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The Odd Truth, Oct. 29, 2004

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

A Tighter Leash On Pet Names

BRASILIA, Brazil - A Brazilian legislator wants to make it illegal to give pets names that are common among people.

Federal congressman Reinaldo Santos e Silva proposed the law after psychologists suggested that some children may get depressed when they learn they share their first name with someone's pet, said Damarias Alves, a spokeswoman for Silva.

"Names have importance," said Alves. The congressman "wants to challenge people's assumptions that it's acceptable to give animals human names," she said.

If the law is passed, pet stores and veterinary clinics would be required to display a sign noting the prohibition of human first names for pets.

Brazilians who break the law would be subject to fines or community service.

Alves admitted the law's chances of passage were slim but said Silva hoped the bill would call attention to his other efforts to protect animals.

"He's proposed many laws to protect wildlife in Brazil, but this is the only one that has ever gotten any attention," Alves said.

Haunted House For Sale

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A South Dakota woman says a house she's selling is haunted and she swears it's no Halloween prank.

Colleen Meyers says some strange events have been happening ever since she decided to sell the two-story Victorian house in Yankton.

She says it's as if the ghosts know she plans to leave.

Meyers is trying to sell the 1892 house on e-Bay. But she says she's removing the listing from the Internet auction site until after Halloween so potential buyers don't think it's a joke.

Over the years, Meyers says she has seen a fan fly across the room, and one time saw what she thought was her son in a flannel shirt playing peek-a-boo. But when she went around the corner, her son was sleeping on the couch.

Woman Dug Up Boyfriend's Grave For Beer, Cigarettes

PORTAGE, Wis. - A woman has been arrested for digging up her dead boyfriend's ashes from a cemetery more than 10 years ago and drinking the beer that was buried with him, possibly out of spite for his family, authorities say.

Karen Stolzmann, 44, was charged Tuesday with concealing stolen property, in a case Columbia County Detective Wayne Smith calls "twisted and bizarre."

Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe De Cecco said Thursday he would determine if additional charges should be filed in his county since the urn was found at Stolzmann's Sheboygan home.

Michael Hendrickson, 27, died in 1992 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His family contacted authorities three weeks ago when they discovered his remains had been stolen.

An exhumation revealed Hendrickson's cremated remains - along with beer and cigarettes that were buried with him - were missing from Cambria Cemetery in Cambria.

Detectives searched Stolzmann's home and found her hiding in the shower. The remains, located in her garage, had "identifiable things to make us believe they're (Hendrickson's)," Smith said.

Detective Jay Yerges said Stolzmann and Hendrickson were living together in the early 1990s, while they were both married to other people. The relationship was stormy, with a pattern of alcohol and domestic abuse, he said.

Stolzmann was present when Hendrickson shot himself in January 1992. Yerges said Hendrickson's family blamed her for his death and she was not invited to his services.

"I feel that her motive was spite," Yerges said.

Robbing graves is a felony offense, but the six-year statute of limitations has passed for prosecution. There may be a way to prosecute because the alleged theft was only recently discovered, Yerges said.

Pot-Smoking Toddler

BILLINGS, Montana - A Montana woman is accused of letting her 18-month-old daughter smoke marijuana.

Jessica Durham pleaded innocent in U.S. District Court in Billings.

After a one-day trial, the judge said he would consider written arguments and rule later.

The judge said he hasn't seen a case like this. According to court documents, a friend of the defendant took photos of the toddler smoking a bong pipe. The friend testified that Durham told her she let her daughter smoke marijuana because the girl wasn't eating or sleeping enough.

Where's The Pied Piper When You Need Him?

MEXICO CITY - Rats that infested a village in northern Mexico have outlasted the cats sent to scare them away and discouraged the men who were set to hunt them down. Now at least one official says that since nothing else has worked, residents will have to learn to live with the rodents.

The desperate residents of Atascaderos, an isolated farm village in the rugged Tarahumara mountains, appealed to Chihuahua state authorities for help more than a month ago, saying the rodents had infested at least 800 homes. Officials estimate the rat population in the area at 250,000.

"It's impossible to exterminate them completely and at this point they (the villagers) are going to have to take charge and learn to control them," said Alberto Lafon, a rodent infestation expert at the University of Chihuahua who is handling efforts to exterminate the village rats.

But a top health official vowed Thursday night not to give up. Javier Lozano, director of health services in Chihuahua state, where Atascaderos is located, said surrendering would be a public health nightmare.

Authorities announced recently that they would send in up to 700 cats for a frontal attack on the rats, but only 50 cats were gathered and some died shortly after arriving. Attempts to poison the rats had little success.

The community's mayor then offered 40 cents for each rodent killed but that plan had to be withdrawn after concerns that children could be bitten by the rats when trying to kill them so they could collect the rewards.

Lafon said authorities will now concentrate on educating people about public health measures such as burning trash, burying dead rats and keeping all food in warehouses in sacks.

"The truth is they now have a rat infestation that would be hard to eradicate," Lafon said. "It's like having a fly or cockroach infestation in your home. ... How much that infestation grows depends on the owner of the house."

Move Over, Lassie

RICHLAND, Wash. - Leana Beasley has faith that a dog is man's best friend.

Faith, a 4-year-old Rottweiler, phoned 911 when Beasley fell out of her wheelchair and barked urgently into the receiver until a dispatcher sent help. Then the service dog unlocked the front door for the police officer.

"I sensed there was a problem on the other end of the 911 call," said dispatcher Jenny Buchanan. "The dog was too persistent in barking directly into the phone receiver. I knew she was trying to tell me something."

Faith is trained to summon help by pushing a speed-dial button on the phone with her nose after taking the receiver off the hook, said her owner, Beasley, 45, who suffers grand mal seizures.

Guided by experts at the Assistance Dog Club of Puget Sound, Beasley helped train Faith herself.

The day of the fall, Faith "had been acting very clingy, wanting to be touching me all day long," Beasley said Thursday.

The dog, whose sensitive nose can detect changes in Beasley's body chemistry, is trained to alert her owner to impending seizures.

But that wasn't what was happening on Sept. 7, and Faith apparently wasn't sure how to communicate the problem. During Beasley's three-week hospital stay, doctors determined her liver was not properly processing her seizure medication.