Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Malaria: Kill or be killed," Oct. 29, 2005

Homeward bound

It's a long way from home, but six weeks after Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast, one New Orleans woman was finally reunited with her dog. Nancy Hicks left Precious, a 7-pound Chihuahua mix, with a 25-pound bag of food and a tub full of water while she took temporary housing nearly 1,300 miles away in Tonawanda, N.Y. While two of Ms. Hicks' dogs didn't survive, a note left at her property said one had been rescued. That's when Ms. Hicks and her daughter began scouring websites and phoning the SPCA for details about the lost pet. They soon learned Precious had also found her way to the Buffalo area, when an upstate New York SPCA volunteer took the dog from a temporary shelter in Louisiana and brought it back to Buffalo. Once discovered, the reunion was sweet: Precious, wearing a dog-sized Buffalo Bills jersey, walked up to her master, sniffed at her hand, and then leapt into her arms.

Screw loose

A Belgian man had a hard time explaining why he coughed up a metal screw. "I have had a cold for the past few days," Etienne Verhees told Belgium's daily Gazet Van Antwerpen. "I had a terrible cough a few days ago. That's when I suddenly felt something in my mouth." It was a screw-but not just any screw. It was one of the screws holding down a metal plate doctors put in his neck four years ago after he broke a few vertebrae falling off a ladder. Doctors say an infection must have dislodged the screw, but they can't explain how it got into his trachea.

Roped and tied

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Authorities couldn't stop a West Texas crook, but an accidental posse could. A man who crashed a stolen pickup truck into a light pole on an Amarillo street met his match when onlookers prevented him from running away by tying him up with a garden hose. Once the man, 26-year-old Joshua G. Smith, started running, a crowd of nearly 20 chased him down and subdued him until authorities arrived.

Bank run

One Indianapolis man knows his profession. Too bad it's bank robbery. Less than a week after being released after a bank robbery conviction, Mark Konefsky tried to rob a Fifth Third Bank in Merrillville, Ind. The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to bank robbery in June 2003 and served time until his release on Oct. 7. At 12:50 p.m. on Oct. 12, police say Mr. Konefsky walked into the bank and handed the teller a note demanding cash. "Five days later, he is at it again," police chief Nicholas Bravos said. "There's a good sign he's not rehabilitated."

For the birds

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Gerard Redmond Enright Jr. was up to no good and abusing his pets, but animal control officers in Torrance, Calif., just had to see it to believe it. And what a sight. The officers walked in on Mr. Enright, 61, operating on a sedated pigeon to remove a large tumor. Amidst the stink of 300 pigeons-including dead ones-Mr. Enright explained that he had watched his veterinarian do the procedure once and had sedated the bird by giving it a shot of vodka. "There's droppings everywhere," said Patrick Wren, the head of Torrance's animal control department. "I'm wearing a mask. That says it all." Authorities arrested Mr. Enright on animal cruelty charges.

H&R flock

Accountants and bureaucrats worn down by city life in Budapest, don't despair. There are openings for folks with your skills in Hungary's "puszta," or flatland. It's just not a standard business job. A dearth of shepherds in the southern plains of Hungary and a complicated European Union law has forced industry leaders to look to unusual places for a new breed of shepherds who can herd a flock while navigating the bureaucratic tangle of the EU. Hungarian Ference Selay was trained as an architect but turned to shepherding, where he spends more time applying for grants than warding off wolves. "Being a shepherd isn't just sitting next to your dog on the field all day, smoking a pipe," he told the Nepszabadsag newspaper.

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