22 March 2010

Shelter dog and cat stamps get a nod from DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is working with the U.S. Postal Service and Halo, Purely for Pets, her holistic pet care company to promote a stamp campaign for shelter pets.

"This is a subject that I am extremely passionate about. By working together, we can find good homes for millions of adoptable, homeless and abandoned pets," said DeGeneres. "And until they get adopted, I'm happy to say that Halo and I are giving one million meals to shelter pets that are waiting for you."

USPS awareness stamps have highlighted causes including Alzheimer's disease, sickle cell anemia, the Amber Alert program to help find missing children, and adoption - but that one was about kids, not critters.

The stamps can be pre-ordered by clicking here or by calling 1.800.STAMP.24 (1.800.782.6724). Sales at post offices begin April 30.

DeGeneres and her partner Portia de Rossi have a household of rescue pets. They, like most of the readers who took our survey, let the dogs and cats pile into bed with them.

[Source: USA Today]

12 March 2010

FujiFilm's Latest Camera Aims at Dogs, Cats

If you own a dog or a cat then there's a good chance you've spent hours with a camera trying -- and probably failing -- to get a perfect picture of them. Now, technology is coming to the rescue.

FujiFilm's Finepix Z700 features a face-detection function that can recognize canine and feline faces, and it can snap a picture automatically when they look towards the camera lens.

There is one pet photography problem FujiFilm says its new camera can't solve: "Dogs or cats that are constantly in motion cannot be recognized."

It is demonstrating the animal face recognition feature at this week's Camera and Photo Imaging Show in Yokohama, Japan, albeit with stuffed toy dogs and cats. It works just like face detection does with a human. When it finds a face, a green box is drawn around it on screen and the camera automatically focuses. In the auto-shooting mode it waits until the animal turns to the camera before taking a picture.

It worked well with the stuffed animals but it turns out real dogs and cats can be a little bit trickier. FujiFilm has a list of dog and cat breeds that are easier for its technology to identify.

FujiFilm says the technology can also get confused if the animal has a dark coat, if it has large patches around its eyes, a wrinkly nose or hair over their eyes. All these things make it difficult for the computer in the camera to recognize the facial markers and determine whether it is looking at a dog or a cat.

The 12-megapixel FujiFilm Z700EXR has a 3.5-inch screen, and is 16.9 millimeters thick. It is available this month and costs US$280.

[Source: PCWorld]

11 March 2010

A New Breed of Guard Dog Attacks Bedbugs

CRUISER made four house calls on a recent rain-soaked Tuesday. There were two happy endings and two unhappy ones, a fairly typical outcome for a typical day in the life of a bedbug-sniffing puggle.

“Except that there’s nothing typical about this business,” said his handler, Jeremy Ecker, 35, whose six-month-old company, the Bed Bug Inspectors, has vetted hotels, college dorms and Midtown office buildings, suburban homes, bare-bones Brooklyn rentals and tony Manhattan co-ops. (Mr. Ecker, who charges $350 for a residential inspection, is an independent inspector, meaning he has no affiliation with an exterminator, though many hire him to check a property they have treated.)

Increasingly, real estate lawyers are urging buyers in contract to inspect apartments before they close, and in their advertising, many pest control companies exhort would-be tenants to “inspect before you rent.” And dogs like Cruiser can inspect a room in minutes, whereas lesser mammals like human beings need hours to conduct a visual inspection.

Bedbug-sniffing dogs, adorable yet stunningly accurate — entomology researchers at the University of Florida report that well-trained dogs can detect a single live bug or egg with 96 percent accuracy — are the new and furry front line in an escalating and confounding domestic war.

To read the rest of the article, check out The New York Times

Vote for a People's Hero Dog of Valor : The Humane Society of the United States

Check out these Ten Dogs of Valor finalists and vote for the People's Hero winner! The Third Annual Dogs of Valor Awards celebrates the human-animal bond by honoring dogs who have exhibited an extraordinary sense of courage or resolve by heroically helping a person in need. The panel of celebrity judges, including Kristen Bell, Sally Pressman, and Jay Kopelman, will choose the Valor Dog of the Year and two Runner’s Up. You will choose this year’s People’s Hero winner! Voting closes on Friday, Mar. 12, 2010 at 5 PM ET.

Check out the site to see the nominees and vote!

09 March 2010

The 15th Annual Original Ugly Dog Contest™

There are no ugly dogs, in the opinion of San Diego Dogs Examiner. However once a year here in San Diego county we pretend there are, and throw a party to celebrate them, all in the name of charity.

The Del Mar Kiwanis Club, founders and organizers of the 15-year-old event, gives prizes to the dogs and their people, and proceeds from the party go to animals in need.

A seven-pound Chinese Crested named Rascal was selected as the Ugliest Dog in the contest held Sunday. His person is Dane Andrews of Sunnyvale, California.

“I know dogs aren’t ugly, though some kind of are,” said show producer and Del Mar Kiwanis member Sheila McDonnell in a telephone interview, “but they are so loved by their owners that it doesn’t matter.”

While the tally for this year’s show proceeds isn’t in yet, McDonnell estimated that last year’s Ugly Dog fest raised about $10,000 from ticket sales, entry fees, and donations.

“A huge supporter has been County Supervisor Pam Slater,” McDonnell reports. “She donated $3,500.”

McDonnell was pleased that the weekend’s wet weather failed to discourage attendance. “It didn’t seem to stop the turnout,” she said. “It was standing room only. We had a 20,000 square foot building and we took up every darn inch.”

[Source: examiner.com]