able to come in and 94 dogs were removed from the defendants' home within the next eight hours.

Later, 29 dogs were also seized from a restaurant the couple owned and nearly 50 dogs were taken from a motor home when Calvert was arrested last February in Primm, Nevada, according to prosecutors.

It was unclear why the couple kept so many dogs in terrible conditions, Reedy said. All the animals had health problems, ranging from ear infections to severe matting.

The couple was charged with 10 felony counts, including animal abuse and neglect, and one count of resisting an officer.

The dogs were placed in the care of the San Diego Humane Society. 

More than 1,500 adoption applications were submitted for the Yorkies, prompting the organization to close the adoption process earlier than planned.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of a defendant. The article has been corrected. We regret the error.

Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[Stolen Dog Reunited With SoCal Family 7 Year Later]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 10:06:59 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dog-reunion-060617.jpg

Pet microchipping led to a heartwarming reunion Tuesday for a Southern California family and their dog, who finally returned home seven years after she was stolen.

Kona, an 8-year-old pit bull, was dropped off by animal control at Ventura County Animal Services (VCAS) Saturday in Camarillo, where workers scanned her for a microchip implant that led to her owner, Shannon Pratt.

The last time Pratt and her family saw Kona was seven years ago when the then-1-year-old pit bull was stolen from their backyard in Ventura County, according to VCAS. The family has since moved to Bakersfield and Kona's collar was left behind.

Upon receiving the good news from VCAS, Pratt and her daughters drove to Ventura County to pick up Kona.

Tuesday's emotional reunion, which was streamed live on VCAS' Facebook, shows Pratt and her three daughters happy to be reunited with Kona.

"It's just the best feeling when the microchip scanner beeps," said VCAS director Tara Diller. "It means the pet has a microchip, and the chances of reuniting pets with their owners increases exponentially."

Even though a microchip implant dramatically increases the likelihood of locating a pet's owner, the vast majority of lost pets do not have these implants, according to VCAS spokesman Randy Friedman.

This is also true of the lost pets at the Camarillo Animal Shelter. Few animals there have microchips, making it difficult to locate owners and move animals out of the shelter. The Camarillo shelter currently offers shelter to 240 animals, almost 100 animals more than its intended 150-animal capacity. The shelter has been far over capacity since it became a "no-kill" facility in 2014, Friedman said.

Microchip implants are the size of a grain of rice and last a lifetime, making them a "game changer" for lost pets, Friedman added.

Animal services officials especially urge owners to microchip their pets as July 4 nears. Friedman said that having a microchip implant will increase the chance that a pet will be returned if it gets lost after running from fireworks.

VCAS offers microchip implants for $10 at low-cost vaccination clinics that are held at different sites each month. Implants are offered for free for pets that were lost and have been returned to their owners.

Photo Credit: Ventura County Animal Services
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[50 Animals Rescued Following Animal Cruelty Complaint]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 14:15:04 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/196*120/NHSPCA+rescue+060117+1+EDIT.jpg

About 50 animals living in overcrowded, filthy conditions were rescued in New Hampshire and relocated to the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA) in Stratham following an animal cruelty complaint, authorities said.

An NHSPCA spokesman says the animals include two horses, a mother dog and her four puppies, 27 rabbits and 15 guinea pigs.

All will be evaluated by a veterinarian.

The organization believes the dogs are suffering from worms and the horses appear underweight and without proper hoof care. Some of the rabbits and guinea pigs were suffering from urine burns on their paws.

"It is always devastating to see animals that were entrusted to the care of humans and those humans failed to provide it," said Lisa Dennison, the NHSPCA's executive director. "These animals have suffered at the hands of human seeking to make a profit from their offspring."

The NHSPCA says the owners of the animals are cooperating with authorities but are expected to face animal neglect charges. Their information has not been released.

Once the animals have recovered, the NHSPCA said they will be placed in homes.

The agency is seeking donations to help pay for their food, vaccinations and care. To make a donation, go to www.nhspca.org, call 603-772-2921, Ext. 102 or send it by mail to New Hampshire SPCA, PO Box 196, Stratham, NH 03885.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: New Hampshire SPCA]]>
<![CDATA[Looking for Local Shelters to Join 'Clear the Shelters']]>Sat, 27 May 2017 16:09:57 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-07-23_16421.jpg

NBC4 is teaming up with local animal shelters for a very special event: Clear the Shelters 2017!

In this annual event, animal shelters waive fees in order to get as many animals adopted as possible on a single day.

In 2017, Clear the Shelters Day will be on August 19.

It's a powerful day of fostering new relationships between needy animals and their human companions. Here's just one story:

When Emma adopted her dog, she started to cry. She and Mike lined up outside the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League at 11 p.m. Friday.

Emma said she was crying "because I helped her."

The excitement showed in Emma's new dog, Sarah. Sarah, a large, skinny dog spotted black and brown, raced out of the shelter with her tail wagging. She jumped up to greet people and sniffed all around her.

"She adopted a true companion," said a shelter representative.

Last year, we helped adopt more than 1,400 pets.

Are you a representative of a shelter that wants to join the effort? Here's how to contact NBC4:

Kelly Amacher

Anna Mizelle

Photo Credit: Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Isis, the Bomb-Sniffing Dog Protecting You]]>Thu, 25 May 2017 12:30:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/052417+isis+the+bomb+sniffing+dog.jpg

ISIS was raised in prison, but she wasn't doing hard time. The bombing-sniffing pooch was trained by female inmates at Florida prison to become a service dog as part of a program called Puppies Behind Bars. NBC 6’s Julia Bagg reports.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Service Dog in HS Yearbook]]>Fri, 19 May 2017 23:31:55 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/soldier+campbell+yearbook1.jpg

To see Kathryn Campbell smile, you'd have to look into her past. The once active, talkative little girl started having seizures at the age of ten.

"She has since lost her ability to speak with us, and she doesn't smile very much anymore," said her mother, Kim Campbell. "We have lost that outgoing little girl, and that has been absolutely the most difficult part."

Bringing comfort to the whole family is Kathryn's best friend, Soldier.

"He's a goofball, and he's a big old scaredy cat. He eats socks, which is his absolute worst habit," Kim Campbell said.

Soldier is Kathryn's service dog. Together, they attend Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth. He's by her side constantly — even in the school yearbook.

But his presence is for more than just comfort.

"He can smell the differences in her body before the seizures actually happen," her mother said.

His alerts range from licking to pawing and barking, and they give Kathryn's caregivers an average 45-minute warning before a seizure occurs.

"Every seizure is life-threatening," said Kathryn's nurse, Samantha Stringer.

Stringer said she uses the extra warning time to prepare oxygen and rescue meds.

When she jumps into action, Soldier waits. He's always on alert, and he's always by Kathryn's side—through everything.

As high school freshmen they went to homecoming together—and then prom.

Soldier is an active member of Kathryn's classroom, so when it came to student picture day, Soldier took part.

"There's lots of kids rolling through, it's like, 'Hey! Here's a dog, okay good,'" said photographer Jared Pyfer, who captured Soldier's student ID picture.

Soldier is not only featured in an article with Kathryn in the yearbook, he also has his own picture, alongside the other students.

Because of his name's first letter, S, Kathryn's sister separates them in the row of pictures. But Soldier is close by—just like always.

"I think it commemorates their bond that they have. They get to go through all of this together," student Amanda Barber said.

Soldier is a proud student with a life-saving sense of smell and enough love to give anyone who needs some comfort.

"Every life matters and everyone that walks into this school matters," Stringer said. "Even a dog's life can make an impact of life and death, and I think that's amazing."

"He's a blessing, all the way around," said Kim Campbell said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Need a Dog Walker? There's an App for That]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:44:25 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-05-15_0630.png

If you have a dog you have to leave everyday to go to work, you may feel a little guilty? What if your dog needs to go outside? Well, there's an app for that. News4's consumer reporter Susan Hogan shows us how a new app can make your day guilt free.]]>
<![CDATA[Is Your Pet Bored? Here's How to Entertain Them]]>Fri, 12 May 2017 12:33:51 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018762835_1200x675_942497347753.jpg

Alexandra Dilley, director of behavior and training at the Humane Rescue Alliance, joins NBC4's Sheena Parveen to offer some tips on how to keep your pet entertained when they are home alone.]]>
<![CDATA[Pistons Coach Adopts Animal Shelter's Last Dog]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:37:33 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/US-MI-Last-Dog-Adopt-CR_1200x675_940425283974.jpg

Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and his family have adopted a Labrador retriever mix that was an animal shelter's last remaining dog following a pet adoption day.

Van Gundy, his wife Kim and their teenage daughter picked up Eastwood, a special needs dog, Tuesday at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society in the northern Michigan city of Harbor Springs.

Eastwood gained national attention last week for being the shelter's last remaining dog following a statewide "Empty the Shelters" free pet adoption day that found homes for nearly 1,600 pets at 66 Michigan shelters.

The friendly pooch was born with an eye defect and a leg deformity that may someday require surgery.]]>
<![CDATA[Duck Shows Up at Man's Home, Refuses to Leave]]>Mon, 08 May 2017 16:12:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_duckman0508_1500x845.jpg

A duck showed up at a Florida man's home a few weeks ago -- and he says it still won't leave the property. Lakeland resident Richard Martin says he tries to take the animal to a nearby lake but she always waddles back to his house.]]>
<![CDATA[What You Should Do If You See a Case of Animal Abuse]]>Fri, 05 May 2017 12:27:47 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018684860_1200x675_937283139513.jpg

Humane law enforcement officers help save animals who can't speak for themselves. Here's what you should do if you spot a case of animal abuse or neglect. ]]>
<![CDATA[Cat Survives 15 BB Gun Shots]]>Thu, 11 Oct 2018 02:32:08 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/chance-the-cat-la.jpg

An eight-month-old kitten is recovering after being shot 15 times with a BB gun earlier this week.

The stray feline came in to Nohl Ranch Animal Hospital with multiple puncture wounds, all of them aimed at his head, according to hospital officials. Five BB gun pellets went through the cat's skull; surgeons were able to remove all but one, which was too deeply embedded. 

Hospital workers have named the cat "Chance" because he miraculously survived the attack. Veterinarians said that cats are normally quick to run away once they've been attacked, raising questions about how 15 shots were fired at the kitten. 

"We would think he would have ran, so it's a possibility that he could've been held down or tied down," Dr. Janie Guirguis said. "But we're not sure."

Chance was found hovering under a truck just a few blocks from the Nohl Ranch Animal Hospital in Orange County, California.

Doctors said the shock of the attack left Chance blind, but they're hoping he'll regain his eyesight as he heals.

Chance will continue to recover before Nohl Ranch begins searching for a suitable home.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Lab Report: Gene Researchers Map Out Dog Family Tree]]>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:27:50 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/211*120/gretriever.jpg

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have come up with the most complete and definitive canine family tree to date, NBC News reported.

They've spent more than 20 years sampling the genes of 161 breeds of dog, sequencing them and comparing them to show how breeds were mixed and matched to make new breeds. The genealogy also gives a rough timeline and geographic map of what came from where.

"It's very subtle variation in small numbers of genes that account for that very large difference in morphology that we see across breeds," said Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the NIH.

The goal is to track disease-causing genetic mutations, which often translate to human disease genes, Ostrander said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Keeping Your Pet Safe This Spring]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:27:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018524852_1200x675_926474307505.jpg

Veterinarian Dr. Kendra Baker shares ways to keep your pets safe this spring.]]>
<![CDATA[Match for Mutts? Website Helps People Adopt the Best Dog]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Golden-Retriever-GettyImages-522796697.jpg

There's a new way to find the perfect family dog. 

The founders of the website How I Met My Dog say people usually select a pet based on appearance and breed. But that's barking up the wrong tree. 

How I Met My Dog matches humans and potential pets based on what really matters - personality, lifestyle and behavior. Some are calling it a canine version of eHarmony or Match for mutts. 

People looking for a new dog can fill out a personality profile based on their lifestyle. 

The site then matches them with dogs at shelters or that need new homes that would complement that lifestyle. 

The service has rolled out in the Boston area, and the founders are hoping to go nationally later this year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hero Images]]>
<![CDATA[Can You Speak Dog? Website Teaches You How to Understand ]]>Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:46:53 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018290198_1200x675_911218755669.jpg

Have you ever wondered what your dog is thinking or why it's acting a certain way? iSpeakDog.org is a website that teaches dog owners how to read their pet's body language to better understand their mood. iSpeakDog founder Tracy Krulik and Alexandra Dilley, director of behavior and training for the Humane Rescue Alliance, talk with Sheena Parveen and share tips on how to better understand your dog.]]>
<![CDATA[Spring Is Kitten Season and Shelters are Flooded]]>Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:01:20 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018209804_1200x675_905762883642.jpg

With spring comes kitten season. More kittens are born this time of year and shelters get crowded. Stephanie Shain of the Humane Rescue Alliance is in the studio with News4's Sheena Parveen to talk about the season and give tips for kitten adoption.]]>
<![CDATA[Arlington Firemen Start Drive for Animal Shelter]]>Wed, 03 Aug 2016 16:23:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/operation+firepaws.jpg

Arlington firefighters are encouraging the public to help animals at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington by giving to their donation drive.

The Arlington County Fire Department is hosting a month-long donation drive named Operation FirePaws. Donations collected during August will go to the AWLA.

The firefighters are seeking a variety of nonperishable items from a wishlist of needed items in the AWLA center in Shirlington.

This is the AWLA’s first drive with the fire department.

"We don’t really know what to expect, but we’re very hopeful," AWLA Communications Specialist Chelsea Lindsey said, "People are really responding to the drive. We hope to at least get a few boxes."

The supplies will be presented to the AWLA at the Wags n’ Whiskers event on August 27 at The Village at Shirlington.

The drive runs through the entire month of August, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

Here are the centers where you can drop off donations for the drive:

Fire Station 2 – 4805 Wilson Blvd.

Fire Station 3 – 4100 Old Dominion Dr.

Fire Station 5 – 1750 S Hayes St.

Fire Station 6 – 6950 Little Falls Rd.

Fire Station 7 – 3116 S. Abingdon St.

Fire Station 9 – 1900 S. Walter Reed Dr.

Photo Credit: Arlington County Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[Family Set to Adopt One Dog, Leaves With Two]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 18:01:40 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CTSJediSithDogs_1200x675_731049539547.jpgNBC 7's Dagmar Midcap speaks with a San Diego family who went to the San Diego Humane Society during Clear The Shelters on July 23, 2016 with the intentions of adopting one dog, but happily left with two new pets.]]><![CDATA[DC Mom Surprises Son With Iguana During Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 17:26:45 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160723+charizard.jpg

Who said Clear the Shelters was only for cats and dogs? One woman used Saturday's adoption event as an opportunity to give her son the ultimate surprise -- an iguana.

Parrie Henderson-O'Keefe, of Mount Pleasant, D.C., adopted Charizard, a 2-year-old iguana, for her 15-year-old son Peirman, who wants to study amphibians and reptiles as an herpetologist when he grows up.

"He's going to be thrilled," Henderson-O'Keefe said. "Ecstatic. That's all we've been talking about since he saw her."

After learning about Clear the Shelters in an email from the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League, Henderson-O'Keefe decided go to the shelter in advance Thursday with Peirman and her daughter, Eldie, 12, to look around.

That's when Peirman met Charizard, an iguana named after a Pokemon character.

"He really responded to the iguana," Henderson-O'Keefe said.

Peirman scratched Charizard's neck to remove a layer of skin she was shedding, and Henderson-O'Keefe said when her son picked up Charizard, the iguana crawled onto his shoulder.

After leaving the shelter Thursday, her son told her he wanted the iguana for his 16th birthday. He then left for camp in Ohio, but Henderson-O'Keefe and Eldie decided to return to the shelter Saturday to adopt Charizard.

She said she'd probably call Peirman Saturday afternoon to tell him the news.

"He's probably going to make us FaceTime the reptile," she said.

Charizard was one of 95 animals adopted in the D.C. area during Clear the Shelters that were not dogs or cats.

Buddy and Sophie, two 10-year-old chinchillas that had been hanging out at the shelter together since June 2, were adopted together, and a young tortoise named Rusty also found a forever home.

Fire-bellied toads, ferrets, guinea pigs, mice, chickens, parakeets, a tortoise, a bearded dragon and a pigeon also joined families Saturday.

Charizard was in the shelter for three months before being adopted, Henderson-O'Keefe said. She said the shelter didn't know why the owners gave her up.

Before adopting Charizard, Henderson-O'Keefe said the family already had a dog, a cat, a tortoise, a gecko and four fish. She said adopting a reptile is appealing because they have a "different level of care" compared to dogs. And Peirman is drawn to them, she said.

"He find reptiles just fascinating," she said.

Henderson-O'Keefe said her tortoise is "the best pet in the world. She comes when she's called; she sleeps half the year."

And Charizard has proven to be a good pet so far, too, she said. Henderson-O'Keefe said by phone that she's already played outside with Charizard and the iguana seemed to enjoy being around people. She said Charizard was calm and friendly, and like most iguanas, adapted well to people well.

"An iguana is probably as close to a dog as you can get in the reptile world," she said.

Photo Credit: Parrie Henderson-O'Keefe]]>
<![CDATA[Washington Humane Society to Waive Adoption Fees for Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 16:46:18 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015475483_1200x675_727899203667.jpgNBC and Telemundo stations are teaming up with animal shelters across the country for the second annual Clear The Shelters event. With 50 dogs and 130 cats looking for a home, the Washington Humane Society is full going into the event. Lisa LaFontaine, the CEO of the Washington Humane Society, told NBC4's Erika Gonzalez adoption fees are waived for the event, and she introduced Rhino, a dog from the Washington Humane Society who is up for adoption.]]><![CDATA[Iguana Finds a Home on Clear the Shelters Day]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 15:16:41 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-07-23_15011.jpgAn awesome mom adopted an iguana for her son's 16th birthday.]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Pets Adopted Around the Country]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 18:53:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/ACCT+Othello+Dog+CTS.JPGThousands of pets have been adopted from hundreds of shelters across the country as part of Clear the Shelters, NBC and Telemundo's nationwide pet adoption initiative. Here are some of the animals that found their forever homes.

Photo Credit: Joseph Kaczmarek]]>
<![CDATA[Ever Wonder What High-End Doggie Spas Are All About?]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 14:52:16 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015516195_1200x675_730567747590.jpgAromatherapy, mudbaths and fur coloring abound at Grooming by Em in Maryland.]]><![CDATA[Head to Shelters to Find Forever Friend for Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 10:15:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015522966_1200x675_730941507727.jpgMany or all adoption fees are waived today at participating shelters in the area. News4's Wendy Rieger showed off some potential forever friends]]><![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: 1,400+ Local Pets Find Homes]]>Sun, 24 Jul 2016 13:17:55 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-07-23_16421.jpg

When Emma adopted her dog, she started to cry. She and Mike lined up outside the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League at 11 p.m. Friday so they could take the dog home without waiting in the heat.

Emma said she was crying "because I helped her."

Lauren Lipsey, the director of rehoming for the Washington Humane Society, said seeing Emma's emotion at adopting Sarah was her favorite part of Clear the Shelters day, when adopton fees were waived at more than 30 D.C.-area shelters.

"It's just why we do all of this," she said with tears in her eyes. "So it was amazing."

