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Neighbors save 30 rabbits from fire that destroyed home

A neighborhood came together to save more than two dozen rabbits from a burning home – while the animals' owner was at a rabbit show.

Paul Leasure, the owner of the house, got a frantic phone call Monday afternoon telling him that his Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, home was on fire.

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Everyone who lives near Stroughton Beach Road knows that Leasure raises rabbits, so when the flames broke out, neighbors raced down to his property in whatever way they could. One neighbor came on his all-terrain vehicle, and another came on his lawn mower.

Don Gavulvich arrived before firefighters and headed inside.

"The neighborhood came together and we pulled all the rabbit cages out," Gavulvich said.

They ended up saving 30 rabbits and the family dog. Leasure's home and most of his belongings are destroyed, but he and his neighbors are grateful it was not worse.

"He still has everything that means everything to him. He's got his health, he's got his girl, he's got his rabbits, which means everything to the man," Gavulvich said.

Leasure said he is thankful for his neighbors who jumped into action for him.

"I'd do the same for them. I'll tell you what. I'd do the same for them," he said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Dogs rescued from Louisiana floods to help teach Florida inmates life skills

Historic flooding in Louisiana left thousands of people homeless. Many of them found temporary homes in shelters, but many pets were not as fortunate.

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"There are very few pet friendly shelters, so unfortunately some people have no choice -- they can't bring their dogs or cats or animals with them," said Jen Deane of the nonprofit Pit Sisters.

On Monday, WJAX met Allie and Atlas. They, along with Zoey, Collette and Boudin, were displaced by the flooding in Louisiana. Deane coordinated with other organizations to help bring them to Jacksonville, Florida.

"(We're) working on getting them vet care, getting them spayed and neutered, vaccinated and ready to go," Deane said.

>> Related: Dramatic videos show how Louisiana's historic floods have devastated communities

The dogs' journey doesn't end there. All five will participate in the Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills, or TAILS, program.

"What we've heard from the inmates that participate is (that) they learn patience, they learn team work, they learn responsibility,"  Deane said.

As the dogs become accustomed to Florida, the rescued animals will be the ones doing all the rescuing.

"We've seen firsthand folks that have changed completely just by interacting with one dog," Deane said.

>> Related: Louisiana flooding: What is a 500-year flood and why is it happening so much?

And it's a win-win situation because once the dogs complete the program they'll be trained, which helps them become more adoptable.

"The TAILS program is a huge lifesaving effort. One of the top reasons for folks turning in their animals to shelters is training," Deane said.

After the dogs finish their eight weeks of training for the TAILS program, they'll be available for adoption. Pit Sisters is also looking for sponsors to help pay for the training the dogs will receive.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Meet Collette, Allie, Atlas, Boudin, and Zoey. They were all rescued after being displaced from the flooding in...Posted by Lorena Inclán Action News Jax on Monday, September 5, 2016

Dog lost in Italian quake found alive after 9 days buried in rubble

A Golden Retriever and his owners reunited Friday, nine days after the dog was buried in rubble left when a 6.2-magnitude earthquake shook Italy on Aug. 24.

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Tipped off by the sound of the dog's barks, firefighters found Romeo buried under a pile of rubble, The Associated Press reported.

"We immediately began moving masonry from where the barking was coming from and, incredibly, we got to him and he was in pretty good condition," a fireman involved in the rescue told Italy's ANSA news agency.

>> Related: Devastating earthquake brings up legal questions in Italy

"Luckily some beams had fallen in a way that they were holding up the weight of everything above them, leaving Romeo with a little niche that he was able to survive in."

Italy's fire and rescue service, Vigili del Fuoco, shared video of the rescue on social media.

Romeo appeared nonplussed by the sudden change in his surroundings, although his tail was wagging.

"He's in great shape," one of the firemen said as others cheered.

Romeo seemed relaxed as a fireman gave him his first sips of water in days before he was reunited with his tearful owners, according to Agence France-Presse.

Romeo was sleeping on the first floor of a home in the village of San Lorenzo a Flaviano when the earthquake hit in the early morning hours of Aug. 24. His owners, who were asleep on the second floor, managed to get out of the home, AFP reported. Romeo, however, was trapped.

