TIME animals

Here’s What the World’s Ugliest Dog Looks Like After a Makeover

The two-year-old rescue mutt got the help of a team of stylists

In case you missed it, a pooch named Peanut was recently crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog. Jimmy Kimmel decided to enlist a team of hair, makeup and clothing specialists to the dog, who previously suffered from abuse and had been injured in a fire.

It’s a nice gift, but after the makeover, Peanut still looks … pretty ugly. It’s okay, your fans still love you, Peanut.

WATCH: Jimmy Kimmel Gets Parenting Advice from a Child

WATCH: Jimmy Kimmel’s 2013 Clip of the Year

TIME animal welfare

The Problem With People, Not Pit Bulls

Rodney Scot Photography for APBF

The president of the American Pit Bull Foundation on why responsible dog ownership matters more than breed

A June 20th Time.com piece by Charlotte Alter called “The Problem With Pit Bulls” elicited a flood of protest mail from supporters of the breed. We asked Sara Enos, the Founder and Executive Director of the American Pit Bull Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible breed ownership through education, programming, and assistance, to respond to Alter’s piece. Here’s what she had to say:

“Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things”. Eloquently stated by an animated character in the new, How to Train Your Dragon sequel recently released. The same can be said of dogs, and in the noisy confusion of the media sensation that is the current argument of the “Pit Bull” problem, it can be difficult for the average person to differentiate fact from fiction. The truth is, there is a lot of researched, solid information about canine aggression out there that can aid in preventing dog bites and attacks. The misfortune is that the information is not yet common knowledge, especially in the sense that human behavior is what leads to companion animal attacks. Animal welfare advocates, veterinary professionals, and responsible dog owners are determined to remedy that.

A Brief History

Dogs are products of their environment as well as their genetics. They have been bred for many different jobs over centuries, however, they have primarily been bred as family companions and they need to be treated with compassion. Pit Bulls are no different. They were bred as working dogs and family companions prior to being bred to bull bait and then dog fight. Animal aggression and human aggression are not synonymous in the canine world, as they are in the human world and it is often difficult for people that are unfamiliar with the breed/s to understand that dog-aggressive does not mean human aggressive. Even breeders who selected dogs for reproduction specifically for dog fighting would not tolerate dogs that showed any signs of aggression; they had to be able to pull their dog out of a fight without getting bitten, and to trust the dog with the family at the end of the day. Responsible breeders now breed against all forms of animal and human aggression, and have done so for many years. With all of that said, though there are certain breed “normalcies” such as the herding instinct in cattle dogs, all dogs are individuals and exhibit their own unique personalities. They should be treated and trained as such.

 

Rodney Scot Photography for the American Pit Bull Foundation

Let’s Talk Statistics

When it comes to animal statistics, a good rule of thumb is to know the source of your statistics as a reputable one. People skew numbers and fudge the facts to gain support for their personal opinion, routinely.

Would you ask a gas station attendant about the side effects of a medication that your toddler was prescribed? Would you ask a clothing retail clerk about the knocking sound coming from your automobile engine? People choose professions based on their interests and experience. They are educated in their fields and we rely on them for their very specific knowledge base. PETA seems to get a lot of press for their quotes in regards to their support of breed specific legislation, (which has been proven ineffective, leading to ban lift after ban lift). How many Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorists, (the experts on animal behavior) are employed by PETA, or even support PETA’s stance on breed specific discrimination?

Bite statistics are public record. They can be found at local county facilities as a source to read bite reports, but, with the understanding that what you are looking at is a set of numbers without explanation. Bites and attacks are effects, to which there are always causes. Whether an owner understands the reason for the behavior or not, there is always an underlying cause to a bite or an attack. Pain and fear are two leading causes. In 2005, at a local animal hospital in Charlotte, NC, a bite report had to be filed when a technician reached into an unconscious dog’s mouth to find a source of bleeding. The very ill and sedated dog went into convulsions as a seizure came on, and the technician’s skin was broken on her hand when the dog began to seize. You won’t find these details on the bite report from 2005, but you will find that a “bite” occurred by a Pit Bull.

