When Erikas Plucas came back home one ordinary day he found a baby moose lying all by herself just outside his gate. “The first sight of her was heart breaking,” said Erikas, who lives in Lithuania. “She was starved, dirty, sad, her fur was infested with flies, and she was so terrified of me when she first saw me but was too weak to run away, to even get up.” Once he established that the calf was all alone, Erikas approached it ever so carefully so as not to frighten it. On closer inspection, he noticed that it was a female moose who was no older than two weeks. She was in bad shape, and that’s when Erikas figured out what had happened to her mother.
Erikas believed that the female moose’s mother was killed by
hunters, and in search of safety, the baby moose ran onto the property of the
farm to evade the hunters. It also looked like the calf got injured on the way.
Like most people would have done, Erikas called up family and
friends to ask for advice and tips, but he was met with aggression. “‘It is
illegal, you should not do it. Let nature take care of it,” were the kind of
comments Erikas received.
Erikas decided to keep her, and a magical friendship formed between the animal and the man. He was excited to keep the female moose and named her Emma. The first few weeks were very challenging for him; it was as if fatherhood crept up on him from nowhere. Emma needed to eat every few hours and couldn’t be left alone for too long.
At first, Erikas would feed her every four hours, and even
sleep next to her in the barn or outside to make sure the animal felt safe.
Eventually, it was time to release the moose back into the wild. At first, Emma was terrified of the forest, but she felt safe with Erikas and therefore followed him into the wild as he helped her search for food. He hoped Emma would learn how to fend for herself like any other moose in the wild. So, would Emma finally move into the wild?
Erikas was thrilled to see Emma roaming free in the woods, but he knew that she could fall victim to the local hunters just like her mother did. He couldn’t stand the thought of losing his beloved Emma, but he couldn’t keep her on the farm either.
To avoid the inevitable, Erikas invited the local hunters over to try and get them on his side. “I had some hunters over for them to see her as not just a nice, warm steak with potatoes and vegetables on the table, but as a very intelligent and loving animal,” he said. Would his plan work?
Erikas’s plan went surprisingly well, and after the hunters witnessed the relationship between Emma and Erikas, they had a complete change of heart. Some of the hunters agreed not to hunt her, while others promised not to hunt moose at all.
The biggest victory for Erikas was that some hunters decided to put down their weapons and stop hunting altogether. He was ecstatic to hear the news, but then Emma showed up with an even bigger surprise than he could have imagined.
Emma visited her ‘dad’ every single day!
After Emma moved back into the wild, Erikas noticed her stomach looking rather round and significantly bigger. It was clear that she was pregnant, and at that moment, Erikas was reassured that Emma really was doing well in the wild. She was starting her own family! Soon Erikas will get even more visitors – and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“She turned my life upside down. Being a man, I became a mother to a moose,” Erikas said. “I’m her world now and she is mine,” Erikas said. “Sometimes I wonder was it me who saved her or is it the other way around?”.
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They are the country’s icon – but behind the dazzle of religious festivals, these giants of the wild are painfully abused in Kerala.
When Audrey Gaffney first read about Raju, an Elephant kept in chains with spikes embedded in his ankles, she couldn’t stop the tears pouring down her face. “In fact, I cried again and again: I found over the next few days I just couldn’t get this story out of my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about Raju,” she recalls.
“I couldn’t believe the cruelty of my race.”
The young Elephant had been snatched from his family, she
explains – his mother either would have been killed or spent weeks searching
and crying for him – and he was beaten into submission. Raju then spent the
next 50 years forced by his handler to beg in the street, starved, frightened
and suffering infected wounds to his flesh. By the time of his rescue, he had
resorted to eating plastic and paper.
Going on to discover that Raju was just one of thousands of
Elephants treated this way in India, Ms Gaffney, a single mother from
Liverpool, was spurred into becoming an activist for the first time. In the
four years since, she says, her life has changed beyond recognition as she
dropped her wariness of social media and teamed up with other volunteers
working to raise awareness of the horrors to which the temple Elephants of
India are subjected.
Taken from their families in the wild, shackled, beaten,
whipped and exploited like slaves, these Elephants – ironically India’s icons –
are painted and dressed in colourful decorations, to be paraded in regular
festivals and processions organised by religious temples.
They are the world’s forgotten Elephant victims of mankind. While the world has focused on the threat of extinction to Africa’s Elephants caused by the ivory poaching crisis and the cruelty of tourist Elephant rides in Thailand and Cambodia, the plight of their captive counterparts in India has remained largely hidden from public gaze.
Photographs and videos posted online have shown how, away from the glitz of the festivals, these sensitive, intelligent and naturally sociable creatures are tied to the spot by ropes or chains that eat into their skin and inflict agonising injuries to their legs; they are hit with metal rods or bull-hooks – sharp tools – and “trained” with punishments to hold their heads high.
