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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Police: Woman Held Cat For Ransom After Losing Dog

GREENACRES, Fla. - A South Florida woman has been charged with theft and extortion, accused by police of kidnapping a family's cat and holding it for ransom in hopes of getting her dog returned.

Police said it all began in May when Linda Urioste's black Labrador Scooby disappeared from her Greenacres home.

The dog was picked up by Animal Care and Control and held for five days before being adopted by Jutta Hollar and her husband.

Hollar told WPBF News 25 that they had the pup -- now named "Buddy" -- about two weeks when they received word that Urioste had stopped by Animal Care and Control looking for him.

Hollar said that she and her husband were considering returning the dog until they met with Urioste to discuss the situation.

"But she was very rude and yelled at us and treated us really not very nice," Hollar told WPBF.

She said that they decided that Buddy was staying put when Urioste threatened to sue them.

A few days after the confrontation, Hollar realized that the family's cat, Mitz, was gone from her usual outside spot. Hollar began to wonder where the cat could have gone when she received a phone call from Urioste.

"I was the used-to-be-owner, but I was wondering if you were missing a gray pussy cat. Because a pussy cat ran out in front of my car not far from your house and I saved its life. I almost ran him over. So, I was just wondering how you are enjoying Scooby, because I am enjoying your pussy cat while he is in his crate. You call it crate, I call it a cage. Have a nice day," Urioste is heard saying on a answering machine tape.

Greenacres police said that Urioste admitted to them that she had the cat and refused to give it back unless the Hollars gave her dog back.

Urioste was arrested and charged with theft and extortion.

Mitz was returned to the Hollars' home safely.

"When I realized what she had done, it was just unbelievable. Just unbelievable," Hollar told WPBF.

Urioste did not return a phone call for comment. According to a police report, she told police that she waited so long to look for her dog because she thought he had been stolen.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Your Own: Strategies for Successful Single Parenting
Even as single parenting becomes more common, it remains as challenging as ever — but still offers great rewards.
Richard Bromfield, PhD

It doesn't take more than a glance at your child's class contact list to realize that today's families come in all shapes, sizes, and arrangements. For many reasons, including divorce and adoption by single parents, many more children are being raised in single-parent households than ever before. In the United States, one in three children will be born to a single mother and nearly half of all marriages will end in divorce. These statistics mean that many American children will live part or all of their childhoods being raised by a single parent.

Parenting with a partner is hard enough; trying to do it without the support of an in-home partner is arguably more than twice the job and presents numerous challenges for both the adult and the child. As a single or custodial parent, you oversee almost all of your child's caretaking: the morning rush, bedtime, bathtime, homework, shopping, scheduling, driving, daily discipline and parenting, and everything in between. Even if you are sick, stressed, or exhausted, it falls on you to step up and do what's needed. Most single parents put extreme pressure on themselves to go above and beyond the call of duty to compensate for what they feel their child might be missing due to their family circumstances. And if that isn't enough, the majority of single parents juggle a job or career.

Single parenting is no doubt a noble mission and a massive undertaking, but it doesn't have to be dominated by hardship, shame, guilt, stress, or the pursuit of perfection. Raising a child on your own can be a rewarding, successful experience if you remember at all times that you are only human. Striving to create balance for yourself, reaching out to others for help, and most importantly, carving out some relaxation time for you and your child are all great places to begin laying the foundation for a happy, healthy single-parent household. Keep the following strategies in mind as you continue to develop your role:

Strive for good enough. As parents, we all tend to hold ourselves to unrealistic ideals and images. In our heads we may wish to be those other parents that we — often inaccurately — imagine have it all together. Or we hold tightly to dreams that (ironically) can both comfort and torture us — dreams, perhaps, of giving our children a home as wonderfully dependable and secure as the Waltons'. Unfortunately, perfection is a perilous goal that leads mostly to failure and beating up on oneself. Observe the parents around you carefully before buying into a fantasy you've created. Every parent has flaws and makes mistakes, and you are no different just because you're parenting on your own.

