Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jack the cat found, falcon force, and more animal news

The big news of the day is that Jack the cat, misplaced in JFK airport a couple of months ago, has been found, according to a report on VetStreet. He'll soon be winging his way home to California--and we'll hope he isn't mislaid again along the way.

You've no doubt heard of Border Collies being hired to drive geese and other birds off airport runways. Now NATO has recruited a few good falcons to prevent birds from fouling up jet engines, according to a story in the November issue of Wired. The falcons and their handlers, employees of Falcon Environmental Services, patrol airports from before sunrise to after sunset, on a search and, if necessary, destroy mission for geese and gulls, which often get sucked into jet engines and can potentially damage or even down an aircraft. Outfitted with microtransmitters so they can be tracked, the raptors are released to run off the troublemaking fowl. Usually they come back at day's end, lured by food if necessary. But at least one, swept up high and far by a thermal column, is now a self-employed predator.

As we enter the season of thanksgiving and gift-giving, especially in this economic downturn, it's good to know that there are organizations like Pets of the Homeless, which helps to provide food and veterinary care for pets belonging to people who live on the streets. A story by Eleanor Gilman in the October 2011 AARP Bulletin says that 10 percent of the nation's 3.5 million homeless people have at least one pet. Pets of the Homeless was founded by Genevieve Frederick after she realized that a pet may be the only companion a street person has. The website lists a number of ways people can help, from distributing food to starting a reading contest in schools.

If you write about pets and want to bone up in your field or claw your way to the top of the pet writer heap, make plans now to attend the 2011 Cat Writers Association conference in White Plains, New York, November 18 and 19. You don't have to write about cats to attend; the sessions are geared to writers of all stripes, tabby or brindle. Among the offerings are a presentation by incoming AVMA president Douglas Aspros, DVM, on the latest in pet health care; writing for children, with agent Ann Tobias and editor/writer Thea Feldman; writing nonfiction book proposals, presented by literary agent Rita Rosenkranz; how to break into new genres; tips on improving and maintaining your website; editor and agent panels; and more. That's just on Friday! There's more on Saturday. I'll be there. Find out more here.

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