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Pet owners want to be masters, not servants – which is why we value dogs more than cats

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Cat videos may rule the internet , but dogs possess mastery of their owners’ hearts – at least if spending is any guide. Dog owners spend US$240 a month caring for their pets, compared with $193 for cats, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association. The extra money goes primarily toward vet visits and kennel boarding, but dog owners also spend more lavishly on treats, grooming and toys. My new paper, “Dogs Have Masters, Cats Have Staff ,” shines some light on why. A growing market Americans are spending more on pet care as an increasing share of U.S. households own an animal. A little over two-thirds of all U.S. households own at least one pet, up from 56 percent in 1988 , the first year of the National Pet Owners Survey. And almost half of households own a dog, while just 38 percent have a cat. Generational trends suggest this divergence is likely to grow, as millennials are more likely to adopt a canine, while baby boomers tend to be cat lovers. This is resulting in a growing market for pet-related products and services , which hit an estimated $72 billion in 2018, up from $46 billion a decade earlier. A willingness to pay My study builds on earlier research showing that dog owners are willing to spend more on their pets than cat owners – including to save their lives. One reason suggested was that dog owners had stronger bonds to their pets, which prompted them to spend more on things like veterinary care. My research uncovered a key factor indicating why dog owners feel more attached to their pets: Dogs are famously more compliant than cats. When owners feel in control of their pets, strong feelings of psychological ownership and emotional attachment develop. And pet owners want to be masters – not servants. Like other marketing researchers, my work uses “willingness to pay” as an indicator of the economic, rather than emotional, value owners place on their pets. It shows – and compares – how much pet owners would pay to save their animal’s life. Dog owners are willing to pay twice as much as cat owners for a life-saving surgery. AP Photo/Angie Wang Who’s in control? So I carried out three online experiments to explore the role of psychological ownership in these valuations. In the first experiment, I asked dog or cat owners to write about their pet’s behavior so I could measure their feelings of control and psychological ownership. Participants then imagined their pet became ill and indicated the most they would be willing to pay for a life-saving surgery. Dog owners, on average, said they would pay $10,689 to save the life of their pet, whereas cat owners offered less than half that. At the same time, dog owners tended to perceive more control and psychological ownership over their pets, suggesting this might be the reason for the difference in spending. Of course, correlation is not causation. So in a second experiment, I asked participants how much they would be willing to pay to save their animal’s life after I had disturbed their sense of ownership. I did this by asking participants to imagine their pet’s behavior was a result of training it received from a previous owner. As expected, disrupting their feelings of ownership eliminated the difference in valuation between dogs and cats. Since pet owners like to control their animals, and since cats are less controllable than dogs, the third experiment went straight to the point: Does the owner value the dog or cat for its own sake or for its compliant behavior? To find out, I again asked survey respondents to describe how much they’d be willing to pay to save their pet’s life, but this time I randomly assigned one of four scenarios: Participants were told they either own a dog, a cat, a dog that behaves like a cat, or a cat that behaves like a dog. Participants reported they would pay $4,270 to save the life of their dog, but only $2,462 for their cat. However, this pattern was reversed when the pet’s behavior changed, with dog-behaving cats valued at $3,636, but cat-behaving dogs only $2,372. These results clearly show that the animal’s behavior is what makes people willing to pay. When cats act more like dogs, people say they’d spend more money on them. pixfix/shutterstock.com Master or servant These findings establish that psychological ownership is a driving factor in dog owners’ higher valuations. People feel ownership because they perceive that they can control their pets’ behavior. This research even distinguishes the type of control that probably most stimulates ownership feelings: It’s not just physical control, such as being able to pick up an animal or drag it by a leash. Rather, it’s the animal’s voluntary compliance with its owner’s wishes. No matter how cute and cuddly your kitties may be, they can’t compete with dogs when it comes to giving pet owners the sense of mastery they seek. Colleen P. Kirk does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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What your pet's microchip has to do with the Mark of the Beast

