This week in odd news: Dog comes home with a surprise; Gnomes find new homes, Nevada town for sale

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New leash on life: K-9 gets 2nd chance by tracking jaguar

(Conservation CATalyst and Center for Biological Diversity via AP)

Mayke was trained to track smugglers but couldn't cut it as a border detection dog because she was afraid of big trucks.

Now, the chocolate-colored Belgian Malinois tracks a different kind of border crosser: El Jefe, the only known jaguar living in the United States.

Carnivore biologist Chris Bugbee adopted Mayke after border authorities rejected her in 2012. Now, he and the 65-pound dog spend their days tracking El Jefe in the Santa Rita Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona.

Bugbee studies the jaguar for Conservation CATalyst, a partner of the Center for Biological Diversity that focuses on conserving cats.

He says Mayke has discovered several of El Jefe's resting places, along with some of the first genetically verified jaguar droppings in the United States.

Man with 13 dead chickens in trees draws neighbor's ire

TIVERTON, R.I. (AP) _ A Rhode Island man who has 13 dead chickens hanging from trees outside his home is drawing complaints from a neighbor and a police inquiry.

The Newport Daily News ( ) reports that the Tiverton man told police Wednesday that he is simply drying the chickens out before properly disposing of them.

Chief Thomas Blakey says the man hasn't been charged with a crime, but police are continuing to investigate whether there are any potential health risks or if the homeowner is violating any town ordinances.

The man keeps live chickens. Town Administrator Matthew Wojcik says animal control workers inspected the property and found that those animals are healthy.

Tiverton officials became aware of the hanging dead chickens Monday after a neighbor called to complain.

Tiny gnome homes evicted from park appear elsewhere

(Mark Pynes/ via AP)

NEWPORT, Pa. (AP) — Some tiny gnome homes that were evicted from a Pennsylvania park are making magic elsewhere.

Little Buffalo State Park managers gave permission for Steve Hoke to create the mini houses in December but then decided they could affect wildlife habitat.

Hoke had made about 40 gnome houses in tree roots, in hollow logs and on stumps around the forest near Newport. He says children loved the houses but he removed them last month.

Millerstown and Duncannon offered to keep the gnome homes in local parks.

News site ( ) reported Monday that 11 gnome homes have been moved to Millerstown Community Park and three are in Noye Park in Duncannon.

Hoke says the reaction to the gnome homes has been positive and "people are thrilled to have them there."

Dog comes home with a surprise: Bag of marijuana

LAUREL, Miss. (AP) _ Officials say a family dog in Mississippi recently came home with more than a bone or toy to play fetch _ the pup had a big bag of marijuana.

The Jones County Sheriff's Office says in a statement that narcotics deputies were sent to the home Saturday to investigate the unusual incident.

According to the statement, the homeowner told deputies that when his dog came home with the bag, he initially thought it was garbage. But he inspected it and found that it contained a leafy substance that smelled like marijuana.

Authorities say they recovered about a pound of the drug. How or where the dog got the bag is not known.

Special delivery: Cat sent by mail survives 8 days in box

LONDON (AP) — A tough Siamese cat named Cupcake has survived eight days cooped up in a box after accidentally being sent through the mail by her British owners.

Cupcake was in a box with an order of DVDs that was sent from Cornwall in southwestern England to West Sussex in south-central England.

The recipient found a badly dehydrated Cupcake in the box along with the DVDs and contacted the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for help. The RSPCA traced the owners through the cat's microchip.

"We looked everywhere for her," owner Julie Baggott said Sunday, adding that she felt terrible about Cupcake's ordeal.

Vets said Cupcake needed treatment but should recover fully.

Venomous snakes found in package at post office

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) — Two dead venomous snakes were found in a package in a western Pennsylvania post office earlier this month, federal authorities said.

The box shipped from the Philippines to the Beaver County post office was declared as containing T-shirts, The Beaver County Times ( ) reported.

Capt. Thomas Christ of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission said a waterways conservation officer opened the box and found two venomous pit vipers, both dead.

Pit vipers find their prey and places to hide by sensing heat. There are more than 150 species of pit vipers. Officials didn't reveal the exact kind of snake, but said they believe the reptiles were alive when they were put in the box.

Additional snakes were found at the home of the person to which the box was addressed, Christ said. He said he could not say what the person intended to do with the snakes if they had arrived alive. U.S. Fish and Wildlife authorities are investigating.

Mailing an animal is a federal offense, and in Pennsylvania, a permit is required to buy a snake, said Henry Kacprzyk, curator of reptiles at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. "On a legal end, it's not something that is a moneymaker," Kacprzyk said.

