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 This Week on Animal Radio

Animal Radio for March 18, 2023  

Batman vs. Superman Movie Set Made Into Bat Houses
Rob Mies, Bat Conservation

Rob Mies with BatThe very "Batty" Rob Mies joins us to explain why they cut up the Batman vs. Superman movie set and made bat-houses, signed by the actors (even Ben Affleck & Zack Snyder), to be auctioned off.

Rob Mies, T.V. personality, conservation biologist, bat expert, author, and Executive Director of the Organization for Bat Conservation told us they auctioned off bat houses made from the set of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice on eBay. The bat houses ranged in size and design, with 23 of the bat houses signed by Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder or both.

Rob has been studying bats for over 25 years. Bats fascinate him because there are so many different kinds and they're found all over the world. They eat so many different kinds of things, they're also incredibly ecologically and economically important. Most people know none of this! People just think that bats are blind, they're going to suck their blood and they're going to build a nest in their hair.

Batman v. Superman Movie PosterSetting the record straight, Rob explains that bats are not blind and bats in the United States eat primarily insects and as a matter of fact are the primary predators of nighttime insects. One bat can eat up to 5,000 insects a night.

There are 1,300 different types of bats in the world and only three of them are actually vampire bats. These three varieties live only in Central and South America, they are very small and they feed almost entirely off of cows. They make a really small bite on cattle and drink about a spoon full of blood. Rob says what is fascinating about these bats is that they have an anti-clotting enzyme in their saliva that helps keep the blood flowing as long as they keep licking. The cows probably don't even feel the bats sucking their blood, as they are also being bitten by lots of insects in the tropics.

Bats are very important to us and economically as they eat tons of moths and beetles that destroy our crops, forests and gardens.

Bats are also pollinators and seed disbursers of hundreds of species of plants. Dates, figs, bananas, mangos and pineapples all rely on bats. We would also not have any tequila if it weren't for bats, as agave (which we make tequila from) is only pollinated by bats. So, no bats - no tequila!

Bat HouseBats are good to have around and you can even put up a bat house in your yard to attract them. This will give local bats a safe, warm, dry place to raise their babies. It will also keep them from living in your attic. Bats will usually use these houses during the spring, summer and fall. Bats usually live in dead or dying trees, but in most neighborhoods, dead and dying trees are cut down.

There are over 200 bats living at the Bat Zone at the Cranbrook Institute of Science where Ron works. They are always trying to raise money for the bats and Rob tells us about the auction that happened with the bat houses. He states that the movie Batman v. Superman was filmed just a few miles away from them. Zack Snyder, who was the director, found out about bats dying from an invasive fungus (white nose syndrome), which originated in Europe and made its way to the United States and quickly spread. During the filming, it was heard that this fungus had spread into Michigan and Wisconsin, where Zack is from. This fungus grows in caves and mines and when bats hibernate, the fungus actually grows on them and will wake them up too many times so they end up starving before the winter is over.

This fungus had spread to 30 states and 5 Providences in Canada, with about a million bats a year dying.

Ben Affleck and Zack SnyderSo when Zack heard about this, he contacted the Bat Conservation and wanted to know how to help. Rob went to the set to see him where they talked about protecting bats and one of the key things that was discussed was putting up bat houses. It was then Zack's idea to build bat houses out of the movie set. So they built 113 bat houses out of the set. They had a day where the cast and crew built and painted them. Some of them were even autographed by Ben Affleck and Zack Snyder.

The houses were then auctioned to raise money to help combat this fungus that's killing bats and to support the wildlife rescued bats that live at the conservation.

The Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) is an environmental education nonprofit dedicated to educating and inspiring people to actively save bats. Founded in 1997, OBC is committed to inspiring people to become active in the conservation movement. Each year, the organization reaches hundreds of thousands of people through its national Save the Bats campaign, traveling live animal programs, exhibits, festivals and Bat Zone tours. At its home base at the Bat Zone at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Michigan, OBC cares for more than 200 bats from around the world.

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Why Dogs Are Better Than Cats
Katherine Bao, Asst. Prof. Manhattanville College

Katherine BoaResearch from Manhattanville College confirmed what you may suspect, that cat owners are more neurotic and less happy than dog owners. Assistant Professor Katherine Bao explains the results of the study and talks about ongoing research.

