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The Odd Truth, Aug. 3, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Piranha Attack!

HONG KONG - A teenager found out the hard way that the fish were biting, indeed.

The boy reached into the water of a Hong Kong fountain hoping to scoop up a fish - then was bitten by what turned out to be a piranha, officials said.

The 14-year-old boy required three stitches to his left index finger but was not seriously injured in the attack early Monday morning, Housing Authority spokeswoman May Tham said.

A cleaning crew drained the fountain and found two piranhas - apparently pets that had been abandoned in the fountain at a public housing project.

Ming Pao Daily News ran a photo of the dead piranhas and one of the boy, with his left hand in a sling and blood on his short pants.

Topeka: 'City Of Morons'?

TOPEKA, Kan. - The city of Topeka is looking for a new slogan, but some residents just couldn't resist poking fun at their city's image.

Officials planned to begin a contest in October, with the winning motto to be announced around Dec. 5, Topeka's 150th anniversary.

But The Topeka Capital-Journal decided to get a head start.

Some suggestions that aren't likely to win official approval: "Topeka, you won't get a lot of unwanted relatives visiting you," and "Topeka - not as bad as you think."

Mayor James McClinton said Topeka has positive aspects like the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Statehouse that it can promote and shouldn't get sidetracked by naysayers.

"There's so much about Topeka that we all know and that we've lived over the years," McClinton said.

The slogan will be used to promote the city so it must portray it favorably - unlike many of the suggestions that the Topeka Convention and Visitors Bureau has received already.

"I didn't think they were terribly positive," said Stephanie Wallingford, the bureau's marketing and tourism manager.

And if Terry Carpenter's suggestion - "City of morons" - is any indication of the prevailing sentiment, Topeka may just forgo a slogan entirely.

"No slogan is better than a bad one," Wallingford said. "Maybe we don't use one. Maybe we get our theme knocked out and get some graphic that we can use that says it all."

Monkey Bites Toddler In Supermarket Skirmish

NEW YORK - A monkey trained to help a disabled man with chores bit a 2-year-old boy in a supermarket, authorities said.

The boy, Thomas Romano, was shopping with his grandparents at the Key Food store in Brooklyn on Monday when the monkey bit him on the arm. He was treated at a hospital and released.

The monkey's owner, Steven Seidler, 45, said the animal attacked after Romano pulled its fur. Seidler is confined to a wheelchair and uses the monkey to help him open doors and pick things up.

But Romano's grandmother, Helene Romano, said the bite was unprovoked.

"I'm walking into the Key Food, and the next thing I know, my grandson is like, 'Grandma, Grandma it hurts!' And I'm looking around and I see blood coming out of his arm," she said.

It is illegal to keep monkeys as pets in New York City, but permits are given for those trained to help the disabled.

Mythical Monster Spotted In Lake Champlain

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. - Five vacationers say they've seen New York's answer to the Loch Ness monster. Champ is the mythical creature that supposedly swims in the depths of Lake Champlain in upstate New York.

Bob Gload and four of his grandkids say they saw a dark, black, snakelike creature while bass fishing. Gload describes an explosion in the water and says he saw three humps, two-to-three-feet tall.

Gload was born in the area and says he never believed in things like Champ or the Loch Ness monster. But he's a believer now. The experts say there's no such thing as a lake monster. But you won't convince Gload. He tells the Press-Republican newspaper of Plattsburgh, he's never seen anything like Champ before.

Drug-Sniffing Dog Dies Of Suspected Overdose

LONDON - A police sniffer dog died of a suspected overdose after a drug search, police said.

Lancashire Police said Tuesday that Todd, a 7-year-old springer spaniel, fell ill after searching a car and field in Preston, northwest England, on July 24. His handler took him to a vet, but his condition deteriorated and he died at Liverpool University's specialist animal unit.

A police spokeswoman said a veterinarian had said the dog's symptoms were consistent with an amphetamine overdose. Blood samples were being analyzed to confirm the cause of death.

Todd had served with the Lancashire force for five years and lived with handler Roger Moore and his family.

"He lived with them and they would all go for walks with him - he was their dog. It was a shock for them," said Sgt. Peter Crane of the force's dog handling unit.

"He was a little bit daft, like all springers are, but they are good working dogs and they are very, very keen."

No drugs were recovered during the search, police said.

They Just Couldn't Get Enough

KINGWOOD, W.Va. - Two men who allegedly broke into the same store twice in the same night were arrested when they were spotted across the street later the same morning.

Surveillance video shows two people breaking into the Manown Mini Mart before midnight Sunday, and again early Monday morning.

"When the alarm went on the second time and we came out here, we were just thinking, certainly, it's something silly, surely someone just bumped the door or something, certainly they didn't come back," said Linda Huggins, who owns the store with her husband Randy.

Wine coolers, fortified wine and cigarettes were taken from the store, Randy Huggins said.

As the couple was cleaning up after the second break-in, Huggins said he heard an ATV start outside. Walking to a church parking lot across the street, he recognized the men from the surveillance video.

Huggins grabbed Michael Christopher Lovy and deputies caught Zachary Scott Mori, who fled on foot. Both men are 18 and from Waldorf, Md.

"I don't know if they were coming for a third time or just couldn't get the four-wheeler started to get out of here." Randy Huggins said. "They didn't seem like they were real swift."

Lovy and Mori were charged with two counts each of breaking and entering and conspiracy.

Kingwood is about 20 miles southeast of Morgantown.

Maggots: Not Just For Rotting Garbage Anymore!

WASHINGTON - It sounds disgusting, but maggots are helping doctors with some of their sickest patients. The bugs are intentionally applied to wounds that won't heal.

University of California researcher Dr. Ronald Sherman is such an advocate of the bug therapy, he's earned the nickname Doctor Maggot. He says the worms not only eat dead tissue, but produce substances that kill bacteria and stimulate healing.

Pamela Mitchell of Akron, Ohio, is convinced. She says her doctors were ready to amputate her left foot, when she begged them to try the maggot therapy. Mitchell says after ten cycles of the bug treatment she was completely cured.

Pee Plea

OSLO, Norway - Having to go is no excuse for going too fast. A Norwegian man told police he was speeding to get home to use the bathroom. Officers in central Norway clocked the man doing nearly 80 - almost 50 miles an hour above the local speed limit.

A prosecutor wanted to confiscate the man's drivers license for six months. But a judge instead revoked the man's driving privileges for five months and fined him more than $1,100.

While the judge didn't impose the max, he ruled that claiming stomach troubles is no reason for a lead foot. The judge said the man could have stopped and used a bathroom.