Johnny Depp Faces 10 Years in Prison for Dog Smuggling

Johnny Depp has gotten himself into some sticky situations upon the silver screen, from fighting sea monsters in The Pirates of the Caribbean to searching for acceptance as a monster in Edward Scissorhands. However, Depp’s strangest battle to date also happens to be a real one – facing 10 years in prison or $265,000 fine for dog smuggling.

Once Upon a Time in Australia

While working down under on the newest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Depp decided to bring along his two Yorkies, Pistol and Boo, without properly declaring them to the Australian government – a crime which they take very seriously.

The dogs were discovered after a pair of Aussie dog groomers couldn’t resist the opportunity to post pictures to Facebook of them mugging with the celebrity dogs.


Via Facebook: happydogzmaudsland

The government was made aware of Depp’s digression after seeing the viral grooming photos. Customs had checked his plane when he landed in Australia and saw no signs of dogs, meaning they were hidden from the government to avoid the declaration and quarantining process.

Why You Need to Declare

For islands like Australia that are protected on all sides from other countries, it is not out of reach to completely eradicate a disease like rabies. In fact, the CDC has officially declared Australia a rabies free jurisdiction. And they would like to keep it that way.

Pistol and Boo Via

All it takes is one foreign animal with rabies to breach their shores and the whole thing is shot to heck. That is why Australia and other island nations (like Hawaii) have incredibly rigorous tests that need to be done before an outside animal is allowed to roam free on their protected soil.

Animals looking to go abroad to any of these nations will likely undergo a weeks long quarantine, in which they will be tested thoroughly for any foreign bodies that could potentially run roughshod across their unsullied land. And while the measures taken are put in place to protect a nation from dangerous diseases, they can be quite exasperating.

What Do You Think?

No question Johnny Depp broke the law when he snuck his two Yorkies into Australia. Also, there is a good chance he knew what he was doing, since customs remembers searching his jet, but found no evidence of the dogs that were invariably aboard; this implies that he deliberately hid the dogs . However, 10 years in prison does seem a bit steep.

Do you think Depp deserves to do the time, or does Australia need to rethink the way they punish pet smugglers? Let us know!

Featured image from via Buzzfeed
Source: The Independent


This Everyday Device Could Leave Your Dog Paw-Less

While many pet parents see escalators as nothing more than an innocuous means for going up or down a flight of stairs, the reality is they can end up seriously maiming dog paws.

In the past year alone, instances of escalator-related dog injuries have shot up. Dogs are being brought into clinics with a wide range of injuries stemming from escalators — everything from missing clumps of fur to toenails and paw pads.

small dog dangers

The facts are in — escalators are a real small dog danger.

“Some of the injuries are minor…[but] occasionally the whole toe gets torn off,” says Dr. Roger Helmers, a vet at the SPCA.

Statistically, smaller dogs run a greater risk of sustaining an escalator-related injury because of the size of their paws. However, no dog of any size should ride these mechanized stairs.

What happens is, due to the size of their paws, when the escalator steps flatten out or slip back under the machine, part of your dog may get crushed or sucked under. Humans know to step off the escalator before they get caught, but dogs do not.

small dog dangers

Even knowing how an escalator functions, you have likely heard a story of someone’s shoe getting caught. Dogs, however, don’t generally have on protective footwear. So what ends up getting nabbed is a toenail, a paw pad, some fur, or the entire paw itself. A serious small dog danger, indeed.

Helmer recalls one particularly gruesome instance in which a small dog was brought in with nearly half of his paw missing as a result of getting caught in the mechanism. To mollify the damage done, a number of surgeries were performed. Even still, the dog left with one severely mangled dog paw.

In general, an escalator related injury requires surgery, which can be quite stressful for your dog, as well as for your wallet — costing up to $4000 for the operation. And while we here subscribe to the philosophy that no amount is too much to keep your dog healthy and safe, if all it takes to keep your dog safe is to avoid taking an escalator, its seems like a no-brainer.

small dog dangers

So when you are walking your dog and you come across an escalator, PetPlus and the San Francisco SPCA urge you to please take the stairs.

PetPlus is a membership program designed to make pet care more affordable for everyone. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on products like medications, supplements, and food, as well as services like vet visits and boarding.

SF Examiner – SF SPCA urges pet owners to keep dogs off escalators


Should Your Pets Be Allowed to Sleep in Bed With You?


Who sleeps in your bed at night? Are your pets allowed to sleep in bed with you and your loved ones? If you’re like many pet owners, your cat or dog is one of the family members snuggled up under the covers.

According to figures from the CDC, around 50 percent of dogs sleep in bed alongside their owners, and 62 percent of cats cuddle up with their pet parents at nighttime.

Is Co-sleeping With Your Pets Healthy?

But is this good for you? According to research done by Dr. Duthuluru, recently presented at an annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, more than 60 percent of people co-sleeping with their pet reported poor sleep quality, and a third of respondents also mentioned waking up during the night due to their pet’s movements and activity.

RELATED STORY: All About Cat Sleep

So yes, there are many reasons it’s best for your pet to sleep in their own bed. Most likely, if you sleep pet-free, your sleep will be a bit sounder.

And, if you’re at all allergic to pet dander, keeping pets out of the bed will help limit your symptoms. Of course, allowing your cat or dog in the bed can increase your chances of exposure to fleas or ticks, as well as muddy paws and little bits of cat litter.