The excitement showed in Emma's new dog, Sarah. Sarah, a large, skinny dog spotted black and brown, raced out of the shelter with her tail wagging. She jumped up to greet people and sniffed all around her.

"She adopted a true companion," Lipsey said.

NBC owned stations and Telemundo stations teamed up with shelters across the D.C. area, and across the country, for the second annual Clear the Shelters event Saturday.

On Saturday, more than 1,400 pets -- including dogs and cats, of course, but also chickens, parakeets, rabbits and an iguana -- had found their forever homes. Throughout all of July, Clear the Shelters helped find homes for more 3,770 pets in the D.C. and Baltimore areas.

"Empty cages! *Happy, happy tears*," posted the BARCS animal shelter in Baltimore late Saturday. "All of these doggies found homes today during Clear the Shelters!"

BARCS said it had done 37 adoptions and another 35 were pending, with the animals waiting for spaying or neutering or on "stray hold," waiting to make sure that they weren't just lost.

Many shelters offered discounts or waived adoption fees for the event. For instance, the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League (WHS-WARL) waived adoption fees for Clear the Shelters, and each pet is already spayed or neutered.

Dozens of people lined up outside WHS-WARL Saturday. Among them were the future owners of Deputy, an 11-month-old mutt.

Deputy's new mom said she brought her two kids to the shelter yesterday and felt a connection right away. She said she told herself, "We'll be back to get him for sure."

Deputy's new dad carried him out of the shelter, and their son, Mateo, urged them to take him to his new home.

"He's hot," he said.

A corgi named Travis was the first pet to go to his new home from WHS-WARL. Travis' new owner said he chose the dog because his daughter wanted a Corgi.

"Perfect dog," he said. "Pretty coat. Just a healthy dog, so we're happy."

Krystal Gilmore of Northwest D.C. visited WHS-WARL with her mom and adopted a white 2-year-old cat named Paula.

"We've been looking for a cat for some time, and it was kind of like our spirits just clicked," she said. "...We saw Paula and we fell in love with her."

Gilmore already has an 8-year-old Yorkie named Stallion. So far, they seem to be getting along well, she said by phone later Saturday.

"They both look like they're just going to be hanging out, laying out," she said.

Of the 7.6 million animals that enter shelters each year, only 2.7 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA. Clear the Shelters seeks to close that gap by matching animals in these shelters with loving homes. 

About 1,200 pets were adopted from the D.C. area on Clear the Shelters Day in 2015.

Even if you couldn't adopt a pet Saturday, you can go back to the shelter and find a variety of pets available. Lipsey said the shelter gets more than 35 animals per day on average, so there will be plenty of furry friends to choose from.

"We are never at a lack of animals," she said.

If you already have a pet but need some guidance, the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League's website can be a helpful resource, and you can reach out to them if you need information or advice.

"I want people to know that we are a resource, even after adoption," Lipsey said. "Even if you haven't adopted from us, we are a resource to pet owners in the community."

Across the country last year, 20 shelters were cleared of all of their adoptable dogs.

Photo Credit: Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League
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<![CDATA[Cats, Kittens Ready for Forever Homes to Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 09:14:58 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015522906_1200x675_730937411630.jpgShelters are packed with cats and kittens. News4's Wendy Rieger finds out why Clear the Shelters can help them. ]]><![CDATA[Finding the Right Match Key for Clear the Shelters]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 09:07:19 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015522815_1200x675_730930755910.jpgPeople should take the time to find the right pet for their family. News4's Wendy Rieger has some puppy help.]]><![CDATA[Give a Shelter Pet a Forever Home During Clear the Shelters]]>Fri, 22 Jul 2016 13:34:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015514396_1200x675_730386499820.jpgArtimus the shelter dog visited News4 Midday to help promote the DMV's Clear the Shelters day. More than two dozen shelters in the area will waive adoption fees Saturday, July 23 in an attempt to find forever homes for every pet.]]><![CDATA[Dog Who Stood Guard Over Injured Owner Gets New Home]]>Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:43:49 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/precious+the+dog1.jpg

The loyal pit bull who stood guard over her owner after a Prince George's County fire finally has a home of her own. Now the woman who helped Precious find her happy ending is hoping her story changes the way some people look at her breed. 

Precious made headlines last December for her act of devotion. The protective dog with big brown eyes guarded her owner after a fire broke out at their Landover Hills, Maryland, home.

But after the fire, Precious and her puppy, Molly, were sent to an animal shelter because of the county's ban on their breed. A placement with their owner's sister also ended soon after it began. 

The family was able to re-home Molly, but Precious was left without a family. That's when Jessica Stuby and her organization, Babes 4 Bullies, stepped in to help.

Precious suffered from smoke inhalation as a result of the fire and also had fleas. So Stuby nursed her back to health before finding her a home.

"She did great," Stuby said. "We waited for her to be done with her meds."

Precious was adopted in mid-February and is now enjoying life with her new family. 

She quickly adjusted to her home, claiming a spot on the family couch with a dog who looks remarkably like her. Stuby shared a picture on Facebook of the new "brother and sister" snuggled together back in April.  

"She's healthy and sweet and awesome," Stuby said. 

But Stuby hopes Precious' story will help change the ban that took her from her original owner. 

"She's a great little dog, which is why it's so ashame we have these bans," Stuby said. "I just can't imagine her being put down just because shes's pit bull."

Stuby says over 70 percent of the dogs she's helped since her group was created in 2010 had to be rehomed because of a county or building breed ban. 

In Prince George's County, residents are not allowed to "own, keep or harbor a pit bull terrier," according to a county code. Illegal pit bulls can be impounded, and their owners can face fines of up to $1,000 or up to six months in prison. 

Stuby says requiring owners to get liability insurance could be a good alternative to a ban. 

"The problem is not usually the animal in the home. It's the people in the home," Stuby said. 

Photo Credit: NBC4/Babes 4 Bullies
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Clear the Shelters: Adoption Fees Waived Sat.]]>Mon, 18 Jul 2016 12:30:43 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015457459_1200x675_727125571823.jpgNBC and Telemundo stations are teaming up with animal shelters across the country for the second annual Clear the Shelters event on Saturday. Lauren Lipsey, director of rehoming for the Washington Humane Society, gave more information about the event. Lipsey said the shelter will waive adoption fees, and you can take your pet home the day you adopt it. She said adopting a pet is a commitment for that pet's entire life, but she spoke with NBC4's Aaron Gilchrist about how to know if you're ready for a pet.]]><![CDATA[How to Care for a New Dog Rescued From Neglect]]>Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:59:28 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shutterstock-puppy.jpg

Adopting a rescue dog who has suffered abuse or neglect isn't always easy. Your new pet is safe now, but your dog may still be dealing with emotional trauma from the past.

Beau Archer, director of strategic operations for the Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League (WHS-WARL), said his shelter receives 50 to 300 dogs rescued from puppy mills across the country each year.

The shelter's Law Enforcement Department also rescues local dogs who have experienced animal cruelty, responding to more than 1,400 complaints per year. Archer said typically those animals were strays or were neglected.

Because of their difficult pasts, dogs who have been rescued from puppy mills or other inhumane environments require some extra care. Here's some advice for new owners who want to make their rescue dog feel comfortable and loved.

Be Patient With Your Pet

For a dog rescued from a puppy mill, the world can be overwhelming. After being stuck in inhumane living conditions for so long, your dog has a lot of catching up to do.

Puppies are socialized when they are between three and 20 weeks old, according to the Animal Humane Society. Socialization entails introducing the dog to other people, animals and other things the dog will find in the outside world.

Archer said most dogs rescued from neglectful circumstances have not been properly socialized. As a result, he said, they can be timid. He said dogs rescued from puppy mills sometimes engage in behavior like eating feces or marking, but it depends on the dog. He said they probably don't arrive house-trained, either.

You should introduce your new dog to everything gradually, at a pace with which your pet is comfortable. Archer said if your dog is fearful of something, try giving him or her treats as you work on overcoming that fear. Food can also strengthen your bond with your pet, according to the Humane Society.

Do not rush your dog into anything, Archer said.

If your dog tenses up, looks uncomfortable or starts looking out of the corner of his eye, Archer said to back away and give your dog space.

Dogs prefer to escape or flee when they are in a fearful situation, but if a dog feels cornered and believes escape isn't possible, the dog may act aggressive and even bite out of fear, according to the ASPCA. Don't turn your back on a frightened dog, the ASPCA advises, because the dog might bite you while you aren't looking before running away.

How to Make Your Dog Feel Safe

Since many puppy mill dogs spend most of their lives in cages, they might feel safe having a crate available to retreat to when they are overwhelmed, Archer said. He said you can put blankets and pillows in a crate and leave the door open.

Along with giving them a safe space, avoid making loud or sudden noises that will scare your dog, particularly yelling. Instead, speak softly in soothing tones around your dog, the Humane Society advises.

Archer said while you shouldn't "tip-toe around the dog," you should introduce the dog to unfamiliar noises, like the television and the vacuum, gradually. It might be a good idea to keep the house quiet for the first couple of weeks, he said.

Make sure not to spend too much time with your dog, Archer said, because that can put your dog at risk for developing separation anxiety.

If your dog develops separation anxiety, you can try giving him or her a toy with food inside to occupy your dog and give him or her something good when you leave, said the ASPCA. If your dog has a more severe case of separation anxiety, the ASPCA suggests a more complex desensitization treatment.

Do Not Discipline

WHS-WARL strongly advises against disciplining your dog, Archer said.

When you punish your dog for misbehaving, he or she won't understand that the punishment is related to the bad behavior, Archer said. He said disciplining will make the dog fear you, which is the last thing you want from a rescue dog.

Instead, ignore your dog's misbehavior, and reward your pet for obeying you, he said.

If you catch your dog misbehaving, you can say something to interrupt the behavior and reward your dog for stopping, according to the Humane Society.

Archer said rewarding your dog with treats and attention will be much more effective at improving your dog's behavior.

Be Prepared for Possibility of Health Problems

Dogs rescued from puppy mills may suffer from medical problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, deafness, eye problems and other issues, according to the ASPCA. Along with these health problems, dogs may have contracted illnesses and parasites from living in unsanitary conditions.

However, most of the dog's medical issues will be treated at the shelter, Archer said. He said dogs are groomed and spayed or neutered before adoption at most shelters, and dogs suffering from severe medical problems will have already started treatment before adoption.

Archer advised new owners to prepare for the possibility of having to finance treatment for health problems, but he said this likely will not be a major issue for most rescue dogs. Rather, Archer said owners should focus on filling the pet's emotional needs.

Other Dogs May Help Your Dog Adjust

Having another friendly dog in the house may help your rescue dog adjust, according to the Best Friends Animal Society. This other dog can serve as a role model, showing your rescue dog the ropes -- playing is fun, the bathroom is outside and humans can be trusted.

Archer said this can be a very helpful tactic for some dogs to gain confidence, but it depends on both pets' personalities. Dogs who are comfortable around other dogs can find success in this method, and fearful dogs can build confidence by interacting with a dog that is confident, but not controlling, Archer said.

If you are trying to introduce your rescue dog to your other dog, WHS-WARL recommends introducing them gradually, with the first meeting in neutral territory. Start with short interactions and work your way up. When the dogs meet in your home for the first time, make sure the new dog is in the house first.

If your dogs don't get along right away, don't punish them for the initial hostility, because that can worsen their relationship, the shelter advises.

Use Available Resources

It's important to learn as much about your dog's history and behavior as possible, Archer said.

He said the shelter can provide background information for where your dog came from. Even if the shelter does not know your dog's history, he said people at the shelter can provide valuable information about your dog's health and behavior.

For more advice on how to care for your pet, Archer said the ASPCA and the Best Friends Animal Society both have useful tips for new owners of dogs who suffered from animal cruelty.

If you're struggling to socialize or house-train your dog, you can bring your dog to a training class, which WHS-WARL offers with its behavior and training team. The classes are open to anyone in the community, and private appointments are available. You can also contact local dog trainers for lessons.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Madonna Dancer’s Dog Fatally Shot by Police in Brooklyn]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 09:39:57 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/stonnie+boy+dog+shot+killed.jpg

A dog belonging to a professional dancer touring with Madonna was shot and killed by police officers while they were issuing an arrest warrant in Brooklyn Tuesday, police and friends say. 

The officers went to a home on Montauk Avenue in East New York in the early evening to serve a warrant to a 29-year-old man wanted in an open complaint, police said.

There, the suspect had a pit bull loose, and the dog bit one of the officers in the arm. His partner opened fire on the dog, killing it, police said.

"They came into the gate. He had the dog loose and the dog came out," said witness Micky Burgos. 

The cop who was bitten was treated for minor injuries. 

The dog belonged to a friend of the suspect, who was watching it while the owner -- a professional dancer named Stanley "Sheik" Mondesir -- wraps up his tour with Madonna in Los Angeles, friends said.

A witness said the officers had no choice but to shoot the animal, but friends said the dog was well-trained and cops should have tried to avoid it.

"The dog is a good dog," said Peaches Simmons, a friend of Mondesir. "I feel like if they really needed to get in the house -- that's why the need animal control." 

Simmons called Mondesir to let him know his dog was killed, and said he was distraught.

"He started crying 'cause he had Stonnie since he's a baby," said Simmons.

The dog, named Stonnie Boy -- an apparent slang term for "get wild" and something Madonna yells onstage -- was about 3 or 4 years old. 

People in the neighborhood said the dog was well-behaved and never seemed aggressive. But Burgos said the officers did what they had to do.

"I told the police officer, 'I'm sorry, it wasn't your fault,' 'cause the dog came at him," said Burgos. 

Police would not describe the nature of the warrant that was being issued against the suspect. 

Mondesir is a so-called "bone-breaker" dancer who has been touring with Madonna over the past year, friends said. He was also part of a popular dance crew, RingMasters, that appeared on MTV. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY/Provided
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[9 Cats That Won't Make You Sneeze]]>Thu, 08 Aug 2019 09:53:39 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-99192954_high-cropped.jpgIf you love cats but suffer from allergies, don't be discouraged. Here are a few breeds that won't send you running for Benadryl.

Photo Credit: Brenda Carson/Getty Images/Hemera]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. Firefighters Rescue Fox]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:12:38 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Soccer+Net+Fox.PNG

A group of local heroes rescued a fox tangled in a soccer net in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

New Hope Eagle Volunteer Firefighters, along with Solebury Township Police and Medic 146 came to the rescue of the fox after its head was stuck in the soccer net.

A video posted on Facebook shows the group cutting the net that appears to be tangled around the animal's head. They then released the fox back into the woods. Take a look at the rescue in the video embedded above.

Photo Credit: New Hope Eagle Volunteer Fire Company
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<![CDATA[Md. Woman Gets 180 Days for Keeping 66 Dogs in Squalor]]>Sat, 09 Jul 2016 09:38:30 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Katherine+Ting+Tiong+Look+N.jpg

A Maryland woman will spend 180 days in jail for keeping 66 dogs in deplorable conditions in her home.

A district court judge sentenced 47-year-old Katherine Ting Tiong, of Rockville, to more than 16 years in prison with all but 180 days suspended. She also will be placed under three years probation and has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. 

The judge said the dogs would have been better off euthanized than continue living in her home.

Ting Tiong was charged earlier this year after police rescued the dogs on New Year’s Day.

The dogs were found in varying levels of distress, according to the Animal Services Division of the Montgomery County Police Department. Many of the animals had dirty fur soaked in urine, infections or suffered from other untreated diseases.

Three of the dogs had to be euthanized, and another also died.

Ting Tiong told authorities she was operating a rescue service called Forever Homes Animal Rescue.

Before sentencing Friday, Ting Tiong told News4's Kristin Wright she had lined up a rescue in New Jersey to pick up 30 of the dogs.

The police investigation officially began after one of the dogs bit a woman at a Potomac pet adoption event in December.

Most of the surviving dogs have been adopted, but some of them are still working through issues with their new families, according to Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center. Three of the dogs are still up for adoption.

To adopt, call 240-773-5900.

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Helping Pets During Fireworks Shows]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:27:34 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dogs+vs+Fireworks.jpg

The Fourth of July fireworks may be fun for those of us on two legs, but for a lot of four-legged friends out there, it's not the same story. 

The loud noise from fireworks shows during the holiday can often cause serious anxiety for pets and can even send some running out of fear.

Cate McManus with Dallas Animal Services said it’s common to see a rush the day after the yearly Fourth of July display as their already packed shelter takes on even more pets that got away from home.

“When animals just freak out from fireworks, they get out of fences or break down doors," she said. "I mean some dogs really go to extremes to get away — they’re so scared."

There are a lot of options available to deal with the anxiety such as wearable options, while others include herbal or over-the-counter pills offered at pet stores.

Last May, when Southlake veterinarian Dr. Tom Holbrook was seeing similar anxiety from dogs during thunderstorms, he showed NBC 5 a new medication being prescribed to dogs during such situations called Sileo.

"You put it in the cheek and gums,” said Holbrook. “Just put the syringe right in the gum right there and just squirt so many dots, and the dots are on the syringe itself."

The fast acting gel calms the pet and wears off after just a few hours. Holbrook’s office warns that it does require a checkup and prescription from your local vet to get the gel.

McManus said her best advice for avoiding problems during the fireworks is to keep your animals indoors and comfortable in a spot where they feel safe.

“Keeping them confined, well confined, certainly with a collar and tags on just in case,” she said.

If you do come across a stray after the fireworks, local animal services leaders ask that you contact them right away so that they can work to get that pet back home.

Photo Credit: Brian Scott, NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Firefighters Let Furry Friends Hitch a Ride]]>Sun, 03 Jul 2016 13:42:38 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dogs110.jpg

A group of Maryland firefighters gave a helping hand to a few four-legged furry friends Saturday morning — saving one from a hot car.

Prince George's County firefighters were called to the Home Depot in the 6000 block of Oxon Hill Road after a man reported having chest pains.

The man was in his vehicle in the store's parking lot with three dogs. He told the firefighters he had been drinking and was intoxicated, fire officials said.

Firefighters offered to take him to the hospital, but he declined. The concerned firefighters then called police who told the man he was in no condition to drive home. They suggested he walk to his house nearby.

The firefighters then noticed a dog left in another parked vehicle in the lot. All of the vehicle's windows were closed.

The crew found a door unlocked and rescued the dog. They tended to the pup until its owners returned to the vehicle, fire officials said.

Firefighters then gave the three other dogs an adventurous ride back home on-board the fire engine.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Fire and EMS]]>
<![CDATA[Meet the AKC's Newest Breed]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 07:43:15 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/westminster+dog.jpg

A high-energy Hungarian herding dog is the latest new breed headed to the Westminster Kennel Club and many other U.S. dog shows.

The American Kennel Club is announcing Wednesday that it is recognizing the pumi, the 190th breed to join the roster of the nation's oldest purebred dog registry. That means the pumi can vie for best of breed at Westminster for the first time next February.

With coats of corkscrew curls and ears that flop at the tips, the pumi (pronounced POOM'-ee) has a whimsical expression that belies its strong work ethic, fanciers say. The 20-to-30-pound breed goes back centuries in Hungary, where it herded cattle, sheep, and swine. It's related to the puli, a breed already recognized by the AKC and known for its coat of long cords.

Like many herding dogs, pumis — the proper plural is actually "pumik" — are alert and active.

"They're not for somebody who's going to sit and watch TV all day long," said Chris Levy, president of the Hungarian Pumi Club of America. But if provided with enough exercise and stimulation, "the pumi can chill out."

