Staying Pawsitive: The Best Good News Stories About Dogs

Illustration of a dog doing good

At Good Good Good, we celebrate good news wherever we find it. And positive news about dogs is among our favorites.

Since we were founded in 2017, our organization has always taken a specific approach to good news. As you'll see on our home page, we celebrate 'real good news — not just feel good news'. This means when we share stories about dogs — we don't share stories just about dogs being cute, or funny videos of puppies playing with kittens.

Instead, we share good news about affecting real change against real problems.

Sometimes it's positive news about dogs doing good for people and the planet — and other times it's hopeful stories of people doing good for dogs.

Whether it's a prison program rescuing shelter pets, the WeRateDogs Twitter account raising millions for dogs, this man creating prosthetic limbs for animals, the famous veterinarians making the world better for animals, or the world honoring Betty White through the 'Betty White Challenge' — we try to keep it real.

Here are some inspiring and uplifting good news stories about dogs to gush over and share today. (And keep this page bookmarked because we'll update it with more good news about dogs over time.)

This Dog That Was Badly Burned Is Now Training To Be A Therapy Dog At A Burn Center

Taka the dog has a pink / skin mark on the front of its face after a burn
Taka, whose face was marred by burns, has found a sense of purpose as a therapy dog at a local burn center, / Illustration by Carra Sykes for the Goodnewspaper

A Shiba Inu that was badly burned in a Georgia house fire is now training to be a therapy dog at a local burn center.

Crystal Lesley was the veterinarian taking care of the dog, named Taka, and ended up adopting him.

Lesley told WRDW News that when she first took him in, Taka consistently instigated fights with other dogs, and she worried she would have to give him up. But then someone suggested she get him trained.

She wondered if, at 9 years old, he was too old to be trained, but it turned out to be more than possible, just requiring a little extra patience and time.

“He’s got the right temperament for it,” his trainer told WRDW. “Of course he has the scars to show for it, and he can relate to a lot of the people there, so I think it’s going to benefit both him and the patients there.

Great (And Potentially Surprising) News: Euthanasia Rates Have Plummeted

Graph with downward trends - The rate of euthanasia among 21 major cities from year 2012 to year 2018

It used to be that when a lost, stray, or abandoned animal was brought into a shelter, it was unlikely it would ever leave.

In 1971, Los Angeles Animal Services alone euthanized more than 110,000 animals, or 300 per day on average, according to the New York Times. Now a rescue, adoption, or return to the owner is the far more likely outcome.

Pet euthanasia rates have dropped more than 75 percent since 2009, according to the Times. But why?

In short: Spaying and neutering are now the norm — leading to fewer animals on the streets — and rescue adoption is more popular than ever.

Thanks to large-scale activism and shifting cultural attitudes, euthanasias have dropped to fewer than two million shelter animals per year.

In 2018, the Los Angeles city shelter euthanized an average of 10 animals per day, less than 10 percent of its intake, according to the Times.

Additionally, there are programs now in place to help people solve problems such as unaffordable vet care or landlord disputes, which could otherwise compel them to give up their pet.

“They’re family members on four legs,” said Richard Avanzino, the activist known as the father of the “no-kill” movement, to the New York Times. “Society is no longer willing to say, ‘Well, there’s just too many animals and not enough homes.’”

A Florida Hospital Officially Has a Dog On Staff To Help Sniff Out COVID-19

Three days a week, Buffy the yellow Labrador retriever greets visitors to detect COVID-19 on those entering the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. If granted permission, Buffy sniffs the visitor’s feet, seeking a whiff of an active COVID-19 infection.

Very few people decline the offer when they see the yellow Labrador retriever with a wagging tail, the Tampa Bay Times reported. People generally don’t love going to a hospital, CEO Robert Meade told the publication, but, “Who doesn’t love labs?”

Buffy was trained by Palmetto-based Southeastern Guide Dogs as part of a four-dog pilot program for scent detection. The group has trained service animals for years and provided them for free to disabled veterans and people with vision loss. Scent detection, however, was new territory, the Times reported.

Small, early studies on dogs trained to detect COVID-19 in Europe — though still unproven — showed promise. So Southeastern decided to give it a shot.

Training dogs to detect the virus required actual virus samples. The hospital collected saliva samples from patients with active COVID-19 infections, and those samples were then “inactivated,” a process rendering them non-infectious and safe for research.

After three months of training, Buffy was 95 percent accurate at detecting the virus samples. The result is safer hospitals — and a much more comfortable experience for getting “tested.”

A “Pet Detective” Reunites Missing Animals With Their Owners

Lost Pet Found
Lost Pet - Found Pet / Illustration by Carra Sykes for the Goodnewspaper

Bonnie McCririe-Hale is licensed in Texas as a private investigator, but she specializes in finding lost pets. 

She often works in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, along with her trained search dogs, Idabel, Kaio, and Buck, though she handles calls in other cities, including Houston, Austin, Oklahoma City, and Baton Rouge.

A missing dog years ago got McCririe-Hale into the pet detective business. A couple visiting from out of town had their car stolen — along with their dog.

