Firefighters who responded to a blaze at a Lakewood home in January discovered a cat named Zoe in the basement suffering from smoke inhalation. Fortunately, the firefighters had special pet-sized oxygen masks that had been donated to the West Metro Fire Rescue District a couple of years earlier. Damn the tuna breath.

In January, a cow in Boulder County knocked a woman off her bicycle and then walked over her legs. The woman told authorities she'd stopped her bike to let the cow cross the road, but the cow barreled into her instead.

A fifteen-year-old Lyons boy was cited for cruelty to animals after his mother discovered 53 baby birds in his bedroom and called wildlife authorities in June. The birds, which included swallows, sparrows and a blue jay, were taken to a local rescue center; only sixteen survived. The boy gave police no explanation.

A four-foot-long alligator was discovered in an irrigation ditch north of the town of Hotchkiss last July — dead. State wildlife officials said the alligator had probably been released into the ditch while still alive.

CRAZY CRIMINALS

Jacob John Polick was sentenced to five years of probation in February, more than a year after he planted a dirty plastic syringe full of crack cocaine inside a bag of Ruffles potato chips and attempted to extort money from the Frito-Lay company. Polick had told the company that he got dizzy and began vomiting after eating the chips; Frito-Lay caught on to the ruse rather quickly, however, since Polick had made a similar complaint in 2006.

A Denver Blackjack Pizza employee reporting to work early one March morning found a man's legs dangling from a vent above the oven. The man, 21-year-old Andrew Baca, was yelling, "Help me, help me." It took firefighters twenty minutes to rescue the stuck Baca; police then held him for investigation of burglary and criminal mischief.

Janeen Davis was just minding her own business one evening last January, watching TV in her new Boulder apartment, when a man walked in through the front door, went back to the kitchen, opened the freezer and dug out a vial of brown liquid hidden in the lining. Davis told him to leave, but a second man standing outside told her not to worry — that he was a former tenant there and "just wants to get something out of the freezer," according to a police account in the Daily Camera. Police later arrested 24-year-old Allen Paul Kandyba, who was indeed a former tenant — one with a criminal record that includes more than two dozen drug-related charges since 2003.

A clown wearing a dress and brandishing a gun robbed a Boulder liquor store in January. The robber had a fake nose, a purple wig and white and red makeup.

More than $400,000 worth of jewelry, designed by former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and stolen from a Durango gallery in late 2008, turned up in Las Vegas in January after police arrested a New Mexico man whom they suspected of armed robbery. Police said Brett Clinton Combs also had firearms and thousands of rounds of ammo.

FIT TO BE TIED

In April, Boulder police arrested twenty-year-old Abby Toll after she admitted to taping a shiba inu puppy named Rex to the side of her refrigerator; the woman had used clear packing tape, a plastic bag and elastic hair ties to bind the dog's feet, tail and snout. According to the Daily Camera, Toll was mad at her boyfriend because he hadn't gotten rid of the dog after it bit her. She was charged with felony animal cruelty. "I know this looks bad. We were going to get rid of him anyway. We usually don't do this," Toll reportedly said.

Northglenn police arrested a man who'd taped his dog's mouth shut to stop it from barking. Michael Dennis Reust was charged with animal cruelty.

A 52-year-old woman was arrested in January and charged with child abuse after police said she used plastic zip ties to cuff her ten-year-old daughter's hands behind her back every night at bedtime for a year so that the girl wouldn't steal food.

A Palmer Elementary School secretary was arrested in October after the mother of a six-old-boy told police that the woman had taped her son's mouth shut and taped his wrists together. Jennifer Carter was charged with child abuse and false imprisonment and then fired from her job. According to news reports, school documents showed that at least one teacher thought the boy had been acting uncontrollably a day earlier. Carter has a trial set for February.

A STATUTE ON STATUES

In September, thieves stole a life-sized fiberglass Ronald McDonald statue from a bench in front of Denver's Ronald McDonald House on East 21st Avenue. The organization said it didn't have enough money in its budget this year to replace the $3,500 statue.

A sculpture of a naked rock climber scaling a mountain, his or her backside exposed to the world, caused a stir in the town of Silt when it was placed in a downtown roundabout last September. At least one man, Forrest Jacobs, complained to town officials and to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent about the butt's crack, saying that the figure didn't appear to be naked in a drawing he'd seen before it was built. "There was no crack involved," Jacobs told the paper. "He just put that in, and now it stands out."

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