When the six-month festival season begins in December, they are forced to walk for miles in searing heat on hot, stinging tar roads and ridden into processions noisy with crowds and fireworks – terrifying for a creature whose home is the forest. While still shackled in chains they are made to run races or carry people and are subjected to “painful and unnatural” “head-lifting” competitions.
Some Elephants are carted from one festival to another – in
some cases hundreds of miles – and despite suffering sometimes infected wounds
from the chains, are ridden in searing temperatures by people who apparently
see no harm in what they do.
The southern coastal state of Kerala has the highest number of festival Elephants, about 500 out of 3,500-4,000 across the country. Action for Elephants UK (AfE) brands Kerala “ground zero for elephant torture” and has called their illegal treatment “the worst case of animal cruelty in the world”. The plight of the 150 captive elephants in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is feared to be just as BAD.
Footage posted by local group Kerala Suffering Elephants (KSE) reveals how an Elephant named Gurvayur Nandan was paraded at a festival until dawn, before being transported for eight hours standing on the back of a truck in the scorching sun for eight hours without rest to a separate event that ran until midnight.
Malnourished and deprived of medical care, captive individuals of the endangered species rarely survive this “unrelenting neglect and torture” for a natural lifespan. The mortality rate in Kerala is shocking: 58 have died in 27 months, and already in 2018, 12 have succumbed, according to KSE. In seven years, the death toll is 350. “There could be no more damning proof of the hellish conditions and treatment meted out to these Elephants,” says Maria Mossman, founder of AfE.
For all the abuse, injuries and mental torment, it’s not the pain or infections that usually kills them early, it’s “intestinal impactions”: a blocked colon caused by being fed the wrong diet and insufficient quantities of water. The condition means they die “a miserable and painful” early death.
Campaigners have had enough. Gathering outside the Indian
High Commission in London, they staged a protest to draw the attention of the
New Delhi government and the world at large to the animals’ plight. Wearing
large Elephant masks and waving placards, they came from a variety of
backgrounds; some had travelled hundreds of miles to be there.
What unites these women – and yes, the campaigners are
nearly all women – is a shared abhorrence of the “abuse and torture”. They
adamantly deny attempting to interfere with religious culture.
“Temple Elephants are not part of any tradition,” explains
Their use in temples and festivals is not part of Indian
culture, nor do Hindu scriptures anywhere say that Elephants should be used in
temple rituals. On the contrary, the barbaric treatment of these elephants goes
completely against the core beliefs of Hinduism”
In fact, the cruelty behind Kerala’s rituals is thought to
have begun about a century ago as India’s nouveaux riches started to buy
Elephants to flaunt their wealth. Denise Dresner, a co-organiser of AfE,
recalls the heart-wrenching moment that opened her eyes to the scale of the
problem: “In 2013 I saw a video by Peta of Sunder the temple Elephant being
beaten. This was something I’d never witnessed before.
“An Elephant was on its side on the ground, struggling to
get up. His feet were shackled and he was being beaten violently by several
men, over and over again. He kept struggling, unable to get away from the blows
raining down on him. I learned later he had been kept in a dark shed and beaten
incessantly for seven years.
“That moment of seeing him being beaten and tortured was
seared into my brain and heart. It’s an image that will never leave me, one
that shows the extremes of human violence and brutality towards other living
beings. The unspeakable cruelty perpetrated on these majestic, sentient and
highly intelligent creatures must end.”
For Maria Harper, another protester, it’s the duration of
the suffering that is worst. “What upset me most was when I realised the length
of time the temple and festival Elephants suffer,” she says.
“They can endure cruelty and abuse for more than 50 years –
if they are unfortunate enough to survive that long. It’s a life sentence”
Seeing the photos and hearing the accounts is harrowing. But
Ms Mossman says it’s vital if their welfare is to improve. “The world needs to
know how handlers use banned weapons and restrain them with heavy shackles,
often tightened so severely that they cut through the flesh, causing raw
bleeding wounds that are seldom treated. “They are often forced to stand in the
same position 24/7, in their own urine and excrement, suffering from foot rot.
They are beaten and tortured time and again.”
Some mahouts think nothing of whipping an Elephant to make
it bend to his will, such as climbing into a truck. But the abuse doesn’t end
Most of Kerala’s captive Elephants are bulls. When they
enter their annual musth – mating season – their testosterone levels and energy
surge, so the mahouts tighten their shackles further until the creatures are
unable to move. In addition, food and water are restricted to weaken them.
But then comes the cruellest torture yet. Several men, often
drunken, beat the chained Elephant for up to 72 hours relentlessly. The
practice is based on a superstitious belief that the Elephants may have
forgotten their commands during their musth, and is designed to break the
Elephant’s spirit, “reminding him that his masters are in control”.