>> Related: Devastating photos show aftermath of deadly Italian earthquake

His owners searched for hours before fleeing from the area due to the ongoing danger of aftershocks.

Nearly 300 people died when the earthquake struck. Hundreds of people were injured by the quake and thousands more displaced.

First documented identical twin puppies born

This one's for the dog-lovers: An Irish wolfhound has given birth to the first documented set of identical twin puppies.

Kurt de Cramer, a veterinarian in South Africa, delivered the babies via cesarean section. He noticed a bump in the mother's abdomen, but didn't think much of it.

According to the BBC, de Cramer reportedly performs around 900 c-sections on dogs every year.

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De Cramer found two living puppies in the same placenta -- a first in his 26 years of veterinary practice.

The little ones had two separate umbilical cords, and a reproductive specialist told BBC the puppies had "small differences in the white markings on their paws, chests and the tips of their tails."

But vets weren't sure the puppies were actually identical at first -- it's not uncommon for puppies in the same litter to have similarities. Blood work later confirmed what de Cramer had thought. The puppies were identical twins.

This might not be the first set of identical twin puppies ever, but it is the first documented case.

It's difficult to say whether healthy identical twins in dogs are rare. The only reason this pair is known as identical is because they were born via C-section.

A lot of dogs give birth naturally and then eat the placenta of their young. According to the reproductive specialist on the case, this means many owners and vets are "blissfully unaware" if any identical twins are in a dog's litter.

The Irish wolfhound puppies reportedly have five other siblings. All are healthy and doing well.

Report: West Palm-area teen cropped dog’s ears without vet license

With fishing line and a Xanax-like drug, a suburban West Palm Beach, Florida, teen cropped a 10-week-old pit bull’s ears.

Brandi Seipe assured King’s owner she was experienced. Palm Beach County officials say otherwise, and now she’s facing an animal cruelty charge.

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A county Animal Care and Control investigation showed Seipe was neither experienced nor legally licensed to perform such an operation. The 19-year-old was arrested for practicing veterinary medicine without a license as well as for animal cruelty, according to court records. She is due to appear before a judge on the charges Wednesday morning.

The puppy’s owner told Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control officials she bought King from someone in Broward County. She was looking for someone to crop the puppy’s ears, a practice that helps the dog’s ears stand upright.

That’s how she crossed paths with Seipe. The teen, who operated out of a suburban Lake Worth home, would crop dogs’ ears cheaply, the owner was told.

On a July afternoon, Seipe took the puppy, but wouldn’t let King’s owner inside to see the ear cropping, the owner told animal control. She had paid Seipe $80.

The owner was concerned when she came to pick up King. His ears were too short, she said, and he was more sedated than before the procedure.

Seipe told the owner she gave the puppy a sedative similar to Xanax, something she said she had done many times as a veterinary technician. Normally, Seipe had her boyfriend hold the puppies down while she cut their ears, but she tied King’s legs together because her boyfriend wasn’t available, she told the puppy’s owner.

Seipe told the owner she had no reason to worry.

But she worried anyway, so much so that she took King to a veterinary office. That office reported the incident to Animal Care and Control.

An animal control official said the puppy’s ears were cut extremely short. The edges were raw and open, and a fishing line was used to stitch up King’s ears, according to the report. The 10-week-old puppy cried whenever someone came close to its ears, according to an animal control report.

When animal control asked Seipe about the incident, she denied cropping King’s ears. She told them she used to be a veterinary technician.

“Ear cropping is a painful unnecessary procedure that is slowly being eliminated as an acceptable practice,” wrote the veterinarian who saw King shortly after the illegal cropping. “If done, it needs to be done by a highly skilled veterinary professional in an aseptic hospital environment.”

Clydesdale escapes with the help of dwarf billy goat

A Clydesdale in California made a break for it with the help of an unlikely accomplice, a Nigerian dwarf billy goat.

The horse, which weighs in at 1,900 pounds, was on the lam for five days in the mountains of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Budweiser, nicknamed Buddy, escaped after the goat, Lancelot, got stuck inside the horse's pen. Lancelot butted the gate a few times, opening it, setting himself and Buddy free.