Asst. Prof. Katherine Bao, who is a happiness researcher by training and pet owner, was looking at the connection between pet ownership and happiness. At first she was just looking to compare people who own pets with those that don't. She wanted to know, "Are pet owners actually happier than non-pet owners?"

For the most part, she didn't really find any differences. However, she did find that pet owners are higher in life satisfaction than non-pet owners, but across all other domains of well being, she didn't find any differences, including happiness, positive emotion or negative emotions.

She then decided to look at the type of pet people own, especially cat and dog owners, which is where she saw a much clearer pattern. She saw that dog owners were happier, more satisfied with life and just had more positive and less negative emotions than cat owners.

So what does constitute happiness? In psychology, Katherine states that they tend to think of it as having two main factors. The cognitive component of more life satisfaction, how do you evaluate your life overall, as well as the more emotional component about how many positive and negative emotions you experience and how intense they are. So, happy people have higher life satisfaction with lots of positive emotions and not very many negative emotions.

So why do dog owners seem happier? They looked at a few different possible variables. One is personality. They also see personality differences between dog owners and cat owners. For example, dog owners tend to be less neurotic and more extroverted. They found that this is associated with happiness, which partially explains why they see the differences between cat and dog owners.

But do dogs make you less neurotic, or do less neurotic people choose to own dogs? Katherine states it is impossible to tell from this study, but she tends to think it is a little bit of both. Perhaps a personality trait in part tends to predict what type of pet we're drawn to. So, maybe if you're more extraverted, you are going to want a dog that you can walk around and meet new people. But if you're more introverted, you are probably going to want a cat.

Dog v. CatHowever, Katherine also sees how owning a pet can also influence your personality. You're personality is not fixed, so maybe if you're not particularly extroverted but you adopt a dog, you are now out walking your dog and meeting people in your neighborhood that you've never seen before and maybe you are becoming slightly more extraverted.

So is there any research about which of the sexes are drawn more to cats or to dogs? Katherine is not aware if there is. In the study, she didn't find any differences.

Katherine states that a lot of cat owners were upset with her after this study. She states she is actually a cat owner herself and loves them. She doesn't take this to mean that cat owners can't be happy and considers herself a very happy cat owner. But, there definitely seems to be a rivalry between cat and dog owners!

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Can't Have a Dog? Why Not Borrow One!
Liam Berkeley, Bark'N'Borrow

Liam Berkeley with DogLiam Berkeley came up with an App that matched dogs with those that wanted "dog-time" but didn't have enough time for a full-time pet.

Bark'N'Borrow was a mobile app that connected busy pet owners with people that loved dogs, wanted a dog, couldn't have one full-time, but would love one whenever they could have one. This could be an afternoon hike, a walk in the park or even a long weekend. They connected borrowers, who didn't have a dog, to owners, who could have used a helping hand.

It all started when Liam moved to the United States from Australia and wanted to get a dog. However, he was working 10-12 hours a day, while his girlfriend was in school and had a part-time job, so they felt they couldn't commit to a dog full-time.

Liam then started meeting people in his building and on hikes. These people became familiar to Liam, but he would always attend to their dogs first and play with them, before talking to their owners. After this went on for a while, he decided to ask one of these people if he could take their dog for a run with him. The person thought it was a good idea, so they made arrangements to set it up.

When Liam would be out on a run with his "borrowed" dog, people would then come up to him and tell him how much they missed having a dog of their own, but for some reason of another, weren't in a situation where they could have one.

At first, Liam would explain to them that the dog was not his. However, this got him thinking that there seemed to be quite a few people who felt the same way that he did, so imagine if there was this platform that connected people who love and have dogs with people who love and can't have a dog.

Besides, people pay good money to have someone look after their dogs or just exercise them. Liam thought why pay for that when there is someone who would love to watch them and walk them and not expect to get paid. But how do you find that person and how do you establish that relationship?

Liam's product, Bark'N'Borrow allowed just that. It let people connect and establish relationships, where before there was no middle ground. Either you had a dog or you didn't.

Bark'N'Borrow AppSo how safe was it? Would you allow and trust someone to take your dog for a few hours? Liam said it took trust and time to establish a relationship with someone before this happened. They also had profiles, ratings and reviews. The borrower needed to express how passionate they were and why they didn't have a dog. They also had to include their history with dogs. Did they grow up with dogs? Why couldn't they have a dog? Why do they love dogs? Why do they want to borrow that particular dog?

