Friendly Dog Thwarts Killing Spree

Elvis — or maybe Dante — may have saved countless lives this week.

A Canadian man, angry at the world, apparently was going to begin a killing spree in a Toronto park Wednesday — until the affections of a stranger's dog made him change his mind.

"It's scary how close it could have been," Police Detective Nick Ashley told the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Now Canadian newspapers are trying to figure out just which dog it was. The prime candidate appears to be Elvis, a black border-collie mix whose owner said was petted by a tall stranger around lunchtime Wednesday.

James Stanson (search), said to be in his 40s, turned himself in to a policeman Wednesday with the bizarre story that he had planned to start shooting people at a lakeside park, then drive around the city firing at random until he was captured.

In his car, which Stanson had driven hundreds of miles from New Brunswick, were two high-powered rifles with scopes, a 12-gauge shotgun, a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, a .357 magnum revolver, a machete, a hunting knife, a camouflage balaclava (search) and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

Also in the car was a dog bowl half-full with pellets. Stanson said he had left his own dog at home.

Stanson was getting his weapons ready, he told police, when a dog carrying a Frisbee walked up to him and wouldn't leave him alone.

"He happens to be a pet lover," Ashley said, "and he decided that if there was such a nice dog in the area the people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan."

On Wednesday at about 1 p.m., Elvis the dog was running around the park with his Frisbee in front of the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant (search) in the Beaches neighborhood of Toronto, his owner, Dragana Brighton, told the National Post.

Elvis ran up to a tall man, who Brighton said looked a little out of place, and begged to be petted.

The man tugged on the Frisbee, and Elvis tugged back.

"Nice dog," he said to Brighton. "Thanks," she replied. Then they went their separate ways.

Brighton forgot about the encounter until she turned on the news the next day.

"It's surreal," she said to the National Post. "I would like to think it's Elvis because it would make me feel prouder ... but I don't know," she told the Globe and Mail.

Another possibility is Dante, a husky-Australian shepherd mix, whose owner said played with a "middle-aged" man Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm not claiming it's him," Kristina Kyser, apparently sharing Brighton's typically Canadian self-effacement, told the Globe and Mail.

Stanson has been charged with eight weapons-related offenses.

Moon Shines in Connecticut Courtroom

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man has been jailed for six months on a contempt charge after dropping his pants and mooning a judge. Richard Brown, 38, was jailed Wednesday after an outburst in front of Superior Court Judge Patrick Carroll.

Brown shouted insults and obscenities after the judge had told him to address the court as "sir."

"Sir? Kiss my [expletive], sir!" Brown shouted, dropping the pants of his two-piece prison jumpsuit and pointing his rear end at the judge.

Carroll summarily sentenced Brown to six months in prison for contempt of court.

Brown continued to shout taunts and expletives, including allegations that court officials are "racist" and "devils," as he was restrained by state marshals and forcibly escorted through the side door of the courtroom to a holding cell.

Brown's outburst came during a plea hearing, during which he was expected to plead guilty to armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, in exchange for a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, suspended after 10 served.

After the outburst, the prosecutor withdrew the plea agreement.

Brown is next due to appear in court Nov. 24.

Houston DA Has Identity Stolen

HOUSTON (AP) — If you're going to steal someone's identity to draw from their bank account, you might as well go for someone with a good job.

A woman with a history of fraud got the bank account number of Houston's chief prosecutor, and is now accused of writing hot checks.

Harris County (search) District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal had to shut down his bank account, contact police and draw money out of his children's savings account temporarily.

"It's been a huge hassle," Rosenthal said. "I've spent way too much time trying to get things straight with all these banks."

A 30-year-old Beaumont woman, Sharon Durbin (search), allegedly wrote nearly two dozen phony checks on the DA's personal bank account, investigators say. She passed herself off as "Cathy Rosenthal" and had a fake driver's license to match.

Durbin was indicted this week on a felony charge of using a fake check. Rosenthal recused himself from the case and state District Judge Carol Davies appointed a special prosecutor, Wayne Hill.

It is unclear how Durbin got Rosenthal's bank account number, investigators said.

The 21 fake checks totaling more than $9,000 were used to purchase computers, groceries and gift certificates at a Petsmart store, authorities said.

Marijuana-Flavored Booze Hits Market

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) — A large alcoholic drinks manufacturer has launched a marijuana-flavored liquor, the company said Friday.

The drink does not contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (search), or THC, which is the active substance in marijuana. But the beverage does have an alcohol level of 16 percent, said Jiri Janak, the head of liquor production at Drinks Union.

"We produce it from hemp, but there's no THC in it," Janak said, adding he has received no complaints from anti-drug activists.

He said the flavored vodka is sold mostly in large supermarket chains and in some restaurants.

Cats Help Man Beat Dog

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — In the war between cats and dogs, score one for the cats. Stray cats who distracted a drug-sniffing police dog have helped a man beat drug charges.

Officers had a tip from a confidential informant that drugs were stored in a vehicle about one block from the home of Kirk Sallis, 47.

Police found the car July 25, 2003, and sent for the drug dog. But the canine was distracted by cats in the area, records state, and it wasn't able to complete the job of sniffing for drugs.

Meantime, Sallis came over to the vehicle and declined to allow police to search it.

Police called a wrecker and towed the vehicle to the police station for further inspection. The dog indicated drugs were in the car, and police obtained a search warrant. A search of the car turned up cocaine.

But Judge Stephen Clarke ruled this week that police didn't have any other reason to impound the car and should have applied for a search warrant before it was towed.

The judge's ruling dismisses charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to deliver and violation of the drug tax stamp act.

Cute Stowaway Ends Up in Zoo

SEATTLE (AP) — An arctic fox (search) that apparently survived on garbage for two weeks after becoming an inadvertent stowaway on a ship will be displayed at a zoo, officials say.

The bluish-brown fox is believed to have boarded the ship during a port stop in the Aleutian Islands (search). An employee found the animal in the vessel's trash bin after it arrived at a shipyard last month.

"The first thing I thought was, 'Boy he's been in here awhile,'" said Cooter Whitaker, a Samson Tug and Barge terminal manager.

Woodland Park Zoo curator Dana Payne said the animal will be the zoo's first arctic fox. About 45 of the animals are found in North American zoos, she said.

The stowaway is "not shy about people," appears to be elderly and likely would have difficulty surviving in the wild, Payne said. It has been quarantined to determine if it has rabies, but could make its public debut by Labor Day.

The fox has gained weight since its arrival on a diet of frozen mice and quail, and had surgery to remove a lump on his side, zoo officials said.

Adult arctic foxes are about 3½ feet from the nose to the tip of the tail, weigh 6 to 10 pounds and are found in tundra and treeless coastal areas of North America, Iceland, Greenland, Scandinavia and Siberia.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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