All bull Elephants in Kerala undergo this horror every year.
These practices are banned by the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, but campaigners point
out that the laws are routinely ignored.
Elephants are paraded with no ownership papers or parade certificates, or with fake fitness certificates, breaking the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, which says they cannot be exploited for profit, AfE says. Recent laws banning the use of disabled, sick or pregnant elephants in festivals are also ignored.
“The plight of these Elephants is arguably the worst case of
animal abuse in the world. The suffering that temple Elephants endure is
“India has very good laws, but they are ignored daily and
the abusers go unpunished,” says Ms Mossman. “Not only are Elephants
intelligent and sentient beings, they are an endangered species. It is the duty
not only of India to enforce the laws to protect them, but of the world to hear
their cries of suffering and respond to end the brutality against them.”
She and KSE agree that making profits and keeping the status
quo are at the root of the problem. “These sentient animals are seen only as
commodities, earning huge sums of money for their owners and the temples,” says
Ms Mossman. “Exploited under the veneer of culture and religion, they are big
business. Everyone, from the chief minister downwards, has a stake.”
The 3,000 temples that rent out Elephants to festival
organisers are run by four devaswom (socio-religious trusts), appointed by the
state government, and each temple earns many millions of rupees from festivals.
Any Elephant that makes it beyond 60 is purposely neglected
and abused – treated as a disposable item – so the owners can make hefty
insurance claims, according to AfE.
Sangita Iyer, who was born and raised in Kerala and made an
award-winning 2016 film, Gods in Shackles, revealing what goes on behind the
scenes at the festivals, is convinced greed is to blame.
“Elephants are allowed to die so the owners can receive the pay-outs.
There’s a whole insurance industry surrounding this, in which the owners and
brokers make the most profit.”
A dead tusker that suffered intestinal blockages is covered
with a cloth. Most captive elephants die young after years of pain (Action for
According to India’s Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which in 2014 petitioned the Supreme Court of India to order better conditions for the animals, another factor is young men showing off. “Today’s mahouts are in it for the glamour and the thrill. Unlike the mahouts of the old, who learnt the ways of handling the Elephants over time, these guys know only oppression and violence,” one rescuer says.
Nor does Ms Iyer particularly blame festival-goers. “Most
people are unaware of the crushing burden these Elephants carry, in the literal
sense, on their backs, and in their hearts and souls. Most people don’t realise
the brutality that these sentient beings undergo to entertain them. They are so
hypnotised by the majestic, ornate Elephants and lost in their own selfish
world that they don’t even look at the raw bleeding ankles.”
However bad the suffering of the individuals, the abuse has
wider repercussions. KSE warns it could even lead to the extinction of Indian
“As each of these Elephants die from overwork, intestinal
impactions etc, the surviving ones are going to be overworked even more. It’s a
vicious cycle and will probably end only when there are no Elephants left”
Taking young Elephants from the wild has a serious impact on
wild Elephant populations in India and elsewhere, activists fear. People’s
lives, too, are being put at risk. Some elephants, driven frantic by their
suffering, break free and run amok. Behind media reports of people being killed
by a rampaging Elephant there almost always lies a story of a brutalised
There have also been 300 incidents of Elephants running amok
in the first three months of this year. Earlier this month there were
unconfirmed reports of Elephants running amok at festivals in Ernakulam and
Kollam districts. Unofficial counts put it at 20 incidents in one week.
Action for Elephants is warning prime minister Narendra Modi
these rituals are not just harming the country’s most iconic wildlife, but also
India’s multi-million-pound tourism industry and reputation. “We hope tourists
and visitors to India will make ethical choices and will shun all forms of
Elephant tourism that use elephants in any unnatural way, whether in festivals
or for trekking or rides or any other purpose,” a statement by the group says.
“In this day and age, when we have gained so much knowledge about the intelligence, emotional capacity, and social bonds of these majestic creatures, and when we know how endangered they are, we believe that all countries have a duty to protect them, treat them humanely, and give them sanctuary.”
India is positioned to take a global lead in ethical
wildlife tourism, the letter says.
As long as the current system of cruelty is allowed to
continue, the more it will negatively impact India’s tourism and tarnish
India’s reputation and image in the world
Signatories include primatologist Jane Goodall, TV star
Michael Palin, author Jilly Cooper, TV presenter Anneka Svenska and radio
presenter Nicky Campbell, as well as MP Zac Goldsmith.
Filmmaker Ms Iyer believes educating the public is the only
way to achieve change. “Ignorance and arrogance make for a bad potion, and
unless and until we are able to create attitude shifts in the public eye,
there’s little hope for these sentient beings.
“There is no point in fighting the owners or brokers.