Secondly in regards to statistics, when Pit Bulls are routinely mis-identified, it is more than plausible to see how their numbers are high on reports even though they are rated very high by the American Temperament Test Society as friendly dogs. An animal control officer was once asked why a dog in the lost dog runs was labeled as a Pit Bull even though it was an excellent specimen of an American Bulldog, the response was given that “he’ll end up in the wrong hands anyway just because people will think he’s a Pit”. Greyhounds, Boxers, French Bulldogs, and Presa Canarios all come in brindle colorations but brindle colored dogs often get labeled as Pit Bulls, though they may not have an ounce of bully breed in their DNA. Dogo Argentinos are a Mastif variety, yet are routinely mislabeled as Pit Bulls. All of the above are important considerations to be made when researching statistics.

What if We Did Get Rid of Pit Bulls?

If we were to take the approach of banning the Pit Bull breeds, it is important to see the full scope of what we would be eliminating. As mentioned before, Pit Bulls are working dogs. They are typically excellent athletes that can provide a wide variety of job-related tasks. Many are not just family companions, but also search and rescue dogs that find missing children and lost dementia patients. They help kids become stronger readers because many kids with reading disabilities won’t read to an adult but they will read to a dog. They are seizure watch dogs, diabetic alert dogs, comfort nursing home residents and offer a plethora of services to human counterparts. Eradicating Pit Bull dogs will affect more than just our family dogs; it will affect the much larger number of citizens that these dogs help, as opposed to attack.

Lulu B. Photography

So What is the Answer to the People Problem (Not the Pit Bull Problem)?

Getting a dog is not like purchasing a piece of furniture that you will show off to friends at dinner parties, it is bringing a new member in to your family and requires daily commitment for a successful relationship. All dogs need to be subject to balanced training, should be well socialized and taught proper human/dog social behavior, maintained from a health perspective, and treated with compassion.

Dogs need an adequate leader and children need adequate direction from their parents as to how to properly interact with dogs. Dogs are not people and do not always enjoy hugging or sharing their food like humans do. Proper family education prior to obtaining a family dog, of any breed, can make for a more successful and safer match. Training as a family is a must.

Courtesy of the American Pit Bull Foundation

Avoid behaviors that are known to lead to aggressive tendencies such as leaving your dog tethered and unattended, or training with aggressive correction. Don’t allow your dog to roam the neighborhood or escape because he/she is bored in your backyard.

Most importantly, be a responsible owner.

Sara Enos is the mother of three children who is actively involved in community education efforts to increase responsible dog ownership. She has been a veterinary nurse for 17 years and has had extensive continuing education training with a focus on canine behavior. Sara is the Founder and Executive Director of the American Pit Bull Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible breed ownership through education, programming, and assistance.

 

TIME animals

Woman Climbs Into Lion Cage to Feed Them Cookies

A lion at the London Zoo plays with a football in honor of the 2014 World Cup kick off in London on June 12, 2014.
A lion at the London Zoo plays with a football in honor of the 2014 World Cup kick off in London on June 12, 2014. Terry Scott—Demotix/Corbis

Oh my!

The Memphis Zoo has banned a woman for life because she jumped the barrier of the lion enclosure to feed them cookies, the Associated Press reports.

Last week she was caught throwing objects into the exhibit, according to a zoo spokesperson. After climbing the barrier, she started singing to the wild animals about how much she missed them.

“I’ve never seen someone singing to a lion before,” witness Michelle Beasley told WMC Action News 5. “It was really loud.”

