Animal news round up 11/20

Remember Patrick, the emaciated young pit bull mix, who was tossed down a trash shoot in a NJ apartment building and left for dead? His owner was indicted for animal cruelty on Friday. A grand jury charged Kisha Curtis with tying her dog to the railing of her apartment and leaving the state, according to news reports. Patrick is in good hands now, living in the vet's office that saved him, though sadly the vet practice and the animal shelter are in a battle over custody of the celebrated dog. Terribly unfortunate when you consider the resources devoted to this battle could have been used to help save more Patricks.

Barn owls have returned to the southwest corner of the state. PA Game Commission biologists say they have confirmed the presence of a barn owl near Washington, Washington County,  the first such sighting in nearly a decade. Once a common bird on Pennsylvania farms, barn owls have been declining in Pennsylvania and across the United States but more than 100 nest sites have been recorded in south-central and southeastern regions. While several barn owls nested in the state’s southwest corner during the first Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas, which covered the period of 1984-89, none were recorded in the area in the most recent Breeding Bird Atlas, which was conducted from 2004-09. Game commission biologists blame loss of habits and changes in farming practices for the decline. To learn more about barn owls, visit the Game Commission’s website (, click on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage and then click on “Barn Owl Conservation Initiative.”

The director of the Elmwood zoo in Norristown has resigned after just under three years on the job. The Inquirer reports Bill Konstant resigned to focus on wildlife conservation around the world. Under his direction the zoo opened new exhibits, created "green" public spaces and expanded parking. The zoo is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement.

Another big cat sighting in Delco? A Folcroft woman tells the Inquirer she is sure what she saw darting across her road last month was a bobcat. Wildlife experts say it's not out of the question since the cats are native to the area and it was spotted near a forested area.

Movement is underway at long last to build a countywide animal shelter in Delaware County where the area SPCA is giving up animal control to become a "no kill" shelter. But it won't be built before the end of the year when the Delco SPCA said it would no longer pick up strays (the shelter did give the county a six-month extension after its one-year deadline on the animal control contract.) So what will happen to the no-doubt hundreds of dogs and cats in the interim? The county's Animal Protection Board has identified two entities to help - a vet hospital in Springfield and the Chester County SPCA. - though neither appears to have anywhere near the amount of space needed to house all the strays for six months or longer until the shelter is built. More from the Inquirer.

The Press of Atlantic City caught up with Philly's own canine celebrity, Oogie, who was on a book tour with owner/author Larry Levin recently in New Jersey. Oogie's story of survival, how he overcame a severe dog fighting injury to become a beloved family dog, landed him a spot on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2008. Later Levin,  of Lower Merion, penned  a book that became a bestseller and now both Levin and Oogie spend a lot of their time raising money for animal-welfare causes. 

As animal lovers battle on in the state legislature to kickstart a now-stalled bill to end pigeon shooting in the state, the number of pigeon shoots being held appears to be on the rise. Want to see what a live pigeon shoot looks like? Watch the video below.