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  • What it Takes to Get a Presidential Turkey Pardon

    By Laura Cross

    Popcorn and Caramel, the two lucky turkeys who were picked for the White House ceremony, take a road trip from Badger, Minn., to Washington D.C.Not just any turkey will have the opportunity to stay in a posh D.C. hotel, garner lots of media attention and be "pardoned" by the president today. To end up at the White House (and not on a plate), the lucky turkey and his alternate had to beat out more than 60 eligible fowl contenders.

    The search for the perfect presidential turkeys began last July when a flock of 60 to 80 of turkey farmer John Burkel's poults hatched on his farm in Badger, Minn.

    RELATED: Turkey's Are Not As Dumb As You Think

    Burkel is the current chairman of the National Turkey Federation, which has presented a turkey to the president every year since 1947, when Truman was in office. As this year's chairman, Burkel will have the honor of presenting the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Obama.

    As you can imagine, training more than 60 poults at once is not easy, so in August, Burkel, his wife and five children culled the contenders down to 20. They moved the poults from one of

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  • Cat Found 1,000 Miles from Home

    By Amy Sinatra Ayres

    Photo Credit: WLOX -- Jacque, who hails from Mississippi, was found 1,000 miles away in Colorado.It was two years ago when Cree Cantrell's adventurous feline, Jacque, disappeared from his houseboat in Biloxi, Miss. "I came home from work one day and he just wasn't there. Looked for him obviously for a long time and just kind of gave up hope," Cantrell said. "I always assumed that either he fell in the water, which he had done before or maybe a tourist or something walking on the beach picked him up."

    But Cantrell never imagined that his 3-year-old cat would be found more than 1,000 miles away, in Denver, Colorado. A local veterinary clinic located Jacque's microchip and was able to get in touch with Cantrell, who was shocked to get the call. "I couldn't believe it. How's a cat get up there?" Jacque has now been reunited with his owner and is back at home in the South. - Read it at Mississippi's WLOX

    Related: Why Your Pet Needs a Microchip and I.D. Tag

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  • Puppy Trapped in Drain for 9 Days is Freed

    By Amy Sinatra Ayres

    Twitter / LindsayNBC5 -- This Lab mix puppy was rescued after spending more than a week at the bottom of a Dallas storm drain.A Lab mix puppy found in a Dallas storm drain was rescued on Monday by Dallas fire-rescue and animal control officers. He was cold and hungry, but otherwise OK, officers said.

    Teacher Lynda Roth said he was one of a large litter of puppies born under her nearby portable classroom, and she believed he'd been stuck in the drain since Nov. 16.

    Crews had tried to rescue the pup before without luck, but on Monday, they brought in cameras and a trap, and were able to bring him out safely. "We finally got a trap down there, and he went in it pretty quickly," Cate McManus of Dallas Animal Services told Today. The puppy's mom and dad were pacing nearby, and officers said they'd return to the area on Tuesday to try to reunite the family and find them homes if it's determined that they're adoptable.- Watch it at NBC Dallas-Fort Worth

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  • Blind Dog and His Brother Find New Home

    By Amy Sinatra Ayres

    Photo Credit: Operation Ava -- Jermaine, who helps his blind brother Jeffrey get around, naps with him a Philadelphia shelter.Last week, we told you about 8-month-old puppies Jermaine and Jeffrey, who were found on the streets of Philadelphia. Jeffrey is blind and Jermaine has made himself his brother's guide dog.

    After a photo of the two cuddling at naptime went viral, thousands of offers to adopt the pair poured in to the rescue group Operation Ava.

    Today, the Pit Bull mixes will be headed home for the holidayswith Jonathan Hochman and Veronica McKee, who live in nearby Springfield, Pa. "I thought these are the cutest dogs I've ever seen," McKee said. "They're incredibly sweet, but they still have that sibling rivalry. There's this sharing thing. It's pretty funny … I have a feeling we're going to get as much out of it as they are." - Read it at Today

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  • Do Pets Recognize Themselves in the Mirror?

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    ThinkstockWhile many may think this common question is open to debate - or even a little silly - it's actually neither. In psychology circles, the mirror test is considered an important evaluation of self-awareness in animals and a sign of the normal development of cognitive skills in children.

    Humans are typically 18 months old before they are able to recognize themselves in the mirror. Among animals, currently only higher primates, dolphins, orcas, elephants and, surprisingly, European magpies are known to recognize that what they see in a mirror is a reflection of themselves. Even more interesting, perhaps, is that while pigs show no sign of recognizing their own reflections, they are able to use other information seen in the mirror, such as identifying the location of food placed behind them.