MORE:You Can Name These Baby Lions

LIST: West African Lion and 8 Animals That Are on The Verge of Disappearing Forever

TIME nature

Beachgoers Beware: The Great White Shark Population Is Growing Again

Great White Sharks
This undated photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a great white shark encountered off the coast of Massachusetts Greg Skomal—AP

There are over 2,000 living off the coast of California alone, according to recent studies

New research suggests that the population of great white sharks off both coasts of the U.S. is growing again after years on the decline.

One report ventures that there are over 2,000 great whites living off California — 10 times the amount estimated by a recent Stanford University study. On the other side of the country, scientists haven’t been able to conclude an exact population size, but estimations suggest that the sharks in the Atlantic are rebounding, after a significant drop in the 1970s and 1980s because of commercial shark fishing.

The upswing is likely the result of wildlife-preservation efforts over the past two decades, although conservationists are hesitant to celebrate the news. For one, the great white belongs to a group of aquatic species that typically struggle to recover from sharp declines in population. What’s more, their generally reclusive behavior often requires scientists to rely on guesswork when keeping tabs on them — and a dearth of historical information doesn’t help

“They’re back on the way up, but to be honest, I don’t think any of us know what ‘up’ is,” George Burgess, a Florida-based researcher, told Live Science. “The fact is, we have no real idea what [the population] was before we started screwing around with the environment on both coasts.”

TIME animals

Chill Jersey Shore Shark Grabs an Afternoon Snack off a Fishing Boat

It stole the fishermen's chum bag right off their boat

Fishermen got a great scare over the weekend when a great white shark rushed up to their boat, according to NBC Philadelphia.

It reportedly stole the chum bag of fish off the side of the boat at 28-Mile Wreck, where a World War II shipwreck took place off of Cape May, New Jersey.

According to the South Jersey Times, the fisherman Steve Clark was tagging sharks for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the conservation effort Apex Predators Program.

Cue Jaws theme.

 

TIME viral

Incredibly Helpful Dog Teaches Baby How to Crawl

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

When this little girl was having trouble getting the hang of the whole crawling thing, her dog Buddy graciously offered to help. Watch as he carefully demonstrates the proper crawling technique — and then watch the baby’s eyes light up with genuine awe and wonderment.

(h/t BuzzFeed)

TIME animals

Watch Ducklings Get Rescued From a Sewer and Reunite With Their Mom

The mama duck waits patiently for animal control to save her babies

A handful of baby ducks fell into a sewer while crossing the road with mom, but luckily local animal control was able to save them from certain sewer death. Their mom waits patiently by as the rescuers retrieve them, then happily leads them back to the lake.

TIME animals

Meet Peanut, the Ugliest Dog in the World

The 2-year-old rescue dog won the official title of World's Ugliest Dog this week, but his owner loves him just the way he is

He’s got a face only a mother could love: Peanut, a rescue dog with unknown breed origins, was crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif., earlier this week.

The dog’s owner, Holly Chandler of Greenville, N.C., says 2-year-old Peanut is a victim of animal abuse and was injured in a fire, though he’s healthy now, CBS reports.

“He doesn’t have lips anymore,” Chandler says. “His eyelids are also gone, and so he can’t close his eyes, so therefore his eyes water. The tears drain into his nose and so he has nice little snot bubbles because of it. So it’s great, that adds to his character.”

Chandler plans to use the $1,500 prize money to help pay for other pets’ veterinary bills and hopes Peanut’s big win will call attention to animal abuse, the Associated Press reports.

“He’s my baby,” she said. “I guess I don’t see him every day as being that ugly. But I guess the judges thought so.”

[CBS]

TIME animals

Terrifying Owl Escorted Out Of House On a Swiffer

The natural sequence of events when you come home and an owl is just chillin' in your kitchen

If you ever come home to find an owl hanging out in your kitchen, just stay calm and find a Swiffer, like the guy in this video. He (understandably) became hysterical when he saw an owl perched above his kitchen sink, but luckily for us, decided to record the whole thing. He manages to get the bird onto a Swiffer, and then he carefully escorts it out the window as it stares at him with horrifying wide eyes of death.