Considered quick learners, pumis have done well at agility and other canine sports. Some in the U.S. also herd rabbits, chickens, goats and even cats in a cattery, said Levy, who breeds the dogs in Salem, Oregon. She and others have been working to build up the breed in the U.S. for two decades, but it's still quite rare.

AKC recognition requires having at least 300 dogs of the breed nationwide, among other criteria. Two other new breeds, the American hairless terrier and an ancient North African hound called the sloughi, were recognized this past January and will also be eligible for Westminster for the first time next year.

Some animal-rights advocates say dog breeding is too appearance-focused and irresponsible when many mixed-breed animals need adoption. The AKC says conscientious breeding helps people and pets make happy matches by making the animals' characteristics somewhat more predictable.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Thomas Pitera/The American Kennel Club via AP]]>
<![CDATA[11 of the Best Dog Breeds for Senior Citizens]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2019 16:21:31 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/welsh-terrier.jpgA friendly dog can make the perfect sidekick for a senior citizen. According to PetBreeds, these 11 breeds are hardy and cheerful, making them excellent companion dogs. They are also highly intelligent and can be trained to assist less able-bodied owners.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[News Anchor Apologizes to Dog He Saw in Hot Car]]>Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:34:59 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Clark-cropped.jpg

Kyle Clark, a news anchor in Denver, made an impassioned apology to a furry member of the local community during a recent broadcast.

While grabbing lunch, Clark heard a dog loudly crying in a locked Honda CR-V on a 90-degree day. In a video of his broadcast posted to his Facebook page, Clark said he nearly resorted to throwing a rock through the car window to help the clearly distressed dog. He said the animal's cries could be heard from across the parking lot.

"Do you know how hot it is in 90 degree sun when you're wearing a suit, or fur, in a car? I'm guessing you don't or you don't care," said Clark, who works for NBC affiliate KUSA.

Deciding against breaking a window, Clark instead called the Denver 311 help center. While he was on hold, the dog's owner finally returned from the nearby frozen yogurt shop. However, Clark said the person "blew him off" and "basically laughed" when he warned the person against leaving the dog in a hot car.

"There's an apology in order, not for you, no, for your dog," Clark said. "I am sorry that your dog does not have better humans."

The American Veterinary Medical Association warns that hundred of pets die every year from heat exhaustion after being left in cars on warm days. Dogs are particularly susceptible to the heat because their primary method of cooling is panting, which is not as efficient as sweating. The organization writes on its website that parked vehicle temperatures can rise by almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and continue to rise over time-- even if the windows are cracked.

Photo Credit: KUSA]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Take Over the Catwalk at "Fashion for Paws"]]>Sat, 04 Jun 2016 11:13:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20160421+Fashion4Paws.jpg

Dogs will take over the catwalk this weekend.

The Fashion for Paws (F4P) Runway Show, featuring human AND dog models, will return for the 10th year in a row to raise money for the Washington Humane Society.

The pup-filled fashion show will take place on April 23 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St. NW).

"Fundraising models" compete to raise the most money for the fashion event in the 12 weeks before the show. The model to raise the most money will be named “Model Washington of the Year.” Many models strut down the catwalk with their pups, who will be dressed in “canine couture,” according to a press release.

General admission to the event is $100, VIP tickets are $200, and a limited number of VIP tables range from $3,000-$10,000. General admission includes an open bar, appetizers, standing room for the fashion show, music and dancing. VIP tickets include an open bar, appetizers, cocktail table seating and early entrance to a VIP Reception at 7 p.m. VIP tables are right by the runway offering front-row seating, along with a 3-course meal, open bar, reception and dance party. Purchase tickets here.

The Fashion for Paws event has raised more than $3.6 million in the past nine years, helping the 51,000 animals the WHS takes in every year.

<![CDATA[Hardly a Dog's Life for First Pets Bo & Sunny]]>Sun, 29 May 2016 17:46:15 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_851780932641.jpg

It's hardly a dog's life of just eating and sleeping for President Barack Obama's pets, Bo and Sunny.

The pair of Portuguese water dogs — Bo with his distinctive white chest and front paws, and the all-black Sunny — are canine ambassadors for the White House, very popular and so in demand that they have schedules, like the president.

"Everybody wants to see them and take pictures," Michelle Obama said. "I get a memo at the beginning of the month with a request for their schedules, and I have to approve their appearances."

The dogs have entertained crowds at the annual Easter Egg Roll and Bo has been at Mrs. Obama's side when she welcomes tourists on the anniversary of the president's inauguration. The dogs also have cheered wounded service members, as well as the hospitalized children the first lady visits each year just before Christmas. In a sign of just how recognized Bo and Sunny are, authorities in January arrested a North Dakota man who they say came to Washington to kidnap one of the pets.

Bo, now 7, joined the Obama family in April 2009. He was a gift from the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., a key supporter of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign who became close to the family. Bo helped Obama keep a promise to daughters Malia and Sasha that they could get a dog after the election.

Sunny, nearly 4, came along in August 2013.

Bo already had a job as a "helper" to Dale Haney, the head groundskeeper at the White House, which happens to be a national park.

"He leaves every morning and he goes down with Dale ... and he's with all the National Park Service guys. And you'll see him, and he's like walking around with them, and looking at the plants," Mrs. Obama said. "I think he thinks he has a job because he takes it very seriously. So if I go out and see him, he kind of ignores me when he's with his worker crew people."

The dogs have a pretty nice life. "They can sit on my lap, they sit on my chair, they cuddle with me," Mrs. Obama said. "I like to lay on the floor with them and blow in their face. I like to make them run and chase each other. But they're so cute, I just love to just cuddle them and massage them."

Presidential pets are always popular and many presidents kept dogs as companions. President Harry S. Truman famously advised: "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

President George H.W. Bush's English Springer Spaniel, Millie, "wrote" the best-seller "Millie's Book."

President Bill Clinton's chocolate Labrador Retriever, Buddy, helped Clinton weather the scandal over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

President George W. Bush's Scottish Terrier, Barney, had an official web page and starred in "Barneycam" videos that were filmed from a camera hung around his neck. Like Mrs. Obama, first lady Laura Bush was involved with the video scripts and the taping schedule.

President Lyndon B. Johnson angered animal lovers by lifting his pet beagle, Him, by the ears in front of news photographers.

Obama promised last year to "clean things up a little bit" before leaving the White House in January because the dogs "have been tearing things up occasionally."

Mrs. Obama said her four-legged family members had been nice overall, but she exposed Sunny's naughtier side.

"You know what she does sometimes? She leaves the kitchen and she'll sneak and she'll go poop on the other end of the White House," the first lady said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Dog Meds to Curb Dogs' Noise-Related Anxiety]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 22:17:28 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16137623735677-zoetis-dog-anxiety-medicine.jpg

Fido and Spot may not have to cower under the bed this summer when fireworks and thunderstorms hit.

The first prescription veterinary medicine for treating anxiety over loud noises — a widespread problem that can send dogs running away in terror and harm both themselves and property — will soon hit the market.

Veterinary medicine maker Zoetis Inc. of Florham Park, New Jersey, said Monday that recently approved Sileo will be available through veterinarians within a week.

Dr. Chris Pachel, a veterinary behaviorist at the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon, welcomes a medicine tested specifically on dogs that works rapidly but wears off within hours — like by the time a thunderstorm is over.

Dogs are now treated with medicines designed for their human owners or behavioral training, which can be ineffective or come with side effects.

"There's always a need for new options," said Pachel, who has reviewed some testing data on Sileo but isn't affiliated with Zoetis.

Fear of loud noises is a common problem for the 70 million dogs in the U.S. and their owners. Dogs are sometimes so frightened they jump through windows, destroy doors while trying to escape a room or run into traffic and get hit by cars. July 5 is the most common day for frustrated pet owners to drop a dog off at a shelter, according to a Zoetis study.

"I have seen the absolutely worst things that can happen with noise anxiety," Dr. J. Michael McFarland, head of U.S. pet marketing at Zoetis, who formerly worked at multiple animal hospitals.

Current treatments range from human anti-anxiety pills such as Xanax and tranquilizers that sedate dogs for many hours, but don't necessarily calm them, to behavioral treatments. Those include confining the dog to a small room or portable kennel, or trying to desensitize dogs by repeatedly exposing them to increasingly loud noise.

Pachel said those treatments or combinations of them work for many dogs, but the tranquilizers can take days to wear off and anti-anxiety pills — many only tested on people — can cause appetite problems, upset stomach and, rarely, abnormal heartbeats if the dose isn't right.

Sileo works by blocking norepinephrine, a brain chemical similar to adrenaline that pumps up anxiety. It comes in prefilled plastic syringes with a dial for setting a precise dose according to the dog's weight.

The needleless syringe is placed between the dog's gum and lip. A little push ejects a small amount of gel that's absorbed by the tissue lining the dog's cheek, which limits how much circulates in the dog's body at a time while enabling the medicine to start working within 30 to 60 minutes. It works for two to three hours, said McFarland, who said he has used Sileo with good results on his Finnish Lapphund.

Each syringe costs $30 and holds enough medicine for about two doses for an 80- to 100-pound dog or four doses for a 40-pound dog.

Dr. Barbara Sherman, a professor at North Carolina State University who runs its animal behavioral medicine clinic, reviewed detailed data on Sileo while serving on an advisory board at Zoetis and found its effectiveness "impressive." She said side effects were benign and thinks that for some dogs, it will be easier to administer than pills.

Zoetis has exclusive rights to distribute Sileo in the U.S. under an agreement with its developer, Orion Corp. of Finland.

In testing conducted for the company on 182 pet beagles on New Year's Eve, 75 percent of their owners rated its effect good or excellent, compared with 33 percent whose dogs got a placebo. Side effects were rare and minor.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Zoetis via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Housebroken Bison for Sale by Texas Owner]]>Fri, 13 May 2016 16:36:59 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Bullet+the+Bison.jpg

An 8-year-old bison named Bullet has outgrown its Texas home and the owner wants to find a new place for the 1,000-pound pet to roam. 

The family posted a Craigslist ad listing Bullet as "for sale" for almost $6,000, as long as the new owner will allow the bison to continue interacting with people. Bullet's owner says the buffalo needs more space and grassland.

According to the ad, originally posted in March, Bullet is housebroken and "perfectly gentle." The post indicated that "if this ad is still showing, the buffalo is still for sale." On Friday afternoon, a link to the post displayed a message stating the post had been flagged for removal. 

"Bullet loves to chase and spar with a riding lawn mower, wheel barrow or even my truck when I'm out in the field. She will follow me when I'm in the truck. She is like a precious gigantic dog herself," the listing said.

It warns that Bullet is still a buffalo, after all, and should never be left alone in the house or with children.

The buffalo is also famous, the ad read, noting Bullet is featured in the children's book "Heaven is for Animals" by Nancy Tillman.

Bullet lives with the family in Argyle, 30 miles northwest of Dallas. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Paralyzed Dog Left at Florida Shelter With Note]]>Wed, 04 May 2016 13:48:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_paralyzeddog0504_1920x1080.jpgA Florida animal shelter is caring for a paralyzed dog named Genie after her previous owners left her at the shelter with a handwritten note, explaining that the owner could not afford to care for the small pup. "I tried to manage her pain with medication from her vet but they only ease her pain and she needs surgery. I cannot afford so I ask that the Animal Health Center heal her and find her a loving forever home. Thank you," said the note. ]]><![CDATA[Rescued Lions Explore New Home in Sanctuary]]>Tue, 03 May 2016 13:38:47 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_518985915980-lion-airlift-south-africa-sanctuaries.jpg

Lions rescued from circuses in Colombia and Peru and airlifted to South Africa scratched their manes on trees and explored their new territory in the African bush after being released into a sanctuary north of Johannesburg Sunday.

One of the 33 lions, a male known as Zeus, let out a mighty roar before stepping out of his cage into an enclosure where he will spend the coming months being monitored by a vet.

The lions arrived at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary shortly after dawn on Sunday to end a two-day journey from South America.

The lions were freed after the use of wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru and Colombia.

It will be impossible for the lions to survive in the wild as they were bred in captivity and their circus owners mutilated many by breaking their teeth and removing their claws. Because they cannot hunt they will be fed game meat and will have water in their enclosures.

"They are remarkably calm after such a long journey," Tim Phillips, the co-founder of Animal Defenders International which led the rescue of the lions told The Associated Press. "It was a dream come true watching them step of those cages into their new homes in the African bush."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Get Own Bathroom at NY Airport]]>Sat, 30 Apr 2016 13:29:36 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16119780722026.jpg

Little Simba couldn't wait to check it out.

The toy poodle was one of the first dogs to try a special bathroom designated just for animals at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, among a growing number of "pet relief facilities" being installed at major air hubs across the nation.

"There's a fire hydrant in there!" Simba's owner, Heidi Liddell, announced as she opened the pawprint-marked door between the men's and women's rooms.

It didn't take long for the dog to sidle up to the little red hydrant atop a patch of artificial turf and do her business. A dispenser of plastic doggie bags and a hose was provided for the owners to clean the area up for the next pet.

The 70-square-foot room, at JFK's sprawling Terminal 4, allows dogs and other animals to relieve themselves without needing to exit the building to find a place to go outside — a step that requires an annoying second trip through the security line.

"We had seen an increase of passengers traveling with pets and we decided to do it sooner rather than later," said Susana Cunha, vice president of the management company that operates the terminal.

Guide and service dogs, emotional support animals and other pets traveling with passengers are all welcome to use the facilities.

A federal regulation will require that all airports that service over 10,000 passengers per year install a pet relief area in every terminal by this August. Airports that already have them include Dulles International outside Washington D.C., Chicago's O'Hare and Seattle-Tacoma International.

"With long flights and short transit time frames, passengers would not have enough time with plane changes to come back through security," said Karen Greis, a consumer services manager for the Guide Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that trains service dogs and participated in the design of the new facility. "Having relief areas inside the terminal is a stress reliever for the handlers."

That was certainly the case for Taylor Robbins, who had already missed one flight from JFK to Atlanta and was unsure if she had enough time to go back outside to find a place to walk her terrier John John.

"It's really clean, it gets the job done and he seemed to understand he could use it," she said after exiting the doggie restroom. "Without this he would have had to hold it in."

Other pet owners were encouraged by the convenience.

Mark Shadowens, from Lake Tahoe, California, peered into the new facility with a smile. He said he and his wife Helen would love to travel with their Jack Russell terrier, Bella, but fears not being able to find a place to let her go to the bathroom.

"We travel with our pet a lot, just not on airlines," Shadowens said. "We like to go see the world and I think we would bring her if there were places like this."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bridge-Running Dog Adopted]]>Fri, 29 Apr 2016 02:19:28 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/BayBridgeDog.jpg

Ponch, the stray Chihuahua who captured hearts around the nation after he sprinted across the Bay Bridge early this month, has finally found a home. 

After being rescued by California Highway Patrol April 3, Ponch went to stay with a foster family connected to San Francisco County's animal services department. His caretakers waited several weeks to see if someone would come forward and claim ownership – Ponch had a collar with a skull dangling from it when he was captured – but no one stepped up.

Instead, offers from animal lovers all over the world came flooding in, asking if it would be possible to give the 10-pound Chihuahua a new home. Animal Care and Control conducted several interviews, according to the department, before settling on a suitable family for Ponch. He was scheduled to go home Thursday, after his rescuers have a chance to bid him farewell.

“Taking into consideration that Ponch is a nervous fellow who loves to run, his new home and family are perfectly suited to give him the happily-ever-after life,” Animal Care and Control said in a statement. The family adopting him wishes to remain anonymous.

Ponch’s story went viral following an early morning police chase that resulted in a short shutdown of the Bay Bridge. The pup, who was visibly frightened, was darting across lanes of traffic.

The California Highway Patrol officers involved in his rescue nicknamed the pup “Ponch,” after Erik Estrada’s character in the 1970s TV hit “CHIPS.”

“We’re happy that Ponch’s story has ended with a loving new home”, says Animal Care & Control Executive Director Virginia Donohue. “We’re grateful for all of the good will Ponch has generated for shelter dogs.”

Photo Credit: CHP San Francisco
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<![CDATA[Biker Dog in UK Gets His Own Yellow Kevlar Coat]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 09:45:54 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/kevlardog.jpgBiker Steve Hawley wanted to share his favorite hobby with his dog and bought a yellow kevlar coat for the Labrador, Renee. Kevlar is an ultra-tough synthetic material designed for the toughest tasks; it's regularly used in motorcycle clothing when leather is not convenient.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kitten Stars of 'Keanu' in Hollywood Spotlight]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:09:47 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/KNU-FP-001.jpg

Anyone who's spent time with a cat might agree with filmmaker Peter Atencio when he says cats are the "15-year-olds of the animal kingdom."

Dogs are eager to please their owners. Cats couldn't care less.

But the kittens that play the title tabby in the new action-comedy "Keanu" impressed their human co-stars so much, they've earned permanent places in Hollywood.

"They blew away my expectations," said Atencio, director of "Keanu" and a self-described "crazy cat man" who has three cats, two dogs and a rabbit at home. "They took direction really well."

"Keanu," in theaters Friday, tells the story of Clarence and Rell ("Key & Peele" stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), two mild-mannered guys who pretend to be killer criminals after a gang of thugs steals Rell's kitten, Keanu. The gangsters want to keep the kitten — now wearing gold chains and a tiny do-rag — but Clarence and Rell will do anything, including embracing their inner tough-guys, to get him back.

Seven brown tabbies, all rescued from animal shelters, played Keanu. Trainer Larry Payne said animal roles generally require multiple actors (or, in this case, cat-ctors), as each has its own personality traits that contribute to the onscreen character.

Some kittens are better at hitting marks, for example, while others are particularly skilled at sitting still and being adorable.

"There's the run guy, there's the snuggle guy, there's the meow guy," Key said.

"It's like assembling a team of bank-robbers," Atencio added.

Payne initially trained three kittens to play Keanu, but they aged out halfway through production.

"(They) had gotten big and not really kitten-like anymore," he explained.

He adopted four more kittens to finish the film. All were about eight weeks old when they began their monthlong training.

Besides learning the skills they'd need for their scenes — sit, stay, go from one mark to another — the Keanus had to get used to the noise and commotion of a movie set. Loud sounds typically make cats run and hide.

"It's a little bit easier with the kittens, believe it or not, than with adult cats, because I don't think they know any better," said Payne, who trains all kinds of animals for film and TV roles. "The kittens almost think, 'This is what all kittens do: We work on movies!'"

Payne plied the kitties with treats during training. Repetition and positive reinforcement are key, he said. He uses off-camera buzzers or clickers — which signify food is coming — to summon the cats to their marks.

He also used treats to get them to tolerate the dozen or so costumes Keanu wears. Rell dresses his pet in a little fedora, goggles, a leather jacket, a hoodie and sunglasses, among other things.

When the kittens weren't on screen, they hung out in miniature star trailers: deluxe animal carriers decked out with beds, toys and water. When filming on location in New Orleans, all seven Keanus stayed with Payne in his hotel suite.

Peele, who co-wrote "Keanu," said a cat-napped kitten wasn't part of the film's original premise. He and co-writer Alex Rubens knew the main characters and their squares-in-gangland dilemma, but "it didn't feel like we had something that really justified why we would put ourselves in danger," Peele said. "That's where the kitten came in."

