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On The Prowl


Tigger bounces into top place as top pets’ names are revealed

I BELIEVE that thWE’RE ALL howling mad when it comes to pet names, says leading veterinary charity PDSA. For the second year running in the popular Petsie Index series, PDSA has pawed its way through around 300,000 pet names to list the PDSA Pet Name Premiership.

Although the nation’s overall favourite, Max, is still top dog amongst dog names, the charity has found that more and more of us are going barking mad for celebrity names – everything from Posh and Becks and Beyonce to Missy Elliott and Elvis. Even the likes of adored soap characters such as Alfie Moon and TV presenters Ant and Dec are proving a hit.

“There has certainly been an increase in pets with famous names. Calling Robbie Williams or Elvis in for an appointment can cause quite a stir in the waiting rooms at our PetAid hospitals,” says PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury.

Of the dogs, cats and rabbits treated at PDSA’s 47 PetAid hospitals, behind firm favourite ‘Max’ in the ‘all species top ten names’ is ‘Charlie’, while favourite female name ‘Molly’ springs up from eighth to third. Consistently popular doggy name ‘Buster’ drops to eighth overall from last year’s fifth place, and the sophisticated ‘Lady’ drops out of the top ten altogether- now replaced by ‘Jess’ (10th).

As well as the ‘all species top ten names’, PDSA can also reveal our most purrfurred cat, dog and rabbit names for the UK.

Feline crazy
In the overall cat top ten, owners are still lapping up the predictable Tigger (1st), Sooty (2nd), Felix (3rd) and Lucky (4th). “It’s rare to find a cat that hasn’t had some sort of close scrape during their lifetime, making Lucky quite an appropriate name,” says Elaine.
As for cats with celebrity names, PDSA has found Birmingham-based puss ‘Ozzy’ (named after rocker Ozzy Osbourne, no less) and tabby cat ‘Sponge Bob’ (Squarepants!) from Southampton – so called because of his mischievous character, just like his TV namesake. From Plymouth there’s ginger Tom Garfield - named after the famous cartoon character - and football-loving puss Rio Ferdinand, who until recently enjoyed watching his football hero on TV during the World Cup!

Regional Variations
• Pet owners in the South West, London and South East prefer ‘Charlie’ over ‘Max’.
• At Thamesmead PDSA PetAid hospital in London, ‘Alfie’ is the eighth most popular dogs’ name, probably inspired by lovable EastEnders character Alfie Moon.
• In Wales, the sophisticated ‘Lady’ paws into third place – despite the fact it’s been knocked out of the national top ten altogether.
• Mischievous Scottish pet owners count ‘Cheeky’ as one of their top ten favourites!
• ‘Storm’ blows into the top ten for dog’s names in Plymouth - which may be linked to the seaside location!

PDSA Petsie Index - Pet Name Premiership League Tables
All species nationwide top ten

2003
2004
2005
Max
Max
Max
Ben
Ben
Charlie
Charlie
Charlie
Molly
Sam
Sam
Ben
Buster
Buster
Lucy
Lucky
Lucky
Sam
Lucy
Ludy
Jack
Molly
Molly
Buster
Lady
Lady
Bonnie
Jack
Jack
Jess

Top Cat names
Top Dog names
Rabbit top ten
1. Tigger
1. Max
1. Thumper
2. Sooty
2. Ben
2. Fluffy
3. Felix
3. Buster
3. Snowy
4. Lucky
4. Tyson
4. Rabbit
5. Smokey
5. Lady
5. Flopsy
6. Charlie
6. Jack
6. Bunny
7. Fluffy
7. Sam
7. Floppy
8. Molly
8. Charlie
8. Fudge
9. Tiger
9. Molly
9. Bugsy
10. Smudge
10. Tara
10. Daisy


“Dogs good, cats bad” when it comes to allergies

EXPOSURE TO certain animals may prevent rather than trigger asthma and allergies, experts believe. Laboratory workers who frequently handled research rodents had allergic reactions to the animals as a result, an Imperial College London team found.

The researchers believe it is the type of exposure that is important. A recent study found early childhood exposure to cats increased eczema risk, whilst early exposure to dogs appeared to be protective.