Find a way to work with your former spouse if you are divorced. In this case, the fact is that your child has two parents. As the custodial parent, always do your best to communicate and collaborate with your ex in ways that serve the best interests of your child. You may always carry big hurts from that relationship in your heart, but your child only has one childhood, and he loves and needs both of you. Strive to protect your child from marital strife and never ask him to choose sides. (If neglect or abuse is involved, you'll need to work with a professional family counselor.)

Under normal circumstances, be sure to notice and acknowledge your spouse's efforts, love, and good parenting — for your child's sake. Work to set aside your anger and frustration to see the bigger picture and remember the more enduring wish for your child to have both parents equally present in his life.

Be a parent. I mean precisely that: be just one parent — you do not need to act as two. Many single parents feel they have to compensate for not having a partner around the house. This is particularly true for single mothers who devote extraordinary energy to performing what they judge to be fatherly activities in addition to everyday parenting tasks.

Make peace with your situation. Many single parents I meet carry the heavy weight of guilt for raising their children without two parents, whatever the reasons and circumstances. They feel bad over having divorced, having never married, or having had a child without a partner. At best, this self-loathing creates extra stress, and at worst, it is destructive enough to cause you to parent less effectively. Take pride and joy in the good effort you are making now.

Learn to ask for help and reach out to others. If you are like most single parents, you are busy and tired, which can lead to your self-esteem suffering. As a result, your tendency might be to shy away from other parents. But by avoiding others, you deprive yourself of people who could likely help you with concrete tasks. Other single parents who've lived through the same dilemmas, for example, may have valuable suggestions, be willing to share child care or tasks, or offer to lend a sympathetic ear. Connecting with other single parents serves as a reminder that you are not alone in your predicament and worries.

Learn to consult with others about decisions. You can model your parenting on the way CEOs run their businesses. They rely on teams of specialists to help them make their decisions and count on the input of others who have relevant skills and talents. Seek out trusted others in your community — parents at the playground, friends with children, your own parents or family members, teachers and psychologists at your child's school, your pediatrician, and even people at single-parenting support groups. Envision yourself as the Chairperson of the Family. Use your "consultants" to bounce ideas off and to help clarify your own problem solving. Resist hasty decisions meant to alleviate pressure. Instead read that discomfort as a signal that you need an outside perspective.

Care for yourself. As a single parent especially, you need to meet your own needs before you can successfully meet your child's. This tension is basic to most every single-parent home. Taking care of yourself is a priority, even if something else, like the dishes or cooking a full dinner, has to slip. Be sure to get enough sleep and train yourself to take quick power naps. Eat as well as possible, exercise, and make time for the hobbies and things you love. Maybe play your music on the drive home from school. And grow better at saying no — to your child and to others — even if it feels uncomfortable at first.

As is the case for all parents, your quest is to raise a healthy and happy child. But as we know from history and from looking around our schools and neighborhoods, it is a mission that single parents are accomplishing on their own. Try to give yourself every ounce of help, acceptance, and inspiration you can. You and your child both deserve it.

10 Big Mistakes Parents Make
While we all love our kids, in this day and age of two working parents and insane schedules, we tend to cut corners and neglect important things. That being said, here are 10 big mistakes parents make.
By Craig Playstead

© Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images

1) Spoiling kids
There is no doubt that parents love their kids and want them to have all the things they didn't. However, this comes at a price. A ton of well-intentioned parents have ended up spoiling their kids to such a degree that the kids aren't even happy with all the stuff they have. This causes them to never be satisfied and always want more. Junior doesn't need one more piece of crap, what he needs is some special time with his parents. Think of it this way: How will they ever be prepared for disappointment throughout their life—or learn to be thankful for anything?

2) Inadequate discipline
When you're too lazy to adequately discipline your kids, you pass the little devil you've created on to your relatives, coaches, teachers, and his friends' parents. It's not OK to let your kids treat your house like it was a Jump Planet because that's exactly how they'll treat other people's homes. They should also be much better behaved when they leave the house and visit elsewhere. I've lived through this nightmare first-hand, with the same kid at my house treating my $1,500 couch like a trampoline, and then calling my daughter "ugly" while the kids were eating dinner. All within a 15-minute span. If you don't discipline your kid, someone else will—and you won't like it.

