Teddy Bear, Dallas' Talking Porcupine, Is America's Best Super Bowl Pundit

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By the ordinary laws of Internet fame, the universe should have long ago forgotten Teddy Bear the talking porcupine. It's been three years his emergence as a viral celebrity, roughly 8.6 billion years in Internet time. Adorable though he may be, with his vaguely anthropomorphic squeaks and amusing dietary quirks, he should have been supplanted by a flatulent gerbil or trombone-playing ferret or something.

And Teddy Bear would indeed be irrelevant were it not for one highly lucrative skill: He can correctly pick the winner of the Super Bowl. Since 2012, when he first thrust his snout into football punditry, Teddy Bear is a perfect 3-0, accurately forecasting that the Giants, Ravens and Seahawks would win Super Bowls XLVI, XLVII and XLVIII, respectively.

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In Another Texas Vs. Endangered Species Battle, Texas Wins Again

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Every winter, the world's only flock of wild whooping cranes flies into Texas and stays along the Texas Gulf Coast, using water near the Aransas Pass. Maybe one day in the future, Greg Abbott can require the whopping cranes to obtain a permit before they take advantage of our state's diminishing natural resources. In the meantime, state officials are at least enjoying recent legal victory against a group that has been suing to protect the birds. Texas 1, majestic whooping cranes 0.

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Bentley the Ebola Dog's Monitoring Cost $27,000

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Dallas Animal Services
He's an expensive little bugger.
Of the just more than $155,000 the city of Dallas spent responding to Ebola, almost $27,000 -- just more than 17 percent of the total -- went to caring for Bentley, Nina Pham's King Charles Spaniel. The majority of the Bentley cash, $17,057.46, was spent on getting Grand Prairie Armed Forces Reserve Complex ready for the dog's stay and providing security at the former Naval Air Station.

The single biggest item on the full list, which you can check out below, was the $58,000-plus Dallas Fire and Rescue spent on hazmat response. It cost $18,824 to pay the paramedics subjected to 21-day quarantines after contact with the first diagnosed U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.

The city won't bear the full brunt of the bill. It is seeking reimbursement of some costs from the state and about $19,000 of Bentley's burden will be covered by grants and donations.

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63,000 People Don't Want Royse City Man to Shoot a Black Rhino to Save Black Rhinos

Categories: Animal Welfare

Matthew Field
Shooting one of these guys is hard enough, but just try to bring it back home.
Corey Knowlton has a problem.

The Royse City hunter, who paid $350,000 in a Dallas Safari Club auction for the right to kill a black rhino in Namibia, may not receive a permit to bring his trophy back from Africa.

As Eric Nicholson first reported for Unfair Park in October 2013, the reasoning behind issuing Knowlton's permit had a certain logic. Namibia allows for up to five post-reproductive-age male rhinos to be killed for sport each year to raise money for black rhino conservation. It's state-sponsored creative species destruction, if you will.

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Bentley Is an Extremely Cute Dog, But Tomorrow's Press Conference Is Insane

Dallas Animal Services
Maybe we should leave them alone.
As of Tuesday, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, the two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses to get Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, are Ebola-free. It's remarkable, inspiring news. Seeing the two speak at their post-release press conference was, in a way, like seeing someone back from the dead.

Then there's Bentley. Bentley, as you surely know, is Pham's impish, year-old King Charles Spaniel. After Pham's diagnosis, he was taken from her Marquita Avenue duplex to be monitored for signs of Ebola at Hensley Field in Grand Prairie. The dog's now officially Ebola free, so he's going to be reunited with Pham tomorrow.

That's awesome.

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Fort Worth Vet Indicted for Creepy Dog Blood-Harvesting Scheme

Categories: Animal Welfare

Millard "Lou" Tierce is the Fort Worth veterinarian who was allegedly harvesting blood from dogs he was supposed to euthanize until his office was raided earlier this year.

Tierce, whose vet license was suspended last week, was initially arrested on a charge of animal cruelty. Somehow, though, a misdemeanor, as animal cruelty is classified under Texas law, didn't seem sufficient for so grotesque a crime. Which may explain why, when Tierce was indicted today, prosecutors had secured two additional charges: misapplication of fiduciary property and theft between $1,500 and $20,000, both state jail felonies.

