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Pets on a Plane

Perplexing people, kooky crimes and odd headlines from around the globe.

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Pets on a Plane
In the same week that a dog perished after a United Airlines flight attendant insisted it be stored in an overhead compartment on a flight from Houston to New York City, another family's pet was lost by the beleaguered carrier. Irgo, a 10-year-old German shepherd belonging to the Swindle family, was mistakenly sent to Japan instead of Kansas City, Mo. When Kara Swindle and her children went to pick up their dog on March 13 after flying from Oregon, they were given a Great Dane—whose destination was supposed to be Japan. The dogs got mixed up in Denver, where they both had connecting flights. Swindle was concerned that her dog wouldn't survive the long flight back: "He is a 10-year-old dog, and he's never been on a flight before," she told KCTV 5 News. However, United had Irgo checked out by a veterinarian in Tokyo and loaded onto a private charter to Wichita, Kan., where he was reunited with his family on March 15.

I Am Not Dead Yet!
Constantin Reliu, 63, appealed unsuccessfully to a court in Barlad, Romania, in March to overturn a death certificate that his wife had obtained after not hearing from him for more than a decade. According to The Guardian, Reliu left Romania for Turkey in 1992 to look for employment, but neglected to keep in touch with his family. In 2003, Reliu's wife, believing he had died in an earthquake in Turkey, argued in court for a death certificate, which didn't come to light until Reliu was deported back to Romania because of expired papers in Turkey. Upon his arrival, immigration officers explained to Reliu that he had died in 2003. His appeal failed, as the court maintained he was too late, and the ruling is final, leaving Reliu in an odd state of limbo. "I am officially dead, although I'm alive," Reliu told Romanian media outlets. "I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can't do anything."

Divine Intervention
In a recent interview on "60 Minutes Overtime," Oprah Winfrey said that if God wanted her to run for president, "wouldn't God kind of tell me?" Oprah may have gotten her answer in the form of a letter from Jesus Christ, an 83-year-old North Waterboro, Maine, woman who started a letter-writing campaign 50 years ago to spread a message of faith and peace—around the same time that she changed her name. WGME-TV reported that Christ sent her letter to Winfrey on March 9, without knowledge of the media speculation, or Winfrey's wish for a heavenly sign, regarding her running for president. Christ said she sent the letter because she likes Winfrey, but "If she does (run), I'll vote for her—that's for sure."

• Destiny Church in Columbia, Md., tried a novel approach to attract new members to its congregation. On March 4, the church gave away five used cars to "demonstrate God's unbelievable, no-strings-attached goodness," according to The Washington Post. The idea was hatched to increase attendance at the church's new location after several years meeting in a high school auditorium. "Who doesn't need a new car?" asked Sandy Dobson, who came with her son. "Different people have different things that bring them to Christ, to church. It doesn't always have to be traditional methods." Pastor Stephen Chandler added that Jesus himself taught that giveaways are guaranteed to draw a crowd: The biggest gatherings Christ preached to came on the two times he distributed free loaves and fishes.

Animals With Issues
Louis, an 18-year-old male gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo, appears to be something of a germophobe, according to the Associated Press. When he is carrying food, 6-foot-tall Louis walks on his hind legs, like a human, rather than leaning forward on his front knuckles, as gorillas usually do. Zoo curator Michael Stern says workers installed a fire hose over a mud puddle in Louis' yard, which he crosses like a tightrope to avoid getting his feet dirty. Stern says in the wild, gorillas may stand up on their hind feet to reach food or wade in a swamp, but only for a few seconds.

Restoring Faith in Humanity
The Rev. Alex Santora of Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken, N.J., called local police on March 14 when a suspicious package was delivered to the house of worship. But after officers from the Hoboken Police Department declared it to be safe, church staff found a surprising delivery inside: a baby Jesus statue that had been stolen from the church's Nativity scene about 90 years ago. WPIX-TV reported that an unsigned note inside the package explained: The statue was stolen when the note-writer's mother was a young girl, and it became a sort of heirloom in her family. When she died, it was passed on to the note-writer, who thought it should be returned.

Ewwwww!
Ravenna, Ohio, resident Nickolette Botsford was startled by what felt like an extra-hard cashew as she enjoyed some Planters nuts in early March. As she drove, she handed the object to her mom, who turned on the interior light in the car and realized it was a human tooth -- with dried blood on it. "I got very upset, I was crying, I threw up two or three times," Botsford told WOIO-TV. She went to a hospital, where doctors confirmed it was a human tooth and treated her for exposure to blood or bodily fluids. Botsford called Planters, and parent company Kraft Heinz sent a courier to pick up the tooth for testing. The company said it is investigating its manufacturing process and suppliers.

Spooky
A member of the Listowel Paranormal Society in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, was surprised when police arrived at his door on March 13, inquiring about a small black box with a red wire protruding from it that had been left at Mackenzie Hall in Windsor. The Windsor Police Explosives Disposal Unit was called to the hall to investigate the box, but determined it was "safe" and not explosive. Society members had used the box on March 9 at the historic building to sweep for spirits. Jen Parker, assistant director for the society, called the box an EMF (electromagnetic field) sensor and said each team member carries one when they're looking for ghosts. The society's spokesperson also told the CBC that there were strong signs of paranormal activity at the hall, especially in the old jail, dressing room and basement.

Ferula!
Springville, Utah, resident Tiffany King has weathered devastating health problems. KSTU Channel 13 reported that she suffers from a condition for which the medication weakened her immune system. In January, she contracted pneumonia, which led to a blood infection, and complications forced doctors to amputate both her legs and arms. King, who is engaged, hopes to complete therapy and walk down the aisle with prosthetic legs and arms, which is where a unique fundraiser comes in: On March 17, King's friends announced "Phoenix Wing Productions Welcomes Harry Potter to Burlesque," a caricature of the blockbuster movies based on J.K. Rowling's books. All proceeds from the event on April 20 at the Utah Arts Alliance in Salt Lake City will go toward buying King's prosthetic limbs. "I'm going to work hard," King said, "because I have a family I need to get back to."

Least-Competent Criminals
Siblings Antoine Dorsey, 23, and Antoinette Dorsey, 27, of St. Louis cooked up a clever scheme to steal a car. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that on March 14, the two went to Joe-K Used Cars and asked to test drive a 2012 Dodge Charger. The salesman drove them off the lot, and the Dorseys asked him to drive to their apartment building so they could retrieve their IDs. In the parking lot of the apartment, Antoinette got out of the car, and an unidentified person drove up next to the Charger in a Volvo and got into the Charger, pulling a gun on the salesman and demanding he get out of the car. Then the man with the gun got back into the Volvo and drove away, while Antoine took off in the Charger. However, Antoine crashed and flipped the Charger, then was tracked down by police aided by witnesses to the wreck. Both siblings were charged with first-degree robbery.

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