Enlightening the people is the only way to stop the audience from participating
in festivals that use live Elephants and reduce demand for such cultural
festivals. When the demand dies down, the Elephants will be ultimately phased
The Indian High Commission in London did not respond to a
request by The Independent to comment and refused to send anybody to open the
door when visited in person.
There are some glimmers of hope, however. Occasionally, news
of progress made by welfare workers on the ground emerges, and an elephant
rescue can become a stand-out memory for followers. The film that startled Ms
Gaffney was called Raju the Elephant Cried on the Day he was Released from
Chains. His rescue made headlines.
Ms Dresner says she followed each step in a protracted legal case to free Sunder with her heart in her throat. “Finally, when he was freed, the joy was overwhelming. Like so many others, I then followed his progress in his new home at Bannerghatta Biological Park, crying (happily) with every bit of good news: his healing leg, his first swim in the pond, his making new friends, his putting weight on his skeletal frame.”
Fellow demonstrator Joanne Smith agrees. “The terrible
delays with the court case were so hard to take but the day Sunder was given
his freedom was thrilling,” she recalls. “It proved to me that we can make a
difference with hard work and determination.”
In the past two years, three temples have done away with
renting Elephants for festivals. One used mechanical stand-in; another used an
8ft dummy made of plaster of Paris and bamboo. Organisers say they may even
offer the model to neighbouring temples for their own festivals, allowing the
idea to catch on.
The London protest and letter also have the support of
Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley, whose message was: “One of the most
influential Indians of all time, Mahatma Gandhi, said: ‘The greatness of a
nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’
“India! Listen to his words and implement them. The world
supports your laws against cruelties to temple Elephants, but only you can
ensure that they are enforced.”
And that, say campaigners, really would be worth a
man-animal conflict story was reported in West Bengal when a train engine hit
an Elephant trying to cross the tracks, critically injuring the animal.
incident happened in the Jalpaiguri district of the state.
Banarhat-Nagrakata train route passes through a major Elephant corridor often
leading to such tragic accidents involving Elephants.
The heart-wrenching video that surfaced on various social media platforms showed the critically injured Elephant trying hard to drag itself out of the railway track, as people watched in helplessness, after being hit by the engine of the intercity express.
shows the impact of the injury on the poor animal while people watch
helplessly. In 2004, the Dooars line was converted from metre gauge to broad
gauge; a move that saw a sharp increase in Elephant deaths.
all the precautionary measures and efforts, such as speed limits and buzzers,
trains on the Dooars route have continued to kill Elephants.
period between 2013 to June 2019, a total of 67 Elephants were killed in
Hooda said in a twitter post “The agony of the Elephant is quite evident in the
video, the impact can be gauged by the damage to the engine.
urge the ministry to drastically reduce speed of trains through this area,
humans can easily manage slight delay to keep wildlife safe”
sake of the Elephants, let’s hope they listen and reduce the speed of trains
through the corridor.
is being filed asking Indian Railway to review the permitted speed of 50kmph in
the day time in dense forest areas. The maximum speed before the increase was 25kmpg
and had shown a sharp decrease in the accidents and death of Elephants.
I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! bosses ‘banned the use of live insects for bushtucker trials’ after facing backlash from animal rights activists.
According to reports, the apparent change to the format of
the show will remain a permanent fixture.
‘They have been planning this for some time,’ an insider
claimed to the Mirror. ‘And actually, last year beach worms were the only
critters eaten live but this time around they’ve decided to implement the
change fully and permanently.’
This comes just days after animal rights activist Tayana Simons wrote a piece for Metro.co.uk calling for the use of all live animals in the programme’s trials to be banned.
In the column, Tayana writes: ‘Not only does this harm the animals involved, but it also normalises animal cruelty to audiences of millions, including young children.
‘This isn’t just a view shared by animal rights organisations such as Viva! which has campaigned against the show since it began, celebrities such as Chris Packham and Lucy Watson have also voiced their opposition to the use of animals in the trials.
‘The Bushtucker Trials epitomise a flippant disregard for non-human animal life which does not belong in this century. They need to end.
‘If the animals used in the show were socially valued animals such as cats or dogs, there would be an uproar at scenes of them being grabbed and flung by the neck, tossed around in overcrowded caves or having their body parts eaten on live TV.’
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Dogs are being mauled and left for dead as the blood ‘sport’ of dog fighting grips Britain.
Dog fighting was outlawed in England in 1835, but carries on in a secret underground world run by organised criminals.
The dog fights usually take place in backwater car parks, industrial units or farm buildings where grown men take bets while goading their pets to rip each other apart.
Many of the dogs used in fighting will have broken bones, missing teeth and serious injuries to their head, ears, front legs and chest as they are forced to fight to the death, going head-to-head in a pit. Many, including Staffordshire Terriers, English bull terriers and American Pitbulls among some banned breeds, are forced to fight and then left to die, never receiving proper veterinary treatment in case their owners get rumbled.