Once you’ve watched that, be sure to watch the first installment of this riveting series:

 

TIME Pets

The Problem With Pit Bulls

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Pit Bull Square Dog Photography—Getty Images/Flickr Select

It's horrible that KFC kicked out that 3-year-old girl, but let's focus on the real problem: pit bulls were bred to be violent

The social media universe became furious at KFC this week after an employee reportedly asked a 3-year-old victim of a dog attack to leave one of their restaurants because “her face is disrupting our customers.”

Read a response to this piece from the American Pit Bull Foundation.

But it wasn’t KFC employees who broke down the door to Victoria Wilcher’s grandfather’s house and mauled the toddler until half her face was paralyzed and she lost the use of one of her eyes. Three pit bulls did that.

Pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population, but they’re responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982, according to research compiled by Merritt Clifton, editor of Animals 24-7, an animal-news organization that focuses on humane work and animal-cruelty prevention.

Clifton himself has been twice attacked by dogs (one pit bull), and part of his work involves logging fatal and disfiguring attacks. Clifton says that for the 32 years he’s been recording, there has never been a year when pit bulls have accounted for less than half of all attacks. A CDC report on dog-bite fatalities from 1978 to 1998 confirms that pit bulls are responsible for more deaths than any other breed, but the CDC no longer collects breed-specific information.

Another report published in the April 2011 issue of Annals of Surgery found that one person is killed by a pit bull every 14 days, two people are injured by a pit bull every day, and young children are especially at risk. The report concludes that “these breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated.” That report was shared with TIME by PETA, the world’s largest animal-rights organization.

The little girl’s grandfather shot and killed the three dogs that attacked her, and both he and his girlfriend are facing child-endangerment charges. KFC has donated $30,000 to the girl’s family to help with her medical bills, and more money keeps flooding in. But so far the outrage has been directed at the rude KFC employee, not at the growing problem of pit-bull maulings.

As pit-bull attacks become more and more common, they’re getting increasing attention on social media, but not always in support of the wounded children. In March, a Facebook petition to save Mickey, a dangerous pit bull in Phoenix, got over 70,000 likes. Mickey was facing euthanasia for mauling 4-year-old Kevin Vincente so badly that he cracked his jaw, eye socket and cheekbone. Kevin is facing months of reconstructive surgery, but more people were concerned with saving the dog than helping the boy. Mickey’s Facebook page has now become a social-media landing page to save other dogs that are considered dangerous.

Clifton says he’s seen an unprecedented rise in dog maulings in recent years, as more pit bulls enter the shelter system. Between 1858 and 2000, there are only two recorded instances of shelter dogs killing humans. From 2000 to 2009, there were three fatal attacks involving shelter dogs (one pit bull, one breed similar to a pit bull, and one Doberman). But from 2010 to 2014, there have been 35 shelter dogs who fatally attacked humans. All but 11 were pit bulls.

Supporters say pit bulls are getting a bad rap. Sara Enos, founder and president of the American Pit Bull Foundation, said that it’s wrong to blame dog attacks on pit bulls, because it’s the owners who are to blame. “It really boils down to being responsible owners,” she said. “Any dog from any breed can be aggressive, it matters how it’s treated.” And, as TIME reported in 2013, pit-bull owners all over the country are trying to rebrand the breed, insisting pit bulls can have a softer side when treated humanely.

Many pit-bull advocacy organizations, including BAD RAP, did not want to comment for this story. But there is a growing backlash against the idea that pit bulls are more violent than other dogs. “There is not any breed of dog that is inherently more dangerous,” said Marcy Setter of the Pit Bull Rescue Center. “That’s simply not true.”