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An almost invisible electronic device used all over the world – best known to much of the public for helping reunite lost pets and their owners, but also found in subway cards, electronic tolling, luggage tags, passports and warehouse inventory systems – has alarmed some evangelical Christian communities, who see in this technology the work of the Antichrist. In a section of “A Billion Little Pieces ,” my recent book about Radio Frequency Identification chips, also known as RFID chips, I investigate why these tiny items have, in some religious circles, become closely linked with the apocalypse depicted in the biblical Book of Revelation. The reasons are more connected with modern concerns than you might expect. What is RFID? RFID chips can be small and flexible. Maschinenjunge/Wikimedia Commons , CC BY-SA For starters, RFID technology is a method of wirelessly, digitally identifying objects – like luggage, cars or subway passes – that often does not require any internal power source. A small chip is inserted into or attached to an item to be identified – like a duffel bag or a toll pass transponder. It does nothing until it passes near an RFID reader, which can be a few inches away for passports, or several feet away as in highway toll barriers. The reader emits a specific radio frequency that activates the chip, which then transmits its digital identification code. The chips, also called tags, are just about everywhere. About 10 billion tags were used around the world in 2018 alone. Retailers – especially clothing stores – are a potentially huge market that has begun to adopt RFID systems to monitor inventory and to prevent theft. Many domestic pets are microchipped with RFID , encoding information that helps them reunite with their owners if they get lost. Some humans have also chosen to microchip themselves so their bodies can wirelessly communicate with identification systems – and that’s where the evangelicals get upset. The people at the right of the illumination are receiving the Mark of the Beast. Getty Center/Google Cultural Institute/Wikimedia Commons The Mark of the Beast What does a chip implant have to do with the Bible? Believers see echoes of RFID chips in a short passage in the Book of Revelation: “[The beast] causes all, both small and great , rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” This passage is the origin of beliefs around what would eventually become known as the “Mark of the Beast ,” a way to identify those who worship the Antichrist. More than 15 years ago, some evangelicals began linking RFID to the mark . A doctor implants an RFID chip in a patient’s hand. Paul Hughes/Wikimedia Commons , CC BY-SA My research has found that they made the connection for two main reasons. First, when biohackers chip themselves, they typically put the RFID chip into the palm of one hand because it’s easy to wave that at sensors to open doors or process payments, and the scripture specifically mentions the mark on a person’s hand. In addition, some people have injected RFID chips containing credit card payment information , which calls to mind to the payment methods mentioned in the Bible. These links spread in some evangelical communities throughout the 2000s, with many articles published on religious sites about RFID . The authors of a best-selling book about RFID and surveillance – “Spychips ” – published an alternative version targeted at evangelical Christians that included added passages about the Book of Revelation. The main RFID industry publication even published a refutation of those claims . In the years since, the connection between RFID and the mark has remained prominent. In 2017, a Wisconsin company offered to pay for its employees to get RFID implants – if they voluntarily chose to. The company’s Google business listing was flooded with more than 100 one-star reviews , many of which said it was a sin to use RFID as a form of identification or payment. Some of them were specific about what was wrong, saying the company was “doing the dirty work for Satan himself” and urging employees to “read your Bible. This is the first sign of the mark of the beast.” Does it really matter? It’s more than just a curiosity that evangelical Christians have linked RFID to the apocalypse. Evangelicals are a major force in American culture and politics , and their views on technology are often underreported. Readers mounted above the highway track RFID chips in cars passing beneath them, charging drivers for tolls. BrandonKleinVideo/Shutterstock.com In addition, they’re expressing concern about an increasingly ubiquitous technology, similar to objections raised by privacy advocates that have actually changed corporate policies in the past. Most people probably don’t agree that RFID represents the Mark of the Beast. But the roots of that concern do raise interesting questions about the merging of human bodies and computing. The religious fear that every person might need to be physically tagged to pay for things and move freely shares a lot with the concerns expressed by more mainstream privacy advocates . Finally, there’s something poetic about linking a tiny technology used to identify rescue dogs in a shelter to the Mark of the Beast. After all, there’s likely no more consequential type of identification than the differentiation of the damned from the redeemed. Jordan Frith is the author of:A Billion Little Pieces: RFID and Infrastructures of Identification MIT Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US. MIT Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

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Hotel Chains With Low-Cost (or No) Pet Fees