Some pets have even been found to be pumped up with steroids to make them more aggressive. Smaller, weaker dogs named bait dogs are used to teach fighting dogs the ropes and get severely injured in the process.
As you might have guessed, dogs can be unsure and scared during adoption. Why wouldn’t they be? The process involves removing them from the environment they have likely known all their life! They are then placed in a place that is completely new to them. Luckily, this is not always the case. Some dogs are happy to go through this and instantly adore their new owners! We are glad to report that such meetings have been caught on camera. We are sure the following images will warm your heart.
Excitement can occasionally bring out the animal in all of us. And who can blame us when it happens? It sometimes leads to adorable moments as you can see in the photo below. It shows the dog biting his new owner’s nose. “Got your nose” is certainly fitting for the moment you see here.
She found the adorable dog alone on the roadside. As a compassionate human being, she wanted to take the poor pooch to the local shelter. However, her plans took a 360 when she saw adorable the dog was!
Well, this is one pup you can take as many pictures with as you want. She was not hesitant about posing for a photo. That ear-to-ear smile is truly endearing. We bet the guy was happy he took her home with him!
Put Your Hands Up
Can you guess what this cutie thinks about the adoption? We certainly can. Her face clues us in on how she feels! The same thing goes for her new owners. It looks like a bright future is in store for them.
Oh, will you just look at how much they adore each other? Skeptics might think she only wants to get more treats! However, we are certain that they will both love the coming years they will have together.
It seems like this dog is truly living the life. What else could be better than a hug from your owner and sunshine on your face? Nothing at all. We would not be surprised to see this photo on a shampoo ad.
When you adopt a dog, hugs and kisses should be automatic. Sorry, we don’t make the rules. Tata the pup clearly enjoys this sweet moment. We can totally see why adoption made her as happy as can be!
She could not help cradling her new dog as soon as they met each other. She seems to adore him completely, and he does not mind the attention one bit. He seems to enjoy it a lot, as a matter of fact.
Hold Me Close
Emotional doesn’t even begin to describe what it is like when you take in a new pet. This guy was so touched by the surprise his significant other had in store for him! He loves it and will love it forever!
A Perfect Match
You will have so much fun when your dog can pose like this with you. Can you see how he manages to make the same expression as his owner? Not a lot of dogs can do that, and we feel jealous of this guy.
Aww, that look of contentment on this boy is nothing short of adorable. Moreover, we just love how the dog is looking at him to see that he is delivering the best hug in the world. They sure make a good pair!
Old & Young
When her husband died, she felt more than a little lonely. We understand, of course. It’s a good thing her son was brilliant enough to get her a new dog. No doubt about it, this dog will be cared for very well.
Who’s More Excited?
Getting a dog will never not be exciting, but the kids especially enjoy it. After her parents introduced her to Harley the pup, she was absolutely thrilled! It must’ve been unbelievable that they could keep him!
“I’m Going Home!”
His collar matches her shirt, and his smile matches her smile. This is a match made in heaven! Max was happy that he finally found someone to take good care of him. What a good pair these two make.
When dogs are comfortable, sleeping will be very easy. The pup was very contented in the arms of this woman right here. We would feel the same way as well! There is nothing for him to worry about now
Although there are dogs that go for hugs, some of them like kisses better. Of course, these acts are always reserved for their owners! How would you react if your dog gave you a kiss fest as thanks?
When you have a secret you just want to share, it’s not wise to do so. Unless you do it to your pet! The trustworthy creature here seems to enjoy her secret. Maybe it has something to do with adopting him.
Kodak is probably named for his photogenic smile, and we love it. The beautiful Labrador and Shephard mix was saved from a hoarder. We are glad that he finally found his forever home!
Better And Better
You can see the first time Krystal cradled her new pup below. There is a world of difference between the first and second photo. The latter was taken after she was cleaned up and taken in by her new mum.
We know dogs are unable to see as many colors as we can, but it seems apt to say that this dog can see all the colors of the rainbow. When you find your new home, it will suddenly seem like life is better!
Everything The Light Touches
We are sure you remember the iconic scene in Lion King when this line was delivered: “Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.” For this pup, this was the version he got: “Everywhere the grass touches is your playground.”
Home At Last
Rex did not have an easy life before Dan decided to adopt him. Before this moment, he got severe neck trauma and suffered from this affliction. It seems like he can now forget about those days and look forward to new ones!
Please ALWAYS consider adopting your next dog. Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog, the world will change forever!
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Climate change could be to blame for spikes in a deadly virus among otters, seals and sea lions around the Arctic, a new study has suggested.
Phocine distemper virus (PDV) has been common in the northern Atlantic ocean for decades but as a result of melting Arctic sea ice it has now appeared among marine mammals in the northern Pacific ocean too.