3) Failing to get involved at school
School is where your kids will spend more time than any place besides your home. It's also the place that will have the most responsibility for shaping their life—from teachers and their peers. That being said, how can you not want to be involved in what's going on there? It doesn't matter if it's you or your spouse: Your family needs to have a presence at that school. And don't use work as an excuse—take a vacation day if you need to. You'll see immediately that it's time well spent. You should also have at least an e-mail relationship with their teacher. It's a great way for that teacher to see that you're interested in your child's development, and the teacher can alert you to anything concerning that may be going on with your son or daughter. Your kid's teacher may take a much more active role with your child if they know you're keeping close tabs.

4) Praising mediocrity
While we all want to encourage our kids to do well and build their self-esteem, there is a point of going too far. Building a child's self-esteem is great, but having a big party for a mediocre accomplishment skews what they view as a real achievement. One big place I see this is in sports. A participation trophy for anyone over the age of 6 just ends up devaluing the meaning of a real trophy. It's happening in my own household. While I was against trophies for my 7-year-old son's basketball team, a few moms overruled. My son has played exactly four seasons of sports and has earned more trophies than I did in my 40 seasons growing up. Something is out of whack.

5) Not giving kids enough responsibility
Your kids shouldn't be expecting any payment for doing chores around the house. It's a home, not a hotel. That being said, an allowance is a great idea … for extra work. They should be pulling their weight as part of the family. If they grow up without enough responsibility, how in the world do you expect them to hold down a job, or get through college? When they get "of age," make sure they're taking some of the burden off you around the house—from unloading the dishwasher to picking up dog poop in the backyard. While they're not your slaves, they sure aren't on vacation, either.

6) Not being a good spouse
How you treat your husband or wife is very important to the way your kids will develop relationships, especially as adults. If you treat your spouse poorly, or if your only way to settle any kind of dispute is to yell and scream at each other, you're teaching your kids to handle themselves the same way. Kids learn from watching you much more than they learn from listening to you. If you treat your spouse with love and respect, it will also show your kids the value of their family. It will also make them feel their family is a safe haven in what can be a dark, scary world.

7) Setting unreal expectations
When dealing with kids, you need to set reasonable expectations for them—especially the little ones. If you want to go out to a nice dinner and expect your 2-year-old to sit there like a little prince, you are setting yourself up for major disappointment. Also, if you have visions of a football star and your son weighs 80 pounds and likes to play the clarinet, you need to reset those expectations. Don't have unreal expectations for your kids: The expectation you should have is for them to be happy.

8) Not teaching kids to fend for themselves
Many parents tend to baby kids these days and cater to their every need, and that eliminates the value of hard work and becoming independent as they grow into adults. I fear that we're raising a generations of wimps. Kids nowadays expect everything to be done for them, from cleaning their room to band-aids for hurt feelings. Teaching them to toughen up and do things on their own doesn't mean that you love them less; it means you love them more.

9) Pushing trends on kids
Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn't push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life's dream to marry a rich guy doesn't mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a "Future Trophy Wife" t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that's what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It's hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn't be.

10) Not following through
I have trouble with this one sometimes. If you're telling your kids that they'll be grounded if they paint the neighbor's dog one more time, you'd better follow through. Unfortunately, following though on punishments or promises makes your life a little more difficult, but building trust is what's most important. If you're not true to your word, your kids will assume anything you say is just talk. Then you have a real problem on your hands. You'll also end up with kids who don't trust their parents.

Messianic message stirs debate
by Alan Boyle

AFP - Getty Images
A foot-wide stone tablet is said to bear Jewish
messianic messages from the first century B.C.

Scriptural scholars are abuzz over a stone tablet that is said to bear previously unknown prophecies about a Jewish messiah who would rise from the dead in three days. But there are far more questions than answers about the tablet, which some have suggested could represent "a new Dead Sea Scroll in stone."

