Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, March 21, 2005

Rescuers pull pregnant moose from icy water

KENAI - A pregnant moose that had fallen through ice into creek water most likely will be giving birth this spring, thanks to five Kenai Peninsula men.

Four snowmobilers, Dave Darsey, Wayne and Rollin Braden and Lyle Johnson, at about noon Thursday spotted the head and ears of the moose cow sticking out of a hole in the ice of Slikok Creek south of Soldotna.

They checked on the animal again a few hours later and found she was not able to get out on her own.

The four decided they would try slipping a rope around her neck to help pull her free, but they were concerned she might bolt and they wanted to be sure the rope would slip off if she did.

The tactic did not work. The rope kept coming off and the moose remained stuck.

A fifth man, Chuck Brady, a bear guard who was mauled by a bear near Anchor Point a year ago, joined the group in the rescue attempt.

Barge with fuel aboard runs aground

ILWACO, Wash. - Crews worked Sunday to retrieve an oil barge that broke away from a tugboat near the Columbia River Bar and ran aground in a cove near North Head, north of the river's mouth.

Although the barge's cargo tanks were empty, 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel remained in a double-hulled tank, said Gary Faber of Foss Maritime, which owns the tugboat.

No fuel had leaked by Sunday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a joint press release with the Washington state Department of Ecology.

The tugboat Howard Olsen was pulling the barge Millicoma in severe weather crossing the bar when a tow line broke Saturday night, the press release said. The barge drifted 3 1/2 miles to a cove near North Head in Washington state, where it was located Sunday morning.

The barge was heavily damaged, Faber said.

Thieves swipe furnace from warmup hut

FAIRBANKS - Ray Boyd was surprised when he checked on the warming hut at the Birch Hill Ski Area. He found no heat.

He got a bigger surprise when he opened the furnace room door. He found no furnace.

Bold thieves unhooked the force-air unit and made off with it sometime Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Boyd, the facilities supervisor at the borough park, entered the warm-up hut early Friday afternoon. When he went to check the furnace, he didn't notice small gouges on the trim near the hinges of the locked furnace room door.

"I put my key in the door ... and the door fell on my head," Boyd said.

Someone had removed the hinge pins. On the other side of the door, instead of the furnace, he found a small pile of screws, instruction manuals for the Lennox forced-air furnace and a worn 16-inch crescent wrench with the name "George" engraved on the head.

Fairbanks police said the furnace was taken between 9 p.m. Thursday and noon Friday.

"It appears that they entered the ski hut and removed the hinge pins to the door, disconnected the furnace and loaded it into some type of vehicle in the parking lot and took off with it," said Officer Pearl Holston. "This is one of those things that we are going to need the public to help us out with."

Doctors worry about babies' videos

SEATTLE - John C. Nelson admits that he gets a little teary-eyed every time he sees the videotape of a close friend's child being born by Caesarean section.

But don't expect Nelson - an obstetrician and president of the American Medical Association - to allow any of his patients to capture all the same heartfelt and life-changing moments on videotape. Like other doctors around the country, Nelson said increasing fears that those family videotapes could one day be used in a lawsuit led him to start asking parents to limit camera use during some of their infant's first moments.

"What once used to be really fun and warm and cozy and so forth is now a potential nail in the coffin from a liability perspective," said Nelson, who practices in Salt Lake City and delivered babies until 2003.

The medical association doesn't offer specific guidelines on personal videotaping of deliveries, but Nelson said ongoing concerns about medical liability have many doctors and hospitals at least cutting back on what they will allow. He said he began restricting mom and dad's videotaping after the medical center he practiced in, LDS Hospital, started urging limitations.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that its members discuss what limitations there may be on filming the birth during a patient's prenatal visits, so there are no surprises in the delivery room, said Larry Veltman, chair of the committee on professional liability. While doctors' preferences still vary, he said, "Certainly the tendency is to move toward less and less ability to videotape."

Property insurers asked to consider dogs' deeds, not their breeds

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The only problem Dee Robison has with her favorite Doberman pinscher, Darby, is that the 90-pound pooch gets a little jealous when she turns her attention toward the television.

"He'll just stand there with his face in my face," she said. "But that's just because he's an absolute love bug."

Most insurance companies don't seem to agree, and their policy of denying insurance to owners of certain dog breeds has lawmakers in Washington and elsewhere moving to outlaw the practice.

Robison's homeowner insurance was canceled a few years ago following a flood in a nearby town. The Graham dog breeder called several insurance companies in search of a new policy, but each one rejected her when they discovered she owned several Dobermans.

She only found insurance after an agent - and fellow Doberman owner - made a few phone calls for her.

For Robison, it was a hassle. To one state legislator, it's discrimination.

Rep. Tom Campbell's proposal would prohibit insurers from denying or canceling homeowners' policies based on the breed of dog they own. The bill passed the Washington House 71-25 and is now before the Senate.

"If we did the same thing to people, it would be called bigotry," Campbell, R-Roy, said. "They should base their opinion on behavior, not on the types of dogs."

Two other states - Michigan and Pennsylvania - have similar laws, according to the American Canine Foundation, an organization that promotes responsible dog ownership.

Otherwise several insurance companies across the country regularly deny homeowner's insurance to people owning dog breeds they consider dangerous.

Allstate Insurance's list of prohibited dogs includes pit bulls, Akitas, wolf hybrids, Rottweilers, Chow Chows and Presa/Dogo Canarios. The company also allows only one German Shepherd or Doberman per house and a maximum of three dogs total.

"We're in the business of evaluating risk, and based on what we know those dogs pose a higher risk," said Darcy Olson, Allstate's spokeswoman.



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