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6 Remarkable Police Animals

We’ve seen bookstore cats, animals trained to sniff out bombs and heroic dogs, but now we're here to focus on animals who have served, or are currently serving, their local police departments.

1. Momo, Nara Police Department, Japan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YVn9UKutgAs

We’re used to seeing large police dogs because, let’s face it, a lap dog can’t take down a running fugitive. But there are a lot of other duties for police dogs out there—and a pup doesn't have to be big to sniff out bombs, drugs, or people buried under rubble. So why not have some small dogs work in these specialized areas?

The Japanese made news last year when they hired a tiny little Chihuahua as the Nara Police Department's newest police dog. Momo passed her search and rescue test with flying colors by finding a person within five minutes after smelling their hat. While the little pup might not be able to drag anyone from the rubble, officers do point out that her size provides her with a major advantage when it comes to squeezing into small openings that would be too narrow for most rescue dogs. Of course, in between earthquakes and fires, she’s still doing good community service by looking absolutely adorable.

2. Mattie, Connecticut State Police, United States

When it comes to arson investigations, dogs are better at sniffing out accelerants than most of the investigator’s instruments. But the idea of using dogs for that task is still pretty new; the first dog, a black lab named Mattie, was put to work in 1986. In order to graduate from Accelerant Detection Canine School, which is run by the ATF, she had to be able to identify 17 different types of accelerants in a fire’s aftermath, even when there were only a few drops of the compounds. (Dogs and their handlers can only pass if they have a perfect score in the final test.)

Mattie was placed in service with the Connecticut State Police that same year. While waiting for fires to be put out, she would be brought out to the scene, where she would sniff at any onlookers. In many cases, Mattie was able to identify suspects in the crowd who still had residue from the accelerants on them. Mattie worked with the state police for 11 years before retiring in 1997.

3. Lemon, Kyoto Police Department, Japan

If you think a Chihuahua is a bad police dog, then just imagine having a police cat. To be fair, Officer Lemon operates in a small town in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, which has a population made up of mostly elderly folks, and his only cases involve suspicious phone calls. Lemon doesn't help track down the prank callers, but he does help relax the victims—an important job for police handling these kinds of situations.

Lemon has been with the police since he was two weeks old. Of course, that’s probably why he’s so comfortable in his adorable little uniform; most cats that grew up without clothing probably wouldn’t be so willing to wear the tiny jacket and hat that Lemon sports while on duty.

4. Santisuk, Saiburi Police Department, Thailand

This officer might monkey around a bit, but you’d still better take him seriously—no matter how cute he looks in his little police shirt. Santisuk, a pig-tailed macaque, was adopted by a police officer after he was found with a broken arm. They soon started training him to pick up coconuts and then they realized that he might just help alleviate tensions at police checkpoints.

Their plan worked. When Santisuk stands duty at the checkpoints, motorists happily stop their vehicles and many even pull over to take their picture with the monkey. He has changed the public image of the police force so much that many other police precincts in the area are considering adding their own monkeys to the force.

5 & 6. Echo, Metropolitan Police Department, and Sefton, Household Cavalry, United Kingdom

Echo and Sefton are probably the best remembered police horses, and it’s for a rather sad reason.

The horses were survivors of the July 20, 1982 bombing of Hyde Park. A car bomb—made from 25 pounds of explosives surrounded in 4- and 6-inch nails—killed four soldiers and seven other horses. Echo, part of the Metropolitan Police Department, was left was a piece of shrapnel in his side. Household Cavalry horse Sefton had 38 shrapnel wounds, and his jugular vein was severed. Another Cavalry horse, Yeti, also survived the blast. After the incident, Echo, too nervous to go back to the police department, was retired from duty. Sefton did go back to work for a bit, but eventually, all three horses were retired at the same stable, where they would live for the rest of their lives. When the horses made public appearances, people were touched—Echo and Sefton even received a standing ovation when they appeared at the Horse of the Year show.

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Animals
This Is the Age When Puppies Reach 'Peak Cuteness'
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All puppies are cute, but at some point in a young dog's life, it goes from "It's so cute I could squeeze it to death" to merely regular cute. But when? According to one recent study in the journal Anthrozoös, peak cuteness hits between 6 and 8 weeks old for many dogs, The Washington Post reports.

Finding out when puppies reach their peak attractiveness to humans may give us insights into how domestic dogs evolved. Researchers from the University of Florida asked 51 students at the school to look at 39 black-and-white images of dogs, who belonged to three different breeds and whose ages ranged from birth to 8 months. The viewers then rated them on a sliding scale of squishability.

The results will sound familiar to dog lovers. Puppies aren't entirely adorable immediately after they're born—they can look a little rat-like—and the participants rated them accordingly. As dogs get older, as much as we might love them, their squee-worthy cuteness declines, as the attractiveness scores reflected. The sweet spot, it turns out, is right around when puppies are being weaned, or between 6 and 8 weeks old.

The participants tended to rate dogs as most attractive when the pups were within the first 10 weeks of their lives. According to the results, Cane Corsos were at their cutest around 6.3 weeks old, Jack Russell terriers at 7.7 weeks old, and white shepherds at 8.3 weeks.

