I had this great idea for an end-of-the-year piece for my USA Today column: I would compile what I felt were the most significant animal news stories of the year. They’d be the most telling and the most provocative — both signs of the times and harbingers of change in the lives of animals — even if only from our warped human perspective.

So it was that I put together a list of my top ten (in no particular order) news stories. Problem was I didn’t feel as if some of these made the grade. Or perhaps they were too much along the same lines. I feared I was missing at least one crucial item, maybe more.

This is where you come in. Below is my tentative list. It’s now your job to point me in the direction of what I might’ve missed. Unfortunately for my deadline, you only have twelve hours to submit your ideas. For the benefit of the Fully Vetted crowd, however, feel free to continue to add to the list into perpetuity.

1. Florida panther population nets at least six kittens in 2010. They’re winning! Only 23 of the critically endangered Florida panthers were found dead this year (mostly due to traffic interactions). Meanwhile, 29 live births were confirmed, and another 30 kittens from unmonitored mothers are estimated to have survived the season.

2. Matador gets spectacularly gored. Shocking stuff! I must’ve watched the start of this video more than a dozen times. I had it queued up on my iPhone’s YouTube app for just this purpose. Shocking, and (dare I admit it?) strangely welcome, given my lust for the demise of this blood sport.

3. Miami’s "Cat Killer" exonerated when "Animal CSI" goes wrong. Turns out this teen-aged "cat killer" spent a year under house arrest after "Animal CSI" expert, Dr. Melinda Merck, mistook predator bites for sadistic scalpel slices. Here’s the post on that one.

4. "Wheelie bin" cat story fuels storm of condemnation. Remember this one? U.K. woman throws cat into trash bin, security camera catches her in the act, a global s***storm of vituperation is unleashed, legal shenanigans ensue.

5. The BP oil spill kills millions. How many millions? The world will never know. Much to the consternation of marine life advocates — and to the relief of the out-of-sight-out-of-mind crowd — most of the damage is unaccountably ensconced beneath the surface of the Gulf.

As Time magazine reported:

Even animals that weren't immediately killed by the oil could be harmed, as scientists are just beginning to understand the long-term impact the oil will have the ocean's ecosystem. In particular, there is the possibility of oil making its way up the food chain - as bacteria feasts on the oil, is then feasted on by plankton, eventually finding its way into larger fish. Long after the well was finally plugged, the impact of Deepwater Horizon persists.

6. The puppy drowning Romanian teen. Here’s my post on this. That’s all I’ve got to say.

7. The passage of Missouri’s new puppy mill law. Check out last week’s post on this, in which I (unpopularly) called for breeders to take a page from animal agriculture’s book. Meanwhile, others wondered how I could demand so little of the pet breeding industry.

8. Orca tragedy at Sea World. Was there any better example of wild animal normalcy than this act of marine mammal rebellion? To paraphrase the immortal words of Chris Rock: That orca didn’t go crazy. That orca went orca!

9. Franken-fish frenzy. Genetically modified salmon gain FDA consideration. We could be eating piscine Franken-food soon. Meanwhile, carp in the Great Lakes have elbowed out their native cousins. This, courtesy of their feeding frenzied ways. Might novel species like the GM salmon prove similarly destructive if released? The debate continues.

10. Cow killed at California fair. Remember this summer story? A pregnant cow was shot eleven times by police before her "rampage" was stopped. How was it that getting a simple noose around this placid Holstein’s neck was never considered? How was getting her full-term unborn out after the shooting so blithely ignored? It’s not as if there wasn’t a vet there calling the shots, after all.


OK, now it’s your turn. What have I missed?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "newspaper kitty" by Brit.