Liam said each profile was vetted and reviewed before they were granted access to the online community. They also suggested that the owner and borrow met at least once before any dog was taken out, and then another meeting to see how the dog reacted with the borrower. Liam said you learn a lot about someone in the first 30 seconds of meeting them and your dog has a great sense of character as well.

Bark 'N Borrow is now defunct. While it seems like a great theory to share dogs for both pet owners and people who couldn't have pets, unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions. It was risky and there were too many concerns.

Who Doesn't Like Dogs? - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteI love dogs, and always have. But what happens when you discover a close friend doesn't merely not like dogs, but actually hates them?

I've been operating under the assumption that those who don't like dogs must have some evil lurking in their spirit and were destined to a life of incarceration. Just look at the statistics of criminals that abuse animals early on and who later progress to physical abuse of people, murder, or other sociopathic behaviors.

I'll admit not liking dogs is a far cry from turning one's hand to injure an animal or person, but some uncomfortable association is still there. As a full-fledged dog lover, or enthusiast of any animal for that matter, I cannot understand the psyche of an individual that is satisfied going about their life without animal companionship.

Any pet lover can spout off a list of benefits their furry one brings to their life…the steady comfort of companionship, a non-judging ear to hear out the day's tribulations, a workout or hiking buddy and a source of unconditional love at the end of a long day.

So, imagine my shock when I realized that a couple I know doesn't like dogs. Not just that they don't have dogs or misunderstand them - they actually dislike dogs.

Hint of this fact should have been apparent long ago when they were over for dinner and they politely stood stiff as a Calvary front line, when greeted by my yapping terrier mix. Or that they failed to stroke my Labrador's chin after receiving the gentle nudge of the typical canine greeting upon entering the home. The polite perfunctory smiles went un-noticed by me. "Sure, they don't have dogs," I reasoned as to why they weren't charmed by my little dog's amusing tail wagging display or by the steadfast devotion of my Labrador's greeting.

All of these sign posts I missed. I clearly misjudged all along. The couple, who I just assumed were just not yet fortunate to understand the benefits of pet companionship, were actually formidable dog dislikers.

Realization struck me during a recent conversation with this couple. I was laughingly describing the vast differences in dog breed behavior comparing my former Labradors, to that of my current Bouvier. My comments must have been mistaken as some underhanded means to convince them the right breed was out there for them. At that moment, my guest raised hands and said, "I know what I like and don't like, and I don't want dogs." Clearly they didn't like dogs - and they misunderstood my comment as some means to turn them over to the canine side against their will. Astounded, I marveled how this response was not unlike a person who is recommended a mushroom containing side dish or gourmet meal from a fine restaurant, and who declares "I can't stand mushrooms and don't want anything to do with mushrooms!"

Woman Hugging DogSo why didn't I catch on to these dog haters sooner? For those of us that have pets, of any type, we recognize the many joys our pets bring to our lives. There are folks that don't want to bring that companionship into their life. The cogs of their lives have clicked along just fine without a pet in their life. Somehow lots of well-educated, social and seemingly normal people can raise a family and be successful and still dislike dogs.

Maybe we should feel sorry for them. Or maybe they feel sorry for us, for all the money, heart and time we put into a pet companion who's lifespan doesn't come near to that of a humans. They probably laugh at our reckless expenditures on a being who lives just a fraction of human life. I chose not to spend time wondering how they have made it without animals in their life…rather that I have succeeded because I have been fortunate to have animals in my life.

I ask that these non-pet people save their pity for me and my pets, because I know that any one of my dogs could say they lived live fuller than most people - full with adventure, splendor at new experiences and embracing the moment. And so have I at their side. So should the question come up at the time of my next life, I'll take both a side of mushrooms…and pets on the side.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Pet Calendar Holiday Musings
Robert Semrow, Animal Radio Listomania

Robert Semrow, Sugar and ZoeySo, I love a good holiday celebration as much as the next person, especially if it might mean a day off or a family-get-together. But as I was looking at the 2023 Pet Holiday Calendar to make a few plans, I was shocked. Between this day being celebrated and that month celebrating this, it turns out that practically every day, week and month is filled with celebrations.