Though he has a dog who sometimes wears outfits ("We got a Burberry outfit and we do have a little beach hoodie. It goes deep."), Peele said they made Keanu a kitten because "we realized there's not a lot of kitten movies."

Payne, too, said he "never had the pleasure of doing an entire kitten movie" in his 30-year career.

Atencio would do one again, saying, "I would love to do a kitten-based horror or thriller."

Maybe he'll call on the kittens formerly known as Keanu? All the film's feline stars are staying in Hollywood. Though one went home with "Keanu" co-star Tiffany Haddish to become a housecat, Payne said the others will continue to act.

He and his colleague, April Mackin, each took two kittens home, and the remaining two live at the California ranch where Payne keeps his menagerie of acting animals.

"The fact that I was able to acclimate them to a movie-set environment when they were real young, they become valuable for us for the future to do that work," he said. "They're provided a great home. We have on-staff vets. And they're very spoiled, much like a normal star would be."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
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<![CDATA[Dog Helps Save Kids From Fire]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:08:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/maxx2.jpg

A German shepherd helped firefighters find his owners' two young children as flames ripped through the family's central Florida home, authorities said.

The dog, named Maxx, helped crews navigate through thick smoke to find the 4-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl Monday night in their burning home in the Orlando suburb of Longwood, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

Moments earlier, neighbors who saw the fire spreading called 911, broke windows and helped rescue the children's mother, Margo Feaser, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff's office who currently serves as an auto theft investigator.

Firefighters then were able to rescue Feaser's husband and the two children, with Maxx's help.

Family members were hospitalized and their conditions ranged from serious to critical. Maxx was treated for smoke inhalation and is said to be doing well.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family's medical, veterinary, and other housing expenses as they work to recover from the effects of the fire. As of Wednesday morning, more than $11,000 had been raised to help the Feaser family.

In addition to her role with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Feaser served three years in the U.S. Army and is a member of the Army National Guard. Her husband is also a military veteran.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Seminole County Fire Department
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<![CDATA[Dogs Hate Being Hugged: Pet Behaviorist]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:50:29 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522796761-%281%29.jpg

Most people treat their dogs like family, giving them big, all-encompassing hugs.  

But a new article in Psychology Today says dogs are actually stressed out by this sort of affection. Canine behaviorist Stanley Coren writes that when dogs get hugged, they interpret it differently than humans. 

Signs of stress include a dog turning his head away from whatever is bothering him and closing his eyes. Lowered or slicked-back ears are also a sign or stress, according to Coren. 

But, this doesn't mean you can't love your pup. Coren suggests expressing your affection toward your pet "with a pat, a kind word, and maybe a treat."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Hero Images]]>
<![CDATA[Orphaned Puppy Adopted Into Litter of Kittens]]>Tue, 26 Apr 2016 13:35:46 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cat-adopts-puppy.jpg

Families can come in all shapes, sizes and species.

Such is the case with Bobby, a tiny Chihuahua who found himself alone at 5 days old when his mother was struck by a car.

A passerby found him on the side of the road and brought Bobby to Michigan Humane Society, where volunteers struggled to give him the care he needed.

He was too young for solid food and required constant attention.

"The calories and nutrition to keep him healthy and growing need to come from his mom. Bottle feeding can be inconsistent, laborious, and risky, even for those that have the resources and time to do so," the humane society wrote on its website.

But there was one problem. There were no nursing dogs at the shelter.

"They had a mom cat that was recently still nursing and they thought — ingenious idea — to maybe see if this puppy could go along with these guys and see if mommy cat could treat him like one of her own," said humane society employee Faith O'Georgia. "And it actually worked."

Now 5 weeks old, Bobby has several feline siblings, including one small kitten who follows him around.

"You think about Mother Nature and how cats and dogs aren’t supposed to like each other but as we all know at the Michigan Humane Society that’s not always the case and this is certainly an extreme example of that," said Ryan McTigue with the humane society.

Bobby will move to a foster home with other dogs when he's old enough to eat solid food.

Photo Credit: Michigan Humane Society
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<![CDATA[Presidential Pets Through the Years]]>Fri, 16 Aug 2019 10:59:16 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/ap_940319058.jpgA range of dogs and cats have kept presidential families company through their stay in Washington, including Fala, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Scottish terrier; Socks, the Clintons' cat; and Bo and Sunny, the Obamas' Portuguese water dogs. Take a look back at the pets that have called the White House home.

<![CDATA[Animal Shelter Opens a Pet Gym in Kentucky ]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 11:54:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/petgym.jpgAn animal shelter in Kentucky started a pet gym as a way to fund the rescue shelter, but they found they were helping pet owners fill a need -- better exercising obese pets.

Photo Credit: WAVE]]>
<![CDATA[1,200+ Animals Adopted Locally on Clear The Shelters Day]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 15:04:07 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/wrc+puppy+adoption.jpg

There was always something about Bubba.

The sweet shepherd mix was calm around admirers. He enjoyed a good ear-petting. He knew how to sit and lie down and was happy to show you.

But he'd been in the Washington Humane Society in Washington, D.C. for a long time, at least in shelter days: About a month. That is, until a forever family stepped up to bring him home Saturday.

"We're just so excited," said Bubba's adoptive mom. Her son is 15, a great age for a dog, she said.

Bubba chewed on a toy and wagged his tail.

Bubba was one of more than 1,200 animals in the D.C., Baltimore and surrounding areas who found homes in the area's first Clear the Shelters day. Nationwide, almost 20,000 animals were adopted Saturday in adoption efforts sponsored by NBC4 and NBC stations across the country.

They weren't all dogs. Also adopted at the 24 participating shelters in our area were a hamster, a ferret, two rabbits, two turtles and a pig named Channing Tatum. 

Also adopted, all from Loudoun County Animal Services: an iguana, a chinchilla, a pigeon, a dove, and five chickens.

Every animal had a story, but perhaps none as heart-rending as that of Beatrix, an adult cat who had been found abandoned in a cart at a Virginia Wal-mart with a bowl and a bag of food. Beatrix's plight had been in the Washington Post, but she had been overlooked for adoption since late March.

"We tried videos, photo shoots, reducing adoption fees, everything we could think of, and Beatrix still was not getting adopted," said Stephanie Gordon, volunteer and humane education coordinator for Loudoun County Animal Services, in an email.

"But that changed today! She was adopted with a buddy she met at the shelter, Bart, another 8-year-old kitty. We are over the moon excited for them," Gordon said.

Hannah the pit bull left her Maryland shelter Saturday with her new family -- and a pink tutu.

The tutu came courtsey of a volunteer at the Humane Society of Calvert County in Sunderland, Maryland, who wanted to dress up the happy pit bull.

The family, Amanda Krutilla, her 20-month-old son, Jax, and finance, Jason Bowles, was a result of the nationwide adoption drive. Hannah is Krutilla's second of the breed.

"They're just the biggest babies," said Krutilla, of California, Maryland. "Her tutu defines her."

In all, 11 NBC-owned television stations, the New England regional news network necn, and 17 Telemundo owned stations joined the Clear the Shelters movement. More than 400 shelters participated, many offering the animals at a reduced price.

With the cost of adoption up to $450 in some cities, many families cannot otherwise afford a new pet, said Valari Staab, the president of NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations.

The day had just begun Saturday when a 2-month-old kitten named June was headed out the door of the Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, a cat sanctuary in Oyster Bay, New York.

Kristen Pytell had seen her on Monday with her children, 11-year-old old Harry, Oliver, 9, and Lila, 7, and they knew she would be their first cat.

“My kids and I fell in love with her,” said Pytell, and so they arrived first thing to bring her home.

About 7.6 million animals enter shelters across the country each year, 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Each year an equal number are adopted or euthanized, about 2.7 million for each case. About 649,000 strays are returned to their owners, the majority of them dogs.

Clear the Shelters began in North Texas as a partnership among NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth / KXAS, Telemundo 39 Dallas-Fort Worth / KXTX and dozens of North Texas animal shelters.

At the Salem New Hampshire Animal Rescue League, a pit bull named Baby — a 3-year-old surrendered a few weeks ago — was the first headed out the door this morning.

“We are really excited that the first adoption of the day on this great Clear the Shelters initiative was a pit bull,” said the shelter’s spokesman, B.J. Bettencourt. “Pit bulls can be a challenge to adopt, so we are thrilled that Baby found a home this morning.”

His new owner, Charlie Foote, a retired firefighter turned dog trainer, was not heading for the Salem Animal Rescue League. He happened to drive by, stop and spot Baby, who will have a new name by tonight, he said.

“I instantly saw him and said I want that dog,” he said.

Foote, of Derry, New Hampshire, has four other dogs at home and four children ages 6 to 12. Baby is already fitting in well if still a little shy, he said Saturday afternoon.

“They have a bad reputation, a bad name,” he said. “I have a house full of little kids and these dogs are phenomenal.”

Lines quickly formed outside such places as the New Hampshire SPCA in Stratham, New Hampshire, Miami-Dade Florida Animal Services and Prince George’s Animal Services Facility in Upper Marlboro. Red carpets were going down so the new owners could be photographed with their furry friends.

The Farago family — Laura, Andrew and 7 1/2-year-old Aaron — left the New Hampshire SPCA with a new puppy, a black lab mix that does not yet have a new name. They had to put their older dog down in the spring.

“We couldn’t last any longer without a dog,” Laura Farago said. “And we wanted our son to grow up with a dog.”

The three of them chose the puppy together, and Aaron was thrilled, she said.

“Oh yes,” she said. “He’s a little tired from the process, but yes.”

In Miami, 13-year-old Zipporah Currie said her new dog, Dolly, smelled like cookies.

The second adoption at the Ladew sanctuary in Oyster Bay was another kitten, Chase. Sarah Freeman and Matthew Boyle wanted a second cat to keep their 5-year-old adoptee Boo company.

“He’s wonderful,” Freeman said of Boo, who was also from the Ladew sanctuary. “He likes to watch the birdies out the window and he likes to hang out with us."

Staab hopes that the adoption drive would become an annual event and to further that goal next year’s date has already been set: July 16. A recurring drive can help make people aware of how important it is to spay and neuter their pets, she said. And the advance notice will give shelters time to raise money to offset that cost of spaying and neutering and vaccinations, she said.


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<![CDATA[Frostbitten Duck Gets New Feet, Thanks to 3-D Printer]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2016 15:53:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Duck-Feet-Lon-NR-146100462528100001.jpg

A duck that lost its feet to frostbite is waddling again thanks to a Wisconsin middle school teacher and a 3-D printer. 

Vicki Rabe-Harrison rescued Phillip the duck and, after watching a video of a 3-D printer online, turned to South Park Middle School teacher Jason Jischke in Oshkosh for help. 

Rabe-Harrison told Green Bay television station WBAY she assessed Phillip's quality of life and was planning to put him down when Jischke called to say he and his class were working on the project. It took them six weeks of trial and error to get the prosthetic feet just right. 

Phillip was a bit wobbly when he first tested his new feet, but he has now joined other birds and animals at a sanctuary in Cedarburg, 20 miles north of Milwaukee.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

<![CDATA[PHOTOS: 8 Celebs Who Love Their Shelter Pets ]]>Fri, 31 Jul 2015 07:13:22 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-452991000.jpg

While celebrities amass millions of fans all over the world, sometimes it's a dog that makes them feel happy like nobody else can.

Like millions of other pet owners in the United States, some stars opt to adopt their furry friends from animal shelters or rescue groups.  

Bradley Cooper saved his from pup from being put down, for example. Some celebrity rescue pets gain a fan base of their own —  Amanda Seyfried's partner in crime has thousands of followers on Twitter.

Here are some examples of stars who saved a pup from a shelter. 

Amanda Seyfried 

Amanda Seyfried has talked about her rescue dog Finn on numerous talk shows and posted photos of the Australian Shepherd on social media as well. Whether its putting items on his head or dressing him up in various costumes, the actress and her sidekick have a lot of fun together, she said on "The Tonight Show." The "Ted 2" star's pooch also has his own Twitter account with more than 13,000 followers.

Jon Hamm

Actor Jon Hamm adopted his dog Cora from a Los Angeles area animal shelter where he also volunteers, according to Animal Fair. The "Mad Men" star told the publication that when he went to the Much Love Animal Rescue with his longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt, the couple "saw her and fell in love."

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel shared the story of adopting pups Zelda and Dot from the Los Angeles-based Bill Foundation on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" in 2013. The nonprofit told the "New Girl" star that if she adopted one of the female pups, she would have to adopt her sister as well. She also shared a cute picture of the pair on Instagram, as seen below.

George Clooney

George Clooney said in an interview with Esquire that he came across his black cocker spaniel mix named Einstein while watching a video online in 2010. It said the dog had been living in a "filthy, crowded" shelter that would have put him down without intervention. The dog ended up living at a foster home through the Los Angeles area breed rescue Camp Cocker.

The actor told Esquire that when he called the group and asked for the dog, they told him the dog must also want to live him. Before meeting Einstein for the first time, Clooney wiped meatballs on his shoes to make sure the dog took a liking to him. "Forever, now, he just thinks of me as the guy with the meatball feet," Clooney told Esquire. "He loves me. I can do no wrong. He follows me everywhere."


Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper came just in time for his German shorthaired pointer Samson, he told People. The "Hangover" star found the dog on a website for a kill shelter only three weeks before the dog would have been euthanized. He also has a chow-retriever mix named Charlotte he found during an adoption drive in Santa Monica, he told the publication. Unfortunately the dog died in 2011, according to The New York Times.


Oprah met her dog Sadie, a blond cocker spaniel, while shooting a spread for her publication O magazine at PAWS Chicago, according to her website. "The dog chose me," Oprah said. "There were like six or seven dogs, and she was on my shoulder, nuzzling." But Sadie isn't the only furry friend the media mogul has had; she said in an Oprah.com video that she has owned about 21 pets in her adult life.

Jane Lynch

"Hollywood Game Night" host Jane Lynch has an Australian koolie mix rescue dog named Francis, she told the website Cesars Way. "When I met my dog at an adoption fair, I said 'Olivia' and she gave me this look that said, ‘Yeah, whatever lady, just get me out of here!’" Lynch said. The actress has also participated in PETA pet public service announcements.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is an enthusiast of both animals and the Harper Lee novel "How to Kill a Mockingbird." The actor has a rescued German Shepherd named Atticus Finch and a puggle named Boo Radley, according to The L.A. Times. They are named after the main characters of the book. Gyllenhaal told Movies Online that after his film "Brokeback Mountain," he felt ready to own a dog.

Photo Credit: GC Images
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<![CDATA[Pet Adoption 101: Expert Tips on Animal Adoptions]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/adoptionhappy.jpg

Welcoming a furry addition to a home can be a fun and exciting event. But ensuring a smooth transition for the pet - and the family - takes some preparation and work. Here are some tips from animal shelters about what to do before, during and after the adoption. 


Make sure everyone in the family wants a pet: Pet ownership can affect many aspects of family life, from deciding who gets to take the puppy out in the middle of the night to making sure everyone understands an animal is a long-term time, emotional and financial investment. And because the pet will be part of the family for the long haul, it's important that everyone is on board about the kind, size and personality of the companion of choice. Shelter experts advise discussing the delegation of responsibilities and going through the process of picking out the pet as a group to avoid problems down the road. “Understand all the responsibilities involved, and pick a time where you can all go pick a pet," said Madeline Bernstein, president of SPCA Los Angeles. "Many people have completely different ideas of what they want.”

Do your research: Experts suggest researching breeds and characteristics to identify animals that best fit your lifestyle before you arrive at the shelter, where you could find yourself falling for a cute cat or dog that wouldn't be a great match. “Some people think Jack Russell Terriers are so cute, but they require a lot of work because they have a lot of energy," Stephanie Knight, communications specialist at SPCA of Texas, said. "So if you don’t go for walks or outside much, you may want to consider getting something like a pug.” It's also smart to research and budget for the costs you'll face when you bring the pet home, such as vaccinations for young animals, license fees and pet supplies. 

Check the requirements: To avoid delays once you meet that perfect pet, shelters recommend looking into what paperwork is required for adoption. This can range from leases or other proof of residency to vet references.  “If you haven’t owned a pet, you can’t have a vet reference, but if we see they have in the past we’ll ask," Mantat Wong, director of operations at Animal Haven in New York said.  While home or apartment renters may be more aware of requirements needed for pets, it is important for homeowners to see if they have any pet restrictions as well. “If you’re a renter you have to be aware of requirements but even as a homeowner, insurance doesn’t always cover larger dogs," said Marc Peralta, executive director of Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles. 

Puppy-proof your home: Similar to preparing for a new baby, it is important to make sure a home is safe for a new arrival of a dog or cat. Animals can get into just as much trouble as young children, so working ahead to keep valuables out of reach of the furry friends can save time and money in the end. “Look around and try to figure out what a puppy or kitten can get into, like if you leave your shoes around," said Michelle Groeper, executive director at Tails Humane Society in DeKalb, Illinois. "Take the time to clean up. It’s easier to do a little work ahead of time instead of buy new shoes, because you know your puppy will chew your favorite pair.” It's also recommended that prospective owners purchase as many essential supplies as you can before adopting, such as getting a leash, toys, a bed, or a crate. Getting set up ahead of time can help smooth the transition from the shelter to the home.

Check out the shelter before stepping foot inside: Most shelters have websites that many experts recommend surfing. Beyond looking up requirements needed for adoption, people can see all the animals the shelter currently has to get a better idea of what they're in for. “Look for any animal they have online that may catch your eye,” Groeper said. “It can be overwhelming if you walk in and see all these furry animals.”


Bring your dog if you already have one at home: Many shelters require families to bring any dogs they already have at home for a meet-and-greet with the potential new pet, a policy meant to ensure chemistry between the two animals won't be an issue. “Most places require you to bring your dog," Bernstein said. "They get an idea whether they’re coping with each other. Occasionally the situation shows it’s a bad idea (to bring another dog home) most of the time it works out and helps with an introduction.” 

Check the chemistry with humans, too: While some may have their heart set on a certain breed or look of dog or cat, it's important to keep an open mind when looking for a forever friend. “There’s going to be a lot of dogs, so just go where the chemistry takes you,” Bernstein said. “People have a preconceived idea of what they want and they almost never leave with that.”

Ask questions about the animal: Don't be afraid to ask questions about anything regarding the animal, such as their health history or the situation that put them in a shelter. The more information the shelter can give, the better prepared a family will be when questions arise long after they have left the shelter. “You want to ideally know as much as the shelter knows,” Bernstein said. “You want to know the medical conditions, if they’ve been spayed or neutered, any behavior issues. Anything they can tell you about the animal is useful.”

Bring that paperwork you prepared: Meeting lease requirements for adopting an animal can delay a pet's release for a day or more if the paperwork isn't ready in advance. Many times, the lease is used as confirmation of what is and is not allowed on the property. Without that proof, a family would not be able to bring home their chosen pet the day they picked it out. “Anyone who rents, it saves us a lot of trouble because then we’ll have to call the landlord or building and sometimes they don’t answer,” Wong said. “It’s usually the roadblock that prevents a same day adoption.”


