After one pit bull is struck and killed by a car, another lays by her side

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A tragic photo of two pit bulls is drawing a lot of attention on the Internet. A female pit bull was apparently struck and killed by a car along a Phoenix, Ariz. road. A male pit bull who was with her, remained by her side, for reportedly 14 hours. Someone from a nearby business did put out food and water for the male dog.

There has been, of course, a bit of outrage that the pair was there for so long before someone actually arrived to save the surviving and grieving dog and take away the body of his fallen companion.
And what about the individual who struck the dog with their car? Why didn’t they stop, to help the dogs or at least report the incident.

But this story also offers more evidence, as sad as it is, for self-awareness in animals. Some might wrongly consider this merely instinctive behavior. They can give it whatever terminology they choose, but it does show a state of consciousness in dogs.

And here we have a pit bull showing compassion for other dog. Once again, the rule of thumb is – no bad dogs, just the bad people who try to raise bad dogs.

Another case offers more evidence of self-awareness in dogs

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I recently got into a back-and-forth about greyhound racing under a Huffington Post blog entry. A couple of folks on the pro-racing side talked about the dogs as “athletes” and about how much they are worth in monetary terms. And they claimed the dogs love racing.

I came out of the discussion thinking about how far behind these people are when it comes to understanding animal welfare, animal behavior and cognition. One side of the animal-welfare debate is pushing compassion for animals and pushing for better laws to protect animals from cruelty. The other side is fighting all of that and considers an animal to be nothing more than a physical possession.

The science is in, however. The research and study needs to go on, but the conclusion has been reached. Animals – most notably what we might call the higher-order animals – have self-awareness and a state of consciousness. A recent story out of Massachusetts piles more information on the ever-growing mound of proof that these theories have now advanced deep into the category of FACT.

And this story heaps more evidence into the research:

This pit bull – yes pit bull – pulled his unconscious guardian off a train track and saved her life. Lilly risked her own life and suffered severe injuries. After her leg has been amputated, Lilly is expected to recover.

As reported by My Fox Boston, the train engineer witnessed Lilly pulling Christine Spain off the track, but despite all of his efforts to stop the train in time, he could not avoid hitting the dog.

This is not instinctive behavior on Lilly’s part. What she did took a higher-order thought process, to recognize a danger and act on it to save another being from harm. How can we – as an advanced society – not advance our legal system to offer for animals better protection from cruelty?

How can we allow horse slaughter, knowing they have an advanced level of consciousness? How is it that particular entities in 2012 are fighting against stronger anti-puppy mill laws? How is it that certain entities are trying to hide from public view the cruelty that takes place on too many factory farms?

These people and entities fighting against animal welfare are not only on the wrong side of history, they are on the wrong side of the galaxy when it comes to compassion and science. I am excited and heartened by the fact that in the case of animal welfare, science and compassion have fully joined forces. The mounting scientific evidence clearly supports the animal-welfare movement and its compassionate message.

Important study concludes animals dream

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This is another item to file in the “Science Now Confirms What Animal Lovers Know” folder. We’ve all seen our pets moving their legs, feet or tails or even twitching their lips and eyelids during long naps. It was never a vast leap to suggest they were dreaming.

Now, we can state logged scientific research to support the theory. An article posted on reports a key study was conducted by Matthew A. Wilson of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Researchers monitored the brain wave patterns of mice as they roamed mazes and they recorded matching brainwave patterns during sleep. This led the researchers to conclude the mice were indeed dreaming about their experiences.

And I will take it step beyond this by stating this is another important bit of evidence of self-awareness and state of consciousness. Dreaming means the animal (or human) is experiencing some event in the movie studio in their mind. This is – without a doubt – a key aspect of state of consciousness.

Study: Rats are social animals who show empathy for others

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Credit goes to my brother Gary for providing the link to this article concerning a study on rat behavior at the University of Chicago. The details were reported in the December 9 issue of Science, as highlighted in a Science News article.

(NOTE – You often see that I take great pains to make sure I label links and sources to credit these sources. It has always been important to me to make sure I do this.)

In the study, one rat is placed in small, clear enclosure with latched door. Another rat is placed outside of the smaller cage and eventually, after several days of hour-long sessions, discovers a way to free his buddy. Once the one rat is free, there is a “frenzy of excited running.”

When the cages where empty or when a stuffed toy was used, the rats showed no interest in opening the door. Researches introduced pieces of chocolate to the experiments and in more than half of the trails, the “hero” rats left chocolate for their freed buddies.

This sort of study and its findings are becoming more commonplace and more in the mainstream of science. We are slowly removing the curtain from the worn out and false claims that animals do not have feelings or are not able to empathize for others.

I believe that as we move forward in time, new findings such as this will raise awareness about animal cognition, self-awareness and their thought processes. And those tired, old statements about anthropomorphism will fade into history.

Writer doesn’t mince words on topic of animal emotion

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The Huffington Post ran an editorial Monday from Ari Solomon, who in no uncertain terms challenges anyone who doesn’t understand that animals have feelings.

His language might be a bit dicey for some readers at a couple of points, but he’s making a point – and a strong one.

Solomon makes a great point here – “” It’s always fascinated me that scientists will say that animals are so much like us that we should use them in laboratory tests, but so much not like us that we needn’t concern ourselves with their suffering. How’s that for convenient hypocrisy? “”

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Video: Dogs rescued from Michael Vick are a greater success story than Vick

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While sports commentators praise Michael Vicks’ successful return to football, they too often forget about the dogs he tortured for so long.
I’m not one to pile on – to use a football term – but since these commentators are stuck on praising Vick, I feel the need to report on the heroes of the story.

This PBS video is worth every minute of the viewing –

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

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Gov. Nixon’s compromise on Prop B repeal is losing support

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Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s compromise on the proposed repeal of key components of Proposition B is losing support from both sides – with headlines Wednesday using the phrases “crumbling” and “threatened.”

A group of 65 state lawmakers who backed a new bill (SB 113) to gut Prop B are calling on Nixon to drop the compromise and sign SB 113. And Although the Missouri Humane Society supports and compromise, other national animal-welfare groups are opposing it, including the Humane Society of the United States.

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Family dog credited with keeping child lost in the woods alive overnight

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When a small child, clad in only a shirt and diapers, wandered off into some nearby woods at his South Carolina home Friday night, one of the family dogs followed him. The overnight temperatures dipped into the 40s, but it is believed that the dog snuggled close to keep the boy warm.

A massive search took place, according a story posted on The following day, the boy and his guardian canine were found safe but cold.

It is troubling to read that authorities found the living conditions in the home as “deplorable.” And it is troubling that the couple was not keeping a better watch over a 22-month-old. But at least the dog – described as “a mixed Labrador retriever” in The State article – was there to watch over the child.

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Study: Hens react with emotion when chicks are in discomfort

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I found a very interesting article in, reporting on a study conducted on hens at England’s University of Bristol. It seems the mother hens reacted in a rather extreme way if they felt their chicks were in distress.

It is believed the hens are showing empathy. The hens were separated from the chicks during the experiments but were in close proximity. When puffs of air were directed at the chicks, the hens “responded more intensely with a stress response equivalent to fight-or-flight behavior,” according to the article.

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