South Korean startup Petpuls Lab has developed a dog collar that can help owners discern what emotions their pets are feeling based on how they bark. "This device gives a dog a voice so that humans can understand," the company's director of global marketing, Andrew Gil, told Reuters. The collar detects five emotions, and owners can find out through a smartphone app if their pets are happy, relaxed, anxious, angry or sad. Seoul National University tested the device and declared it has a 90% average accuracy rate. The collar sells for $99.
Pigeon gets a pardon
Joe the Pigeon, named after President Joe Biden, has become famous after being found in a Melbourne, Australia, backyard on Dec. 26 with a band around his leg that suggested he was a racing pigeon from Oregon, 8,000 miles away. Australian authorities declared the bird a biosecurity risk and announced they would have to euthanize him, the Associated Press reported, but Joe received a last-minute reprieve when Deone Roberts of the American Racing Pigeon Union declared on Jan. 15 that the band around Joe's leg is "counterfeit and not traceable." Australia's Agriculture Department agreed, saying that Joe "is highly likely to be Australian," and it would take no further action.
In the doghouse
A couple in Sherbrooke, Quebec, were fined $1,500 each on Jan. 9, when police spotted them walking outside after the city's 8 p.m. curfew, with the husband wearing a leash, CTV News reported. The city's curfew allows for dog-walking after 8 p.m., but police rejected the couple's claim they were following the rules. It was the first weekend under new provincewide restriction, and officers throughout Quebec handed out more than 750 tickets.
Toilet thief flushed out
Police in Funabashi City, Japan, have arrested Ryusei Takada, 26, for allegedly stealing more than a dozen toilets from houses under construction. The Daily Mail reported the thefts began in October and continued, with local media dubbing the elusive thief the God of Toilets, until Takata flushed himself out by selling a brand-new fixture to a secondhand store. Takada, a construction company office worker, admitted to the thefts and said he did it "to cover my living expenses."
The European Food Safety Agency on Jan. 13 approved yellow grubs, or mealworms, as its first insect "novel food," to be used whole and dried in curries and as flour to make pastas and breads, Reuters reported. Mealworms are rich in protein, fat and fiber, said agency food scientist Ermolaos Ververis, and "there is great interest ... in the edible insect sector." But sociologists point out that the "yuck factor" may make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans, said consumer researcher Giovanni Sogari of the University of Parma in Italy. "With time and exposure, such attitudes can change," he added.
A tropical ride
An unidentified man, who authorities said appeared to be intoxicated, was arrested on Jan. 13 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission after U.S. Coast Guard crews found him onboard a stolen floating tiki hut, WTVJ-TV reported. The man was charged with grand theft and resisting an officer without violence. The Coast Guard posted photos of the tiki hut and warned, "Don't drink and boat!"
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