But critics say that pit bulls are inherently dangerous no matter how they’re treated, because violence is in their DNA. “Why do herding dogs herd? Why do pointing dogs point? They don’t learn that behavior, that’s selective behavior,” says Colleen Lynn, president and founder of DogsBite.org, a national dog-bite-victims group dedicated to reducing dog attacks. “Pit bulls were specifically bred to go into that pit with incredible aggression and fight.”

“Every kind of dog is neglected and abused,” Clifton agrees. “And not every kind of dog responds to the neglect and abuse by killing and injuring people.”

But there’s another root cause of the rise in pit-bull attacks, one you might not think of: Hurricane Katrina.

Pit bulls are especially popular in Louisiana and Mississippi, and many of the volunteers responding to Hurricane Katrina found themselves saving stranded dogs. Most of the pit bulls they saved had been kept inside and behaved well around the rescuers, Clifton said, because they knew their survival depended on it. The dogs who were rescued were good pit bulls, he says, and “the real badasses, the ones chained outside, were drowned.”

Clifton said that many of the volunteers, who had very little experience with dog rescue, became attached to the breed and involved in pit-bull advocacy. And that helped galvanize the pro-pit-bull movement in the wake of Michael Vick’s 2007 dogfighting scandal. That movement helped encourage more people to adopt pit bulls as lack of sterilization caused the population to grow.

“If you need a marker in your head for when pit bulls got out of control, it’s 2007 with Michael Vick,” Lynn says. Vick’s high-profile trial for dogfighting and cruelty to animals roused a growing sympathy for pit bulls, which led more people to adopt them and bring them into their homes.

Dogbites.org

“We need to get used to mauling injuries, because we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them,” warns Lynn. “Each of us will know a mauled, disfigured child by a known dangerous breed of dog. There will be one in every school.”

But what can be done about the growing number of pit bulls? Some say the best solution would be breed-specific sterilization, which would curb the pit-bull population and reduce euthanasia in shelters. Most dogs of all breeds are spayed and neutered — about 80%, by Clifton’s estimation. But only 20% of pit bulls are sterilized, partly because the population that owns pit bulls tends to resist the spay-neuter message. He notes that there are a number of free sterilization programs for pit bulls, including one run by the ASPCA, but that even the largest programs aren’t sterilizing enough pit bulls to reduce the number of shelter intakes.

Lynn agrees that breed-specific sterilization laws are the most humane and efficient way to deal with the situation and avoid having more dogs euthanized. “If you want to hit that ‘no kill’ status, you better do something about the pit-bull problem.” Pit bulls currently account for 63% of the dogs put down in shelters, but only 38% of the admissions. Lynn says that all pit bulls should be sterilized, except those that come from licensed breeders.

Even PETA, the largest animal-rights organization in the world, supports breed-specific sterilization for pit bulls. “Pit bulls are a breed-specific problem, so it seems reasonable to target them,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s senior vice president of cruelty investigations. “The public is misled to believe that pit bulls are like any other dog. And they just aren’t.” Even the ASPCA acknowledges on its website that pit bulls are genetically different than other dogs. “Pit bulls have been bred to behave differently during a fight,” it says. “They may not give warning before becoming aggressive, and they’re less likely to back down when clashing with an opponent.”

Opponents of sterilization argue that it can be difficult to determine which dogs are pit bulls, and that breed-specific efforts are unfair to certain dogs. “When you discriminate against a breed, you’re also discriminating against good dogs as well,” Enos said. Setter of Pit Bull Rescue Central opposes breed-specific sterilization because she says it’s ineffective, because the laws don’t target irresponsible owners.

But Nachminovitch said PETA stands by breed-specific sterilization as a common-sense solution to what has become a human-safety issue. “These dogs were bred to bait bulls. They were bred to fight each other to the death,” she said. “Just because we’re an animal-rights organization doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about public safety.”

Updated: The original version of this story referred to reports that a girl who had been mauled by pitbulls had been asked to leave a KFC restaurant. KFC, which initially apologized, now says two investigations have yielded no evidence the incident actually took place.

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