THROUGHOUT history, animals have been used to shoulder man's burden.
They've helped us hunt and farm, proved invaluable as forms of transport and protected us from harm.
And now, in the shape of one affectionate cat called Sal, from Suffolk County in Boston, USA, they are being asked to decide guilt or innocence.
Sal has been ordered to do jury service and must report to the Suffolk Superior Crown Court on March 23, despite the understandable concerns of his bemused owners, Guy and Anna Esposito.
“When they ask him guilty or not guilty, what's he supposed to say – miaow?” said Anna, who has pleaded on Sal's behalf for him to be excused on the grounds that “he doesn't understand the language”.
Clearly confused and unconvinced, the court authorities have written to the Espositos pointing out that jurors are not expected to have a perfect command of English. It appears the bungled jury duty order is the result of a census error, which has baffled bureaucrats.
Sal is not the only animal in the news this week. But if he could read he'd surely be fascinated to learn that mice are now being trained to detect bombs and drugs at airports.
Britain's Daily Telegraph reports that Israeli scientists believe mice are more accurate than dogs and X-ray machines at picking out potential suicide bombers and narcotics smugglers. What happens when someone carries a cat through an airport is not mentioned.
And if airport sniffer dogs are made redundant by the mice, let's hope they find good homes to live out their retirement.
No animal deserves to be adopted by the American woman who returned a rescue pooch to the pound this week because it didn't match her curtains.
That's right. She adopted and then returned the poor hound with the excuse that its coat was “not quite consistent with the colour scheme in the house”. Sounds like the dog had a lucky escape.
It is with sadness, however, that we report the death, of a heart attack, of Russia's parasailing donkey.
Anapka soared to worldwide fame last year when she was filmed parasailing – suspended beneath a number of parachutes – above the beaches of the Sea of Azov in the south of the country, as a tourist attraction.
A vet said the wretched creature's fatal heart attack was likely the result of stress brought on by the wholly un-natural experience.
The stunt quite rightly aroused a storm of international outrage and prompted French actress Brigitte Bardot to complain to President Dmitry Medvedev.
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