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OFF LIMITS

And they call it puppy love: Denver police officer N.B. Henry pulled some ruff duty in August when he replied to a complaint at a northeast Denver home. A woman there told Henry she'd returned home to give her dog some water when she heard a noise in the garage. That's where she found her husband giving the family pet something else entirely, catching him and his best friend coitus interpuptus. The man had "a blue winter coat on," she told Henry, and was "grabbing the dog by his hind legs and moving up and down having sex with the dog. It was dark in the garage, and I couldn't see real good, but he has done this having sex with our dog before."

The woman's daughter called the cops; the pet-loving husband fled the scene but was later apprehended and charged with bestiality and cruelty to animals. An animal-control officer took the dog away. At a hearing in Denver County Court a few weeks later, Magistrate William Beyer fined the fidophile, sentenced him to probation and mental-health counseling "as appropriate," and prohibited him from keeping any animals.

It's okay, Lassie. You can come home now.

Let there be blight: Although a giant Pepsi can may never tower over the Platte Valley, last Monday Denver City Council approved a revision of the sign code that allows larger billboards and brighter signs not just in LoDo (where the Coors Field logo is now legal, albeit belatedly), but at other sports and entertainment facilities across town.

But even before council approved the change (only Dennis Gallagher voted against it), the writing was on the wall. Specifically, the back of a three-story building on Platte Street, where a giant, garish mural of three Denver sports figures--last-place quarterback John Elway, last year's fave Rockie Andres Galarraga and an unrecognizable Dikembe Mutombo--startles drivers cruising along I-25. Developer Wally Hultin, who's planning to build lofts across the highway, had appealed Michael Stemple's painting to the zoning board, contending that it ranked as advertising rather than art because it violated an ordinance requiring that no more than 5 percent of a mural's surface be taken up by commercial messages. The team uniforms alone take up considerably more than that percentage of the mural, as do the athletes' images--which are also licensed commercially by their owners. "This mural clearly is an advertisement for the Rockies, the Nuggets and the Broncos," Hultin argued. "The City of Denver must draw a line between boosterism and commercialism."

Not here, it won't. Last month the Board of Adjustment turned Hultin down. "No one is actually paying for advertising space, so no one was actually deriving any commercial benefit," says the board's Janice Tilden. "The trouble was that when it actually came down to it, there's lots of public art that incorporates sports figures and teams."

And there's more good news, sports fans: If the Nuggets aren't able to come up with $10 million and Mutombo leaves town, Stemple has promised to replace his figure with that of another local hero.

Sign of the times: A whir of the chainsaw to the enterprising fellow who's taken to cruising through Washington Park with this notice in his pickup's window: "Will cut trees for food.

 
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