When the virus started to spread across species of Otters, Seals and Sea Lions in the northern Pacific Oceans, scientists thought melting ice could be the culprit.
The 15-year study which tracked the animals via satellite found PDV, which can kill some species, was most common in years when so much Arctic ice melted it became possible for mammals to move freely from the Atlantic to Pacific regions.
Steadily rising global temperatures due to climate change have meant more and more sea ice is melting around the Arctic, opening up sea lanes which for thousands of years have been impassable.
Between 1979 and 2018, Arctic sea ice declined on average 12.8 per cent each decade, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“These sea ice changes in September are likely unprecedented for at least 1,000 years,” the IPCC said in a report published in September.
Researchers studied 15 years of data that tracked 2,500 marine mammals in a variety of locations via satellite to find if upticks in PDV matched with declines in sea ice. They also studied measurements of Arctic sea ice over the same time period and examined blood and nasal swab samples from 165 dead ice-associated animals.
Testing showed about 30 per cent of Stellar Sea Lions in the northern Pacific Ocean were infected with the disease, which had previously been mostly confined to Atlantic populations.
Researchers concluded that melting Arctic sea ice caused by human-driven climate change paved the way for PDV to spread to new regions and infect new populations of marine mammals, especially along the northern Russian coast and along the coast of northern Canada.
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It’s been proven by science — dogs are good for your health.
The beneficial affects of dogs on people with depression has been well documented, and is it really any surprise?
Those furry, four-legged, tail-wagging dogs bring tons of joy into our lives, and for those coping with depression, the unconditional love of a dog can have tremendous power.
Dogs can help with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and many other mental health issues that affect your day-to-day life. Some dogs even provide emotional support as a full-time gig, working as service animals that are placed in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other locations.
While the advantages of dog ownership are huge, it’s worth asking – what are the best dogs for depression? You’ll want to find the right dog for you.
Picking the wrong dog for your lifestyle can increase stress and anxiety, so finding a dog that’s a good fit is essential for reaping the mood-boosting benefits of canine ownership.
In separate studies conducted by the “Journal of Psychiatric Research” and the “Journal of Applied Developmental Science,” researchers found that owning a dog not only made people suffering from mental health issues feel better, but it also made them more likely to help others. Additional research has shown that dog ownership also lowers blood pressure, elevates serotonin and dopamine in the brain, and even lowers triglycerides and cholesterol.
If you’re already a dog owner, some of these things may already be a given. You know what it means to have a dog and how it’s impacted your life. But if you’re still on the fence about dog ownership and are also experiencing mental health issues, dogs offer companionship and comfort, and can help ease loneliness, depression and anxiety. Check out or list of the best purebred and hybrid dog breeds to choose from if you need a loving best friend to brighten your day.
It’s also worth noting that you by no means need to get a purebred dog – make sure to consider adopting a rescue dog from a shelter.
These dogs tend to have boundless love to give, and are often especially appreciative of finding their new forever home. Mixed breed dogs, often found in shelters, can have the best of multiple breeds, so make sure to consider them for your canine companion!
The Best Dogs For Depression: Canines That Can Cure the Blues
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is on practically everyone’s list as a great support dog because of its rep as a “cuddlebug.” These super affectionate pups are true companion dogs and are quick to learn and eager to please.
Loving and gentle, the King Charles was a top dog in royal circles back in the day, but they don’t have the attitude of a monarch; they’re happy just to be in your presence, whether you’re on a long walk or snuggling on a couch. They are excellent companions for those with depression or PTSD.
The “clowns” of the dog world, pugs delight nearly everyone they come across with their human-like facial expressions and friendly, fun demeanor. Pugs are extremely sociable and make great emotional support animals for almost any affliction.
These small, charming companions are well mannered, even tempered and do especially well with children.
These medium-sized, regal dogs are not just for show — they’re smart, obedient, easy to train and are valued as a wonderful mental health companion. Standard poodles are working dogs that love a good challenge, physical activity and that thrive in any environment.
They are friendly and do well around humans and animal companions alike, but their top priority is their compassion and responsibility toward their owner.
The labrador retriever is an energetic, sturdy companion dog who lives up to the name “retriever” as that’s what he was bred to do — find things, carry them and ultimately drop them at the feet of his cherished human.
The lab is smart and obedient with a calm demeanor, which makes for a top-notch emotional support animal for any mental health issue. Those with ADD or autism often feel more grounded and settled in the presence of a loving lab.
You’ll see many Yorkies as service or support animals and there are several reasons as to why that is. Yorkies are small enough that they fall under most rental policies and they can be taken anywhere dogs are welcome, which, as the Psychiatric Service Dog Society claims, is vital to specific mental health issues.
Yorkies also rise to the occasion for lap duty, providing caregivers the opportunity to physically embrace them when needed. These tiny wonderdogs can also be taught myriad tasks, from pulling open cabinet doors to alerting their owners to specific sounds.