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A second Clydesdale also got out, but was captured after a day.

But Buddy wasn't going to be caught easily. For five days, and after sightings as far as three miles away from home, Buddy had freedom to run.

He was finally found only a mile away from his house.

"When we got him back in the pen, he was particularly frisky and playful and happy," Tamara Schmitz, Buddy's owner said. "I think he was glad to be back."

An abandoned baby goat's quest for friendship and love

Millie hasn’t always had friends — but that was before Lisa Buchman unofficially adopted her for five days.  

In June, Buchman found the cuddly baby goat abandoned in a field.   

Then only days-old, Mille was shivering and cuddled into an over-sized teddy bear, rejected by the three mother goats that already lived in the field.  

>> Read more trending stories  

Buchman thinks that whoever abandoned Millie might have thought the mother goats would adopt Millie as their own – but that didn't happen.   

"They rejected her," Buchman said. "She was definitely not those mommies' goat."  

So Buchman scooped her up and took her home.   

"I had no choice," Buchman said. "I'm an animal lover; when I see something that needs help, I’m there.”

Buchman says she and her 8-year-old son are familiar with the field because they take care of the mother goats.

She says the goats' absentee owner often forgets to feed them, so they pick the slack.  

Buchman and her son live next door in a 1,100 square foot townhouse.

Once they brought Millie home, they realized this was a problem.

"I didn’t have a yard, so I had to put a diaper on her," Buchman said.  

She knew the situation wasn't ideal, so she posted an ad on Craigslist, hoping to find Millie a better home.  

“I wanted to know if anyone had a good place for her with a yard or with other goats, so she’s not alone,” Buchman said.  

Puget Sound Goat Rescue responded to the ad within 24 hours. Buchman was happy Millie had found a better home, but says she was sad to see her go.

“She was the most precious thing,” Buchman said. "She followed me everywhere."

A Fresh StartMillie, now a little over 2 months old, is a bit of a rarity for Puget Sound Goat Rescue; they don't rescue many baby female goats, albeit over-sized teddy bear companions.The Rescue saves about 80-90 baby goats per year, most of them boys, Sarah Klapstein with the Puget Sound Rescue said.

Klapstein says local dairies and breeders cull male baby goats. The males are often sold off cheaply and end up in the hands of meat buyers who purchase them for human consumption or auction them off to local slaughterhouses. 

The organization attempts to intercept the male goats, purchasing the them before the transactions take place and bottle-feeding them until they're ready to be adopted. 

Klapstein says they only adopt them in pairs. 

This year, the organization has saved 86 kid goats. Altogether, they've saved 150 goats, including rescues from a local slaughterhouse and urgent private party surrenders. The organization also rescues lambs, llamas, pigs and other animals.

Millie thinks she's best friends with all of them.Last week, she attended a charity event in Ballard, pushing through the crowds and instantly becoming friends with hundreds of snuggle-hungry Seattleites.

It was her for first time appearing in public, but she didn't care. Everyone was her best friend. 

"She is the little boss of the bigger boys, very curious, always playing ... she's our star," Shirene Peterson with Puget Sound Rescue said.No abandonment issues here – just an eager goat lookin' for love.

Grady and RamseyWhen she arrived at the goat rescue, Millie and her teddy bear were attached at the hip, Klapstein said.

She arrived at the rescue on June 17 and immediately hit it off with two male goats around her same age named Grady and Ramsey.  

"Baby goats bond easily and she was living without goat companionship for about five days before she arrived ... she quickly bonded to the boys," Klapstein said. "They are about the same age and size and they were all young which made it easy."

Now, instead of cuddling with her bear, Kalpstein says Millie likes to curl up with her adopted brothers.

"But we still put [the bear] out for her from time-to-time, and she likes to nibble on it," Klapstein said.She also likes to boss the boys around. 

"Millie is a little queen bee, sassy and full of personality," Klapstein said. "The boys take all their cues from her."

Klapstien said the organization is trying to slowly integrate Millie, Grady and Ramsey into the Rescue's bigger herd of babies, though the trio remain very close.The Rescue's next event with goats is slated for November. Klapstien says they hope that Millie, Grady and Ramsey will adopted out by then. They plan to gift Millie's bear to her new family when she is adopted.