Go to a training class: Puppies and kittens aren't always easy to train, especially when their cuteness gets in the way of efforts to establish boundaries and rules. Taking an obedience class is a simple way to teach an animal the proper way to behave, while also creating an important bond between the animal and its family. “The more you can share a language with your dog, the less behavioral issues there are later on,” Bernstein said. “Making sure the pet is healthy, happy, and taking a training class as a whole family makes it a more enriching experience, and everyone will be happier in the end.”

Don't sweat it if you new pet is shy: Dogs, and especially cats, tend to want to hide when they first get in a new environment.Shelters recommend leaving shy animals alone to get used to their new home on their own terms, which means not following the pet around as they explore. Also, even if they were housebroken in the shelter, animals can revert back to old behavior when scared. “If you see a dog or cat acting funny, it’s most likely because of their new environment,” Knight said. “Especially with cats, it’s in their nature. ... It’s important to remember they do grow out of it.”

Keep asking questions: Many shelters encourage families to call when they need anything -- these are the places that know a lot more about the animal than their new family. It's also good to keep up-to-date with your vet. They can answer health-related questions, as well as give the recommended yearly vaccinations. “We have a behavior department that will answer any questions the adopters have,” Knight said. “Also follow up with your vet, make sure you have your vaccinations every year.”

Track your animal: Animals can stray away from home and get lost, and to make sure it's easier to find your beloved pet, experts recommend registering your animal, or putting a microchip in them. This way if someone finds them and returns them to a shelter, an employee can scan for the pet's unique ID number and contact the pet recovery service, which will connect them with the owner. 

Accept if it’s not a good fit: While some families want an animal and think a breed or specific pet is perfect for them, this isn't always the case. If the animal and family would be happier separated, it's important to talk to the shelter and look into returning the pet. “If it’s not a good fit, we want the animal back,” Peralta said. “Obviously we don’t want to see the animals come back, but in the ‘people world’ sometimes it doesn’t always work out with your high school sweetheart. The same thing can happen in the animal world.”

Send pictures: An easy way to say thanks to a shelter for all their hard work: send photos of the animal in its happy new home. Many workers don't get to say goodbye to animals before they get adopted, so keeping up-to-date with them is affirmation that they went with the right family. “A lot of adopters really understand how much we put in to the animals we care and get attached and want us to be reassured they went to a good home,” Wong said. “This is very thankless job, and it’s such a nice morale boost to hear success stories.”

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Your Pet Adoption Checklist ]]>Mon, 17 Aug 2015 11:52:22 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PetAdoption.jpg

The following content is created in consultation with Overstock.com. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington's editorial staff. To learn more about Overstock.com, visit Overstock.com.

Adopting a pet is a wonderful decision to make. You’ll be saving an animal’s life and enriching your own in the process.

But rescuing a homeless animal is also a life-changing decision, meaning before you bring home your new four-legged friend, there are a few key things to consider.

That’s why Overstock.com is here to help. By using their technology to connect people with cats, dogs, and other pets from thousands of shelters nationwide, Overstock is helping the lives of homeless and abandoned animals in an effort to make the world a better place. Find you perfect pet by searching local listings right here!

To get you prepped on becoming a pet owner, Overstock has put together their animal adoption checklist. Read on for eight helpful tips, from the type of process you can expect to how to best prepare your home for your new family member’s arrival.

Decide What Pet Fits Your Lifestyle
Pets require time, space and patience (not to mention lots of love!). So before rushing to adopt an animal, you’ll want to consider what types of pets fit your lifestyle. Do a quick inventory of your life and consider the following: Do you live in a house with a backyard or in a small apartment? Do you work long hours and travel frequently? Are you looking for an energetic animal or one that’s content to curl up in your lap? Understanding your own lifestyle will help inform your pet adopting decision and make you a better owner.

Consider the Cost
Dog and cat owners can anticipate spending over $1,000 annually caring for their pets, so it’s critical to consider your budget before adopting a homeless animal. From toys and treats to walkers and vaccinations, ensuring your four-legged friend is happy and healthy will undoubtedly add up. Before you select an animal for adoption, write up a budget to see what you can afford as an animal’s age, size and breed, and sometimes even your own location, will affect overhead.

Meet the Pets and a Counselor
Adopting a pet should never be a rushed process. Most shelters allow you to spend time with their animals, so get to know a variety of them before reaching your decision. How you bond with an animal will be key to your success as their owner. If available, also meet with a pet counselor, who can help you find an animal best suited to your needs.

Prepare Your Home for a New Family Member
Once you’ve selected what dog, cat, or other animal you’ll be adopting, you’ll want to prepare your home for their arrival. Successful pet adoption starts with proper care, so make sure you stock up on things like food, toys and bedding, plus animal-specific features like litter boxes and leashes. Giving your pet the right supplies will help them acclimate to their new surroundings.

Get Ready for Paperwork
While you’ll want to adopt the right pet, shelters will likewise want to ensure that their animals will be provided with a good home. Expect to fill out significant paperwork, and come prepared with all the documentation the shelter requires, from a picture ID to rental agreements that allow pets.

Don’t Forget the Vet!
The majority of animals will come with the proper vaccinations and already be neutered to prevent overpopulation (a problem that plagues shelters nationwide), but make sure to ask these questions first. Some animals will require additional medical needs, from daily medications to frequent visits to the vet, while any pet that has yet to be neutered should get fixed asap.

Maintain a Structure
You’ll want to maintain a routine with your new pet. Find out what brand of food they ate and when they ate it, then stick to a similar feeding schedule for the first few weeks. Cats will appreciate the same litter, too, while dogs respond well to a consistency in commands (for example, decide whether “down” meets "sit" or "get off the couch"). Once they’ve adapted to their new home, you can start making a transition to things like different pet foods.

Practice Patience
Pets are lovely, loyal creatures, but they may need time to adapt to their new surroundings. Give them time to integrate with family members and any other household animals and you’ll enjoy a rewarding friendship.

To adopt a pet in your area, visit overstock.com/overstock-pets.   

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Playful Polar Bear Cub Debuts at Ohio Zoo]]>Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:07:02 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2016-04-18+at+9.09.52+AM.png

A 5-month-old female polar bear cub has made quite a playful debut at an Ohio zoo.

The cub born in early November frolicked around her enclosure Friday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and even got an orange traffic cone stuck on her head for a moment.

About 1,000 people lined up to get the first glimpses of the polar bear, named Nora. The cub provided a lot of entertainment and laughter as she swam and bounded around her enclosure.

The cub's twin died shortly after birth, and she has been hand-reared since her mother began neglecting her.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

<![CDATA[PD Seeks to Charge Over Ditched Pup]]>Fri, 15 Apr 2016 21:45:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/041516_puppyrescue.jpg

The owner of an abandoned 8-week-old pit bull could face charges after admitting he left the puppy on the side of the road earlier this week, according to police in Littleton, Massachusetts.

Police said a hearing for a criminal complaint has been submitted against the owner.

The puppy was found in good health by a motorist and his daughter. The two found the dog wandering around Nashoba Road on Tuesday, where they then flagged down Sgt. David Leslie, who was patrolling the area at the time. The dog was brought to Littleton's Animal Control Officer Phyllis Tower.

Arrangements are being made to put the dog up for adoption.

"The puppy was found in good health and has been placed in safe care until we can find it a forever home," Chief Matthew J. King said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Littleton Police Department ]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Turns Her House Into Cat Sanctuary, Moves Into Trailer]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:56:28 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CatLady-GIF.gif

It started with a few kittens. But nearly a quarter century later, a California woman has transformed her 4,000-square-foot home into what's believed to be the largest no-cage cat sanctuary and adoption center in the U.S.

An estimated 24,000 cats have been saved by the sanctuary, which houses up to 1,000 felines at any given time. Lynea Lattanzio set up Cat House on the Kings after finding out that many nearby shelters euthanize cats who aren't adopted.

As more feral and abandoned cats took up residence in her home, she moved out into a trailer on her 12-acre property.

Lattanzio spent her entire retirement fund on her pet project, which also relies on donations.

"If I didn't have to deal with humans and all their drama in life, I would be perfectly content just taking care of cats," she said.

She now has staff and a team of volunteers to keep the house clean and the cats fed. The sanctuary also employs veterinarians who keep the cats healthy and spayed or neutered. The cats lap up about 1,000 cans of cat food a week.

People looking for a furry companion are allowed kitty cuddle time on adoption days.

A cat-proof fence keeps predators out and cat doors allow them free reign of the home.

"They've got this house. They've got 12 acres. They can climb a tree. They can go sit in the sun outside," Lattanzio said. "It just gives these animals a reason to live as opposed to just living in a cage just because no one wants them."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Zoo Exhibit Puts Visitors Nose to Beak With Penguins]]>Fri, 15 Apr 2016 10:51:34 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PenguinDetroitGIF.gif

A new penguin habitat that the Detroit Zoo calls the world's largest such facility offers its 80-plus residents new rocks for climbing, waves, snow and better ice conditions, while allowing visitors to come nose to beak with the stately birds.

A preview Wednesday showed off the $30 million Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which features an underwater gallery and two acrylic tunnels where visitors can watch four species of penguins swim above, around and below them.

Zoo officials say it's designed to simulate the penguins' native habitat, including optimal air and water temperatures. Zoo CEO Ron Kagan, who made multiple research trips to Antarctica, says the penguins can "do the polar plunge" in the 25-foot-deep aquatic area.

"This is so new, they're still learning this new environment," Kagan said in an interview. "They've never been able to dive this kind of depth. They've never had this kind of opportunity for ice and snow."

Sixty-nine penguins — gentoos, macaronis and rockhoppers — have marched over to their new home, which opens to the public on Monday. Fourteen king penguins will arrive in a bit.

The 33,000-square-foot Polk Center is situated on two acres. In addition to the 326,000-gallon swimming pool, the new inhabitants also have the option of spending time chilling in their spacious above-ground abode that includes expansive windows that allow visitors to see in — and the penguins to see out.

The environment is intended to encourage the same kind of behavior as in the wild, from leaping in and out of the water to nesting and rearing young.

"We've had penguins at the Detroit Zoo for many years, so we know how to feed penguins and keep them healthy," said Scott Carter, the zoo's chief life sciences officer. "What we wanted to make sure we could do here was make sure that we could create an environment in which penguins could really be happy, in which penguins could thrive."

The center's design, inspired by the harsh climate of Antarctica, features an exterior that resembles a towering iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall.

It's "the biggest project that the Detroit Zoo has ever undertaken" Kagan said. A $10 million donation from the Polk Family Fund is the largest gift in the zoo's 88-year history.

The center is free with Detroit Zoo admission, but requires timed-entry passes that are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Great Dane Gets Stuck in Tree]]>Thu, 14 Apr 2016 13:40:51 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DaneinTree.jpgKora, a 120-pound Great Dane who was stuck 20 feet up a tree in Louisville, Nebraska, was rescued Saturday night by the local fire department.

Photo Credit: WOWT]]>
<![CDATA['Inky' the Octopus Escapes New Zealand Aquarium]]>Thu, 14 Apr 2016 18:48:14 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Inky-AP_287185602729.jpg

Inky the octopus waited until it was dark and the staff had gone home from the National Aquarium of New Zealand before making his move. 

He squeezed and pushed his way through a tiny gap in the mesh at the top of his tank and slithered 2 meters (6.6 feet) to the floor. Then he made a beeline across the room to a drain hole. 

With a body the size of a rugby ball, Inky managed to stretch out and squeeze into the hole. From there, he shimmied down the 50-meter (164-foot) pipe until he was back in the Pacific Ocean.

All he left behind three months ago was a slimy trail, allowing staff at the Napier aquarium to re-create his amazing escape. 

He's not been seen since. 

Inky's story begins on Pania Reef, several hundred yards (meters) out to sea from the aquarium. He was pulled up by a fisherman in a lobster pot and wasn't in good shape. He'd been attacked, probably by a snapper or some other fish, and a couple of his tentacles were half their normal length. 

After a year recuperating at the National Aquarium, said manager Rob Yarrall, Inky was once again in good health. And he'd been delighting the staff with his intelligence. 

"He used to come up and you could hand-feed him," Yarrall said. "He'd grab hold of you with the suckers on his tentacles, or squirt water at you. And he worked out how to screw the top off a jar." 

Yarrall said that since they have no bones, octopuses can squeeze through almost any hole that's larger than their beaks, so the drain hole, 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide, was no great challenge.

After Inky escaped, the aquarium staff figured out what happened, admired his cleverness, wished him the best and went back to work. No one thought to publicize the story until Robyn McLean, communications manager for the Napier City Council, heard about what happened this week. She told a local reporter, and before long she and her small staff had fielded more than 100 calls from international media. 

"It shows how we should never take animals for granted," McLean said. "The humble octopus is a very, very intelligent creature. He thought this one out and he nailed it. So, go Inky."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: The National Aquarium of New Zealand via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Runaway Calf Befriends Blind Cow Who Lost Pig Pal]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:24:19 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/12472334_962445667175962_1075988760580106634_n.jpg

A calf that spent several days on the loose in Massachusetts is the new companion of a blind cow left heartbroken when it lost its playmate of eight years, a spotted pig, according to their caregiver.

The calf was brought on Tuesday to Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary, in Dartmouth, the home of the blind cow, named Baby.

Baby "had never been by herself for so long. She was all alone," said Debbie Devlin, owner of Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary.

The escaped cows were destined for the slaughterhouse when they escaped last week, according to Devlin. The other two cows were hit in driving accidents, one dying immediately while the other was severely harmed and subsequently euthanized. But the calf eluded danger.

"She really became a famous escaping calf," Devlin said. "She was on her freedom run."

It was Jennifer Ferreira who originally spotted the missing calf on the side of the road, dusted in snow. Ferreira posted a photo of the missing calf on Facebook, which sparked interest in the small community, the shelter said in a Facebook post. Local news stations and the Dartmouth Police Department tracked the calf, which was eventually returned to the livestock yard, but not for long.

Jean Briggs, a supporter of the sanctuary's, saw stories about its escape and called up Devlin on Thursday to find out if she was interested in the calf. Devlin was, so Briggs used her tax refund to buy the calf from Robinson's for $450, Devlin said. She turned the calf over to the sanctuary on Tuesday.

Devlin said the timing is perfect. The cow at her shelter, named Baby, lost her companion pig, Lulu, on Sunday.

"She would walk frantically in circles, mooing away," Devlin said.

That soon changed. Within seconds of arriving at her pen, adjacent to Baby's, the corralled calf burst through the 8 foot-tall gate to be beside Baby, Devlin said, leaving the gate off its hinges.

"She ran to the blind cow and hasn't left its side," Devlin said.

Devlin has owned Baby for 10 years and the sanctuary is home to many animals that people either don't want or can't afford to keep, according to Devlin. Don't Forget Us Pet Us also has a duck with no feet, a one-eared chinchilla and more. The pig, Lulu, became Baby's companion after horses and ponies proved too aggressive for the bovine.

"It was so helpful having the pig to be able to show her when we had to move things around or make changes," Devlin said.

This duty will now likely fall on the calf that has taken to Baby, Devlin said.

The sanctuary still hasn't named the calf — Devlin said she is considering running a naming contest on the Don't Forget Us Pet Us Sanctuary Facebook page. The sanctuary also plants to raise funds for "super strong fencing" for the calf.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Courtesy Don't Forget Us Pet Us
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<![CDATA[Coyote Found Shot Gives Birth to 5]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 20:03:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/coyote-split.jpg

First, rescuers realized the emaciated coyote they pulled from the bottom of an empty reservoir in Southern California was blind from being shot between the eyes. Then, the rescuers found the near-death animal was pregnant.

After a monthlong regimen of care, including intravenous fluids and vitamins, the coyote gave birth at an animal hospital to a litter of five healthy puppies.

Julia Di Sieno of the Animal Rescue Team in Solvang found the coyote in the reservoir after a call came into her hotline Feb. 11. The coyote was bleeding and having trouble breathing.

Di Sieno climbed down 30 feet into the stone-and-mortar reservoir and loaded the wounded animal onto a gurney. She named it Angel.

Examinations revealed Angel had been shot between the eyes, and the bullet blinded her. The coyote then likely wandered the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara for days or weeks until she tumbled into the reservoir, Di Sieno said.

"What this animal endured is beyond comprehension," Di Sieno told the Los Angeles Times for a story Wednesday. "When she had puppies, I didn't know whether to cry in sadness or for joy."

She plans to care for the puppies until they are mature enough to be released in the surrounding mountains. Di Sieno hopes to keep Angel as a surrogate mother for young coyotes that her nonprofit rescues. But first she has to persuade the state Department of Fish and Wildlife not to euthanize it. In California, possession of a coyote is illegal unless permitted by the state.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Times the agency is looking for a reasonable solution.

"The department appreciates Julia and the rescue team's efforts to save this coyote and other wildlife," he said. "We've worked closely with her over the years and appreciate her passion for rescuing imperiled wildlife."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Courtesy Animal Rescue Team]]>
<![CDATA[Cat Crosses Mexico Border in Fender]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 16:19:36 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Cat+under+fender.JPG

A cat that became trapped in the front fender of a car unwittingly took a trip from Mexico to Oceanside in Southern California.

The Oceanside Fire Department posted video on its Facebook page showing firefighters rescuing the cat on March 21.

The person who alerted firefighters said he drove from Mexico to his home in Oceanside — about 54 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border — apparently not knowing about the cat.

Loud meowing alerted him to the whiskered stowaway tucked beneath the vehicle.

A firefighter wearing gloves is seen in the video pulling the cat free from beneath the front fender of the car. The cat then loudly meows and tries to dart away.

Fire officials said the animal was taken to the humane society.

It wasn’t clear how the cat got beneath the bumper.

Photo Credit: Oceanside Fire Department/Facebook
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<![CDATA[Kitten Stuck in Wall]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 13:34:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/041216+bso+saves+kitten+deerfield+beach.jpg

Firefighters have rescued a kitten that was trapped inside the wall of a South Florida home, bringing an end to a family's confusion about where a certain meowing sound was coming from.

Broward County Sheriff's Office Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said several firefighters on Monday safely removed the small gray kitten after cutting a hole through the wall in the Deerfield Beach family's living room. The kitten didn't appear to be injured.

It's unclear how the feline became trapped. Jachles said a neighborhood cat must have had a litter in the home's attic, with the kitten then somehow falling down into the wall.

The Miami Herald reports that the family adopted the kitten and named it Hugo, after one of the firefighters who rescued it, Hugo de Almeida.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Missing Dog Found Dead in Owner's Stolen Car]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 12:49:55 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dog+Left+to+Die+in+Stolen+Car.pngAn Oregon man's dog was found dead inside his stolen car on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Kona, a Great Dane and black lab mix, was inside Bill Robbins' car when it was stolen last week in Portland.

Photo Credit: KGW]]>
<![CDATA[Canine Food Truck: Chicken Feet, Pumpkin Pretzels and 'Pupcakes']]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 10:56:04 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16104212190147-barkery-barkery-th.jpg

Stand on any block around lunchtime near Amazon.com's downtown Seattle headquarters and there are two common sights: people walking their dogs and people buying lunch at food trucks.

The scene offers a window into Seattle's infatuations with dogs (and cats), which outnumber children here, and the maturing roaming food truck market.

Now, one truck is combining both by catering to humankind's best friend.

"It kind of seems natural that now that we've conquered the people food truck market that we bring that to our faithful furry friends," Janelle Harding said.

