Broward resident Baltazar Jimeno got a nasty surprise Sunday morning when he lifted the toilet seat at his Coral Springs apartment and was attacked by a ball puthon that ‘rose up and bit him’ on the arm.The snake, which measured 4 feet long, did not belong to the 52 year old Jimeno and it’s unclear how it ended up in his toilet though police suspect it may have come up through the building’s plumbing.Ball pythons are not venomous and can grow up to 6 feet long.Jimeno was treated by paramedics for the snake bite.The snake was taken by Coral Springs animal control and is being treated by a local veterinarian for an unrelated illness.
Author Scott Smith is the editor of ConsumersAdvocate.org. As a former trader on Wall Street living in NYC during 9/11, and now an editor living in Puerto Rico through Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, he found both life changing events very reminiscent of each other. On September 20, 2017, an enormous hurricane pummeled Puerto Rico and devastated much of the island.I come from New York and was living there on 9/11—and I was struck by the similarities between that tragedy and Hurricane Maria. In both situations, I went to bed in one life and woke up in another.But Hurricane Maria also got me thinking about stray dogs and cats and what they go through every day.Let me explain.When Maria’s winds died down, Puerto Rico was without electricity, internet service, and in many parts of the island, running water. Communications were down. Things I’d taken for granted like food, water, and medical care became luxuries that were hard to come by. Most stores were closed and the ones that weren’t only accepted cash. But the banking system was offline and no one could get cash. It was a situation reminiscent of the Great Depression, when people with money in the bank couldn’t withdraw and spend it and the whole economy ground to a halt.Streets that were once well lit and safe became dark and dangerous. There was looting. There were random acts of violence. Many people had to sleep with one eye open—if they got any sleep at all. The situation became so dangerous that the governor was compelled to proclaim an island-wide dusk-to-dawn curfew.Scott Smith and Eli Rivera Jr at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Levittown, Puerto RicoJust days after the storm, I was waiting in a long line at a grocery store, hoping that it wouldn’t run out of food and that I’d have enough cash to get what I needed for my family. And I had a revelation: this is how homeless dogs and cats live every day. They lead precarious lives. They go days without adequate food and water. They don’t get medical care. They’re in constant danger and have to be watchful to the point of paranoia.I was living like that now. So were nearly three million Puerto Ricans. We had become an island of strays.I’ve always had a special connection to animals. I’ve been personally involved in a number of animal rescues. I’m a human dad to four dogs, all of whom were rescued from the streets. Sad to say, there are about half a million more where mine came from—and more than 1 million stray cats. What I went through for several weeks following Hurricane Maria, they go through every day, with little hope that things will get better.As if the tragedy of stray dogs and cats was not horrific enough before Maria hit, it became even worse afterward. Approximately 300,000 people moved away from Puerto Rico on account of the storm. Many of them were unable to take their animals with them. As Maria was bearing down on the island, a friend of mine witnesses heartbreaking scenes at the San Juan airport when families had to abandon their beloved pets. To make matters worse, the federal government banned pets who weighed more than 20 pounds from air travel. The policy was intended to free up cargo space for much-needed relief supplies, but it had the unintended effect of causing another 2,000 pets to be abandoned to the streets.After 9/11, New Yorkers like me figured out ways around the damage and disruption. Yet there was no way around the devastation of Hurricane Maria. It dragged on and on for months—and will likely take years to completely dissipate. Right now, the extraordinary hardships that all of us on the island endured after Hurricane Maria have largely disappeared. But the pain continues for Puerto Rico’s homeless cats and dogs.Photo Credit: Seary FigueroaI saw a tragic example of that last winter. I got a call about a dog that had been hit by a car and badly injured. When I arrived at the scene, I found a terrified animal who was in tremendous pain and who was unable to move his hind legs. It took three hours, but we finally got him into a crate and to the Veterinaria 24/7 in Pinero.As it turned out, this poor dog’s back legs were paralyzed. He will never walk again. Fortunately, he was adopted by a loving family in Wisconsin that is giving him the best life possible. But other dogs and cats aren’t so lucky. It’s depressingly common to see the remains of dogs and cats who’ve been hit by cars in Puerto Rico. To try to combat this problem, I began a video campaign I called Drive With Compassion. It’s something—but it’s not enough.Having lived through a catastrophic storm like Hurricane Maria has given me new insight into the lives of stray animals. I now have some firsthand knowledge of what their lives are like. And having welcomed stray dogs off the Puerto Rican streets and into my heart, I can attest to how just one person can save a life.I encourage everyone to become the person who makes that kind of difference in a stray dog or cat’s life. There are some terrific organizations here that support those of us who become that difference. I urge you all to help and support them: All Sato Rescue, Alianza Pro Rescate Animales, Yes We Can-ine, Samas Boarding for Dogs, Rabito Kontento, The Humane Society of Puerto Rico, PrAnimals.org, Animalitos de Dios PR and Brownie Blondie Foundation by Marjorie Andino.Remember what I learned: hurricanes like Maria are (I hope!) a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. But what the strays of Puerto Rico experience goes on day after day after day without end. Only people who are able and willing to step up can stop it.