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We all love to look for deals when traveling with our pets. But there are often so many different things to consider, and many options lead to spending extra money. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! When thinking about pet travel, it’s good to know that you can enjoy the perks that come with it, while still staying on a budget. When deciding on pet friendly lodging, comparing pet fees can make a big difference when it comes to saving you money. Keep in mind that pet fees are not always based on a particular type of pet friendly accommodation. For example, individual hotels decide on their pet policies and fees, whereas some hotel brands have policies that apply to each property in that chain - some of which allow pets to stay for FREE! Additionally, there are top-notch boutique-style hotels and resorts, as well as mid-range and budget hotels, that do not charge for pet guests. When you stay at one of the following pet friendly hotels, your pets can stay for a low fee, or even free! 1. Kimpton Hotels Kimpton Hotels really know how to put the “friendly” in pet friendly hotels! They are a boutique chain where pets of any type, size, and breed can stay for free. Additionally, Kimpton goes above and beyond to welcome pet guests, by providing luxurious pet beds, food bowls, and yummy treats. Many properties also offer extra services, such as pet sitting, dog massages, and a pet concierge. 2. Aloft Hotels Book at an Aloft Hotel for a hip, trendy, and upscale experience for you and your pooch. Pets stay free at many locations, and they are also treated to Aloft’s ARF (Animals R Family) pet program. Pet amenities included with the program are pet beds, dog bowls, and complimentary toys for use while visiting, as well as yummy dog treats! 3. Red Roof Inns The room rates at Red Roof Inns are very budget-friendly. Better yet, furry family members stay for free! Also, with convenient locations along major travel routes, it’s easy to find a Red Roof Inn wherever you and your furkid are heading. 4. Motel 6 Motel 6 is America’s original pet friendly hotel chain, and they offer the lowest prices of any national chain. They love their pet guests, and they welcome them free of charge! 5. La Quinta Inns & Suites Many of the properties in this mid-range hotel chain welcome pet guests to stay for free. La Quinta Inns & Suites offer quality lodging at affordable prices, and best of all, they love four-legged travelers! Go to our site to find hotel chain pet policies for all the major hotel chains, their pet friendly locations, as well as each individual hotel's pet policy. About TripsWithPets: TripsWithPets is the premier online pet friendly travel guide -- featuring online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. Visit our site to explore pet friendly destinations like Pittsburgh, PA , Columbia, SC and thousands more! When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel tips.

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Man shoves 4-foot python named Pasta in his pants to steal from pet store, video shows [The Wichita Eagle]

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March 27-- Mar. 27--Pasta the 4-foot long ball python was supposed to be adopted the same day that he went missing from a pet store in Michigan, an employee said. When the workers of "I Love My Pets" in Rockwood, Michigan, noticed that the snake wasn't in his cage, they figured he must have slithered away and escaped, WDIV reported. They learned what actually happened to the python when they checked the store's surveillance video, WDIV reported. And now "the staff at I Love My Pets are in disbelief," employee Emily Scheiwe posted to Facebook. "Someone stole our beautiful ball python..." She posted surveillance video that shows what happened. In the 52-second video, a man is seen grabbing Pasta from his glass cage before shoving the snake into his pants. The man was slightly hidden behind a bird cage. Once the python was out of sight, the man walked around for about 30 seconds before walking out of the camera's view. Employees said the man was in the store "asking about snakes and wanting to buy a rat," WDIV reported. "When Scheiwe left him alone for a moment he stole the snake by hiding it down his pants, officials said." The man did buy a $6 rat, WDIV reported, and he's accused of stealing a $100 snake. Now, the Rockwood Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying the man "who was seen on surveillance video stealing a Ball Python snake from I Love My Pets store in Rockwood on March 20, 2019," according to a Facebook post. If you recognize the man, police ask that you call 734-379-5323. This isn't the first time surveillance cameras have recorded someone stuffing a snake into their pants. In 2017, a man put a $100 boa constrictor into his pants pocket before leaving "Tye-Dyed Iguana Reptiles" in Illinois, the Belleville News Democrat reported. The snake was found, and the pet store said it would be pressing charges against those who were arrested. ___ (c)2019 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Pythons and toads and monkeys, oh my! Here are Florida's most pesky invasive species. [Tampa Bay Times]