Kacprzyk also said that brining an exotic snake from another country is dangerous, since hospitals carry antivenom antidotes for venomous snakes common to the United States but don't have antidotes for those from other countries.

"People are taking risks," Kacprzyk said. "People assume if they get a bite, they can go to the hospital, and that is not the case."

Couple find rodent parts in canned green beans

Indiana bakeries feud over 4-sided doughnuts

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Two Indiana bakeries share a love for four-sided doughnuts but one of them believes there is room for only one square doughnut-maker.

According to the Post-Tribune ( ), Valparaiso-based Family Express asked a court Thursday to declare that it can continue to call its products "Square Donuts."

But Terre Haute-based Square Donuts, which has been making its doughnuts since the 1960s and has nine locations, wants Family Express to cut it out.

Family Express started making its version in 2005, and a year later, Square Donuts sent Family Express a cease-and-desist letter.

The low-level disagreement fermented quietly for several years until Square Donuts in 2013 trademarked its name.

Family Express contacted Square Donuts to try to reach an agreement over the name but those talks went nowhere.

Cops: Pennsylvania woman takes cab from NYC, skips $600 fare

DENVER, Pa. (AP) — A 44-year-old woman is accused of skipping out on a $600 fare after police say she took a taxi 135 miles from New York City to her Pennsylvania home.

Authorities say the cab arrived at Kelli Boyer's Denver, Pennsylvania, home around 1 a.m. Sunday and she told the driver she would be back in a few minutes to pay the fare. When she didn't return in about 15 minutes, the driver called police.

Police say officers made several attempts to contact the Lancaster County woman but she refused to answer her door or phone. She's charged with theft of services.

Online court records don't list a defense attorney who could comment on the charges.

Worst menu? Tainted olives, sugar and fake booze

PARIS (AP) _ It reads like the world's worst menu.

Italian olives painted with copper sulphate solution, Sudanese sugar tainted with fertilizer, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of bogus alcoholic drinks top Interpol's annual tally of toxic and counterfeit food seized by police agencies across the world.

The haul of bogus diet supplements, adulterated honey and formalin-drenched chicken guts makes for stomach-churning reading.

A statement Wednesday by Interpol said that a record 10,000 tonnes (roughly 11,000 U.S. tons) has been recovered across 57 countries. Some busts have been previously reported.

European law-enforcement agency Europol, which coordinated the seizures along with Interpol over the past three months, says counterfeit food is "a multi-billion criminal industry which can pose serious potential health risks to unsuspecting customers."

Cops seek owner of jewelry found in department store purse

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Police are trying to figure out who owns some jewelry found inside a new purse a woman purchased from a central Pennsylvania department store.

Logan Township police Chief Tim Mercer says much of the jewelry was high quality and obviously "used" so police believe a woman may have purchased the handbag, began to stock it with belongings, then forgot about the jewels when she returned it.

Whatever happened, the jewels were in the purse when another woman purchased it from the Boscov's store in Logan Town Center on March 12. The mall is near Altoona, about 85 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Police say the woman who bought the purse discovered the jewels and turned them into police on Sunday.

The jewelry includes rings, necklaces, bracelets and watches.

Arizona, Indiana towns at odds over John Dillinger's Tommy gun

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Police in southern Arizona are at odds with a small Indiana town over a Tommy gun taken from notorious gangster John Dillinger during an arrest more than 80 years ago.

Officials in Peru, Indiana, want the Colt Thompson submachine gun turned over that Tucson police confiscated in 1934 when they took Dillinger into custody and now display at police headquarters, The Arizona Daily Star reported ( ).

Peru officials told local newspaper Kokomo Tribune that they believe the weapon was stolen from police there in 1933 when a Dillinger accomplice posed as an insurance agent and asked police to lay out their guns so he could give them a quote.

Dillinger, accomplice Harry Pierpont and others returned to the police station that night and held officers at gunpoint while stealing several items, including the Tommy gun, said Peru City Attorney Pat Roberts, whose father was one of the officers on duty.

After other robberies nationwide, the outlaws were caught in Tucson.

"We understand it's a big part of their history," Tucson police Sgt. Pete Dugan said of the request for the gun. "But it's also a big part of Tucson's history."

Dillinger and his accomplices had several weapons when they were arrested, and it can be difficult to determine the origin of each, Dugan said.

Peru officials say the gun's serial number can prove their claim.

Nevada town up for sale for $8 million

(David Becker/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

CAL-NEV-ARI, Nev. (AP) — Buying your own town is as easy as buying 500 acres of vacant land located just 70 miles south of Las Vegas from the founder of a place called Cal-Nev-Ari.