The animal-cruelty charge is fairly cut and dry. The two stiffer charges are rather curious and hinge on a question that's never really been settled under Texas law: How much is a dog worth?

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The Cruel and Unusual Building of the Texas Horse Park

Dylan Hollingsworth
Kevin Woods wanted to work with the Texas Horse Park. He ended up getting stampeded by it.
Hunched over a table at a Jack in the Box, Kevin Woods doesn't look much like a cowboy. No hat, no belt buckle, no boots, not a horse in sight. Here, tucked between a cluster of warehouses and a bustling urban highway, is about as far from the open range as a Texan can be. With his plain red T-shirt lightly dusted with sheetrock, and his calloused hands entwined in front of him, he looks like the home-repair contractor that he is. But it's a cowboy's blood that runs through Woods. This is a man who's broken wild mustangs and wrestled half-ton steers to submission in soft dirt, who can rope a calf and shoe a horse, who's as comfortable in the saddle as behind the wheel of a truck.

Woods was born into farm life in Stamps, Arkansas, a hollowed-out agricultural town a few miles north of the Louisiana border. He left as fast as he could, fleeing for Toledo, Ohio at 14. He took with him his fondness for horses and livestock, but his passion lay fallow for several years as he clawed for survival. He slept on the streets and rummaged through garbage cans for scraps before he fell in with a gang, started dealing drugs and pulled himself out of homelessness.

"I was one of the drug dealers you didn't want to meet on the streets," he says. "I'm the one Momma warned you about. You know, like I said, I was taught in the school of hard knocks."

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Dallas' Animal Shelter Is Chock Full of Really Cute Animals, and That's the Problem

Categories: Animal Welfare

Emily Mathis
This kitten is wearing a sparkled bow tie, for pete's sake. You know you want him.
The first sight at the Dallas Animal Services shelter is a group of kittens tumbling on each other as they play in a plate glass cage. Beyond that, and closest to the entrance, are the young, healthy, friendly, especially cute and wide-eyed cats and dogs. Parents with young kids peruse the rows of cages. Some animals reach through the bars of their cage to playfully bat at passerby, while others make their best please-love-me eyes.

But while families casually walk past the rows of animals, Dallas Animal Services workers quietly cross their fingers that the pets will each be adopted as quickly as possible -- especially the older, less cute ones. Because as Unfair Park recently detailed, DAS is currently stressed with near unbearable numbers of animal surrenders and strays.

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Dallas' Animal Services Department Is Hot, Tired, Cranky, and Killing Too Many Dogs

Categories: Animal Welfare

Mark Graham
Cash-strapped Dallasites are leading more people to give up their pets.
Blame it on the Texas heat, summertime relocations or more cash-strapped Dallasites: Whatever the root cause, local pet owners are increasingly giving their animals up to shelters. And during the summer months, more animals tend to escape from their homes and are brought to the shelter as strays.

Between the strays and the surrenders, Dallas Animal Services reports this week that they've been taking in more than 100 animals a day. With just a 650 animal capacity, space is quickly running out. The online community is exploding with frustrated Dallas residents, and Dallas Animal Services employees are clearly nearing a breaking point.

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Dallas Couple Who Lost at Least 50 Dogs in a Fire Treated Animals Well, Neighbors Say

Categories: Animal Welfare

Amy Silverstein
The people who lived here are expected to survive, but they've lost most of their pets.
The 15 dogs that survived an early morning house fire in East Dallas on Tuesday appeared to be well cared for, and other than the two being treated for possible injuries related to the fire, all appear healthy, Dallas Animal Services manager Jody Jones says.

A husband and wife lived with dozens of dogs -- one report says more than 70 -- in their home on Grandview Avenue. The survivors appear to all be Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes, Jones says.

The fire department says an electrical problem with the air conditioner is the fire's likely cause. The husband and wife were taken to a local hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. They're expected to survive, but they lost at least 50 of their dogs in the blaze.

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