The latest work, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, supports the “hygiene hypothesis” of asthma and allergic diseases. According to the hygiene hypothesis, exposure to naturally occurring infections and microbes might essentially immunise against the development of asthma and allergies.

Dr Meinir Jones and her team suggest that the laboratory workers were experiencing a natural form of immunotherapy via exposure to animals through their occupation. Dr Jones said: “Interestingly, this does not seem to be the case for other groups at risk of occupational asthma such as bakers and detergent manufacturers.” She believes the difference lies in the fact that lab workers get exposure not only through inhalation but also through the skin if they are bitten or scratched.

Among the 689 lab workers they studied, those who had antibodies in their blood that were specifically produced in response to the rodent allergens had a two-fold reduced risk of developing work-related chest symptoms than those who had only non-specific antibodies in their blood. Furthermore, the ratios of rodent-specific antibodies were highest in those lab workers who had handled the greatest number of rodents.


Another possibility is that workers handling a larger number of animals might have been exposed to greater levels of dirt and other microbes that may protect against allergic disease, as suggested by the hygiene hypothesis, said the authors.

A spokeswoman from Asthma UK said although the work was helpful, more research was still needed. “This research helps us understand the risks people may face when working with animals. However, we still have much to learn about allergen exposure and the risk of developing asthma.”


Cat found alive in house wrecked by digger

A CAT that was missing, feared dead after a man used a JCB digger to destroy a house was pulled from the rubble alive and well 24 hours later.

Ashley, a pedigree Korat, was one of six cats in the four-bedroom home in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, when it was torn apart late last month by a caravan park tenant in a row over his rent.
The other cats and a dog all fled unharmed, but no trace was found of Ashley and it was feared she had been crushed in the wreckage. James Harvard and Janice Gledhill, the owners of the house and caravan park, had spent more than 24 hours searching for Ashley who was found cowering in a bedroom by a police officer.

Mr Harvard, 47, was at first prevented from re-entering the house because of its unstable and dangerous condition and the fact that it was still being treated as a crime scene. However, at 2pm the following day, he clambered over the rubble and grabbed seven-year-old Ashley, who is believed to have hidden under floorboards when the house started to collapse.

Beaming with joy and cradling his pet, he said: “Nothing else matters any more now that we’ve got her back. She’s certainly used up one of her nine lives.”

Robert Taylor, 52, of no fixed address, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court where he was charged with causing criminal damage with intent to endanger life, affray and assault. It is believed he carried out his deranged wrecking spree following a dispute over caravan rent arrears of £1,000 which he was being pursued for.


Think twice about holidaying with pets says travel insurer

A UK company that provides assistance and support to holidaymakers when things go wrong abroad has issued a timely warning to people who may be thinking of travelling with their pets.
Europe Assistance (EA), says pet owners fail to consider the impact a pet can have when the unexpected happens. When someone needs to be transported home, having a pet involved can affect their repatriation time and hike up costs enormously.

The ‘pet passport’, PETS Travel Scheme, has created a tricky situation for assistance companies. Repatriated holidaymakers are usually taken to a ferry port by hire car, and then travel as foot passengers before collecting another hire car on their arrival in the UK.

If an animal is travelling with them, life becomes less straightforward, as ferry companies do not allow dogs or other pets to travel as foot passengers. Any additional costs for repatriating the animal – perhaps by plane - have to be met by the holidaymaker and could run into hundreds of pounds if they don’t have specific pet cover.

EA’s advice is that owners should twice about taking their pet with them on holiday. EA says: “If you decide to do so, consult your vet or a good source of information such as DEFRA (www.defra.gov.uk) to make sure you have complied with all the regulations so there is no risk of your pet facing quarantine on its return. Your animal must be microchipped and have the specific European regulated medical assessment by your vet 24 hours before you travel out. And it will not be allowed back into the UK unless it has been checked by an overseas vet within the final 24 hours of your trip.”

EA offers Pet Cover available with its Euro Driver policy providing up to £100 towards transporting a pet home if the owner’s vehicle is repatriated. It also covers kennel fees abroad if the driver is hospitalised, and contributes towards accommodation and travelling costs if the owner is delayed because the pet is ill or injured while on holiday.