    See Also: 9 Over-the-Top Luxury Holiday Pet Gifts You Have to See to Believe

    That doesn't necessarily mean other animals aren't intelligent enough to know when they

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  • Do People Think Your Dog Looks Scary? How to Overcome Breed Stereotypes

    By Mikkel Becker

    ThinkstockQ. People are terrified when they see my Rottweiler because he's an intimidating-looking dog. But he has a great disposition and wouldn't hurt anyone. How can I help people see him in a different light?

    A. The reactions people have to your dog are likely due to widespread misconceptions about the breed. People may be more fearful of a Rottweiler than a Labrador because the Rottweiler is stereotyped as being more aggressive than the Lab.

    My Pug, Willy, is a Pet Partners therapy dog; he works with people who are afraid of dogs. One time, though, when he was wearing a spike collar at an off-leash dog park, we came upon a woman who was clearly terrified of him. "It's a Pit Bull!" she shrieked. It didn't matter that Willy only weighed 15 pounds and was calmly sniffing and exploring the park; the fact that he had a spiked collar and remotely resembled a Pit Bull sent her into a panic attack - not because of his behavior, but because of her assumptions about that

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  • How to Recognize and Report Animal Abuse

    By Lisa Granshaw

    Photo courtesy of the ASPCA -- Whether you are a pet owner or not, do your part and learn to recognize and report animal abuse. Animal cruelty is a heartbreaking issue that often inspires people to take action to prevent it. While some try to make a difference through educating communities or passing legislation, others try to watch for signs of animal abuse around them so they can report it and stop the perpetrator before an animal loses his life. However, it's not as easy to recognize the signs of abuse as some may think.

    We spoke to experts at the ASPCA about how you can recognize abuse, report it to the right individuals and potentially save lives.

    See Also: Hero Dog Alerts Parents to Abusive Babysitter

    Recognizing Animal Abuse

    The first step to recognizing animal abuse is having an awareness of your neighborhood and the people living around you, says Howard Lawrence, senior director of operations for the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement department.

    "People should be aware of what's really going on in their neighborhood. If a dog in your neighborhood who usually looks

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  • The Life of a Cricket Farmer

    By Linda Lombardi

    Courtesy of Ghann's Cricket Farm: Clay Ghann's father created a business out of raising crickets for fishermen and now pet owners. If you have a frog or a lizard, you've probably bought live crickets for it to eat. But did you ever think about the story behind them? It turns out to be more dramatic than you'd expect.

    In 2009, one of the largest companies, Ghann's Cricket Farm, was producing 200 million crickets a year and employing almost 50 people. After being in business for more than 50 years, they pretty much had it down to a science. What could go wrong? But then they - and the rest of the industry - were nearly wiped out by a virus.

    The Beginning

    Clay Ghann's father loved to fish. So when he wanted to start his own business in 1952, he had the idea to sell crickets as bait. He designed a wooden box specially for shops to store them in, and he drove around the eastern half of the country, stopping in small towns and looking up the local bait shop.

    "The first few years were quite lean," Ghann says. "He always said if he hadn't had a good patch of collard greens those first few

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  • How Can I Keep My Cat Off Kitchen Counters?

    By Dr. Marty Becker

    iStockPhotoQ. My cat is always jumping up on tables and kitchen counters. When I think about where those paws have been, I know he needs to stay on the ground. What can I do?

    A. If pressed on the issue, many people will admit that their cats walk all over them, and that includes walking wherever they choose, including kitchen counters. And many of those people are just fine with that. I'm with you on this, however. I don't want my pets to walk where I eat.

    Prevention is usually a better plan than changing an established problem behavior, which means deciding ground rules before you adopt a kitten or cat and making sure everyone is on the same page. If you already have the problem - or just decided it is a problem - there are a few things you can try.

    See Also: 9 Cat Breeds That Crave Affection

    It's important to understand why your cat is on the counter in the first place. Getting into the food probably isn't the most compelling reason, although food certainly

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  • Dangers of Pet Waste: How to Properly Pick Up After Your Dog

    By Lisa Granshaw

    ThinkstockHow often have you almost stepped in - or actually stepped in - dog poop that was left on the ground? Pet waste that isn't properly disposed of isn't just a hazard waiting to happen to your favorite pair of shoes, and it doesn't just disappear (unless you have a friendly neighborhood pet waste disposal person).

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers pet waste a "nonpoint source pollutant." This type of pollution is caused by runoff from rainfall or snowmelt moving over the ground, picking up the pollutant and depositing it into natural bodies of water and underground drinking water. Herbicides and insecticides are found in the same category.

    When pet waste is left on the ground, it can have a devastating impact on lawns and, more important, on the larger environment as well. It also poses a threat to people and other animals.

    See Also: Why Does My Dog... Eat Poop?

    Human Hazards

    Two of the greatest dangers of unattended pet waste are the

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