Chloe the missing cat reunited with owner after six years

Tabby and white cat went missing in 2010 after jumping from a pet carrier when Rebecca Lee took her to a vet in Caerphilly

A missing cat has finally returned home six years after it vanished.

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Chloe, a tabby and white cat, went missing in 2010 after she jumped from a pet carrier when her owner Rebecca Lee was taking her to the vet in Caerphilly, south Wales.

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After living as a stray and being cared for by an elderly woman just over a mile away from her owners home, Chloe was eventually handed into Cats Protections adoption centre in Bridgend, where a routine scan of her microchip meant she could finally be reunited with her owner.

Lee, who thought Chloe had died in a road accident, said she was overjoyed to be able to have her back.

It was a real shock, but lovely news to hear that Chloe had been found and was alive and well after so many years, she said.

Chloe had jumped from the pet carrier in the car park and we never saw her again.

I put up posters and placed adverts and shortly after got a call to say a cat matching her description had been found dead by the roadside.

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I was devastated but came to terms with her death. Unbeknown to me at the time, it seems she had wandered as a stray before eventually finding an elderly lady who had taken her in.

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Molly Hughes, the deputy manager at the Bridgend adoption centre, said Chloe had been brought in by the family of the elderly woman, who had become too frail to care for her.

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We scanned Chloe, which is routine for all cats coming into our care, and our receptionist noticed she was registered to a different owner and address, she said.

We managed to get hold of Rebecca, Chloes original owner, who was shocked to hear from us that Chloe was in our care.

Chloe was nervous with us but she was very happy to see Rebecca and started rolling over and purring when she saw her.

Its great to have been able to reunite Chloe with her family, and it was touching to see them together.

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Chloes story goes to show why microchipping is so important and how effective it is. However, just as important as having your cat microchipped is keeping the details up to date.

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We often have microchipped cats come into our care and are sadly unable to reunite them with their owners because the contact details on the database are incorrect.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/24/chloe-missing-cat-reunited-owner-after-six-years-caerphilly

Sheepdog Pero travels 240 miles to former home near Aberystwyth

A dog sold to a farm in Cumbria surprises previous owners by making two week long journey back to his original home near Aberystwyth

A sheepdog has made a 240-mile trek to be reunited with his original owners in Wales after apparently deciding that he didnt want to settle on a farm in Cumbria, where he had been sent to work.

Pero, a four-year-old working sheepdog, will now remain with his previous owners after turning up again on their farm near Aberystwyth, a fortnight after making a break from Cockermouth on 8 April.

Alan and Shan James had sent Pero off to help out on the other farm in March, believing that he would be ideal for the job of rounding up sheep there. Evidently however, the relocation to England was not for the Welsh sheepdog, who abandoned his work in a field earlier this month and embarked on the journey back to his birthplace.

Wed been told that Pero had disappeared, and was nowhere to be seen, Shan James told the BBC from the familys sheep farm in Penrhyn-coch.

But then, last Wednesday evening, 20 April, my husband Alan went out to check on the animals after supper and there was Pero on our doorstep. It was a bit of a shock, and the dog was going crazy after seeing Alan.

Eager to piece together the story of Peros adventures on the road, the family are now interested to know if any members of the public have had an unfamiliar sheepdog sniffing around for food at any point over the last two weeks.

When he came back, he wasnt hungry or weak, so he must have managed to find food somewhere. He must have stopped in places along the way, added James.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/25/pero-sheepdog-travels-240-miles-back-former-home

Man-eating crocodiles surface in Florida swamps

Three juveniles of African species may not be only ones, say experts

Researchers at the University of Florida have found a man-eating African species of crocodile among native populations in the states swamps and Everglades.

It is unclear how the Nile crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, which can grow up to 5.5 metres (18 feet) in length and was blamed for at least 480 attacks on people and 123 fatalities in Africa between 2010 and 2014, arrived in the state.

But DNA analysis has confirmed that three juveniles have been identified in the state, including one that was relaxing on a house porch in Miami. The local alligators do not prey on humans, but the unwelcome imports have unsurprisingly made headlines in the state.

Kenneth Krysko, a herpetology collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History, confirmed that the specimens are linked to native populations in South Africa. He told the journal Herpetological Conservation and Biology that the species can survive and potentially thrive in sub-tropical Florida.