Do the tablet and the inked text really date back to the first century B.C., as claimed? Where did the artifact come from? Can the gaps in the text be filled in to make sense? Is the seeming reference to a coming resurrection correct, and to whom does that passage refer? Finally, what impact would a pre-Christian reference to suffering, death and resurrection have on Christian scholarship?

Such questions are being addressed this week in Jerusalem, at an international conference marking the 60th anniversary of the Dead Sea Scrolls' discovery. They're also being addressed in reports about the "Vision of Gabriel" tablet that have trickled out over the past few months.

That trickle flooded onto the front page of The New York Times on Sunday, in a story that quoted one professor as saying some Christians would "find it shocking" that Jewish scriptures prefigured Christian theology.

But Herschel Shanks, founder of the Biblical Archaeology Society and editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, said that such a linkage really isn't surprising, let alone shocking.

"The really unique thing about Christian theology is in the life of Jesus - but in the doctrines, when I was a kid, you had little stories about the Sermon on the Mount and the people listening to this saying, 'What is this man saying? I never heard anything like this! This is different,'" Shanks told me. "Today, this view is out. There are Jewish roots to almost everything in Christian experience."

This revised view comes through loud and clear in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which chronicle the spiritual and even the sanitary practices of a Jewish sect that existed around the time of Jesus. It was the similarity to the style of the scrolls that first brought the "Vision of Gabriel" tablet to the attention of archaeologists.

How the tablet came to light
The 1-foot-wide, 3-foot-tall (30-by-90-centimeter) tablet has a checkered past: According to the tale that has been woven around the stone, it was found near Jordan's Dead Sea shore and sold by a Jordanian dealer to Israeli-Swiss collector David Jeselsohn a decade ago. A few years ago, Jeselsohn showed the stone to Ada Yardeni, an expert on ancient Semitic scripts, who consulted with another expert, Binyamin Elitzur.

Yardeni's take on the tablet, published in the Hebrew-language journal Cathedra and in the Biblical Archaeology Review, was that the text was of a style going back to the late first century B.C. or the early first century A.D. - right around the time when Jesus would be growing up.

The 87-line text was written in ink, not inscribed in the stone, and it was laid out just the way one would expect on a scroll, in two nearly even columns. "If it were written on leather (and smaller) I would say it was another Dead Sea Scroll fragment - but it isn't," Yardeni wrote.

The text appears to be a set of apocalyptic pronouncements from a personage named Gabriel - hence the name given to the text, "The Vision of Gabriel" or "Gabriel's Revelations." Biblical Archaeology Review has put the Hebrew text as well as an English translation online.

As you'll see by reading the text, there are so many gaps that it's hard to make out exactly what is being said - but even those fragments were intriguing to Israel Knohl, a Biblical scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Back in the year 2000, Knohl had written a book titled "The Messiah Before Jesus," contending that there was plenty of Jewish precedent for the Christian messianic story. When Knohl read the Cathedra article and looked into the tablet further, he saw new evidence for his thesis:
  • He reconstructed one phrase to read, "In three days, you shall live" - which would be an eerie parallel to the Christian account of Jesus' resurrection on the third day of his entombment.
  • He deduced that the phrase was addressed by Gabriel to a "prince of princes" who was slain by an evil king.
  • Based on his previous research, Knohl even suggested that the text referred to a Jewish rebel leader named Simon, who was killed by Herod's army in 4 B.C.
Knohl laid out his case for interpreting Gabriel's vision last year in an essay for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and wrote up a more scholarly analysis for April's issue of The Journal of Religion (which you can read by following the links from this Web page). He's also due to discuss the tablet this week during the Dead Sea Scrolls conference.

The resurrection-in-three-days angle was the attention-getter for Sunday's Times report. But many steps in the scientific analysis of the tablet still have to be verified, starting with the origins of the stone and the inked text.

Faith-based archaeology?
"This story has the big caveat of 'where did it come from?'" Mark Rose, online editor for Archaeology magazine, told me. "Someone knows where it came from, someone found it, someone sold it."