The couple offered a $5,000 reward, and McCririe-Hale called to offer her help. 

She organized a group of volunteers to help find the animal, and after the couple hired someone to bring in a tracking dog for the search, she was intrigued.

“I was running along with the tracking dog and doing a little math in my head of how much [the investigator] made versus how much I made, and she looked like she was having a lot more fun with her dog,” McCririe-Hale told the Dallas Morning News. “I thought, ‘I’m gonna try this. I’m gonna figure out how you learn how to do this.’”

Now she’s been in the business for 15 years. McCririe-Hale’s cases are about evenly split between dogs and cats — but “we find so many more cats than we do dogs,” she said.

She works every weekend and nearly every holiday, and the job can be emotionally difficult when a pet doesn’t turn up or is found dead. But sharing the joy of reuniting pets and their owners “is just nothing short of spectacular,” she said.

“I don’t know anywhere else to get that,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “I just can’t find one other place in this world to observe or be part of or help to bring about that kind of joy.”

A North Dakota Brewery Puts Shelter Dogs On Its Cans To Help Them Get Adopted

A brewery in North Dakota is bringing together dogs and beer for a good cause. Fargo Brewing Company partnered with the nonprofit 4 Luv of Dog to help shelter dogs find a forever home. The hope is that beer drinkers will see a dog they like and come visit the shelter.

“Our wonder dogs are dogs that will live their best life in a home,” 4 Luv of Dog Volunteer Jerad Ryan told Fargo-based news organization KVRR. “They can be a little bit tougher to find homes for, foster homes, that type of thing. So we are featuring those dogs on a can and bringing them here so the public can meet them.

A Comfort Dog Was Sworn In To Help Victims of Sexual Assault and Violence

Hatti The Comfort Dog being sworn in on a law book, with a Chicago flag
Hatti The Comfort Dog being sworn in on a law book / Illustration by Carra Sykes for the Goodnewspaper

An attorney’s office in Chicago swore in an unexpected new hire: a black lab named Hatty. Two-year-old Hatty was sworn in to the state attorney’s office as the office’s first “facility comfort dog” to assist her human coworkers on 150–200 cases each year. Hatty was trained by inmates at a prison in southwestern Illinois.

Hatty stood on her hind legs and placed her paw on a law book as an oath was administered to swear her in. The state’s Attorney Kim Foxx even gave Hatty an official badge.

As a member of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Unit, Hatty’s job will be to comfort child victims as they navigate the criminal justice system, according to CBS News.

"A trauma-informed approach begins with understanding the physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma on the individual," the office tweeted in October 2019.

"We are proud to have a resource like Hatty to provide a source of comfort for victims as they navigate this difficult process."

In An Animal Welfare Breakthrough, Spain Is Giving Pets The Same Legal Status As Humans

In a sign of growing support for animal rights in the global capital for bullfighting, domestic animals in Spain will now be considered “living beings” under law, instead of
mere objects.

One practical outcome of the change in law is that dogs or cats must be considered in the same way as children in divorce hearings or when inheritance or debt cases have to be settled by the courts.

In divorce hearings where judges decide who should have the family dog, they also must consider the welfare of the animal as they would do if they were dealing with children. Shared custody of the pet will also be an option open to judges, who must also decide who pays for vet bills and the animal's food.

Under the new law, mistreatment of pets will also be regarded as a crime as if the owner had abused another person. Additionally, if someone finds an abandoned pet, they have a public duty to try to locate the owner or inform the authorities as they would do if they came across a lost child.

France, Germany, Austria, and Portugal are other European countries that have already given pets the same legal status.

“We are changing our mentality and see animals as living beings with the capacity to feel pain, happiness, sadness and are nothing to do with a piece of furniture or a show,” Lola García, a lawyer who specializes in civil rights, told La Vanguardia newspaper.

Sandra Guaita, a member of Spanish Congress who presented the law to the parliament, said anyone who opposed the change would “deny the pain and suffering of animals."

“We should accept that animals are not objects [but that] they are living beings which feel and suffer,” she said.

A Study Found You Can “Pet Your Stress Away” By Cuddling Cats and Dogs

We all know how relaxing it is to take a moment to cuddle with your pet. Now science is behind you.

A 2019 study from Washington State University found cuddling a cat or dog for just a few minutes can reduce your cortisol levels.

“Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development, said in a statement. “Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”

The study, inspired by the “Pet the Stress Away” programs across college campuses, separated 249 students into four groups, interacting with cats and dogs in different ways.

The first group was immediately allowed to play with cats and dogs for 10 minutes in a casual setting, while the second group had to watch others play with the animals.

The third group watched a slideshow featuring images of the animals involved in the study, and the fourth group was “waitlisted” and told they would be allowed to see the animals after quietly waiting for 10 minutes without any stimuli.

“We already knew that students enjoy interacting with animals and that it helps them experience more positive emotions,” Pendry told People Magazine.

“What we wanted to learn was whether this exposure would help students reduce their stress in a less subjective way. And it did, which is exciting because the reduction of stress hormones may, over time, have significant benefits for physical and mental health.”

Article Details

January 17, 2022 9:23 PM
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