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WebClawer: Runaway emu captured in S.C.; three-legged dog elected mayor of Colorado town; Katherine Heigl offers reward for animal abuse information

May 7, 2010 |  7:12 pm

-- A posse of concerned Rock Hill, S.C., citizens and police managed to capture a 6-foot-tall emu that ran wild through city streets after an hours-long chase Tuesday morning. The emu dodged would-be captors with makeshift lassos and even a dog that tried to bite it as it ran past before finally being caught in a net wielded by 70-year-old Rock Hill resident Bobby Mangrum. It's unclear who owns the bird, which was unhurt in the incident. After its capture, it was brought to Mangrum's farm, where he keeps two emus of his own; it'll remain there until its owner can be found. When asked how he would fill out a police report about the incident, lieutenant Joe Johnson quipped, "I am not sure yet, as far as I know the emu broke no laws ... He did run from the police." (Rock Hill Herald)

-- The small town of Divide, Colo., didn't have a mayor, so locals decided to fill that void while helping animals at the same time by hosting a mayoral "election" with 25 dogs and cats as the candidates. Human campaign managers made T-shirts and posters extolling the virtues of the pet contenders, and Divide residents were encouraged to vote as many times as they pleased (at $1 a pop, with proceeds benefiting the local Teller County Regional Animal Shelter). The winner: A three-legged rescued pit bull named Spright who's a big favorite among locals who know her well because she regularly goes on rounds with her owner Lisa Berg, a mobile veterinarian. Spright was found on a roadside last year with a wounded front leg, which was later amputated. But having three legs hasn't slowed her down; Berg reports that she's a star soccer player and an avid runner. Spright was "inaugurated" shortly after the votes were counted, and, according to Berg, "She was in a constant state of full-body-wag." Our kind of elected official! (USA Today)

-- Former "Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine Heigl is helping to track down animal abusers through a partnership between the charity she co-founded, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, and the advocacy group Last Chance for Animals. Heigl's group, which is named for her late brother, will pony up reward money for information about animal abuse cases being investigated by Last Chance for Animals. "Getting the word out to a big audience can help us to catch an abuser quickly," said Last Chance for Animals campaign director Kim Sill, who added that the high-profile star's involvement "will really make a difference in finding perpetrators and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law." For those keeping score at home, Heigl also has six rescue dogs of her own. (People Pets)

-- An endangered right whale was rescued from a potentially life-threatening rope tangled around her upper jaw by a crossbow-carrying team of marine mammal specialists off Cape Cod, Mass., last weekend. The team was able to sever the offending rope by shooting a razor-studded arrow with the crossbow through it. (The arrow tip was fitted with a stopper designed to prevent it from cutting her in the event of a misfire.) The whale, nicknamed Wart, had apparently been spotted with rope tangled in her baleen as early as 2008, but it didn't become a serious health hazard for her until it became wrapped around her jaw. "That's when we realized, 'OK, intervention is absolutely necessary,' " said Scott Landry, the director of the team and the person who eventually shot the arrow. "Entanglements can kill a whale over time by cutting into the whale and introducing infection. We've seen quite a few right whales die of exactly this kind of entanglement." An aerial survey team later saw a whale believed to be Wart swimming with no rope in sight. (Boston Globe)

-- A Canadian man wrote to the website Consumerist to complain that a stray dog he and his girlfriend rescued while vacationing in Mexico and attempted to bring home with them mysteriously disappeared while in the care of Delta Airlines personnel in Mexico City. The couple was apparently told the dog, a small mixed-breed named Paco, was traveling in the underbelly of the plane they flew on in Mexico City and Detroit. Upon their arrival in Detroit, the man says he was told by a Delta employee that Paco had mistakenly been left off the plane but would be sent on the next flight. When Paco never arrived, the man was eventually told he'd escaped his carrier in the Mexico City airport and was missing. Delta eventually offered an apology along with financial compensation and airline vouchers; Paco's whereabouts are still unknown. (Consumerist)

-- Oklahoma governor Brad Henry signed into law this week a bill that aims to crack down on puppy mills and other large-scale animal breeding operations by imposing new regulations on breeders who have 12 or more female dogs or cats used for breeding purposes. Such breeders must be licensed, will be subject to annual inspections and must provide health certificates for their animals once the law goes into effect in the summer of 2011. "Finally everyone's gotten together and we’re going to do something about this policing problem of substandard pet breeding within the state of Oklahoma," Lee Denney, a Republican state representative and veterinarian, said of the new legislation. (The Oklahoman)

-- Lindsay Barnett

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