The field of biblical archaeology has had its share of controversies over artifacts that may or may not be genuine - most notably the ossuary of James and the "lost tomb of Jesus." Rose said the tablet would have to face the same kind of scrutiny - and could well end up in an archaeological limbo, neither verified nor debunked.

"You want to look at these stories as having to do with faith? Well, there's a lot of faith involved," he said.

Shanks, who was caught up in the earlier debate over the ossuary (a.k.a. the "Jesus box"), has faith that the tablet ultimately will prove genuine. Some of the most exacting judges of antiquities have been taking a close look at the artifact - and the tablet appears to be passing the tests so far.

"I don't think that you'll find any competent scholar who will call it a forgery," Shanks said.

What does it all mean?
Even assuming that the stone tablet (and the ink writing) are accepted as dating back to the first century B.C., scholars will likely struggle over how the scriptural fragments are pieced together. Perhaps the best way to firm up Knohl's textual interpretation is to find parallel texts elsewhere, as others have done with the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Then there's the question of what effect the "Vision of Gabriel" might have on Jewish and Christian belief.

During the troubled times into which Jesus was born, Jews yearned for the rise of a messiah who would emerge as a powerful military leader and throw out the Roman-backed regime.

"You have in Christian theology a very different kind of messiah, a messiah who's going to shed blood and atone for your sins," Shanks observed. "Where the hell did this come from, baby? Are there elements of this in Jewish messianism?"

The Dead Sea Scrolls have already shown that the idea of a suffering messiah was part of the cultural milieu back then. If the tablet's text and its three-day messianic interpretation are verified, it could shrink the theological gap between pre-Christian Judaism and early Christianity even further. But that shouldn't come as a shock, Rose said.

"Is this going to redefine the relationship between Judaism and Christianity? I don't think so," he said.

Believers might say the "Vision of Gabriel" is yet another scriptural foreshadowing of Jesus' actual death and resurrection - while skeptics might say the text provides more evidence that the gospels fit into a tradition of untrue messianic tales.

What do you think? Will the "Vision of Gabriel" become a religious bombshell? Will it fizzle out? Or will it turn out to be just one more interesting twist in the saga of scriptural scholarship? Feel free to weigh in with your comments below.

Update for 10 p.m. ET: For what it's worth, in today's AFP report on the tablet, Knohl is quoted as saying the text could "overturn the vision we have of the historic personality of Jesus." I suspect many of the commenters would contest that claim. An unnamed Israel archaeologist, meanwhile, is quoted as saying, "It's very strange that such a text was written in ink on a tablet and was preserved until now. To determine whether it is authentic one would have to know in which condition and exactly where the tablet was discovered, which we do not."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Most Obnoxious Tourists? The French
By Bruce Crumley

Remember the tightwad tourist whose baggy shorts, frequent complaining and shouted questions about why none of the locals spoke any English made the ugly American the world's Visitor From Hell? Well, it's time for Archie Bunker to move over and make way for Petulant Pierre. According to a recent international survey, the French are now considered the most obnoxious tourists from European nations, and behind only Indians and the last-place Chinese as the worst among all countries worldwide. And it's not only the rest of the world that have a gripe with the Gallic attitude: the French also finished second to last among nations ranking the popularity of their own tourists who vacation at home.

But it's the unflattering image being reflected from abroad that may give pause to the millions of French travelers now heading off to summer vacation destinations across the globe. Will that move them to improve behavior the poll characterized as impolite, prone to loud carping and inattentive to local customs? If so, that's just the start: the study also describes the voyageur franÇais as often unwilling or unable to communicate in foreign languages, and particularly disinclined to spending money when they don't have to - including on those non compris tips. Over all, French travelers landed 19th out of 21 nations worldwide, far behind the first-place Japanese, considered most polite, quiet and tidy. Following the Japanese as most-liked tourists were the Germans, British and Canadians. Americans finished in 11th place alongside the Thais.