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March 27-- It sounds like something out of science fiction novel.Poisonous toads infest suburban South Florida neighborhoodThis Burmese python gobbled an entire deer in FloridaFlorida man: 'Nasty' rhesus monkeys are swarming his property (w/video)But, it's not. These are just some of the ways invasive and nonnative species have wreaked havoc on Florida's ecosystem and wildlife. Florida is home to more than 500 nonnative species, and that's not including plants. Florida's warm, subtropical climate makes it a perfect place for nonnative species to take root.From lionfish with 18-venomous spines to 6-inch cane toads, here's a list of Florida's most pesky species.Burmese python This Burmese python at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Largo was captured recently in St. Petersburg. On top of the snake is a smaller python. [Tampa Tribune photo]Perhaps the most well-known invasive species in Florida is the Burmese python. Although non-venomous, it's known for annihilating populations of raccoons, foxes, opossums, deer and other small mammals in the Everglades.The Burmese python is native to southeast Asia but are believed to have been released into the Everglades as early as 1979, according to the FWC. It's also believed that some of these pythons escaped a breeding facility after it was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.Averaging between 6 and 9 feet, the Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world.Even when it's outsized, these pythons have been known to take on creatures bigger than them. Last year, a 31.5-pound Burmese python swallowed a 35-pound white-tailed deer, marking what was considered the largest predator/prey ratio ever recorded for that specific species.It's hard to put an exact number of how many pythons reside in the Everglades. Estimates range from 10,000 all the way up to 100,000, according to the Associated Press. In an effort to curb the number of these snakes, the FWC encourages people to remove and kill pythons from private lands whenever possible.Cane toadsThe bufo toad can be deadly to pets. [Associated Press]Cane toads look the part of an invasive species. The toads are characterized by their warty, brownish skin and their large triangular glands that excrete poisonous toxins.If a pet eats or bites a cane toad, it can die in as little as 15 minutes, according to the FWC.Cane toads were first brought to Florida in the 1930s and to help curb agriculture pests in sugar cane fields. However, current populations are plaguing residents in South Florida who fear their poisonous venom could harm their pets.Ray Simonsen Sr., who owns a wildlife removal company known as Ray the Trapper, has been trapping and euthanizing cane toads for seven years in Collier County. He wears 2 to 3 pairs of gloves at a time to protect himself from the milky-white venom."I'm not the biologist," Simonsen said. "I'm the trapper. I'm on the biting end, or the bad end of this deal."He said cane toads breed year-round, but are more prevalent during the rainy, warmer season. On a typical round up, Simonsen said he can snag 100 to 150 toads every hour or two.Lionfish A lionfish on display at the Florida Aquarium. [Jim Reed | Tampa Bay Times]The name lionfish may seem like a misnomer, given that it bears no resemblance to a lion. However, with no known predators, the lionfish has become a king of the ocean.The predatory reef fish is known for its zebra-like stripes and venomous spikes that protrude from it's stomach. The lionfish threaten wildlife by eating native fish, including some fish that keep algae at bay."It's the 800-pound gorilla in the room," said LeRoy Creswell, who works for the University of Florida-operated Florida Sea Grant. "It's by far the most impactful invasive species in Florida."Lionfish are highly reproductive and lay large clusters of eggs at a time. Females lay 12,000 to 15,000 eggs each, and can lay eggs every two weeks.For years now, competitions have been organized around the state to hunt lionfish, and companies like Whole Foods and Publix sell lionfish.Green iguana This green iguana, measuring over 4 feet long, was found in front of a Clearwater business by George and Georgeann Brewer. [Wally Patanow | Tampa Bay Times] Green iguanas may seem innocent, as a lot of them end up in Florida toilet bowls, but the large reptile is notorious for damaging infrastructure such as seawalls and sidewalks by digging. The iguanas are also known for their appetite for landscape plants.The earliest official reports of iguanas in Florida was in Miami-Dade County in 1965, according to previous Times reporting.Rhesus macaque monkeysIn this Sept. 17, 2013, file photo female Rhesus Macaques nurse their young along the Silver River in Silver Springs State Park in Florida. [Lisa Crigar | Star-Banner via AP]The rhesus macaque has a unique coming-to-Florida story.Back in the 1930s, the captain of a boat operation put six monkeys on a small piece of land in the Silver River, near Central Florida, to attract tourists. But soon after, the monkeys swam to the surrounding area and grew their numbers.The rhesus macaque monkey can carry severe diseases including herpes B. There have been 18 incidents of rhesus macaque bites and scratches reported in Florida, but it's worth noting that there have been no confirmed cases of a human contracting herpes B from a rhesus in the wild, according the the FWC.Also, don't feed these guys. The monkeys are said to be aggressive when fed, and the FWC passed a rule in 2017 barring people from feeding any wild monkeys in the state.The FWC encourages the public to report any sightings of nonnative, invasive wildlife to the Exotic Species Hotline at 888-IveGot1 (888-483-4681), online at IVEGOT1.org or by using the free smartphone app IVEGOT1.Are there any invasive species that have bothered you? Let us know in the comments. ___ (c)2019 the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Visit the Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.) at www.tampabay.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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