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Passing exams with puppy love

Research suggests looking at cute things can help improve concentration. Credit: ITV News

Exam stress at this time of year has given Bristol University paws for thought - so it's trying something different to help students.

The university has set up a special 'puppy room' today, where stressed students take a break from exam prep and dissertation deadlines by cuddling guide dogs and their puppies.

Over 600 students signed up for 15 minutes with the dogs Credit: ITV News

Research published in Japan suggests pictures of cute things such as puppies and kittens can help improve concentration and performance.

About 20 dogs and puppies are being rotated throughout the day with the support of local owners and trainers. Each 'cuddle slot' lasts 15 minutes.

Over 600 students have signed up, and are being asked to make a suggested donation of £2 to the Guide Dogs charity.

While I'm more of a cat person myself, I'm really excited that the University is providing this for students. It's really important to do fun and different things to de-stress during exams and cuddling a puppy is a perfect way to release some endorphins.

– Jo Woods, Union Affairs Officer at Bristol Student Union
This time of year can be stressful for students with exam and deadline pressure. Credit: ITV News

Guide Dogs are most pleased to be able to work with the University of Bristol and allow students the chance to de-stress at this busy exam time. We are sure we will meet lots of students who miss their own pet dogs whilst away at University.

– Sarah Knox, Community Fundraiser for Guide Dogs


Could collars save cows in Gloucestershire?

The cattle are to be given special reflective collars similar to those work by cyclists Credit: ITV News

Cows on two commons near Stroud are to be given special reflective collars to keep them safe from motorists.

The animals graze on Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons and are in danger from the nearby roads.

Now, in a trial funded by the county's Police and Crime Commissioner, two types of collar will be used. The most effective will be adopted permanently.

Goldfish undergoes £150 eye surgery in Bristol

Monty went under anaesthetic for the delicate procedure Credit: Highcroft Vetinary Group

A pet owner in Bristol has spent £150 on an operation to remove tumours from a goldfish.

5 year old Monty had multiple tumours around his eye and his back when he was taken to Highcroft Vets.

The surgery was carried out by the Head of Bristol Zoo's vetinary department Michelle Barrows, who used water soluble anaesthetic and flushed oxygenated water through Monty's gills.

The fish's eye had be removed but he's now on the mend. The vet said the operation went swimmingly.

Monty had to have his eye removed but he's now recovering from the surgery Credit: Highcroft Vetinary Group

Rare dove born at Bristol Zoo

The bleeding-heart dove chick born at Bristol Zoo is a sign of hope for the threatened species Credit: Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo has welcomed the birth of a rare chick.

The Mindanao bleeding-heart dove is native to the Philippines. It is one of many species in the area threatened by the loss of 95% of the country's forests.

Bristol Zoological Society has been working on the islands for two years to stop the decline. It aims to make local people aware of the value of conserving the species and their habitats.

'Pay me £500 or I'll chop up your dog' - pensioner blackmailed over missing pup

A pensioner has been blackmailed with cruel phone calls threatening to cut up her beloved dog unless she pays hundreds of pounds.

Vivienne Garton began to receive the vile messages after he West Highland Terrier Ben disappeared from her garden on April 12.

Ben is ten years old and partially sighted

The worried 65-year-old put up posters over her home of Knowle, appealing for her pooch's return.

But one of the numbers was called twice by an anonymous 'middle-aged man' who threatened to harm the family pet unless Vivienne pays £500.

He left an address of an empty house in Bristol, which frail Vivienne has now handed over to police.

Ben is ten years old, partially sighted, partially deaf, and struggles to walk for long distances.

Avon and Somerset police have confirmed they are now investigating an incident of blackmail. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.


  1. West Country (W)

RSPCA reports rise in cruelty cases in the South West

Complaints to the RSPCA increased in 2014 Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Archive

The RSPCA says its figures for 2014 show that cruelty complaints in the South West and Central England have gone up once again.

The charity investigated 28,800 complaints in the South West and central England in 2014 compared to 28,573 in 2013. More than 3,500 of these involved alleged deliberate and often violent cruelty being inflicted upon animals.

It is extremely concerning that we are still receiving so many complaints about animals being deliberately caused to suffer.

Most of the complaints we receive involve animals being neglected or not receiving the right care and often we can put that right by offering welfare advice. However, it is shocking that in 2014 people are still being deliberately cruel in what can be disturbingly inventive ways.

– John Grant, RSPCA superintendent

Does your dog chase its tail?

Mr Darcy doesn't have much of a tail to chase... Credit: ITV News

Researchers at the University of Bristol are trying to find out why some dogs chase their tails or spin in circles and why some don't.

The School of Veterinary Science wants to sign up dogs that don't exhibit this behaviour for its study.

It has already recruited enough "spinning dogs" and now needs those that don't as a comparison.

For more information and to find out how to enrol in the study, click here or email

On the road, saving toads

The annual toad patrol helps the squeaky amphibians survive their quest to breed. Credit: ITV News West Country

Thousands of toads would be killed by Bristol traffic each spring, were it not for volunteers coming to their rescue.

They are currently migrating across busy roads to the ponds where they breed, trying to avoid being squashed on the way.

Caron Bell went along with the toad patrol, armed with buckets and torches, helping the squeaky amphibians survive their quest to breed.

In Fishponds, access to the toad's favourite pond has been granted by the Alcove Angling Club. Toads thrive in ponds with fish, as the frogs and newts are eaten, but the toads are left. This means they can enjoy all the food they would otherwise have to share with their amphibian cousins.

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