Harding is a customer of The Seattle Barkery, a food truck that serves dogs and their owners in Seattle-area dog parks, office building parking lots, farmer's markets and private events. It rolled into operation 10 months ago.

"There is definitely a market for more things like that, where human and canine activities are combined. You don't want to always leave them at home or leave them in the car," said Dawn Ford, who owns and operates the truck with her husband, Ben.

By Ford's count, their truck is one of just a handful in the country that caters to canines. The concept is new and rare enough that dogless people occasional misunderstand and purchase a treat.

"They end up ordering something, and they seem weirded out by it," Ford said.

Popular offerings include air-fried chicken feet and duck neck, cupcakes with bacon, rebranded "pupcakes," mini cheesy doughnuts, pumpkin pretzels and peanut butter-banana cookies.

"Peanut butter is like a must," Harding said after buying treats for her pug, Stella.

Ford worked at one of Seattle's dog-friendly bars, then became a dog walker and began cooking her own treats for customers following a rash of product recalls.

"All of our treats are soft," she said. "All of our treats aren't filled with ingredients you can't pronounce."

Giving dogs homemade treats rather than processed ones is deeply important to Ford.

"What we feed our animals reflects their health," Ford said. "Animals' lives are short. If we can feed them good quality products, why wouldn't you?"

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[App Releases Top Pet Names]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:04:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Corgi-GettyImages-512536165.jpg

Looking to adopt a new furry companion?

In honor of National Pet Day on Monday, social media app Nextdoor released a report on top pet names across the country and by animal.

For the Southwestern states, including California, that name is Lucy. Coincidentally, Lucy is the top names for cats.

Bella, the most popular pet name in the Pacific Northwest, also earned the top name for dogs.

In a similar list released last month, Nextdoor also named Bella the top dog name in San Diego County, followed by Lucy, Buddy, Max, Molly, Daisy, Bailey, Lola, Rocky and Chloe.

National Pet Day started in 2006 to celebrate the joy of animals and to draw light to those in need of permanent homes.

Data for the list was compiled from Nextdoor member profiles that included pet information. 

Here’s a look at the full Nextdoor map of most popular names:

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Moment RF
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<![CDATA[6-Year-Old Girl Rescues Trapped Ducklings]]>Wed, 13 Apr 2016 04:28:29 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/222*120/04.10.16_Mia-Rescued-Ducklings.JPG

Eight ducklings separated from their mom and dad after falling down a narrow Southern California drainage pipe found their hero in a brave 6-year-old Laguna Niguel girl who came to their rescue.

Mia Rabii and her mother, Skye, were in Laguna Hills Saturday afternoon when they were flagged down by another family, who had come upon the mother duck with a lone duckling. The father was nearby.

The family had located the other ducklings down a narrow pipe, but no one had arms small enough to reach down and pull them out.

Mia said, "I can do it," according to her mom, and reached down the pipe all the way to her shoulders and pulled out the eight ducklings one by one, reuniting them with their anxious mother.

Mia, who is going to be Student of the Week at school, wants to be a veterinarian.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Skye Rabii
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<![CDATA[Dog Found With Muzzle Taped Shut]]>Sat, 09 Apr 2016 17:07:01 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/040916dog.jpg

Authorities are offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who taped a dog's muzzle shut then abandoned it on a New York highway.

The male German shepherd was found Saturday on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst, said the Suffolk County SPCA, which is offering a $2,000 reward.

"To leave this dog unable to eat or drink, abandoned and frightened on a busy road is heartbreaking," organization chief Roy Gross said in a statement.

Gross said the dog, estimated to be 2 or 3 years old, is in good health and very social.

"I can say whoever did this is a truly heartless individual," Gross told NBC News.

The Babylon Animal Shelter picked up the dog and is now caring for it.

<![CDATA[Baby Bear Rescued From Brush Fire]]>Fri, 08 Apr 2016 11:25:16 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/040816+baby+bear+saved+from+fire.jpg

Firefighters in central Florida helped save a crying bear cub while fighting a brush fire on Thursday.

The roughly 250-acre fire took place in the rural Royal Trails section of Lake County. Multiple homes had to be evacuated.

A resident heard the bear crying and firefighters went back into the brush to rescue him, according to Lake County public information officer Elisha Pappacoda.

According to NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Lake County Fire Rescue contained the fire and was in the "mop-up" phase when they found the cub.

"We do have a lot of Florida black bears in the area. But, this [baby bear] is not something you see every day. The tips of his fur on his face were singed. Firefighters held onto him until Fish and Wildlife came," Pappacoda said. 

Nicknamed "SJ" — for Smokey Jr. — by the fire department, the cub's paws and face were burned and his mama bear was long gone.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called to evaluate the cub. "SJ" was in a veterinarian's care Friday morning. Pappacoda said the cub is doing fine and recovering from the minor burns. 

Photo Credit: Lake County Fire Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Wayward Sea Lion Returns to Ocean]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 07:07:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Marina+sea+lion+return.jpg

Amid cheers by those who rescued her, Marina, the wayward sea lion that ended up in a La Jolla restaurant booth two months ago, was returned to the ocean off California on Tuesday.

SeaWorld animal care workers boated out several miles off the coast of San Diego to return Marina and several other rehabilitated sea lions.

One by one, the animals waddled to the back of the boat and dove in, swimming away as the rescue workers looked on.

The chef of The Marine Room Restaurant, where Marina was found curled up in a booth in February, joined SeaWorld workers to free the pup.

Chef Bernard Guillas had snapped photos of the pup when he found she had sneaked in to his restaurant and posted the photos on social media. They have since gained thousands of likes and comments.

Guillas said he’s seen dramatic progress in Marina’s health since she was rescued. She’s gained 25 pounds and shows signs she can forage for food in the wild.

“When she arrived, she was frail,” Guillas said. “She’s back in the ocean, in the big blue, and she’s going to enjoy life now.”

Jody Westberg, the park’s Stranded Animal coordinator, said Tuesday it was an emotional experience returning Marina to her natural habitat, and she’s confident the sea lion will survive and thrive.

“She’s a feisty, sassy animal,” Westberg said.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Saves Family Dog]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 05:45:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/bailey_rescued.jpg

A police officer in Southern California was credited with saving the life of a cherished family dog that was bitten in the face by a rattlesnake.

Dispatchers received a call around 4:20 p.m. Monday from a frantic girl who said her family's 11-year-old chocolate Labrador, Bailey, had been bitten by the rattlesnake while playing in the backyard, according to the La Verne Police Department.

Officers Chris Dransfeldt and Greg Rodriguez responded to the home in North La Verne, an area near the foothills where rattlesnake sightings are common, police said.

According to police, Bailey had suffered a bite near one of his eyes and his face was swelling in reaction to the venom. The 17-year-old girl told Dransfeldt that Bailey was like a child to her parents, who would be devastated if the dog died.

The girl had no means of transportation and her mother could not leave work, police said. It might have been too late by the time she got there anyway, so Dransfeldt sprang into action.

The officer, a dog lover himself, took Bailey to the nearest veterinary hospital in La Verne. Workers told Dransfeldt the only animal hospital that carried anti-venom was located in the nearby town of Upland, so Dransfeldt put Bailey in the back seat of his cruiser.

Bailey whimpered in pain from the bite as Dransfeldt rushed him to the VCA Animal Hospital in Upland, according to the La Verne Police Department. Veterinarians administered an anti-venom medication, as well as fluids, to help save Bailey's life.

The dog stayed overnight at the hospital and was released Tuesday morning to his family. He was recuperating and is expected to recover, police said.

Photo Credit: La Verne Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Wayward Sea Lion Blocks Traffic]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2016 09:53:09 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/sea+lion3.jpg

A wayward sea lion wandered into the road Monday morning in Sonoma County, California, stalling traffic as drivers gawked and crews from the Marine Mammal Center worked to move the animal from harm's way.

The sea lion's expedition blocked the eastbound route of Highway 37 at the junction of California State Route 121, by the railroad tracks. Traffic was at a standstill at 10 a.m., according the California Highway Patrol.

The area — near Skaggs Island and the San Pablo Bay, in the middle of Novato and Vallejo — is the same spot where a 900-pound elephant seal was stranded in December 2015. The seal had to be tranquilized and corralled after it tried to cross Highway 37.

According to the police log, an off-duty officer chased the sea lion before experts from the Marine Mammal Center arrived. The agency tweeted a picture of the sea lion before it emerged from the water.

Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli said his agency's rescue crews actually know this sea lion, and had previously nicknamed it "School Daze," a young male who had been at the center several times and treated for malnutrition. Doctors also had determined that this sea lion suffers from neurological damage, possibly because of past domoic acid exposure, the same toxin that caused the most recent Dungeness crab fishing season in California to be delayed.

School Daze is one of more than 80 young California sea lions currently at the Sausalito, Calif. center —more than four times the average normally this time of year, making this the fourth year in a row that California sea lions have been in crisis.

“After four years of sea lions in crisis, the initial shock of seeing so many starving sea lions is over and now we’re really starting to worry about long-term impacts on the population as a whole,” Dr. Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the center said in a statement.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that from January to May 2015, California sea lion strandings were more than 10 times the average.

Nearly 600 sea lions pups and yearlings were stranded in California in March, according to NOAA, though that was nearly half the number reported stranded in March 2015. NOAA scientists say it’s likely that a change in the availability of the animals’ prey, like sardines, is affecting nursing mothers.

Photo Credit: California Highway Patrol]]>
<![CDATA[67 Pups Saved From Freezing Van]]>Tue, 05 Apr 2016 14:06:29 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DSC_00036.jpg

New Jersey police officers saved 67 puppies from a near-freezing van early Monday morning, authorities said.

Paramus police officers spotted the Freightliner Sprinter van parked in the back of the Just Pups store on state Route 17 in Paramus about 3 a.m., according to police. Cops later determined the van belonged to the owner of the Just Pups store. 

When officers approached the van, they heard dogs whining and smelled an odor of urine and feces coming from the vehicle.

They opened an unlocked door, saw the dogs covered in feces and called animal control, authorities said. It was later determined the temperature inside the van was about 38 degrees.

Fifteen dogs needed medical attention and were taken to Oradell Animal Hospital, police said.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force is investigating.

The owner of the Paramus Just Pups store, Vincent LoSacco, was charged with 267 counts of animal cruelty in late February for alleged poor conditions at the East Brunswick outpost of the store. The location later had its business license revoked by the town.

Reached after those charges were filed, LoSacco said they were baseless and that an officer who issued him the summons has a personal vendetta against him. He later posted a video to Facebook saying he had been unfairly targeted.

The Paramus location had also been the target of investigations and complaints before Monday, authorities said.

LoSacco, who owns multiple Just Pups locations throughout the Garden State, couldn't be reached for comment Monday. An employee who claimed to be LoSacco's son declined to comment on the case to NBC 4 New York. 

It's not clear if charges will be filed in the case.

Photo Credit: Paramus Police]]>
<![CDATA[America's 10 Favorite Dog Breeds ]]>Thu, 28 Apr 2016 08:54:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/10-ShihTzu.jpgAmerica’s top 10 favorite dog breeds include the pug, the Lab and the little Shih Tzu. PetBreeds, which runs a pet search engine, analyzed the country's most popular dog breeds based on average user rating and total number of reviews for each breed, filtering out doggies who had fewer than 40 reviews. Here are the results.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Surfs It Up for Charity]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:18:02 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/french-surf-bulldog.jpg

With summer on the horizon, Southern California waves are beckoning a slew of Angelenos, including a French bulldog who has made surfing her charitable hobby.

Cherie, the 5-year old Frenchie, literally started from the bottom after being left at a dog shelter by a family who could not take care of her.

Cherie was placed into the French Bulldog Rescue Network at a very young age. That's where she was rescued by a Newport Beach couple with great love for Frenchies.

Under the care of Amy and Dan Nykolayko, Cherie made frequent trips to Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach where they saw how much Cherie enjoyed the water and wearing a life jacket. After her owners learned of dog surfing lessons in Del Mar, Cherie began her surfing career.

In 2013, Cherie began competing, not only for her own, but for dogs across the nation. With the help of the Nykolaykos, Cherie has raised nearly $7,000 since 2013 for rescue organizations by participating in many canine surfing competitions.

"Surfing is crazy, awesome fun but it is very important to me to help raise money for animals in need at all of the events that I compete in," reads Cherie's mission statement on her website. "Many dogs aren't as lucky as I am so I do my very best to give back every year."

Cherie won first place in the medium dog category at the 2015 Surf Dog-A-Thon and has placed in many competitions for her fundraising efforts as well. She has appeared at the All-Star Dog Rescue Celebration as well as on Nightline and Good Morning America.

The Nykolaykos, who do everything from coordinating Cherie's outfits to surfing alongside her, are both fundraising coordinators at the French bulldog Rescue Network where Cherie was placed before finding her forever home with them. 

Photo Credit: Dan Nykolayko]]>
<![CDATA[Chihuahua Rescued on Calif. Bridge]]>Mon, 04 Apr 2016 09:48:06 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/runaway+puppy.jpg

California Highway Patrol officers gave chase to an unlikely suspect early Sunday — a Chihuahua.

A driver reported the dog on westbound Bay Bridge just after 7 a.m., according to Officer Vu Williams, a spokesman for CHP San Francisco. 

CHP units noticed the small dog on the bridge's north side catwalk heading toward San Francisco, prompting an officer to stop traffic.

A motorcycle officer tried to go over to the Chihuahua and pick it up, but it bolted onto the Bay Bridge, Williams said. A video on the CHP San Francisco Twitter page shows a motorcycle officer pursuing the dog as it scampered across multiple lanes.

The black Chihuahua kept running away from officers who were trying to safely capture it so a motorcycle officer and others in a patrol car boxed in the wayward dog, Williams said. One officer distracted the animal with a jacket while another scooped it up. 

The rescue lasted roughly five minutes, according to Williams. 

CHP officers also shared a photograph of the Chihuahua being carried by one of their colleagues. A skull is dangling from the dog's black collar, but Williams said it doesn't contain any identifying information.

The dog has been picked up by the San Francisco County's Department of Animal Care and Control, whose employees nicknamed it "Ponch," after Erik Estrada's character in the 1970s TV hit, "CHiPs." Officials are going to use a scanner to ascertain if it has a microchip in it, Williams said.

Officials are seeking the public's assistance in reuniting the Chihuahua with its owner. If it isn't claimed in seven days, it will be put up for adoption.

This dog isn't the first animal to prompt a brief closure of the Bay Brige. Williams said turtles, seals and a litany of other animals have caused traffic jams in the past. 

Anyone with information is asked to call 415-554-6364.

Photo Credit: CHP San Francisco
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<![CDATA[Dog Rescued After Week in Storm Drain]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 15:47:03 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dog-GettyImages-100394559.jpg

Firefighters outside Charleston, West Virginia, have rescued a dog believed to have been stuck in a storm drain for nearly a week.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Pinch residents on Thursday found a dog stuck in an underground storm pipe. The neighbors had been hearing the dog's barks for days but had been unable to locate the canine.

With the help of a West Virginia American Water crew, members of the Pinch Fire Department dug up concrete and cut the pipe in order to free Mater, a 14-year-old beagle mix who had been missing since March 25.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian and is safely back with his owners, who say they're planning to install a fence.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File
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<![CDATA[Pig Saved From Dinner Table]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:16:18 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/181*120/12923144_10154021408273798_8038226485201047208_n.jpg

An unwanted pet pig got a new lease on life after ending up at the butcher.

"Luckily, the butcher could tell that Missy belonged in a home and not on the dinner table so she was brought to the New Hampshire SPCA for safe shelter and a second chance," the SPCA wrote in a Facebook post March 30.

Missy, a 3-year-old pot-bellied pig who is now up for adoption, is used to living in a house and loves to sleep under the covers with her human counterparts, according to the animal shelter. She is litter box trained and knows how to sit. 

The rescue operation said Missy has been going for walks and spending time outside with staff members — and she's learning how to walk on a leash. 

"She is one smart gal and would love a family to keep her mentally engaged!" the SPCA wrote on its website.

In a Facebook update posted April 1, the SPCA said thousands of people have shared Missy's picture and passed along information about her original home.

"And because so many people have responded, we will surely be able to find homes more quickly for other pot-bellied pigs when they are surrendered here, which happens more frequently than people might think!" the agency wrote.

To learn more about adopting Missy, call 603-772-2921 ext. 124 or visit the New Hampshire SPCA website.

Photo Credit: New Hampshire SPCA
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<![CDATA[2 Puppies Lead Officer to Their Starving Mother]]>Fri, 01 Apr 2016 10:34:43 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Princesspic.jpg

Puppy siblings Calvin and Jordan likely saved their mother’s life two weeks ago.

The puppies ran loose in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on March 14, and bystanders called the Montgomery County Animal Services, authorities said.

When an officer arrived, he found more than just the the puppies’ home — their mother, Princess, was in critical condition.

Princess, a Catahoula mix, had no food or shelter and only a small container of dirty water to drink. Animal services said she weighed just 29 pounds, when she should weigh about 50-65 pounds.

The officer took all three dogs to Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, where Princess is still recovering.

Since she arrived at the center two weeks ago, Princess has gained over 12 pounds and begun to trust and open up to people, despite the abuse she endured.

"She can be seen in the veterinary office wagging her tail hopefully as staff pass by, and leaning up against people who come to visit her," the adoption center wrote in a press release.

Owner Allyn Tyrone Meeks was charged with one misdemeanor count for failure to provide veterinary care, shelter and food. Meeks faces up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine, if convicted. It's not clear if Meeks has hired an attorney.

Princess and her two puppies are now up for adoption. For more information about adopting the dogs, call the adoption center at 240-773-5900.

Photo Credit: Montgomery Country Animal Services and Adoption Center]]>
<![CDATA[Dog With Cancer Lives Bucket List]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:16:28 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bucket4.jpg

A Michigan dog diagnosed with terminal cancer after his owner died is now living out a bucket list of "everything a dog should do before they cross the rainbow bridge."

Loren Cazan, a volunteer at Rejoyceful Animal Rescue in Mount Clemens, adopted the 14-year-old Lab mix named Buddy after his owner suddenly passed away.

"The family had contacted the rescue and asked if we could take him cause they didn’t want him to end up at a shelter," said Michelle Heyza, founder Rejoyceful Animal Rescue. "He was very depressed when he came in."

Rescuers took the dog to a vet, where tests revealed Buddy had mast cell cancer.

"He has a tumor on his side, and a bunch of small tumors all over his body," Heyza said. "He’s not in the position at 14 years old to have the tumors removed. He wouldn’t survive surgery." 

Heyza called the vet visit a "blow" because there was nothing the workers could do. She called Buddy the "most lovable dog you could ever meet."

"There’s not a person or thing he didn’t like that he didn’t meet, which made his diagnosis all the more hard to hear," she said, adding, "So we created a bucket list of everything a dog should do before they cross the rainbow bridge. It was to celebrate his life and have fun with him before he goes."

A series of photos show items on the pup’s bucket list, including: get adopted, chase a flock of geese, become a businessman, get a job, eat a "pup cup" with his best friends and "being a total chick magnet surrounded by a bunch of chicks!"

"We hope that people will adopt other senior dogs and help them live out a bucket list," Heyza said.