All baby goats at Puget Sound Goat Rescue are available for adoption, but require a home with room to run and play.

The organization has an adoption application on its website. Currently, there is a waiting list for people hoping to volunteer.Click here to learn more about private goat ownership in King County. Check the Puget Sound Goat Rescue website for more information about housing and adoption.

Florida woman reunited with cat 8 years after he went missing

A Florida woman and her cat have been reunited, eight years after the cat first went missing and traveled more than 100 miles.

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Orlando resident Kathleen Crichton knows she won't ever figure out how her cat, Smelly, got to Gainesville.

"If only he could tell his story," Crichton said. "Did he trek there over the last eight years? Did someone pick him up and move to Gainesville with him?"

Smelly disappeared from Crichton's Waterford Lakes home in 2008. Then, she had three cats and a dog. Now, she has three sons and a fish.

"He was always an inside-outside cat," she said. "He likes to go out. (He) always went for walks with the dog, follow me around in the yard, so I thought he would come back."

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

A veterinarian from Millhopper Veterinary Clinic Center in Gainesville called Crichton last week to tell her someone found her cat and took it to the clinic. Smelly had a microchip.

Crichton got the cat's old carrier out of the attic and made the more than two-hour drive to the animal clinic.

"I'm still in shock by it," Crichton said. "(It's) still a lot for me to take in."

She said Smelly is just as feisty as the day he left. He's now 16 years old.

Photo shows cat holding owners' hands on final trip to vet

A heartbreaking photo posted by Reddit user abernha3, shows a couple holding hands with their cat while on the way to the feline's final trip to the veterinarian. 

"He held our hands on his last trip to the vet," abernha3 captioned the photo. "Little Andrew was much stronger than his mom and I."

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According to the post, Little Andrew was 15-and-a-half years old and had gotten progressively sicker over the past year. 

"(He) got old and sick over the last year. He purred every day of his life and when he lost that, I knew it was time," abernha3 wrote.

His owner also said that Little Andrew was friendly and "loved everyone."

Reddit users who saw the photo offered their condolences and their own stories of loss of pets.

"I'm so sorry for your loss," one internet user wrote. "It's easy to see just from that one picture how much you loved him, and I'm sure he knew."

"It's amazing how they can tell when that final vet trip comes. Mine knew and was at peace about it, like yours was," another person said.

He held our hands on his last trip to the vet. Little Andrew was much stronger than his mom and I. from cats

Zoo Atlanta's giant panda, Lun Lun, expecting twins – again

Lun Lun, the prolific giant panda at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting twins – for the second time.

Zoo officials recently announced that Lun Lun was pregnant. An ultrasound on Monday confirmed that Lun Lun is carrying two fetuses.

As of Aug. 22, those two fetuses measured 2.68 centimeters and 2.19 centimeters.

Lun Lun, who turns 19 on Thursday, is the mother of the only pair of giant panda twins in the U.S., 3-year-olds Mei Lun and Mei Huan. While giant pandas often give birth to twins, usually only one cub survives because the mother tends to nurse only one of the pair.

>> Watch a video about the panda cubs' first 100 days

After the birth of Mei Lun and Mei Huan, Zoo Atlanta’s veterinary team performed a miraculous sleight of hand, by steadily replacing one cub with the other in their mother’s embrace, giving each a chance to nurse and bond.

>> PHOTOS: Zoo Atlanta panda twins getting cuter

The result: Atlanta has the only pair of panda twins in the U.S.

The zoo hopes to perform the same miracle with these two, but there are many obstacles ahead, including a successful birth.

>> Read more trending stories

Round-the-clock birthwatch began on Monday, but there is still no certainty. The zoo said in a statement, “fetal reabsorption is not uncommon in giant pandas.” Lun Lun has given birth to five cubs, three of which live in China at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Lun Lun has been trained to participate in ultrasound exams, but her participation is “voluntary,” the zoo points out, so additional ultrasounds aren’t a sure thing either.

The twins could arrive any time in the next few weeks.

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