Breeds don’t come much smarter than this! The border collie is a devoted, friendly companion that is easily trainable, affectionate and a people pleaser. A herding dog by nature, the border collie will motivate and inspire you to get moving even when you don’t feel like it.
This trait makes them an excellent dog for those who deal with depression. Additionally, if you suffer from anxiety, this calm, content canine will provide plenty of grounding and physical comfort.
While their height makes them unsuited for some service dog jobs, Corgis were also bred for herding and make wonderful guide dogs. They have a strong instinct for picking up on their owners’ emotions and helping them accordingly. These energetic working dogs are smart, curious, eager and easy to train.
Corgis are also known for being aware of their surroundings at all times, which makes them perfect for people who need constant emotional support.
The vizsla is a lesser-known breed in the U.S. but is gaining popularity as a companion pet and emotional support animal. Bred for hunting, these Hungarian pointers are joyful and people-focused. Vizslas have a ton of energy and do need outdoor exercise, so if you’re not a person that gets out much, this may not be the dog for you.
Vizslas are intelligent, quick learners that carry out any task put before them, and their cheerful disposition makes them an excellent choice of support dog. Like pugs, vizslas bond with nearly everyone and do well in a home with children.
The English bulldog is delightful emotional support companion that is perfect for apartment living and also for those who don’t spend much time exercising or doing other outdoor activities. They are kind, affectionate dogs that are low key and offer a sense of calm to whoever they come in contact with.
If you’re interested in a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed as a companion animal, it’s best if you don’t travel by plane much. Many of them, particularly bulldogs, have been banned from flying as they can have breathing issues due to the change in air pressure.
Germans shepherds have strong protective instincts, which can lead to aggression if they are not carefully trained. If you are interested in this breed, make sure you have the upper hand in your dynamic. Germans are smart, responsible and love a good challenge — all of which makes them highly trainable for a variety of jobs.
They are also herders by nature and tend to lead the way, which is good for someone who needs a little motivation. The breed’s size also lends itself to strength and physical support if needed.
Goldens are one of the most popular breeds around overall and are considered one of the best mental health support dogs out there. They are energetic, loving and comforting to those who need it, and are super social with other animals and people.
These intelligent, gentle giants are loyal companions that are easy to train and are willing to perform nearly any task put before them.
This little dog has a warm disposition and is excellent for those suffering from with PTSD, depression or bipolar disorder. They, too, are “mood readers” and are known to “nudge” their owners toward the right course of action in certain situations.
Lhasa apsos are easily trainable, highly demonstrative and are perfect for individuals in need of uplifting companionship.
If you remember the television show “Lassie,” you’ll remember the Collie that comes to the rescue of her family in every episode. Collies are known to make great support dogs for many mental health ailments, including PTSD, as they are highly intuitive to human feelings. They are extremely intelligent, easy to train and gentle, all of which are great qualities for an emotional support animal or psychiatric therapy dog.
Collies are also very protective of their families and have a large bark to prove it. The very act of petting a dog lowers stress hormones, and the Collie, with its soft and fluffy fur, seems to have been created just for this purpose.
Known for its strength and guarding abilities, the rottie also makes for a great mental health support companion. A breed must have a good disposition and temperament, and be friendly, patient and at ease in all situations to be a psychiatric or emotional therapy dog. Rotties indeed fit this bill.
While some people believe rotties to be vicious, that is not the case at all. They are lovable cuddlers who are fiercely loyal to their owners. You can lean on a rottie for help, both figuratively and literally.
The Chihuahua proves you don’t have to be big to be a loving, responsible support animal. These small dogs win big in intelligence and loyalty and are highly alert to verbal and visual cues and commands.
Like most smaller dogs, Chihuahuas can live or travel anywhere, and for those who have 24/7 emotional support and mental health needs, a Chihuahua will never need to leave your side. This breed can also live to 15 years old or longer.
Frenchies are cute, friendly clowns with happy dispositions who can tackle any mental health need from anxiety to depression, stress and emotional trauma. They are both a stress reliever and a shoulder to cry on for anyone needing a friend.
Frenchies are low maintenance, love people, are OK with being handled and have good manners. They are also especially loving toward kids. As with any brachycephalic breed, Frenchies don’t do well in hot weather — so be sure to keep them cool!
This low-to-the-ground pup is one of the most adorable emotional support animals out there, but don’t let the breed’s diminutive size fool you — it packs a punch in beating back the blues. Dachshunds are born hunters with a keen sense of smell and are emotionally intuitive. They are friendly, loyal and do exceptionally well with kids.
You can also prepare to have this loyal breed around for the long haul because they live, on average, about 15 years, sometimes even up to 20 years.