The study only used still photos of a few breeds, and it's possible that with a more diverse sample, the time of peak cuteness might vary a bit. Certain puppies might be cuter at an older age, and certain puppies might be cuter when they're even younger. But weaning age happens to coincide with the time when puppies are no longer getting as much support from their mothers, and are thus at a high risk of mortality. By evolving to attract human support at a time when they're most vulnerable, puppies might have boosted their chance at survival until they were old enough to completely take care of themselves.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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7 Cases of Mistaken Dog Identity
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For decades, an enduring urban and internet legend has provided a cautionary tale for people seeking to adopt a pet. While details vary according to the storyteller, it goes something like this: A woman on vacation takes pity on a stray, hairless dog she finds in dire shape. Bringing him home, he doesn’t seem to respond to generous helpings of food and verbal assurance that he's a good boy. Instead, he’s rather aggressive. Taking him to the vet, she realizes she didn’t pick up a dog at all but a massive, sewer-dwelling rat.

While a delightful story, it's probably not true. These cases are. Take a look at seven people who experienced some alarming examples of animals they thought were dogs, and dogs they thought were other animals.

1. THE FOX IS NOT A HOUND

A screen capture of a fox that resembles a dog
Rachel White, YouTube

As contemporary pet breeding produces new strains of Franken-pups, it’s likely people will continue to be confused by animals that resemble exotic breeds. Case in point: In May 2018, a woman purchased what she thought was a Japanese Spitz puppy from a pet shop in China. With its long, pointed snout and fluffy coat, the dog at first appeared to be an adorable addition to the household. Within three months, however, it stopped eating dog food and began to sprout a long tail. Strangely, it also never barked. Its owner thought it might just be quiet and finicky, but a local zoo confirmed she had actually purchased a fox, which the Japanese Spitz is said to resemble. The animal’s new forever home is behind fencing at the zoo’s fox habitat.

2. CHARLIE THE LABRA-LION

Hysteria briefly gripped citizens of Norfolk, Virginia in 2013, when a rash of calls to 911 reported a lion loose within the city limits. One caller described it as a “baby lion,” while another believed it to be the size of a Labrador retriever. Close. The “lion” was a Labradoodle named Charlie, who got regular grooming visits that gave him a mane and improved his regal stature. His owner shaved him to resemble a sports mascot at Old Dominion University.

3. THE COYOTE AND THE SAMARITAN

When an unnamed resident of Bartlett, Illinois drove past a cowering animal on a busy stretch of roadway in May 2018, the person stopped and swept up what was believed to be a lost dog. Driving to the local police department, the resident dropped the alleged puppy off, only to discover that the rescue had been in the service of a coyote. The baby was taken to Willowbrook Wildlife for safekeeping.

4. A BEAR TO DEAL WITH

Despite the propaganda pushed by cartoons, bears are generally difficult to live with and might devour younger members of the household without warning. No one would likely live with one on purpose. By accident? That’s another story. In 2016, a family in the Yunnan province of China adopted what they believed was a Tibetan Mastiff puppy, a stout and noble breed. To their slowly-dawning surprise, it turned out it wasn’t a dog at all but an Asiatic black bear cub that skyrocketed to over 250 pounds in a matter of months. He also had a tendency to stand on his hind legs, a trait domesticated canines still lack. The family reached out to authorities and the bear—which is a protected species in China—was relocated to a sanctuary.

5. THE CAT MISTAKEN FOR A DOG

A screen capture of a cat with hypertrichosis
Moony strangecat, YouTube

Your standard orange tabby cats don’t have this problem, but certain feline breeds can wind up experiencing a real identity crisis. Snookie, a three-year-old Persian in Canada, has hypertrichosis, a condition sometimes referred to as “werewolf syndrome” because it causes excessive growth of hair, nails, and whiskers. As a result of her fluffed-up and rotund face, Snookie is often confused for a Shih Tzu puppy.

6. ACCIDENTALLY ADOPTING A WOLF

A wolf cub sits next to its mother
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It could happen to anyone. In 2016, a man in Arizona responded to an ad giving away a free “puppy” and took it home. The animal’s owner was sufficiently charmed by his new pet’s adorable face that he didn’t notice the pup, which he named Neo, avoided eye contact and didn’t seem to have much use for dog treats. When the man built a fence to prevent Neo from cavorting with the neighborhood dogs, the animal dug under it. When a neighbor took Neo to the local Humane Society for trespassing, officials discovered it was a wolf—an illegal animal to own without proper permits. Properly identified, Neo was relocated to a sanctuary named Wolf Connection.

7. THE RACCOON-DOG HYBRID

A tanuki dog resembles a raccoon
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The exotic animal trade in the UK has been trafficking tanukis, or raccoon dogs, for some time now. True to their name, the wild dogs resemble raccoons but are related to wolves and foxes. Unsuspecting owners purchase them for novelty’s sake, not realizing that they’re prone to wiping out frog populations and carrying hookworm and fatal fox tapeworms. Since they're nocturnal, they’ll also keep households up at night. Raccoon dogs are easily confused with actual raccoons and at least one distressed owner was afraid his pet would be harmed due to the likeness when his pet, Kekei, escaped in 2015. In the U.S., the only tanukis in residence are located in an Atlanta zoo. If you see a raccoon this large, run.

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