Mastiff named Martha crowned world's ugliest dog

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

Shirley Zindler, of Sebastopol, Calif, lifts up the jowls of Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff, during the World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. Martha was the winner of the event. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg/AP
Shirley Zindler, of Sebastopol, Calif, lifts up the jowls of Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff, during the World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. Martha was the winner of the event. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)(Eric Risberg/AP)

In a lighthearted contest often won by small dogs, this year's winner is a big surprise.

Martha, a 125-pound Neapolitan mastiff, was crowned World's Ugliest Dog for 2017.

The dog, described as gassy but gentle, spent much of its time on stage plopped on its side. 

The annual event took place Friday night at the Sonoma-Marin Fair.

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Handler Shirley Zindler told The Associated Press that she rescued Martha when the dog was almost blind, but her sight has been restored after several surgeries.

Martha beat out 13 other contestants vying for the ugliest dog crown, including Moe, a 16-year-old Brussels Griffon-pug mix, who came in second, and Chase, a 14-year-old Chinese Crested-Harke mix, who came in third.

A blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix named Sweepee Rambo won the 2016 competition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Seasonal allergies could be affecting your pets

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 5:39 AM

Top Dog Names of 2017

The weather in some parts of the country is not helping people with allergies, and your pets could also be feeling the effects of the high pollen (and other allergens) count. 

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Pets are often sniffling grass, other pets and the ground. They are also much closer to where the allergens can sit, so they could be more exposed to more allergens, such as pollen. 

>> On WFTV.com: More weather facts and hacks

Just like humans, dogs and cats can sneeze, get watery eyes and runny noses. Allergies can make these symptoms worse. According to the Humane Society, dogs often express pollen allergy symptoms by itching. The pollen gets on their fur, makes its way down to their skin and irritates it. 

>> On WFTV.com: Interactive: Common medications used to treat your cough

Here are some ways to help your pet cope with seasonal allergies:

  • Consult your veterinarian to make sure the irritation on the skin is not something worse. Your veterinarian can prescribe allergy medicine if needed. 
  • Try to limit activities outdoors, especially in the morning, when pollen levels are the highest.
  • After a walk, wash or wipe your pet's face and paws a wet towel. Just like in humans, the pollen can be washed out. 
  • When you bathe your pets, use warm water when applying shampoo and cool water to wash it off. Cold water helps with the itching. 
7 Tips to Keep Pets Safe in Winter

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WATCH: Police officers rescue freezing puppy found under Florida bridge

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 2:39 AM

WATCH: Freezing Pup Rescued From Under Bridge

Police in Daytona Beach, Florida, released video of two animal control officers rescuing a pit bull puppy who was left under a bridge in freezing temperatures.

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River's Rescue

For the last couple of weeks we've been telling you about River the Frozen Puppy.

Posted by Daytona Beach Police Department on Thursday, February 8, 2018

In the video posted on the Daytona Beach Police Department’s Facebook page, you can see the puppy shaking uncontrollably because she was so cold. The animal control officers did everything they could to warm her up.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

A passer-by called police after seeing the puppy in the cold water.

The animal control officers found her under the Seabreeze Bridge in mid-January when the temperatures had fallen to below freezing.

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One of the Daytona Beach police officers adopted the puppy, now named River, and she is safe and in a loving home.

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Internet cat community mourns death of Oskar the Blind Cat

Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16:  Oskar the Blind Cat attends the
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Oskar the Blind Cat attends the "Cat Summer" video launch party at Bleecker Street Records on July 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Oskar the Blind Cat, who touched and entertained people around the world, has died. He was six years old.

Oskar’s death was sudden, his owners reported Monday on their social media channels. The cause of death was likely heart failure. Oskar showed no signs of illness before his death. 

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Oskar was born in May 2011 on a farm in Iowa. He was born with a severe form of microphthalmia, a genetic condition which prevented his eyes from fully developing. Oskar was adopted the same year by Mick and Bethany Szydlowski, a couple in Nebraska who began to chronicle life with a blind cat on social media. The couple have another cat, Klaus, a former stray who quickly became Oskar's sidekick. A YouTube video of Oskar playing with the air from a hair dryer went viral, launching him into internet stardom.

In addition to sharing the antics of Oskar and Klaus, the Szydlowskis use social media to promote adoptions of special needs animals across the country. The couple and both cats moved to Seattle in 2012.

An outpouring of condolences from other internet cat celebrities and their owners followed the news of his death.

It’s impossible to write this without crying. Our amazing inspirational and loving friend, Oskar, has passed over the rainbow bridge and we are so sad. Not only did his wonderful family lose their furkid, but the world also lost one of the biggest and brightest advocators for special needs animals and special needs children. Thank you so much, Oskar, for making every blind child feel special and cool. Thank you for making adults smile every day and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for advocating for special needs cats and for showing that you don’t need eyesight to see and feel happiness and love in your life. We will never ever forget you! Purrs to heaven and many hugs to your family. 💜 Love, Monty, Mikala and Michael. #OskarForever #OskarTheBlindCat

A post shared by Monty_Happiness (@monty_happiness) on

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5 things to know about dog flu

Published: Thursday, April 16, 2015 @ 7:07 PM
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 11:30 AM

Dog Flu Fast Facts

For over a decade, outbreaks of the dog flu have been reported across the country. Each year, dog owners report cases of the illness in their canines.

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Barkpost breaks down the dog flu outbreak by responding to the most common questions pet owners have.

What is dog flu?

Dog flu, also known as canine influenza, causes primarily respiratory issues. Most dogs contract a mild form of the virus and only require supportive care to recover.

Is it contagious?

Yes, just like with human influenza, dog flu can be spread by close contact.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms, which may take up to 10 days to appear, include coughing, sneezing, fever, nasal discharge, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Can dog flu be prevented?

To reduce your dog’s risk of getting dog flu, consider the dog flu vaccine. It does not eliminate the risk of your dog getting canine influenza entirely, but like with the human flu vaccine, can reduce illness length and severity. Make sure to keep your dog away from other dogs who appear ill and do the same if your dog shows any signs of illness. If there is an outbreak of dog flu in your community, steer clear of public areas like dog parks.

Can other pets or humans catch the dog flu?

Cats and potentially other animals can become infected with the newer strain H3N2. Humans cannot catch dog flu. 

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