TIME animals

This Website Knows Where Your Cat Lives

I Know Where Your Cat Lives
Getty Images

Purrfect for the Internet's cat lovers

Attention all 4.9 million users of the #Catstagram hashtag: You’re being watched. Same for the #RichCatsOfInstagram pictures and the 16 million photos tagged simply #Cats on Instagram.

Mashable points out that a new data visualization project called “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” is trolling the internet and collecting metadata in your #adorable #cat #picture. Using the geotags embedded in the metadata in public photos, the project collects the information and puts the cat’s location on a map perfect for cyberstalking your fuzzy feline friend. Thank goodness cats don’t read Orwell.

The site features cats from everywhere around the globe — a giant red tom in Chiba, Japan to a grey fuzzball kitten in Apulia, Italy to a kitten cuddled with his mom in Queensland, Australia — all available for gawking at and cooing over at the click of a button.

The project was created by Florida State University art professor Owen Mundy, who views “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” as both a thought-provoking experiment into how we view online privacy, as well as a sort of Tinder for cat fans filled with a seemingly endless stream of kitten pics for the millions of cat fans who populate the Internet.

The site is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund web hosting and continuing the project.

MORE: The Hottest New Exercise Equipment Is a Giant Hamster Wheel…for Cats

MORE: There’s Now Facial Recognition Software for Cats

TIME animals

You’ll Never Know Joy Like This Crab Chowing Down on a Plate of Noodles

He basically dances as he eats

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You probably never thought of crabs as cute creatures, which is really quite understandable, but this video could potentially alter your views. Watch as this pet crab just goes to TOWN on a big ol’ plate of Korean noodles. He really seems to appreciate every bite. Maybe we could all learn something from him about appreciating what we have and savoring every moment of our lives.

(h/t First We Feast)

TIME animals

This Dog Surfing Competition is Totally Gnarly

Get ready for some ruff waves

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What’s cooler than surfing? Surfing with your dog. And not just riding the same board as your pet, but pushing your pup to ride a wave on their own. That’s what the dogs in Unleashed, the largest dog surfing competition the U.S., do, and they rock at it.

Hanging 20, the dogs perch on top of the boards as the waves sweep toward the beach. When the wave collapses, the canine surfers hop off, no harm done (some are wearing adorable life jackets, just in case).

But are the dogs scared to go on the surfboards? Are their owners forcing them into unwanted roles as surf bros? Eric Felland, owner of the champion of the large dog heat, tells The Guardian that his dog “loves what he does.” Fellow owner James Wall says “it’s hard to say it’s cruel; some dogs like it some dogs don’t.” One thing’s for sure—it’s great for everyone watching.

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 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.

TIME animals

Sorry New Yorkers, You Can No Longer Tattoo Your Pets

State legislature passes bill forbidding the tattooing and piercing of pets, after lawmaker spotted "gothic kittens" for sale

New York state lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday forbidding the tattooing and piercings of pets.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced the animal rights bill in 2011 after she discovered “gothic kittens” with tattoos and piercings for sale online, according to the New York Daily News. The proposal will now head to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign the law.

The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Mark Grisanti, was designed to prevent animals from unnecessary body modification, which many believe is a form of animal cruelty. The only exceptions are piercings for medical purposes and tattoos for medical or identification purposes, according to the bill’s text.

In March, photos circulated online of a dog inked by a Brooklyn tattoo artist.

TIME

Hero Pig Saves Family From Fire

That'll do, pig. That'll do

Quick: go adopt a pet pig. It just might save your life.

A heroic pig named Lucky is credited with saving the life of Ina Farler and her two grandchildren after a fire broke out in their mobile home early Sunday morning, NBC affiliate WFIE-TV reports. While Lucky normally woke the family in the morning, Farler knew something was wrong when the pig started squealing around 4:40 a.m.

“He started screaming,” Farler said. “He would jump down, run to the door and then jump back up on the bed and hit me really hard. I sat up to see what was wrong with him, because he usually doesn’t do that through the night. When I sat up, I realized the room was really smoky.”