Sen. Hollis French speaks to reporters during a February 2014 press conference. French recently proposed a pact that would have required either Gov. Bill Walker or former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to drop out of the race for governor. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)An idea by a prominent Alaska Democrat likely would have shaken up the state’s gubernatorial race.Listen nowHollis French’s proposal, which was first reported by Anchorage Daily News columnist Charles Wohlforth, suggested either Gov. Bill Walker or former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich drop out of the race.“I think there’s a lot of what I would call anxiety in the center and the left of the political spectrum in Alaska,” French said.French wants Walker and Begich to agree that one of the two candidates could drop out to eliminate that anxiety.Begich supports the idea, but Walker rejected it.Four years ago, independent candidate Walker joined forces with Democrat Byron Mallott, shrinking a three-way race down to two major candidates.Mallott’s running mate French dropped out to allow that to happen.Walker then defeated incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell.French’s proposal suggests a measurement of which candidate is strongest would decide which candidate should drop out.The candidates could decide how to do that, French said.French suggested that if three different polls find that one candidate is polling worse than the other, the lower-polling candidate would commit to dropping out.“I got a yes from Mark Begich and I guess I would characterize it as a no from the Walker campaign,” French said.Under French’s proposal, both candidates would stay in the race if the polling was mixed.French supports Begich, but said he would vote for Walker if the race came down to the incumbent governor and either of the leading Republican candidates, Mike Dunleavy and Mead Treadwell.Begich said it took a couple of days to think about the idea.“I don’t want people to get the misunderstanding that I don’t believe I can win,” Begich said. “I believe I’m going to be in a three-way race, I have a great shot of winning it straight out. But I was happy for the greater good to consider the idea that he laid on the table.”Begich hoped Walker would agree to the proposal.“I was hoping that he would consider it, but it’s a determination that he needs to make, just as he decided not to run in the Democratic primary after committing to it,” Begich said. “He decided to switch and create the three-way race, which I think is what’s caused a lot of the dilemma here.”Begich decided to run after concluding he could win either a two-way or a three-way race. He also said he was concerned about Walker’s ability to win a two-way race.The AFL-CIO commissioned a poll in late June that found Dunleavy would win a three-way race, with Walker and Begich tied for second, but both Walker and Begich were ahead of Dunleavy in a two-way race.Walker campaign manager John-Henry Heckendorn said the governor will convince Alaskans that he’s made necessary decisions.“First I want to be absolutely clear, Mark Begich knew that if he got into the race, Bill Walker was going to run against him in the general, not in the Democratic primary,” Heckendorn said. “Walker was interested in the race for who had the strongest vision for Alaska’s future, not a competition for who was the best Democrat between him and Mark Begich. And Mark Begich knew that.”Heckendorn said Walker wasn’t the candidate who created the three-way race.“The governor filed in August of last year,” Heckendorn said. “Mark Begich filed a half-hour before the filing deadline. He absolutely had control over whether or not to put Alaskans in that position.”The deadline for candidates to remove their names from the general election ballot is Sept. 4.