Borzois have such a keen intellect, independent streak and protection instinct — so much so that they are one of the chosen breeds of the non-profit Operation Wolfhound. The organization places dogs with vets suffering from PTSD.
Borzois can live to the ripe old age of 15, and are quiet, loyal and able to physically support a person if needed. They, like Irish wolfhounds, are gentle giants and enjoy spending time at their owner’s side. Remember, however, they need proper training and plenty of exercise to keep them well behaved and happy.
This mixed breed is a popular mental and physical therapy dog. It can answer to several different mental health needs, depending on the dog’s personality.
Australian labradoodles are specifically bred for companionship and guidance. They have an even keel temperament and are loving and highly intelligent. Australians can “pick up” on human emotions and can answer your needs accordingly. They’re happy, love to play and will bring a smile to just about any face.
Do you have an emotional support pet, official or unofficial? How does your dog help you through the day? Share your experience in the comments!
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On a twilit night in Juneau, Alaska, in December 2003, and Nick and Sherrie Jans were walking with Dakotah, their yellow Lab, in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area not far from their house. Suddenly, a young black wolf appeared on the ice—and began running in their direction. Awestruck but scared, the couple watched as Dakotah broke loose and charged the predator, which was twice the size of the dog. The animals stopped yards apart and gazed at each other “as if each were glimpsing an almost-forgotten face and trying to remember,” recalled Jans. After a few moments, Dakotah ran back to her owners, and the three hurried home, listening to the wolf howl
The locals named him Romeo, and soon his presence was noted by the entire town. Most found it fascinating that Romeo was so friendly, while others assumed that this naturally predatory animal would give into his natural instincts at any moment, potentially attacking their pets and children.
During this time Nick Jans started documenting Romeo. When he did, he uncovered an emotional story, the heart of which describes the tenuous relationships between wild animals and the humans around them.
“The first thing I saw was tracks out on the lake in front of our house on the outskirts of Juneau,” Jans said in an interview with National Geographic. “A few days later, I looked out from my house and there was this wolf out on the ice. I’d had 20 years of experience around wolves up in the Arctic and immediately knew it was a wolf, not a dog. I threw on my skis and found him.”
According to Jans, Romeo seemed totally relaxed and friendly.
And it wasn’t just one interaction, either: Romeo remained his curious, friendly self for the better part of six years.
“For want of a better word,” Jans said, “The only thing I can say from a human perspective is that it amounted to friendship. If you wanted to be scientifically correct, it would be “social mutual tolerance.” But it was more than that. The wolf would come trotting over to say hi, and give a little bow and a relaxed yawn, and go trotting after us when we went skiing. There was no survival benefit. He obviously just enjoyed our company.”
Romeo’s behavior was definitely unusual, as many wolves tend to assert dominance by attacking dogs and other animals.
The wolf got his name because Jans and his family noticed how Romeo was kind of a flirt — particularly with their “Juliet,” a dog named Dakotah. Here, they’re standing nose-to-nose in what seems to be an all-too-perfect photo moment.
Romeo survived for years despite many mortal threats: scented traps, busy roads, illegal hunting, and even a poisoning attempt. He also had to contend with the natural dangers of starvation, injury, and attack by another pack of wolves. By almost any standard, his prolonged proximity to humans and dogs constituted incredibly rare behaviour. There was no obvious survival benefit to his socializing, yet the wolf lingered persistently, a late echo of the original process that must have initiated the domestication of dogs.
“When you get down to the genetic difference between a wolf and a domestic dog, whether it is a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, all dogs are 99.98 percent genetically a wolf. That 0.02 percent obviously looms huge, because if you raise a wolf cub from the time it opens its eyes, it may make a wonderfully bonded animal, but it will not be a dog, no matter what you do. It will act like a wolf and be a wolf. It takes generations to shape the soul of a wolf and its physical shape into man’s best friend.”
Romeo stayed in the area for as long as he lived — and he lived three times longer than most wild wolves do.
“Romeo was the single most transformative event of my life,” Jans said. “The amazing thing was Romeo’s understanding. It wasn’t just our understanding and tolerance. It was the combination of his and ours and the dogs’. We were these three species working out how to get along harmoniously. And we did.”
What happened to Romeo? Romeo disappeared in late September 2009. After some sleuthing, a supporter found he had been shot and killed by Juneau resident Park Myers III and his Pennsylvanian friend Jeff Peacock. Both men were arrested and ended up paying fines, serving a few years on probation, and losing hunting and fishing privileges for a limited time. In late November 2010, a memorial service was held for Romeo and this plaque was laid along a path where he once roamed.
“Nothing can take away the miracle that was Romeo and the years we spent in his company,” writes Jans. “Love, not hate, is the burden we carry.”
Nick Jans’ beautiful account of his unusual relationship is now in a book called A Wolf Called Romeo.
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