Photo Credit: Rejoyceful Animal Rescue
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<![CDATA[73 Dogs Saved From Tx. Puppy Mill]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:16:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Stephens-Co-Puppy-Mill-07.jpg

Seventy-three neglected dogs were rescued from an alleged puppy mill in Stephens County after being found in filthy, cramped conditions, according to the Humane Society of North Texas.

HSNT said the owners were breeding Australian shepherds, border collies, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers. The animals were housed in three areas that did not provide suitable living conditions.

"The conditions these dogs were living in were absolutely horrific," said Kim Meek, lead humane investigator for HSNT. "It was clear that the owners had become overwhelmed. There were so many dogs living inside the house that the owners had actually moved into a travel trailer in the yard. More dogs were living in the attached garage and two large buildings. Even worse, there were several dogs crammed into wire pop up crates. In many of the enclosures, more than 6 inches of feces covered the floors."

The Stephens Count Animal Shelter was awarded custody on Monday of all 73 dogs — including three nursing mothers. The shelter was unable to care for the large number of animals and signed custody of 60 dogs over to HSNT.

HSNT gave the dogs medical examinations and treated them for parasitic infections. Two of the puppies tested positive for parvovirus; one died and the other is being treated by a veterinarian.

"Puppies born in puppy mills frequently contract life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus and distemper as a result of the squalor they live in," said HSNT veterinarian Dr. Cynthia Jones. "Sadly, many do not live to see their first birthday."

A male miniature Australian shepherd, named Ranger by the HSNT staff, needs ear ablation. HSNT said it doesn't know what caused Ranger's deformity, but without the surgery, he will have chronic ear infections and ear pain. According to the HSNT, the surgery would remove his ear canal and sew it shut, allowing him to live a healthy, comfortable life.

HSNT is seeking donations from animal lovers in the community to provide Ranger with surgery and to help fund the care of the 60 dogs in its care until they are able to find loving homes.

Donations can be made at www.hsnt.org, by calling 817-332-4768, or by mail at 1840 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth, TX 76103.

The rescued dogs will remain at the HSNT holding facility until they are cleared to undergo spay and neuter surgeries and then enter the adoption program.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of North Texas]]>
<![CDATA[Special Explores Program for 2nd Chance Dogs]]>Wed, 30 Mar 2016 13:02:51 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_19533597227.jpg

Animal Planet will soon celebrate the success of a unique program aimed at second chance dogs, often shy and traumatized victims of puppy mills, hoarders and abandonment.

In an hour-long special, the network delves into the Behavior Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey. It's a pilot program of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that began in 2013 and will soon be expanded, in time for the ASPCA's 150th anniversary.

Called "Second Chance Dogs," to air April 16 (9 a.m. Eastern), the Animal Planet show starts at the center's beginning, when the ASPCA decided to try rehabilitation for hard luck cases.

Of 259 dogs sent to the center since it opened, 185 have graduated. Of those, 170 were adopted and the majority is doing quite well, said Kristen Collins, a certified applied animal behaviorist who oversees the project and will be the director of a new facility planned as part of the expansion.

Not all the dogs were success stories. Thirteen were deemed inappropriate for the program, including those with health issues, and 28 failed to graduate after months in the program. Some of those were sent back to the shelters where they came from and some had to be euthanized.

But the ASPCA stands firmly behind the center. It will continue to move dogs through St. Hubert's until a new $9 million, 35,000-square-foot facility is finished in mid-2017 in Weaverville, North Carolina.

"While we can't yet answer all of the questions associated with rehabilitating at-risk animals, we continue to witness amazing transformations, dogs that conquer their anxiety and fear despite years of devastating behavioral damage. These transformations change the trajectory of their lives," said Matthew Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.

Nearly every animal shelter in the country has a shy dog or two, Collins said. The new rehab center will have a dormitory that can accommodate visiting staff bringing in dogs from shelters or seeking training on how to handle their own loads. Shelters will not be charged for sending dogs or staff to the center, she said.

The human training will be offered because the ASPCA feels it's just as important to teach shelter workers around the country how to gain the trust of severely traumatized dogs as it is to rehabilitate the animals, Bershadker said.

"Collecting this insight and sharing it will enable all of us to move more vulnerable dogs from peril to safety," he said.

Collins said the center was the first dedicated solely to abused or neglected dogs. Her dogs, Wink, Juno and Toefu, are part of its workforce as "helper" dogs. They made it into the documentary, done by the production company Dog Files under ASPCA supervision.

Kathryn Klumpp of Watchung, New Jersey, is the proud owner of one of the center's graduates. She adopted Mary Ann after the dog was transferred from rehab to the Butler Town Pound. The mutt, believed to be around 2, adjusted quickly to life with her new family, Klumpp said. Her husband, sons (ages 11 and 13), two other dogs and a cat all made it work.

"When she came home, the family could only scratch her under her chin where she could watch them. Now, they can scratch her back." Klumpp said. "That's how much she has come to trust all of us."

While things went quite smoothly, the family made one serious change: "So now her name is Hope."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Partially Blind Steer Saved]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:16:48 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Oatmeal-Blind-Steer.jpg

A partially blind steer that was among the winners of the Fort Worth Stock Show has avoided slaughter after critics decried plans to butcher the animal.

Oatmeal was recently moved to an undisclosed ranch after stock show officials stepped in to help save him, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Saturday.

Kendyll Williams, 13, of Huntsville, raised and showed the steer at this year's Fort Worth Stock Show and a buyer paid $8,000. Then an online effort began to save the animal diagnosed with cataracts.

On Feb. 11, Matt Brockman, the show's publicity manager, hauled Oatmeal to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in College Station for examination.

"He loaded like a champ and hauled like a champ," Brockman said Friday. "It was clear that he had functional eyesight, and in my opinion, this steer could have entered the food system. ... I've worked with totally blind steers, and this steer wasn't that."

Oatmeal was moved to his new home after being examined at Texas A&M.

"It was established by our board certified ophthalmologist that the steer is not completely blind and does have partial vision, although cataracts are present in both eyes," Dr. Eleanor Green, dean of the veterinary college, said in an email to the Star-Telegram on Friday.

Brockman said young exhibitors at the Fort Worth Stock Show are learning about the industry and providing a safe food supply, knowing fully their animals will end up in the slaughterhouse.

"A young livestock show exhibitor knows the animal they raise to show will someday enter the food system. ... The youth participants are fully aware that at some point their 'project' will be processed and enter the food system," Brockman said in a previous email to the newspaper. "They're helping feed the world."

Renee King-Sonnen, founder of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary in Angleton, which sought to save Oatmeal, said volunteers collected about $12,000 for the animal's care.

"I'm happy if he's really safe, I just don't understand all the secrecy," King-Sonnen said. "I just hope he never, ever, ever sees a slaughterhouse."

The money raised for the steer will now go toward scholarships for young people who indicate they have a change of heart about showing and selling livestock for slaughter, she said. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences]]>
<![CDATA[Dog's Emotional Reunion With Owner]]>Fri, 25 Mar 2016 16:27:13 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/032516+chloe+mary+jane+collier+county+department+of+animal+services.jpg

A Facebook video showing a Florida dog owner's emotional reunion with his stolen dog after seven months apart is going viral.

The video, posted by the Collier County Department of Animal Services, shows the dog happily barking and jumping into her owner's arms for a big hug.

The dog, named Chloe by the shelter's workers but whose real name is Mary Jane, was found roaming the streets. The shelter posted videos which led to her owner.

The Facebook video (below) has been viewed more than 1.5 million times and had nearly 35,000 likes by Friday.


Photo Credit: Collier County Department of Animal Services
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<![CDATA[Runaway Piglet Gets a Home]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:17:30 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/IMG_18272.JPG

This little piggy, who ran wildly among cars and brought traffic to a halt in San Francisco's Mission District earlier this month, has traded in city life for the country.

According to the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control, the wayward piglet, who has since been named Janice, was adopted by Al Wolf, the director of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue. The piglet and her new guardian left for Sonoma Monday morning.

Janice drew a crowd of good Samaritans on March 8, leading them on a chase up and down Dolores Street, animal care officials said. Finally, Brother Damian with the Society of Saint Francis was able to scoop her up and get her to safety.

 "Janice has spent her time wisely, bringing good cheer and smiles to shelter visitors," the Department of Animal Care and Control said in a statement.

Although no owner laid claim to Janice, the piglet's story captured the attention of many who asked to adopt her, officials said.

"We've enjoyed having Janice — she’s taught us a lot about pigs, and we’ve loved her good nature and spirit," Animal Care & Control Executive Director Virginia Donohue said.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control]]>
<![CDATA[Scalded Cat Finds New Home]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:17:39 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Driver+The+Cat.png

Nearly two months after a disturbing video surfaced showing a man scalding a cat with boiling water, that same cat has found a happy new home. 

A video posted on Facebook in early February showed a man coaxing a cat toward him before pouring a pot of boiling water on the animal. The footage sparked nationwide outrage as it spread across social media, prompting a police investigation.

Eighteen-year-old Leon Teague, of South Martin Luther King Drive, was charged with one felony count of animal torture and one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. It's not clear if Teague has hired an attorney.

The cat was found, thanks to a rescue effort organized by two Chicago women, and taken to Felines & Canines animal shelter in Edgewater.

Now, the cat, named Driver, has been adopted after more than a month rehabilitating from his injuries, according to the shelter's Facebook page. 

Calling the incident "one of the most horrific assaults we’ve ever seen," executive director Abby Smith details the treatment Driver endured.

According to Smith, Driver suffered third-degree burns and subsequent infections, requiring two weeks of hospitalization in the ICU, laser therapy, wound cleaning three times a day and more. 

After a diligent screening process, the shelter was "over-the-moon" to announce Driver's adoption this week, Smith said. With three sisters to play with, Driver's new home has "the most gentle, loving family where Driver will know nothing but kindness, love, and napping in the sunbeams for the rest of his life," according to Smith. 

The shelter also established "Driver's Fund" to help rescue and care for animals suffering from extreme injury or illness.

Photo Credit: NBC 5
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<![CDATA['Cat Cafe' to Open in Chicago]]>Thu, 17 Mar 2016 17:39:40 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cat+cafe2.jpg

Why drink coffee alone when you can enjoy it in the company of a cat?

Chicago’s first "cat cafe" is coming to West Rogers Park as part of Tree House Humane Society’s new shelter set to open this year. The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance allowing the opening of animal shelter cafes.

"Cat Cafes are wildly popular throughout Asia, Europe and the United States," Alderman Debra Silverstein, who introduced the ordinance, said in a statement. "The 50th Ward will soon be home to the City of Chicago’s first Cat Cafe and, thanks to this new ordinance, will set a trend that will spread throughout the city and the rest of the Midwest."

Tree House Humane Society’s Cat Cafe plans to open at 7225 N. Western Ave. as part of its new adoption center and veterinary clinic. The location features full-length glass windows in the serving areas and an adjacent sitting room where visitors can have direct interaction with adoptable, rescued cats while enjoying coffee, tea and other beverages.

"We are extremely grateful to Alderman Silverstein and the City Council for making this dream a reality," said David de Funiak, executive director of Tree House Humane Society, in a statement. "The Tree House Cat Cafe will provide a unique opportunity for individuals to interact with our rescued, adoptable cats, ultimately helping more animals find their forever home and enabling us to rescue even more."

The new facility started construction last June as an adoption center and will now include a cafe. Tree House’s goal is to open sometime mid-year. Funds from the cafe will benefit the shelter, with proceeds directly supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of the cats.

The Animal Shelter Café Permit is available for licensed humane societies only, and the ordinance aims to facilitate as a tool to boost adoptions. The cafes can only sell non-alcoholic beverages and must maintain sanitation requirements.

Photo Credit: Tree House Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Navy Finds Puppy ]]>Fri, 18 Mar 2016 10:08:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Luna-Navy-Reunion-SD-0316.jpg

A missing puppy that fell off a fishing boat nearly five weeks ago in the waters off Southern California was found by the U.S. Navy Tuesday and reunited with her family in San Diego.

U.S. Navy officials say Luna – a 1-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd – was presumed to be lost at sea after falling overboard near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island (SCI) in Southern California on Feb. 10.

That day, Luna's owner, Nick Haworth, called officials at SCI from his fishing boat to report that he and his crew were bringing in traps from a fishing vessel when Luna vanished. Hayworth said one minute the pup was there and the next she was gone.

Haworth and his crew were about two miles off the coast of San Clemente, and he told Naval officials he thought Luna may try to swim to shore.

Navy staff at SCI searched the island for the dog to no avail. Hayworth stayed at sea for two days looking for Luna. And still, no luck.

After about a week of searching for the pup, she was presumed dead, Navy officials said.

Nearly five weeks passed.

Then a miracle happened.

On Tuesday morning, as Navy staff headed to work at SCI, they spotted Luna sitting next to the road. The pup, as her owner hoped, had somehow managed to make it ashore.

When the pooch saw staffers, she ran right up to them.

"They were shocked," Naval Base Coronado PAO Sandy DeMunnik told NBC 7.

DeMunnik said Luna was examined by a Navy wildlife biologist who found her to be undernourished but otherwise unharmed. The pup was in "good spirits."

The Navy flew Luna to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado (NASNI) Wednesday afternoon, where was turned over to a family friend of her owner. Haworth, a commercial fisherman, was out of town for work, but was soon due to return home to San Diego to be reunited with his beloved companion.

Haworth's family friend, Conner Lamb, went to pick up Luna on Wednesday afternoon in Haworth's place and the reunion was joyous.

Lamb has worked on a fishing boat with Luna often and was ecstatic and amazed she's alive. He scooped her up and embraced the pup as soon as he saw her. Luna's tail wagged.

"[It's] just really mind blowing to tell you the truth," he said. "When I got the call this happened, [I] never even though this would be possible."

Photo Credit: United States Navy]]>
<![CDATA[Kittens Left for Dead in Suitcase]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:17:46 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NYPD+kittens+1.jpg

Police rescued a half-dozen kittens after someone threw them in a suitcase and left them for dead, the NYPD said.

The felines had been tossed over a fence at a lot on Wythe Avenue near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn on Thursday evening, according to the Daily News.

The 90th precinct tweeted photos of the little critters on Tuesday following their rescue.

Sadly, a seventh kitten did not survive.

The rescued kittens are now with the ASPCA awaiting adoption.

Anyone with information about who tossed the cats is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: @NYPD90Pct/Twitter
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<![CDATA[New Hope for Neglected Pups]]>Tue, 12 Apr 2016 17:17:55 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/transformed-dogs-031516.jpg

Two Southern California pups who were found with severely matted fur after living in what Riverside County Animal Services called "uncomfortable" and "neglectful" conditions were given a makeover, officials said Tuesday.

The dogs arrived at the Riverside shelter Monday with bloodshot eyes and heavily matted fur in what authorities called one of the worst cases they'd seen.

"These two dogs illustrated the worst matted condition I've seen in my almost 10 years working for the county," Rachel Schafer-Young, who groomed the dogs, said. "It almost seemed that they were suffocating in their own fur."

A good Samaritan found the grimy canines after witnessing someone dump trash in a remote area of the Coachella Valley. Then the man saw the trash move.

"These dogs were a complete mess," the shelter said in a statement.

The dogs, both male and about 5 years old, were shaved down and all of the heavy fur removed.

Schafer-Young said the dogs are believed to be purebred Shih Tzu, though she said she can't tell for sure.

The dogs may soon have a new "leash" on life: A special adoption will be planned, shelter workers said.

Photo Credit: Riverside County Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Kids Read to Dogs]]>Mon, 14 Mar 2016 23:48:21 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/220*120/barks-and-books031416.PNG

What could be cuter than kids and dogs?

Children in Southern California read out loud to "tail-wagging tutors" Monday at La Pintoresca Branch Library as a part of the Pasadena Humane Society's "Barks and Books," a reading enrichment program that encourages kids to build confidence in their reading skills and the safe and humane treatment of animals.

The guest of honor was Smokey, an 8-year-old pit bull, who donned a shamrock headband in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day.

"We found that children who were afraid of dogs are more comfortable after being with a dog here in the library," Rosa Cesaretti of the La Pintoresca Branch Library in Pasadena said.

Since 2003, volunteers from the Humane Society have regularly brought specially-trained dogs to more than 17 different libraries in the Southland.

"We also find that as the children are reading out loud, they're able to listen to themselves read, and they're realizing that they could read well and it builds their confidence," Cesaretti said.

The "Barks and Books" program is free and open to the public. Find out where else you can read to curious canines here.

Photo Credit: KVEA]]>
<![CDATA[Rutger, Rutgers Gardens Cat, Dies]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2016 13:31:54 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rutger-on-plants.jpg

The cat that was a fixture greeting visitors at New Jersey's Rutgers Gardens has died. Rutger was 21 years old.

Horticulturist Monica McLaughlin told the Home News Tribune she was with Rutger when he died on Monday. McLaughlin said she and another volunteer knew it was time and they held him and sat on the grass with the sun shining on him.

"To think he made it that long. He had a great life," McLaughlin told NBC.

The gray tabby spent his life controlling the mice population at the gardens in New Brunswick. However, Rutger went missing in 2014 when a woman took him to make him her pet.

McLaughlin said it did not work out and the woman set him free about two miles away. He was spotted outside a home where a person was grilling salmon.  

McLaughlin said Rutger wasn't the only cat to take up residence at the Gardens and mentioned another feline named Luke.

"I just hope he'd venture out of the greenhouse area more," she said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

Photo Credit: Ken Karamichael
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<![CDATA[Pet Tech Helps Keep Animals Safe and Connected While You're Away]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 10:44:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PetTech-Thumbnail.jpg

Technology isn't just for humans anymore. It's also for their furry friends.

In Silicon Valley and beyond, a growing number of startups are selling devices to keep pets safe, healthy, entertained and connected when their owners are away.

"Pet tech" entrepreneurs and investors see a big opportunity as pet ownership grows and owners show a willingness to spend serious money on their four-legged companions.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. households, or 80 million homes, have pets, and Americans spent more than $60 billion on them last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

"The number of pets in the world is growing extremely fast and that opens up the market," said Peter Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, a technology market research firm. "I'm sure five years from now there will be all sorts of things we can't imagine."

Already, there are devices that let your pets call you (PetChatz), play games and win treats when they're home alone (CleverPet) and even speak with a human voice (Petspeak).

But as more pet-tech gadgets come to market, experts caution owners against relying on them too much.

"The technology can be useful as an adjunct, a way of enriching your relationship with your pet, but certainly not a substitute for time spent with your dog," said Pamela Wyman, who runs the DogEvolve training school in Oakland.

The Petzi Treatcam lets Anne Ryan check on her dogs Oscar and Reggie at her Berkeley home when she's working in San Francisco or traveling out of state.

The Internet-connected device lets her see her dogs, talk to them, take photos and even dispense treats — using an app on her phone.

"I turn it on, get to see them, get to talk to them and it changes my mood, and puts me back in a positive frame," said Ryan said. "I didn't know that I needed it, but now I don't think that I could live without it."

The TreatCam was created by San Jose-based Petzila, which was founded by two veteran technology executives who wanted to get their pets online. The startup also created a social media app that lets owners share pet photos.

"All of the most current crazes and fads in technology were touching everything but the pet," said CEO David Clark.

Whistle, a San Francisco startup, sells a GPS-enabled Pet Tracker that alerts owners when their pets have left their "safe zone" and helps find them if they get lost. The device also lets owners track how much exercise and sleep their animals are getting.

