And finally, a couple of items to remind you that leaving your pets in the car is Welcome back to "Paw & Order," the periodic Shine Pets round-up of the best and worst (by which we generally mean "dumbest and most hilarious") in pet-related crime stories. a terrible idea. The first comes from upstate New York, where Brian Higgins Jr. of Jordanville is facing 13 counts of torturing animals and "failure to provide sustenance"; he allegedly left 19 reptiles, including geckos, lizards, and snakes, in a hot car without food and water for 26 hours. Thirteen of the animals died. Higgins is due back in court July 26. No word on whether the other six reptiles were removed from his care.
Since last we met, and whapped our foreheads with our palms, tragedy struck the Chicago area when a pet piranha bit off a toddler's fingertip. The mystery here isn't that her parents chose to keep piranhas in a spot accessible to a toddler – and anyone who's spent time around toddlers knows, they will make almost anything "accessible" to themselves whether you like it or not – it's that, initially, "The mother believed the family’s pit bull had bitten the child." Police investigated further, and found "that piranhas, swimming in a fish tank near where the child had been playing, may have been responsible."
The toddler's father cut open a piranha and recovered the fingertip, at which time child and digit were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, and here's what we don't get. If Dad is quick-thinking enough to autopsy the toothy fish and find the finger, why isn't he smart enough not to keep pets this potentially dangerous in a house with a child? I mean, the Pit is one thing; we know Pits aren't inherently dangerous. But the parents immediately blamed the Pittie, not us, and they keep other pets who are known to strip a cow down to the bones in minutes. Maybe they should consider something a little less dangerous. Like a grizzly.
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Meanwhile, in South Pasadena, police arrested an alleged puppy-napper who had been spotted on videotape smuggling a Puggle puppy worth $1000 out of the Pet's Delight pet store. The puppy did have a microchip and had been registered as stolen, but that's not how cops nabbed the thief – he came to them, returning the Puggle to the store a week and a half after snagging it. Was he hoping to bait-and-switch his way into a refund? Did the puppy pee in the getaway car one too many times? The pooch pincher didn't say.
And in the "good fences make good neighbors" department, a Missouri couple has brought criminal charges against their neighbor, claiming that her Chihuahuas scared their pet chicken to death. Joy McDonald, who is studying to become a vet, is charged with misdemeanor animal abuse for allegedly allowing her dogs Peaches and Domino to roam onto George and Nittaya Gamblin's property – roam, and bark threateningly at the Gamblins' pet chickens, terrifying one of them to the point of a heart attack.
According to George, this isn't the first dog of McDonald's to kill a Gamblin bird, although he didn't get into details about the prior incident. McDonald, for her part, says she's tried to make amends, saying she was sorry and building a dog run for the tiny dogs – but she considers the fracas "asinine" and "blown way out of proportion." We have to wonder how frail your chickens are if a five-pound dog can give it that bad a scare.
If anyone has further information on this next weird-news blurb from the New York Post, please follow up in the comments: Bryan Paul Smith, 26, of Leavenworth, KS was sentenced to four years in jail for, among other weird crimes, "holding an acquaintance’s pet spider for a $100 ransom." No offense, arachnophiles, but if Smith had to physically hold the spider, he should have asked for way more than a hundred bucks.
Smith also vandalized cars "and stole a Siberian husky." Probably to protect him from the spider, but who knows. Again, more information welcome on the arach-napping.
Because it's not just weather extremes that can be dangerous for pets; it's the criminal element. Two Maltese dogs, Bianco and Misha, were taken from a parked car in Brickell, FL before the July 4th holiday, and owners Jennifer and Patrick Orlando have taken off work to try to find them. Patrick noted that, when they returned to the car, which was parked in a garage structure, after only 10 minutes, they found a window broken and the dogs missing. WE will note that seeing two tiny dogs in a locked car in FLORIDA, in the summertime, may have inspired a good Samaritan to rescue the hounds, not steal them…
…but it turns out the dogs may have been stolen after all, by a thief looking to resell them as younger dogs (Bianco and Misha, father and daughter, are 7 and 5 respectively). A local man saw the dogs for sale, remembered one of the 16,000 flyers Patrick had posted around the area, and took a quick video on his phone, which he sent to Patrick. Patrick hasn't been able to track down the salesman, but swears the dogs in the video are his. Again, we have to wonder why dogs this dear to your family, whom you can recognize on a grainy, jumpy cellphone video, were left in a car during errands time, but we hope the canine family is okay. Updates as we have them, but in the meantime, people, please: do not leave pets in the car for any length of time. It's just not worth it.
Heard a good pet/crime story – funny, silly, scary, or sad? We'd love your tips. Leave links and laments in the comments!
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Elsewhere on Shine Pets:
Paw & Order: No kittens in the champagne room
Why dogs hate fireworks: some not-so-obvious reasons
Cat film fest, hermit-crab pageant