RELATED STORY: Is My Dog Sleeping in My Bed a Bad Thing?

Why Do So Many Pet Owners Allow Pets in Their Beds?

Yet for all these factors arguing against co-sleeping with your pet, there’s a reason so many people do it. Having a pet in your bed is comforting and reassuring; it’s nice to have a cozy companion right there as you drift off to sleep. In a way, the reason for sleeping with a pet are similar to why we sleep with our spouses and significant others: the need for closeness.

As Jon Methven writes for the Atlantic, “We sleep together not because it’s fiscally responsible, but because we are affectionate beings. Our minds need rest, but our minds also need camaraderie and intimacy and whispering.”

My cat, Vera, was the runt of the litter, weighing in at around eight pounds.

Despite her petite size, some nights, it feels as though she is occupying fully a third or half of the bed, taking up as much room as a tiger. But for all that — the restless nights, the awkward positions to accommodate her foot-of-the-bed spot — I wouldn’t trade her nighttime presence for anything.

She’s a warm, loving, purring comfort. And bonus: on winter nights, she doubles as a foot-warmer.


Studying Play Behavior Proves Dogs Are Mindful of Others


The fact that dogs play comes as no surprise — it makes up a large part of our everyday interactions with them. That being said, there’s a lot to be learned about how our dogs perceive the world simply from observing them at play.

The Study

Marc Bekoff, a professor at UC Boulder, has been studying animal behavior since the early ‘70s, and in that time, has amassed a large amount of footage of dogs, wolves, and coyotes interacting within their communities. In that footage, Bekoff notes some interesting behaviors exhibited by these naturally social creatures.


For one, those cartoon-esque dust balls of claws and teeth our dogs consider “play” can, in fact, be construed as something more akin to a dance, with agreed upon steps and etiquette. During play, dogs have been observed as bowing to initiate, giving up a clear advantage in size to level the playing field (e.g., a Rottweiler laying on his back so a Yorkie might stand a chance), and ostracizing dogs that disregard the agreed upon rules (playing too rough).

In the Beginning…

Dogs play instinctively, and a large part of playing is the facilitation of the development of pups — teaching them skills they will later use while hunting or defending their den. And though there are numerous practical applications for playing that are visible on the surface, to say that those are the only reasons our canine compatriots play turns out to be a bit shortsighted.


Pack culture, in many ways, resembles a rudimentary society — there is a hierarchy (alpha dog), a sense of community (social grooming, playing), as well as borders and boundaries. Playing exists in part to train and prepare pups for adult life, but if survival was the only endgame, why would these social creatures continue playing into adulthood? In play you expend energy, open yourself up to an injury, and leave yourself open to an attack. So why do adult dogs play?

It must be fun!

What We’ve Learned

Not only do dogs play for fun — they adhere to a specific code of ethics that separates play from fighting, showing that dogs are capable of expressing their intent as well as understanding the intent of others. For example, when a dog “bows” before a game, they are showing others that they are looking to play.


Bekoff also noted other, less readily observable behaviors he discovered from watching his tapes. A subtle narrowing of the eyes during play says to the other dog, “You’re playing a little too rough,” at which point the other dog either takes the hint, or the squinting dog stops playing. Also, dogs typically won’t start playing with another dog until they have their attention and approval, which shows that, not only do dogs want play to be a mutually agreed upon sport, but they also have a surprising awareness of whether someone else is paying attention to them.

This type of communication shows that dogs are truly aware, in no small part, of other animals’ thoughts and emotions — a trait previously thought to be reserved for humans. “That’s why we can have such a deep relationship with them,” says Bekoff, “When we study play in dogs, we study ourselves.”

What do you think? Can dogs understand how others are feeling? Do dogs show signs of morality? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 

Washington Post – In dogs’ play, researchers see honesty and deceit, perhaps something like morality


Planning a Trip? 3 Tips to Keep the Car Hair-Free

Oh, the joys of a warm weather road trip with your dog! That excited head hanging out the window, that wind-ruffled fur…oh, and hair coating the upholstery of the car’s back seat.

For your next trip with your pup, try these preventative tips to help keep the back seat hair-free.

1. Give a Thorough Brushing

First, thoroughly brush and groom your dog before she bounds into the car. Less loose hair on her means you’re less likely to have tumbleweeds of dog hair rolling through the car’s backseat. (Or, check out our list of essential products that’ll help cut down on shedding.)

RELATED STORY: A Guide to Buying a Dog Brush

2. Protect Your Upholstery

Next, cover the upholstery where the dog will be sitting; if your dog tends to check out the views from both windows, cover the entire back area of the car. You can use sheets, towels, or blankets to do this — just make sure to only use linens that you don’t care about. Backseat hammocks and covers are also available for purchase. Smaller dogs can be kept in a crate, which of course will reduce contact between fur and the upholstery.

RELATED STORY: Best Dogs to Travel With

3. Damage Control

Finally, after your trip, take a peek into the back seat to assess the conditions. If necessary, run the vacuum cleaner and lint brush around, removing any hair. As with more chores, doing this regularly is easier than waiting until for several months, when lots of hair is bound to have accumulated.

How do you keep your car (or furniture!) pet-hair free? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, boarding, and more.