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WebClawer: PETA members use their wedding to protest horse-drawn carriages; police investigate elephant's stone-throwing; snake with foot found

September 30, 2009 | 11:14 pm


-- PETA and other animal advocacy groups have long been ardent in their opposition to the use of horse-drawn carriages.  (Actor Liam Neeson even incurred PETA's wrath earlier this year by publicly supporting the carriages, which the group maintains are decidedly less horse-friendly than they are tourist-friendly.)  Since few places are as well-known for featuring carriage horses as New York's Central Park, PETA members Kelly Respess and Paul Kercheval held their recent nuptials there to draw attention to the abuses they argue are regularly visited on the horses.  "We chose to get hitched. Those horses don't have that choice," Respess said.  The couple favor replacing the horse-drawn carriages with electric cars made to resemble vintage automobiles -- a change they and other PETA supporters say would be kinder both to horses and to the environment.  But New York's carriage drivers, who recently joined the powerful Teamsters union, staunchly oppose such a change.  (L.A. Times)

-- Any pet owner knows that having a companion animal can be therapeutic, but now the Department of Defense is catching on, too.  It's financing a $300,000 study to test the degree to which service dogs can help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences there.  The dogs, trained to notice when their human "partners" are on the verge of a panic attack, are able to provide comfort that the Department of Defense hopes will make a big difference in the soldiers' lives.  The study, to be conducted at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in conjunction with the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, will pair 10 soldiers with psychiatric service dogs.  Those 10 soldiers will receive conventional psychiatric treatment in addition to that provided by the dogs, and they'll be compared with another group of soldiers who receive only the conventional treatment.  From there, who knows?  (Chicago Tribune)

-- South Korean police are investigating an incident in which a visitor to a Seoul zoo was allegedly hit in the head by a rock thrown by an elephant.  The visitor, identified only as Mrs. Kim, insisted to police that she saw the elephant pick up a stone in its trunk before she turned her back to it; while her back was turned, she was beaned with the rock.  Unfortunately, the zoo's security cameras didn't catch the incident on film -- so it's a case of she-said, elephant-didn't-say-anything.  (Agence France-Presse)

-- A mixed-breed dog named Murphy is being credited for rescuing an 80-year-old Ohio man who fell into a septic tank in his backyard while mowing his lawn.  The man, Paul Paff of Delhi Township, was home alone when the accident occurred and spent six hours trapped in the 15-foot-deep septic tank before Murphy arrived.  Paff explained that he heard Murphy barking in the distance and began barking and growling himself to draw the dog closer, hoping that where Murphy went, his owner would follow.  Paff's quick thinking worked, and Murphy's owner arrived and called 911.  Paff is recovering at an area hospital.  (Cincinnati Enquirer)

-- Once you see it, you can't unsee it: A woman in southwestern China awoke to find a snake with a foot clinging to her wall with its talons.  "I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound," she recalled of the bizarre sighting. "I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw."  Unfortunately, her sheer terror led her to kill the snake (and while we certainly don't condone killing animals, we can't say we blame her for losing her head in the heat of that bizarre moment).  Its body has been preserved and it's now being studied at a Chinese university.  (Telegraph)

-- Two Cincinnati women have filed a lawsuit that alleges breach of contract and fraud over the reward for the return of a missing dog.  The women claim they found and rescued the dog, a Chihuahua named Wilfred, as it was about to run into traffic.  They say they were never paid a reward offered for Wilfred's return; the defendants counter that they won't pay the reward because they believe the dog was stolen.  (Associated Press)

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Kelly Respess and Paul Kercheval depart from their horse-free Central Park wedding ceremony. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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