Nancy Kidwell is offering the entirety of her town for just $8 million. She tried to sell the property in 2010 for $17 million but couldn't find any buyers. Now the 78-year-old has dropped the price and is including Cal-Nev-Ari's casino, diner, convenience store, 10-room motel, RV park and mile-long dirt airstrip in the deal.

The only things not for sale are the residents themselves, some privately owned homes, the small community center and a volunteer fire station built by Clark County.

Kidwell and her husband, Slim, founded the town in 1965 when it was just an empty swath of land along U.S. 95. Now it is home to about 350 people, but Kidwell said she can't sustain it. Slim died in 1983 and her second husband died in 2011, leaving the bulk of maintaining the town to her.

"It's time for someone else to do something with it," the 78-year-old said. "Fifty-one years is long enough."

Listing broker Fred Marik said the main value of the property is land and that the businesses are "just breaking even." He said he is advertising the town as a blank canvas. It doesn't have paved roads, but it does have deep-water wells, a sewer system and a utility company.

When real estate was a hot commodity, investors bought land in rural towns outside Las Vegas — Kidwell said she once had two people get into a bidding war for the town — but when the economy crashed interest died down.

Marik said he has received a few inquiries so far, with prospective buyers considering the land for a retirement community, a renewable energy project, a motorsports park, a dude ranch, a survival school, a shooting range or a "marijuana resort," if that were to become legal.

Oops! Rhode Island tourism video features Reykjavik, Iceland

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Maybe the state should be called Rhode Iceland.

Rhode Island officials yanked a new tourism video, designed to draw visitors to the state, off YouTube in embarrassment on Tuesday after eagle-eyed viewers complained it showed a scene shot in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik.

The state's economic development agency, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, confirmed the goof and blamed an editing company.

The state released the video at a meeting on Monday night and posted it online Tuesday for a new campaign. The video's intro features a skateboarder outside a glass building and has a narrator saying, "Imagine a place that feels like home but holds enough uniqueness that you're never bored." People on social media said: Hey, that's not Rhode Island — that's the Harpa concert hall and conference center in Reykjavik.

Designer Greg Nemes visited Iceland in October and said he recognized the photogenic building, which has a steel framework and an exterior skin of differently colored glass panels.

"It was pretty unmistakable to me, so I did some digging around and posted on Facebook about it," he said. Social media users agreed with him, posting side-by-side photos of the building in the Rhode Island ad and Harpa.

Miner to keep digging for gold despite $12.5M casino win

ELKO, Nev. (AP) _ Despite winning more than $12.5 million at a casino, a Nevada miner plans to keep digging for gold.

Efren Aguirre tells the Elko Daily Free Press ( ) that he loves his job as rock breaker operator in a gold mine and doesn't intend to quit. The 64-year-old resident of Elko hit the jackpot on a slot machine last week.

Aguirre says he came to the U.S. from Mexico for "more money," but this wasn't what he expected.

He has worked at Newmont Mining Corp.'s Leeville mine for 16 years. He says he decided to go to the casino after a shift on March 22.

Aguirre says he and his wife of 44 years bought their dream house in Elko and will put away most of the remaining money for a rainy day.

Police: Man had 1,400 bags of heroin hidden inside his body

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) _ A New York City man has pleaded not guilty after police say they found more than 1,400 bags of heroin stashed inside his body.

Vermont State Police say 41-year-old Fernando Estrella of the Bronx was pulled over for a traffic violation early Tuesday in St. Albans. Authorities say a police dog detected drugs but police did not find any in the minivan.

Police say they got a warrant for a body cavity search and 1,428 bags of heroin were removed from Estrella at a hospital.

Estrella pleaded not guilty to felony heroin possession, heroin trafficking, heroin importation and violating conditions of his release.

He's being held Wednesday. It was not immediately known if he had a lawyer who could comment on his behalf. A message left at the public defenders' office after hours was not returned.

Replacement arrives for decapitated Ronald McDonald statue

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A new Ronald McDonald statute has arrived in Burlington, Vermont, after vandals burned, decapitated and cut the feet off the old one that sat outside a Ronald McDonald House for sick children and families needing to be close to the University of Vermont Children's Hospital.

The Burlington Free Press reports ( that the new smiling statue was chauffeured from Springfield, Missouri, arriving Tuesday morning with a police escort.

Ken Coleman and his wife, who donated and delivered the statute, had learned about the Burlington Ronald McDonald's plight from Coleman's mother. His family had been in the McDonald's restaurant business for nearly 30 years before he sold his four locations in February.

Santa Barbara Zoo unveils its new member: A baby Masai giraffe







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