Thanks to the swift action of their pet and a helpful neighbor, Farler was able to get out of the trailer with her two grandchildren. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames. While the home and everything inside is gone, Farler and her family and their beloved pig are safe.

[Via WFIE]

MORE: Heroic Corgi Defends Grass Against Menacing Goats

MORE: WATCH: Hero Pig Saves Baby Goat From Drowning

TIME Pets

Poll: 18% of Americans Have Skyped Their Pets

Even though 1 in 10 pet owners have had their technology destroyed by their animals

It seems like pet owners didn’t get the memo that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Because even though one in 10 pet owners have had their technology destroyed by pets, they still keep trying to teach animals how to Skype.

A new survey from electronics warranty company SquareTrade has found that 10% of pet owners have had their devices destroyed by pets, mostly by knocking them down and breaking them, but also by peeing and vomiting, and that about a third of the destroyed devices were smartphones. Male dogs are 86% more likely to destroy technology than female dogs, and 19% of owners believe their pets destroyed their devices because they were angry at them for something.

But even though most pet owners have found it difficult to train their non-human companions to use technology, they’re not giving up. 17% of pet owners have made a social media account for their pet, 25% have “friended” or “followed” a pet on social media, and 18% have attempted to use Skype or FaceTime with the animal that lives in their home.

Moral of the story: you can give a dog a smartphone but you cannot make it Skype. He’ll pee on it because he hates you.

TIME viral

Turn Down for What? Kittens.

Admit it, they've got better dance moves than you

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Think your cat’s pretty fly? Chances are it’s got nothing on Daisy and Tulip, the head-bobbing duo that’s mesmerizing YouTubers with their amazing rhythm. In the video gone viral, the two cats sit calmly on a blanket while their heads bop in perfect unison to DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s funky club hit “Turn Down for What?“.

Captivated audiences are guessing that the kitties are simply following the movements of some kind of laser pointer outside the frame. Whatever the trick, it’s awesome. We’re willing to go out on a limb here and bet their performance will usher in a wave of copy cats.

If you want to keep the original duo for yourself, Daisy and Tulip are currently up for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Virginia. Turns out the cats learned their tricks while being fostered by Hayley Markham and Andrew Kerr, who have since returned them to the shelter.

MONEY online shopping

Boycotting Amazon: A Brief History

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Amazon employees in Germany staged a strike over wages and working conditions during the holiday shopping season of 2013. UWE ZUCCHI—AFP/Getty Images

Throughout its history, Amazon has been the target of attempts to get you not to shop there. Here's a look at past boycott efforts against the retailer, and how they fared.

The recent rallying cry for a boycott of Amazon.com is hardly the first of its kind. It’s also not the first time the world’s largest e-retailer has been accused of using bullying, unfair, tone-deaf business practices.

To put the current “boycott Amazon” campaign—as promoted by The Stranger, Reuters, Gawker, and others—in perspective, here’s a brief retrospective of previous efforts to put Amazon in place by not giving it any of your money.

1999
The Free Software Foundation urged a boycott of Amazon because the site claimed a patent on one-click purchasing—something of a novelty at the time—and was suing other e-commerce companies (including BarnesandNoble.com) that used a one-click purchasing process. “Amazon has sued to block the use of this simple idea, showing that they truly intend to monopolize it,” a widely circulated e-mail that called for the boycott stated. “This is an attack against the World Wide Web and against e-commerce in general.” A couple years later, Amazon seemed less inclined to bother using its patent to threaten competitors, and the boycott was dropped.

2007
Around 2007—the year that NFL quarterback Michael Vick was suspended and sent to jail for running an illegal dogfighting ring—animal lovers began loudly calling for a boycott of Amazon because the site sold videos, magazines, and books about dogfighting and cockfighting. At least two of the titles described as “torture guides” by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are still available for purchase on Amazon.

2010
In late October 2010, a self-published e-book went on sale at Amazon with extremely disturbing subject matter, summed up in the title: The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.

At first, despite massive protests online and calls for a broad boycott of Amazon, the e-retailer refused to remove the item from the site. The company released a statement with its justification to keeping the e-book for sale, explaining, “Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable.” Within a few days, however, Amazon relented and stopped selling the pedophilia book.