Ben Jacobs, Whistle's CEO and co-founder, said the pet-tech market is expanding fast as pets move up the household hierarchy.

"From the yard to the home to the bed — the dog is no longer out as part of the farm, but they're actually sleeping in bed with you as part of the family," Jacobs said.

For owners who want their dogs and cats to be more active during the day, the Petcube Camera lets them see and speak to their pets, and play with them with a laser pointer.

Petcube's Ukranian founders started the company in Kiev, but moved its headquarters to San Francisco to reach a global market.

"If we can connect all the pets to the Internet and basically digitize this space, it will be nothing short of disruption," said Yaroslav Azhnyuk, Petcube CEO and co-founder. "It will be very big." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

<![CDATA[Golden Retriever Puppy Gets Braces]]>Tue, 08 Mar 2016 21:17:37 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Wesley-Puppy-Braces.jpg

Like many "teenagers," Wesley is sporting a mouthful of braces.

But his case is unusual, because Wesley is a dog.

The 6-month-old golden retriever showed off his "metal mouth" in photos posted Feb. 26 on the Facebook page of Michigan's Harborfront Hospital for Animals.

The pup is in good hands: his owner, Molly Moore, works at the animal hospital, and Moore's father is the dentist who took care of him.

According to Moore, doggie braces are rare but not unheard of. She said Harborfront has fitted dogs with braces in the past.

"Orthodontia in pets is normally not for aesthetic purposes, but because of health concerns," the hospital explained on its Facebook page.

According to Harborfront, Wesley "needed tooth alignment because he could not close his mouth completely."

Dr. Jim Moore said his doggie braces are made of the same materials used on people.

"We use all human products, so this is something we’d put on a child," he explained.

The cost varies depending on the kind of brace, but the ones used on Wesley typically run between $1,700 and $1,800, Jim Moore said. Wesley, however, got a discount.

Molly Moore said Wesley doesn't seem fazed by the hardware and is "still his puppyish self," despite needing soft foods and being unable to play with his toys.

"It obviously doesn't bother him one little bit," Harborfront wrote on Facebook. "He's a happy little guy."

Wesley should get his braces off in a few weeks.

February marked National Pet Dental Health month, and the animal hospital shared Wesley's photos to spread the word.

Harborfront posted an update Monday saying the staff was "overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and interest from around the nation" for Wesley.

"Dental care is just as important for the pets we love as it is for us and we are glad that his cute 'brace face' brought such interest," the hospital wrote.

Photo Credit: Harborfront Hospital for Animals]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Real Dog Meets Giant Robot Dog]]>Tue, 19 Apr 2016 02:04:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-03-01-at-1.30.47-PM.jpg

It's dog versus machine.

A video, created by Boston Dynamics, the Google-owned robotics company, shows an interaction between a small, real dog and the Spot robot, which looks like a tall, headless dog. 

"Come on, take him big dog," a voice says in the video shot in a parking lot. 

But the real dog is not intimidated. It barks relentlessly and doesn't let the lifelike robot get away too far, chasing after it. The Spot robot is the latest quadruped robot from Boston Dynamics.

The video was posted to YouTube on Feb. 27 by Steve Jurvetson, a venture capitalist who is involved in several high-tech companies.

Photo Credit: Jurvetson/YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[NBCWashington's Favorite Animal Movies]]>Fri, 21 Aug 2015 19:31:21 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/site_28_rand_657324611_best_in_show_maxed.jpg

There's something special about animal movies and their ability to teach us lessons of love, courage and loyalty. They remind us of that unique connection between animals and humans. The best of animal movies tend to become kids' favorites but possess the ability to captivate adults as well. Here's a list of our favorite movies at NBC Washington, with four-legged stars that made us laugh, cry and everything in between. 

NBC Washington's take on some of our own favorite animal movies:

Rio: “Such a great story. I fall in love with Blu every time and the love stories told in this movie are incredibly heart-warming!” ~ Kristin Wright

Chicken Run: “Great stop motion animation about a chicken farm and the high-jinks of saving themselves from becoming dinner.“ ~ Wendy Rieger

101 Dalmatians: “Loved it growing up so much that I got a tattoo of the puppy Lucky. Classic, timeless and fabulous!” ~ Beth Scott

Bambi: “Bambi, because it shows the full circle of life. Early on, a young Bambi learns a hard lesson about death when his mother is shot and killed. Then his friends pair off with their own mates, and eventually Bambi has twins of his own and takes his father’s place in the forest. Few cartoons teach kids so much about the realities of life.” ~ Chris Lawrence

Milo and Otis: “An excellent animal adventure.“ ~ Darcy Spencer

Hachi: “I’ve never seen it but a lot of people love [it].” ~ Tisha Thompson

Shiloh: "I remember crying a lot more than my kids at this one. We'd loved the Shiloh books series and the movie. The bond between children & dogs is remarkable and this movie powerfully portrays it. ~ Julie Carey

Babe: -- "That'll do pig." "One of my favorite movie lines & one of the all time best animal movies. Relationships between animals can be magical and this movie showcases that." ~ Julie Carey

Because of Winn Dixie: "It's not just about boys & their dogs, this one's a about a girl who essentially gets adopted by a dog when she moves to a new town. She learns like a lot of us, dogs are a great way to meet people!"  ~ Julie Carey

The AristoCats: "Everybody wants to be a cat, because a cat's the only one who knows where it's at..." ~ Mary Manby

Charlotte’s Web: "But this was the best pig movie ever... "that’s some pig.'" ~ Rick Yarborough

Where The Red Fern Grows: "This movie broke my heart at a kid after reading the book in middle school. I even wrote a sequel for a school project because I was so upset how it ended." 

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: “Alrighty, then!” ~ Both Melissa Mollet and Angie Goff love this movie.

Some more of our animal favorites here at NBC Washington:

Best in Show (Lauren Dunn)
Finding Nemo (Heather O’hara)
Puss In Boots (Andrea Silva)
Dr. Dolittle (Andrea Silva)
Lady & The Tramp (Tisha Thompson)
The Black Stallion (Tisha Thompson)
That Darn Cat (Donna Weston)
Marley & Me (Donna Weston)

Homeward Bound
The Lion King
Marley and Me
Scooby Doo
Air Bud
Lady and the Tramp
The Wizard of Oz
Turner and Hooch
Homeward Bound
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Oliver And Company 

What did we miss? What are your favorite animal movies?

<![CDATA[Morales to Host Special on Clear the Shelters Drive ]]>Fri, 21 Aug 2015 16:38:23 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NUP_146526_1474.JPG

Hannah the tutu-wearing pit bull, George the pot-bellied pig and a kitten named Chase were among the nearly 20,000 animals who got new homes last weekend as part of the Clear the Shelters adoption drive. 

Stories like theirs will be front and center this Saturday, when "Today" co-host Natalie Morales hosts a 30-minute post-adoption drive special that will recap the national day of action. It can be seen Aug. 22 on all 11 NBC Owned Stations, plus more than 100 NBC affiliate stations. Telemundo stations will also air a post-adoption drive show on the same day.

Twenty-eight local NBC and Telemundo television stations, including regional news network necn, partnered with more than 400 animal shelters across the country to find new homes for thousands of homeless pets. Many participating shelters waived fees or cut costs as part of the Clear the Shelters campaign, which culminated Aug. 15.

By the end of the day on Saturday, 20 shelters reported that they had “cleared” all adoptable animals during the event, which was also sponsored by Overstock.com.

“I am so proud that all of our stations came together with hundreds of animal shelters across the country, with the help of the ASPCA and our friends at Overstock.com, to find thousands of animals in need of their forever homes. We are all so grateful to everyone who opened their homes to these deserving pets on this national day of action,” Valari Staab, president of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations division of NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

“Clear the Shelters is an example of how together, we can rally to help save deserving animal lives and in the end make a positive impact across communities nationwide.”

Morales adopted her own shelter dog, Zara, through the North Shore Animal League, which reported 137 adoptions as part of this year's Clear the Shelters campaign.

Morales describes her mutt, who she first met four years ago after Zara appeared on the NBC morning show, as part of her family, like "our third child."

"It was love at first sight," Morales said.

She said that after overcoming some initial shyness, the new addition quickly took to Morales' sons, Josh and Luke, and became part of the family. Not much was known of Zara's history pre-adoption, other than she was saved from a kill shelter in Georgia where she was about to be put down. 

Morales believes shelters are often overlooked by people seeking a four-legged companion.

"I was blown away by the beautiful dogs, some of them pedigree dogs [at shelters]," she said. "They deserve second chances. It really is just training them with love and kindness."

"There are so many incredible animals that need homes, and Zara was one of them. I can't imagine life without her now."

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Thank You For Helping Us Clear The Shelters!]]>Wed, 19 Aug 2015 21:27:51 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CTS_POP_SHOW_COMBO_3000_for_digital_1200x675_509028419740.jpgThank you to all of our viewers and partners who helped NBC4 Clear The Shelters this summer!]]><![CDATA[Golden Retriever Making 'Absolutely Remarkable' Recovery After Found Burned Across Back]]>Wed, 19 Aug 2015 05:02:00 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/211*120/8-18--15-golden+retriever-fergus.jpg

A young golden retriever whose resilience is described as "absolutely remarkable" was recovering Tuesday at a Southern California animal hospital after a rescue group found him surrendered at an animal shelter with a third-degree burn.

The dog, a 1- or 2-year-old pup now named Fergus, was found by a good Samaritan outside of a Walmart in Lancaster with a burn along his back, from his neck all the way to his tail. The person who found him took him to a shelter, where the rescue group found him during a routine stop.

“It breaks your heart,” said Barbara Gale of the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue group, which rescues surrendered golden retrievers from San Diego to Santa Barbara. “What did dogs ever do to anyone except bring love and joy? That’s what they’re on earth for.”

The same day NBC stations across the country were helping to Clear the Shelters on Saturday, Gale said the shelter handed over Fergus to be treated.

“It just was sick,” Gale said. “I was sick and my only thought was, 'How quickly can we get him?'”

“He was scared. He was very very scared when we first got him and confused,” she said, adding that he suffered a seizure when they first got him.

It is believed it was possible the person responsible for harming Fergus could have harmed other dogs. Gale said she heard there was another dog brought in the same week as Fergus with similar wounds.

The Animal Medical Center in West LA is caring for Fergus now, at limited cost to the rescue group. Dr. Alan Schulman said Fergus came in with severe tissue damage. On Thuesday night, Fergus began receiving laser therapy for the wound along his back.

“He hurt,” Dr. Schulman said. “There is no way you do not feel substantial pain and discomfort if you have this type of third-degree burn.”

For Fergus, named after an Irish word meaning "powerful," his tail-wagging hasn’t stopped since he awoke from his sedation.

“The fact that this guy still trusts people, wags his tail and will let us treat him considering the horrendous way that some person hurt him, is absolutely remarkable,” Dr. Schulman said.

Schulman said he did not believe the dog was set on fire, but rather something more sinister.

“It’s not the first one we’ve seen where some deranged individual goes ahead and pours battery acid or some other chemical up and down their back,” he said.

Dr. Schulman noted that Fergus is a loving dog that is easy to get close to when he is given attention. He said whoever harmed Fergus probably tried to pour the acid on his head but Fergus moved.

There has been no word on who may have done this to Fergus, but Gale says she has a feeling she knows the “type,” saying, “Only a coward, a bully, can do this.”

Dr. Schulman went a step further, crediting his South Bronx upbringing for his feelings, saying, “I’d be the first one to line up and hold him down and pour whatever chemical he poured on this dog right over him.”

The Golden Retriever Rescue group set up a GoFundMe site to help with the costs of Fergus’ care, with any amount over the goal amount going to helping the group’s cause of helping other surrendered dogs. To make a donation, click here.

For information on adopting Fergus, you can speak directly with the rescue here.

Photo Credit: Ernesto Torres]]>
<![CDATA[Shelter Selfies: Show Off Your New Pet]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:34:40 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/197*120/Deputy+Dog.JPG

Across the country, animal lovers are helping pets in shelters find a new forever home.  Did you get a new best friend on #ClearTheShelters day? If so, show off your newest family member. Post a picture to Twitter or Instagram with the #ClearTheShelters hashtag, and we might highlight it right here. 

Now check out all of these other cute pets - animals that were either adopted as part of Clear the Shelters, or are joining the effort to get others adopted:

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Find a Participating Shelter for #ClearTheShelters]]>Sat, 15 Aug 2015 12:09:53 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cat+adoption.jpg

The big day is here: Today, NBC4 is trying to find pets a new home!

We are part of #ClearTheShelters day, a nationwide push to find homes for pets in need.

Today, adoption fees are being waived at our participating shelters. And we're going to encourage every family that can to help find these animals a forever home. 

Below are our participating shelters. Please note that their operating hours may vary; you will need to contact the shelter to check hours before you go.

Bring a photo ID and be ready to fill out adoption paperwork. Renters, remember that you will need to have your landlord's approval for a pet. 

And if you adopt today, please SHOW us by sending us a photo of your new addition! Tweet or Instagram @nbcwashington with the hashtag #ClearTheShelters, or email isee@nbcwashington.com.

Later today, we'll livestream the adoptions from the Washington Humane Society.

Thanks, and today -- let's Clear the Shelters!


Participating shelters:


In D.C.

Washington Humane Society, 1201 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC and 7319 Georgia Ave NW Washington DC 

Washington Animal Rescue League, 71 Oglethorpe St NW, Washington, DC 


In Maryland

The Humane Society of Harford County, 2208 Connolly Rd, Fallston, Maryland

Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, 7315 Muncaster Mill Rd, Derwood, Maryland

Prince George's County Animal Management 3750 Brown Station Rd, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Humane Society of Charles County 71 Industrial Park Dr., Waldorf, Maryland

SPCA of Anne Arundel County 1815 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis, Maryland

Baltimore County Animal Services, 13800 Manor Road, Baldwin Maryland

MD SPCA, 3300 Falls Rd, Baltimore, Maryland 

BARCS, 301 Stockholm Street, Baltimore, Maryland 

Baltimore Humane Society, 1601 Nicodemus Road, Reisterstown, Maryland

Humane Society of Calvert County 2210 Dalrymple Rd., Sunderland, Maryland

Humane Society of Washington County 13011 Maugansville Rd., Hagerstown, Maryland

Tri-County Animal Shelter 6707 Animal Shelter Rd., Hughesville, Maryland

In Virginia

Fairfax County Animal Shelter 4500 West Ox Rd, Fairfax, Virginia

Animal Welfare League of Arlington 2650 S Arlington Mill Dr, Arlington, Virginia

Animal Welfare League of Alexandria 4101 Eisenhower Ave, Alexandria, Virginia

Homeward Trails (Fairfax Station) 11116 Fairfax Station Road, Fairfax Station, Virginia

Loudon County Animal Services, 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford Virginia

Prince William County Animal Shelter, 14807 Bristow Road, Manassas, Virginia

Humane Society of Warren County 1245 Progress Drive Front Royal, Virginia

SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke Counties 111 Featherbed Lane, Winchester, Virginia

City of Manassas Animal Control 10039 Dean Dr, Manassas, Virginia

In West Virginia

Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County 23 Poor Farm Rd, Kearneysville, West Virginia

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<![CDATA[NBC4 is Working 4 You at Clear the Shelters!]]>Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:48:52 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CTS_2016_SPECIAL_072816_v3_1200x675_734038083782.jpgAlmost 1,500 pets found new homes in a single day at NBC4's Clear the Shelters event! Thank you for your support -- and for helping to find homes for vulnerable animals.]]><![CDATA[Helping Your New Shelter Dog Adjust]]>https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/CTS-2015-AcclimatingYourDog-Fixed_1200x675_505037891838.jpg

The first thing you might want to do after you bring a new dog home from the shelter is also something you probably shouldn't do: invite all your friends over to meet the cute pup.

Instead, you should first make sure that your dog is comfortable with its new surroundings. Then, invite one friend over at a time to make sure you don't overwhelm the dog.

That's just one tip that can help your dog adjust to their new home. Watch the video above to learn more. 

<![CDATA[Pit Bull Reunited With Owner After Shelter Spots Missing Dog Post Online]]>Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:39:02 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/pit+bill+chief.jpg

One lucky pit bull found his forever home for the second time Saturday during the nationwide Clear the Shelters adoption drive. 

Joe Cool, aka Chief, jumped over a fence and ran away from his home on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, Chief found his way to the Humane Society of the Calumet area, where he stayed for the rest of the week.

Shelter employee Stacy Budeselich came to Chief's rescue on Saturday when she was scrolling through Facebook looking for "missing dog" posts in the area. She saw a post from Chief's owner and immediately recognized the pit bull's face.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, that dog looks familiar. I think we got him in,'" Budeselich said.

Budeselich called the phone number attached to the "missing dog" post, and within half an hour the owner showed up to the shelter with a laptop full of photos to prove he was Chief's owner. Budeselich said Chief looked excited to see his owner, but he was a little nervous because he knew he should never have run away.

The Humane Society of the Calumet area has seen happy endings like Chief's before. Budeselich said just last month another dog was reunited with his owner after spending three months in the shelter. Budeselich said she routinely checks Facebook and "missing dog" websites to make sure her shelter doesn't have a dog that already has a forever home.

While Chief and his owner reunited, hundreds of first-time and veteran pet owners adopted dogs and cats across the Chicago area for NBC and Telemundo's "Clear the Shelters" event. As of 3:15 p.m. 715 animals had been adopted in the Chicago area, and more than 9,000 had been adopted nationwide.

Photo Credit: Humane Society of the Calumet area]]>
<![CDATA[From Pigs to Lizards, Many Kinds of Pets Seek New Homes ]]>Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:39:19 -0400https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/George_the_Pig81515.png

All across the country, it's raining cats and dogs and… lizards?

While the vast majority of the adoptees during the Clear the Shelters pet adoption drive were cats and dogs, there was plenty of variety in the species available to potential owners at shelters across the country.

At the Humane Society of Calvert County in Maryland, a pot-bellied pig named Channing Tatum was headed for a new home.

“He’s very laid back,” Debbie Samler, an adoption counselor at the site, said. “He likes people.”

He also likes other animals, but not other pigs, she said. According to Samler, the Humane Society rescued him from another shelter.

“Generally, people will get these pot-bellied pigs and they live in apartments and then think they’re going to stay tiny,” she said. “And they don’t.”

In Irving, Texas, another pot-bellied pig, George, was adopted from Irving Animal Services. He will spend the rest of his days on his owners' goat farm.

MSPCA-Angell, in Massachusetts, also had guinea pigs, a domestic rat, a grey macaw and a chinchilla ready for new homes Saturday. 

In Los Angeles, the West LA Animal Care Center had already given three rabbits homes shortly after opening its doors. Bunnies were available for adoption in Texas, as well as in the San Francisco Bay area and Voorhees, New Jersey.

Texans heading to a shelter in search of a new pet Saturday could also find at least one hamster and a hedgehog. Shelters in the D.C. area, meanwhile, reported giving forever homes to another hamster, as well as two turtles and a ferret.

And yes, in New York, there were even lizards in need of loving owners. All creatures, great and small, were up for adoption on Saturday. More than 17,000 animals were placed in adoptive homes as part of the drive, which was sponsored by NBC Owned Television Stations and Telemundo Station Group. 

NBC Owned Television Stations' Cynthia Andrews and Noreen O'Donnell contributed to this report.

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