A quick look showed me more than 40 "Special Month decrees" like National Pet Month, Pet Cancer Awareness month and more. When I add in special days or weeks like National Dog Party Day, Dress Your Pet Day, Pet Theft Awareness day and more I add an additional 75+ pet holiday celebrations.

But, since you can never have too many holidays, I figured I'd suggest a few that I know we are desperately missing:

Make your pet a homemade treat month - Seriously, nothing says I love you and cherish you like a homemade treat or twelve. That's right, find a simple, fun and healthy treat to make your pet. Dog owners, I've shown you on our YouTube Channel numerous healthy, simple and inexpensive treats that you can make at home. If it takes creating a special declaration month to get you to try it, so be it. Additionally, I get asked so often about which treat is the safest, best and healthiest, etc. For me the answer will always be the safest treat is the treat that I personally prepared and know exactly what went in to it.

The next month I want to add to the Special Pet Months calendar is a month that celebrates People Making a Difference for Animals in the World month. That's right, a month that celebrates all of the scientists, researchers, rescuers, rehabilitaters and daily caretakers of animals in need. Sure we have awareness months for breeds and causes, but the people putting their time, effort, money and passion behind these organizations and efforts deserve a month of Giant thank yous! Let me be the first to say to you all, and I know many of you listen to Animal Radio - THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR THE ANIMAL WORLD. IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE AND YOU ARE APPRECIATED.

Dog with Calendar in MouthFinally, this last one is a bit self-serving, but I believe that there should be an Animal Radio Month. One that celebrates all of the wonderful animal people, experts and devotees who have made this show something special for so many years. The good news is that the archives have many of these great interviews and shows just waiting for you to listen, learn from and enjoy.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure a month would be a good idea for any of those three, as they should be done year round. So, if you have an opening in your calendar for a celebration, celebrate the special animals in your life and they'll be more than happy to celebrate with you. Share your ideas for possible pet holidays on our Animal Radio Face Book Page.

Got an idea for the Animal Radio Listomania - Post it on the Animal Radio Facebook Page.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearCities Ban Commercially Bred Dogs in Pet Stores
More than 400 cities across the county have now banned the sale of commercially bred dogs in pet stores. The first states to do so were California in 2017 and Maryland in 2018. These are great strides against puppy mills, where they confine and force breeding dogs to churn out many puppies, of which many are then shipped to pet stores and sold for thousands of dollars. These breeding dogs never get their most natural behaviors met like running and playing, but are confined to cages 24/7. Pet stores are now working with shelters and rescues to showcase their dogs to help adoptions.

Snowboarder Killed Iditarod Sled Dog
A 26-year-old man was arrested in connection with the death of an Iditarod sled dog after he allegedly ran his snowmobile into two sled teams during a race. At least three other dogs were injured. The snowmobiler denied he intentionally drove into the sled teams, but was drunk and repeatedly went after them. Charges against him included assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of criminal mischief.

AtlasGiant Rabbit Found Home
A giant rabbit named Atlas, who was about the size of a terrier, found a new home after being taken in by the SPCA in Scotland. The rabbit's previous owner decided they could no longer care for him and the shelter then searched for a proper home for the abnormally large rabbit. The new pet parent to Atlas says she felt like she won the lottery because there were hundreds of calls and emails from people all over the world who wanted to adopt Atlas, including America, Canada and France. By the way, Atlas' new name was almost as long as he is. The new owner named him Atilla the Bun Binky Master Jazz Paws, but called him Atty for short!or short!

Ticks Move All Over Country
Tick species are on the move all over the country. Research out of Kansas suggested the lone star tick, a bloodsucker named for the state of Texas, was nearing the Colorado border. Previously, researchers believed the lone star stick was isolated to the eastern third of Kansas. Ecological models suggested climate change expanded the amount of habitat in Kansas suitable for the lone star tick, which is a vector for a number of diseases.

FelixUniformed Cat Controlled Train Station Vermin
Felix the cat had been working like a dog, catching vermin from a train station in England and she was rewarded with the official title of "senior pest controller," which came with her own ridiculously cute uniform: a bright yellow cat safety coat and official name tag. Felix arrived at the station when she was just nine weeks old and spent thousands of hours keeping the platforms free of pigeons, rats and other train station intruders. During her downtime, she was often seen watching over staff in the cozy ticket office or sitting next to passengers waiting for their next train.

Ear Listen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1215)

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