The odds that the few of us who study Florida reptiles have found all of the Nile crocs out there is probably unlikely. We know that they can survive in the Florida wilderness for numerous years, we know that they grow quickly here and we know their behaviour in their native range, and there is no reason to suggest that would change here in Florida.

Crocodylus niloticus is considered a generalist, unfussy predator, and has clearly adapted to the local food supply, from native birds, fish and mammals, including domestic pets, to the states native crocodile and alligator. The researchers looked at one juvenile specimen that grew nearly 28% faster than wild Nile crocodile juveniles.

The three captured specimens were genetically identical, suggesting they came from the same source. But that source remains mysterious the reptiles do not match with any Nile crocodiles currently housed in US zoos.

However, the study noted that large groups of Nile crocodiles have been imported from South Africa and Madagascar, both for display at places such as Disneys Animal Kingdom, and to supply Floridas pet trade. Pet owners are the most likely source of introduction.

Florida has the worlds largest number of invasive species. The spiny lionfish, believed to have been released during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, has caused devastation to native populations of reef-dwelling fish across the Caribbean. There is also the Cuban tree frog, which has been found as far north as Jacksonville.

Short of the latest visitor, the invasive species that attracts the greatest attention is the Burmese python. These monsters are now common enough for authorities to organise and license python hunts.

The Miami Herald reported in March that biologists bagged more than 2,000 pounds of Burmese pythons in just one county. One snake, measuring almost 5metres and weighing about 63kg (140 pounds), set a new record for males caught in the wild in Florida. Using radio trackers, scientists found the snakes like to occupy gopher tortoise burrows, and found six males and a female squeezed into a mating ball. They are so numerous they have become one of the regions top predators. Research suggests the pythons are responsible for a sharp decline in the population of Everglades marsh rabbits and for a decrease in deer.

The ecological impact of these animals is just over the top, said Ian Bartoszek, a biologist at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Were starting to get a sense they eat bigger up the food chain.

But now the state has new worries. According to the University of Florida study, its Atlantic coast and the entire Gulf of Mexico coastline are favourable for Nile crocodiles.

My hope as a biologist is that the introduction of Nile crocodiles in Florida opens everyones eyes to the problem of invasive species that we have here in our state, Krysko said. Now heres another one, but this time it isnt just a tiny house gecko from Africa.

However, Allyson Gantt, a spokeswoman for Everglades National Park, where one of the reptiles was found, rejected the idea that any Nile crocs were still roaming in the park.

Some Everglades visitors might not be aware of the differences between crocodiles and alligators, complicating efforts to confirm any remaining crocs. Crocodiles have angular snouts, and their lower teeth are exposed when their mouths are closed. Alligator snouts are rounded, with few exposed lower teeth. Nile crocs are usually bronze or brownish yellow; by contrast, alligators are blackish green.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/21/african-nile-crocodiles-captured-florida

Madrid dog owners who don’t pick up poo will have to clean streets

Spanish capital announces shock plan in attempt to inspire dog walkers to clean up after their pets

Dog owners in the Spanish capital who do not pick up their pets poo could be made to work as street cleaners under a shock plan unveiled by Madrid city hall.

Municipal police will test the scheme in the two city districts where the biggest concentration of dog poo has been found, city hall said in a statement on Monday.

Dog owners who do not clean up after their pets will be fined up to 1,500 (1160) or they will have the option to perform street cleaning duties for a few days as a substitute, it added.

Madrid city hall said there is still excrement in the streets, parks and other places despite repeated public awareness campaigns and the distribution of millions of free bags to collect dog poo.

The municipality has prepared a shock plan against these infractions which will start to be deployed shortly in two districts, it added.

Several Spanish cities have come up with creative ways to crack down on dog droppings in recent years.

Last year the north-eastern city of Tarragona announced it would use DNA analysis of dog droppings to track down owners who fail to clean up after them.

During a brief period in 2013 the town of Brunete near Madrid delivered dog poo back to the homes of pet owners who left it behind, in boxes marked Lost Property.

Volunteers would strike up conversations with unsuspecting, offending pet owners after their pooch had done its business to obtain its name and species, which would then allow city officials to identify them and find their address from a registered pet database.

