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Injured tortoise given toy car wheels

A much-loved pet tortoise named Touche has undergone surgery to replace one of his back legs with the base of a toy car.

Eight-year-old Touche sadly had to have the leg removed after an accident at home, but he soon received a speedy new accessory when veterinary surgeon Sonya Miles fitted him with the wheel of a toy car.

With the help of veterinary nurse Millie Gardner, Sonya used a special resin to attach the base of the toy car to the underside of Touche's shell.

The surgery took about an hour and a half and Touche recovered very quickly. Apparently content with his new prosthetic, he was eating and moving around within an hour of the surgery.

Sonya, a vet at Highcroft Veterinary Hospital in Whitchurch, Bristol, said: "We decided to attach the wheel to avoid him traumatising the underside of his shell by dragging his back end.

"It can be taken off in the future if we feel that he has enough strength to hold himself up, but he could be fine with a wheel for the rest of his life.

"He may even need a bigger one fitted at some point; tortoises carry on growing until they are 10-15 years old so he could still double in size."

Touche's owner Lisa Purnell says he seems completely comfortable with his new accessory and is zooming around the garden.

Main News Story

Therapists of the future could be canine

Women talk to dogs over partners, study finds.

Therapists may one day be competing for jobs with dogs, as new research by the University of Lincoln suggests we are more likely to talk to a dog than a human partner. Scientists say the research could have wider implications for therapy sessions.

Findings from a recent survey suggest women are more likely to talk to their dog than their partner when they are feeling jealous.

Canines also find themselves on the end of a rant when their female owners are feeling apathetic. Emotions of anger or fear, however, were more likely to be directed at their partners.

Third-year undergraduate student Aislinn explained: "It's my belief that by determining whether or not people are more or less willing to talk to their dog about certain feelings (particularly negative feelings) there is the potential that dogs could become a recognised tool for therapists to encourage patients to gets things off their chest.

"If possible I would like to expand this research even further to assess people's willingness to confide in a dog that isn't their own, such as a therapy dog, versus a figure such as a therapist."

Currently, Aislinn, who is being mentored by Professor Daniel Mills from the university's School of Life Sciences, plans to expand her research to male participants.

She said: "It is well known that men and women tend to deal with stress in very different ways. Women typically talk more openly about all issues with friends, whereas men tend to talk about positive emotions with partners but keep negative problems bottled up.

"Research indicates that men only really confide in someone when they want a solution to a problem. Men talk in a hierarchy state and are always trying to gain the upper hand. Therefore, it may be they are willing to talk to dogs because they won't get judged."


News in brief

Aerosol warning for bird owners

Bird specialists at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have warned of many toxins that affect the fragile respiratory system of birds. These include bleach, ammonia, cigarette smoke, burned foods and spray paint.

Items such as air fresheners, hair products, nail polish and scented candles may also produce other airborne toxins. Bird owners should be sure their birds are removed to well ventilated, closed rooms in the house (or outside) when these items are used.

UC Davis vets say that birds showing signs of respiratory distress should be seen by a vet immediately. Signs may include an increased effort to inhale and exhale, change or loss of voice, depression, and a bluish colour to the skin.

Two-thirds of pets display firework fear

A survey carried out by Dogs Trust and Cats Protection has revealed that more than two-thirds of pets display anxiety during fireworks displays.

The charities have offered a number of tips to help owners calm their firework phobic pets, such as keeping them indoors in familiar surroundings, closing the curtains and turning up the TV or radio to shut out the bangs and flashes.

Changes to dangerous dog laws

Owners will face tougher sentences if their dog injures or kills a person or assistance dog, after new laws came into force in May this year.

Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, owners face a maximum of 14 years in prison if their dog kills somebody, five years if they injure a person and three years if they kill an assistance dog.

A further amend to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 means owners can now be prosecuted if their dog attacks on private property.

An exception exists when a trespasser is in the house, or the owner of the dog believes the person to be a trespasser. Gardens are not covered by this exception.

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