A 9-Year-Old is Raising Thousands of Dollars to Outfit Police Dogs with Bulletproof Vests

iStock/805promo
iStock/805promo

Dogs are inherently loyal to their owners, but that devotion takes on a different meaning when their handlers happen to be police officers. Police dogs, or K-9s, are highly trained animals tasked with following orders ranging from drug investigations to ferreting out potentially dangerous suspects from hiding places. Some wind up being fatally wounded in the process. In 2018, at least 19 dogs died in the line of duty nationwide.

Since part of that danger comes from armed suspects, some K-9 units use bulletproof vests on their canine staff members. But the vests, which average $1200, don't always fit into a department's budget. That's where Brady Snakovsky comes in. Through his GoFundMe page, the 9-year-old from Strongsville, Ohio has managed to collect funds for 85 vests (and counting!) for active-duty dogs.

Snakovsky came upon the idea after watching Live PD, a reality series on the A&E network that depicts police patrol units across the country. Snakovsky noticed one of the K-9 dogs featured on the show wasn't wearing a protective vest. With the assistance of his mother, Snakovsky started the GoFundMe to raise money for the vests. The equipment is sourced from a distributor, Line of Fire Defence, that provides a vest design that helps regulate the dog's body temperature and reduces the chances of the animal getting overheated.

His fundraising effort, Brady's K9 Fund, is looking to raise $85,000 total. As of this week, it's exceeded $77,000. Even if his financial goal is met, Snakovsky probably isn't done with law enforcement. The third-grader has said he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

[h/t WSOC]

England Is Being Invaded By a Swarm of Flying Ants That Can Be Seen From Space

Digoarpi/iStock via Getty Images
Digoarpi/iStock via Getty Images

Last week, the UK's weather service registered what seemed like a system of rain showers moving along the nation’s southern coast. But it wasn’t rain—it was a swarm of flying ants.

Though it sounds like something out of a horror film or the Old Testament, it’s actually a completely normal phenomenon that occurs in the UK every summer when a bout of hot, humid weather follows a period of rainfall, The Guardian reports. Flying ants decide it’s a good time to mate, and the queen takes to the sky, emitting pheromones that attract males.

From there, it’s survival of the fittest. The queen will out-fly most of her suitors, leaving only the strongest males to catch up and mate with her, which ensures the strength of her offspring. The others either lose their wings and fall to the ground, or become bird food. (The ants produce formic acid in their bodies as a defense mechanism, which may make gulls that eat them seem loopy.)

According to Smithsonian.com, the queen will chew off her wings after mating and fall to the ground to start a new colony, and the sperm she collected from that one flight will fertilize her eggs for the rest of her life (which could be up to 15 years in the wild).

The official, rather-romantic term for the annual aerial antics is “nuptial flight,” but locals often refer to it simply as “flying ant day.” It sometimes lasts for weeks, during which billions of the harmless insects can be seen in the skies.

A representative from the Met Office explained that its weather satellites mistook the ants for rain clouds because the radar detects the ants in the same way it sees raindrops. Dr. Adam Hart, an entomologist at the University of Gloucestershire, told The Guardian that he thinks the reason the radar registered the ants this year was a result of better satellite technology rather than an increase in the flying ant population.

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

A Retirement Home for Orcas Could Be Opening in Washington's San Juan Islands

MarkMalleson/iStock via Getty Images
MarkMalleson/iStock via Getty Images

Governments and organizations around the world are taking steps to keep whales out of captivity. Earlier this year, Canada passed a "Free Willy bill" that makes it illegal to hold whale, dolphins, and other cetaceans captive for entertainment. But such laws do little to help the animals that have spent their whole lives performing in places like SeaWorld and are ill-suited to life in the wild. To help them, the Whale Sanctuary Project wants to build a $15 million sanctuary in Washington state's San Juan Islands where formerly captive orcas (also known as killer whales) can thrive, The Seattle Times reports.

The retirement home for whales would allow the creatures to live in their natural ocean habitat while receiving they same care and protection they became accustomed to while in captivity. Instead of living in tanks, they would swim freely around a 60- to 100-acre netted-off cove. Veterinarians would be available to provide the orcas with emergency care, short-term rehabilitation, and food.

The Whale Sanctuary Project plans to start with six to eight orcas in the facility, with the first arriving in late 2020 or early 2021. In order for that to happen, though, the organization needs to get the permits necessary to build the facility off the Washington coast and raise millions of dollars to fund it. In addition to the estimated $15 million construction costs, the veterinary staff would cost $2 million a year.

The plan is ambitious, but it's not unprecedented. In June, the world's first open-water beluga sanctuary—located in Iceland—received its first residents. The two whales, named Little Grey and Little White, were rescued from a Sea World-like attraction in China. The Whale Sanctuary Project is considering building a similar sanctuary for beluga whales in addition to the one for orcas. Before it moves forward with either project, the nonprofit will hold a series of public meetings around the Washington coast to garner support.

[h/t The Seattle Times]

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