Another town set up a dog toilet on its main street.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/26/dog-poo-owners-madrid-pets-foul-footpaths-clean-streets

Canada wildfire: 85% of Fort McMurray has been saved, says Alberta premier

Rachel Notley describes devastation wrought by ongoing wildfire as heartbreaking, with residents facing long wait to return to their homes

Overwhelming and heart-breaking was how Rachel Notley, the Alberta premier, described the destruction left behind in the wake of a wildfire that continues to rage out of control in northern Alberta.

I was very much struck by the power of the devastation of the fire, Notley said after touring the city of Fort McMurray on Monday. It was really quite overwhelming in some spots.

Last week more than 88,000 residents frantically evacuated the oilsands city after shifting winds brought a nearby forest fire to the citys doorstep.

The fire swept through the city in a seemingly random path, leaving behind piles of rubble and twisted metal, burned-out pick-up trucks and charred swing sets in some neighbourhoods. In others, homes sat untouched, their green lawns sharply contrasting with the grey of the citys worst-hit areas.

Some 2,400 homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged by the fire, said Notley.

Fort McMurray fire damage

For the tens of thousands of residents now scattered across the province, many of them wondering whether they have a home to return to, Notley had good news. Some 85% of the city around 25,000 structures had been saved. The city was surrounded by an ocean of fire only a few days ago, said Notley. But Fort McMurray and the surrounding community have been saved and it will be rebuilt.

But she cautioned: That of course doesnt mean that there arent going to be some really heartbreaking images for some people to see when they come back.

The fire has not completely released its grip on the city, said Notley. There are smouldering hotspots everywhere. Active fire suppression is continuing.

The wildfire continues to grow in the region, albeit at a much slower pace. By Monday it had swelled to 204,000 hectares an area more than 22 times the size of Manhattan but winds were pushing it east, away from communities. It now sits some 25km from the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.

Cooler weather helped crews continue to keep the fire at bay, away from Fort McMurray, Anzac and the Suncor Energy oilsands facility. Currently more than 700 firefighters are battling against the blaze, with another 300 expected to arrive in the area shortly.

This fire is burning out of control out there, it still is, but we are holding the line where we need to, at least for today, said Notley.

Alberta
Alberta premier Rachel Notley in Fort McMurray. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

In two weeks officials hope to give the residents a timeline of when they might be able to return to the city. One day soon, not as soon as we want, well be able to call this place home again, said Melissa Blake, the local mayor.

As the fire destroyed homes and engulfed neighbourhoods, Darby Allen described it as a nasty, dirty fire. On Monday the local fire chief added another adjective to the list: unprecedented.

Ive never seen anything like this, he said. Many of the fire conditions and the way the fire behaves, no ones ever seen anything like this. Theyre rewriting their formulas on how fires behave, based on this fire.

Allen singled out a local firefighter who fought the blaze as it consumed his own home and who continued working for another 22 hours, and a colleague who with just a handful of people, a flashlight and some phone calls managed to evacuate 450 residents in Anzac after the fire caught officials off-guard and swept into the community. That is true heroism, ladies and gentlemen, said Allen.

Earlier in the week, officials swiftly moved some 25,000 evacuees north of Fort McMurray to the provinces largest cities in mass airlifts and convoys. On Monday, the first of a different kind of convoy made its way to Edmonton, reuniting owners with the pets left behind during the hurried evacuation.

Volunteers
Volunteers look after pets belonging to the evacuated residents of Fort McMurray at the Bold centre in Lac la Biche. Photograph: Topher Seguin/Reuters

The wildfire forced as much as half of Canadas oil sands production capacity offline, according to estimates, and is expected to have a significant impact on a country already limping from the drop in the price of oil.

On Tuesday the Alberta government will meet with meet key players in the provinces energy sector to assess the extent of the impact and get a sense of how long production could be disrupted. The oil sands in Alberta rank among the worlds largest reserves of oil, after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

The past week has seen governments around the world including the United States, Australia and Mexico offer assistance in battling the wildfire. Last week the Russian government joined in, offering to send heavy water bombers and specialised firefighting crews.

On Monday, Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said the aid would not be necessary. The good news is from the support weve seen from Canadians across the country there is no need to accept any international assistance at this point, but we certainly thank everyone for their generosity.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/10/canada-wildfire-fort-mcmurray-saved-alberta-premier