2010
After U.S. political leaders pressured Amazon to block Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website known for leaking classified security documents, Amazon relented, and stopped hosting the site. Free speech advocates including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers, promptly called for a consumer boycott of Amazon.

2011
For several years, Amazon was in the habit of spending millions of dollars lobbying various states to cut off local efforts to start charging sales tax on online purchases. To small business owners, the fact that sales tax was not automatically charged for e-commerce purchases gave e-retailers such as Amazon an unfair advantage—customers could easily save 7% or whatever the local sales tax rate was simply by purchasing online. (Sure, those consumers were later supposed to pay the sales tax they owed to the state, but almost no one did that.) In 2011, while California approved the installation of a sales tax on online purchases but hadn’t yet put the policy in practice, Amazon was actively trying to get the law overturned. The company’s efforts were met with a call to (surprise, surprise) boycott Amazon.

The boycott never really gained steam, and as of mid-September 2012, the campaign was totally moot, as Amazon began charging sales tax in California. Amazon customers in many other states who once could skip out on sales tax are now automatically charged sales tax on e-commerce purchases as well.

2011
In the fall of 2011, reports spread about deplorable worker conditions at Amazon warehouses and shipping centers around the country. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Morning Call showed employees at the Amazon warehouse in the Lehigh Valley enduring sweatshop-like conditions, including indoor temperatures so hot (over 100 degrees during summer heat waves) that the company arranged for ambulances to parked outside, waiting to treat workers for dehydration or other heat-related issues.

“Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain,” the Morning Call reported. “Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said.”

After consumer and worker groups got wind of Amazon worker complaints, a boycott was called for during the 2011 winter holiday shopping season. Some 12,600 consumers pledged to boycott Amazon for the holidays, if not indefinitely. If nothing else, Amazon stated that it has since installed much-need air-conditioners in warehouses, when appropriate.

The U.S. isn’t the only country where Amazon workers have voiced gripes against the company. In late 2013, for instance, Germany’s Amazon.com workers went on strike and staged protests outside the company’s Seattle headquarters due to “low wages, permanent performance pressure and short-term contracts.” Many have called for a boycott of Amazon among German consumers because of the company’s treatment of workers.

2012
Calls for a consumer boycott Amazon, as well as Starbucks and Google, throughout the UK started spreading in 2012, continued through 2013, and gained more traction in spring of 2014, with Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee in the UK, personally calling for consumers to avoid doing business with these companies.

Why? Due to a range of strategies employed by the companies, they pay relatively little in corporate taxes. Amazon, for instance, paid £4.2m in UK taxes in 2013, or 0.1% of its UK revenues. “It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere.”

2013
In September, Boston-based author Jaime Clarke launched an odd website to help sell his new novel, Vernon Downs. The site’s url was PleaseDontBuyMyBookonAmazon.com. Clark said he was motivated to create the site because he wanted help independent publishers such as Roundabout Press, which published Clarke’s book.

“Most indie publishers rely on Amazon to sell their books, and to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, the price is high,” Clarke said in a Q&A with CNET. “Indie publishers realize a fraction of the purchase price and are at the mercy of Amazon’s discounting policies.”

What’s more, Clarke just so happens to be the co-owner of Newtonville Books, which just so happens to be an independent bookstore—the ranks of which have been depleted during Amazon’s rise to power. “Independent bookstore owners loathe Amazon and its bald-pated founder, Jeff Bezos,” a Boston Globe story on Clarke explained.

2014
The most recent boycott Amazon push is related to the company’s ongoing battle with the Hachette Book Group. Essentially, Amazon wants to sell Hachette e-books at a lower price than the publisher wants, and to get its way, Amazon has stopped selling preorders of Hachette books, and it has slowed down the process of customers buying and shipping other Hachette books. For many, this clash epitomized the view that Amazon has too much power, is verging on a monopoly, and is perhaps just plain evil. And for many, this clash is what finally makes them feel that it is time to buy stuff elsewhere.

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