The survey was carried out among employees in 4,000 hotels in Germany, the U.K., Italy, France, Canada and the U.S. for the French travel website The study asked respondents to rank clients by nationality on criteria of general attitude, politeness, tendency to complain, willingness to speak local languages, interest in sampling local cuisine, readiness to spend money, generosity, cleanliness, discretion and elegance. Many replies simply conformed to long-established reputations: Italians, for example, were described as the best-dressed tourists, with the French not far behind.

American tourists fared well in some surprising ways: despite being notoriously language-limited, for example, they top the list of tourists credited with trying to speak local languages the most, with the French, Chinese, Japanese, Italians and Russians coming in last in the local language rankings. Does that mean Americans are the most polyglot tourists on the planet? Maybe not, says Expedia's marketing director for Europe, TimothÉe de Roux, who notes the poll's focus on hotel operators may explain the counterintuitive outcome.

"Most hotel staffs around the world speak English, meaning they'll communicate far more easily with native English-speaking American or British clients than with French or Italians who - it's true - are pretty bad with foreign languages," de Roux says.

De Roux explains how external factors similarly account for why Americans wind up as the biggest-spending and best-tipping tourists, while Germans and the French are among the worst penny-pinchers. "Our findings show the average French employee will get 37 vacation days spread over seven trips in 2008, versus 14 for an American - who won't even take them all," de Roux believes. "That means the French tourist will more tightly budget his or her spending over more trips, while the American spends freely on the one or two vacations taken all year."

By contrast, poll finds the French and Americans similar in being perceived as critical and rude when they travel - though for different reasons. The same local attractions that make France the world's top destination for 92 million foreign visitors each year, says de Roux, also explains why over 85% of French vacation in-country - and wind up spoiled by it when they leave. "When they go abroad, French travellers demand the same quality they'd get at home," de Roux says. "Americans, by contrast, demand the same exceptional service they are used to at home, which is why they rank as the loudest, most inclined to complain, and among the least polite." View this article on

Thursday, July 03, 2008

100 quake dogs rescued by Chinese woman
Private animal shelters extremely rare in China
The Associated Press

More than 100 dogs rescued after the May 12 earthquake in China are being cared for at a private animal shelter built among the rice paddies.

CHENGDU, China - The white short-haired mutt was found dragging his crushed hind legs through rubble-clogged streets after the massive earthquake devastated China's Sichuan province.

The shy terrier mix was lucky to live through the May 12 quake that killed nearly 70,000 people. He was even more fortunate to survive the squads of police and soldiers who were gunning down homeless canines for fear they would spread disease in the disaster's aftermath.

But his luckiest day was when he was picked up by Chen Yunlian.

Now he's among some 100 "quake dogs" rescued by the former businesswoman, who has created something extremely rare in China: a private animal shelter.

For 11 years, the 60-year-old Chen has been rescuing strays off the streets. She now cares for about 900 dogs and 100 cats in her shelter built among rice paddies on the southern outskirts of Chengdu, the provincial capital.

"I think that dogs and humans have the same right to live. They're equals," she told The Associated Press as a brown brindle hound missing a front leg jumped up on her and snuggled his snout in her lap.

Chen's views about animal rights are radical in a country where dogs can just as easily be a pet or the main ingredient in a spicy hotpot. Although dog ownership has grown in popularity as the Chinese become wealthier, many people don't have the strong emotional attachment to the animals that's common in the West.

Chen is also on the vanguard of a new movement in China of citizens who start their own groups to deal with social problems that were once mostly handled — or ignored — by the Communist Party-led state.

The government and party — wary about anything that might challenge their monopoly on power — is still trying to figure out how much of a role it wants people like Chen to play.

She was reluctant to discuss the matter. "I love my country and government. I want it to become even stronger and more prosperous," said the soft-spoken woman, dressed in a baggy white T-shirt and black pajama-like pants with white polka dots.

'House of Love'
Chen calls her shelter "Ai Zhi Jia" or the "House of Love." A tall metal fence surrounds the facility off a narrow tree-lined road about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chengdu. From the street, a cacophony of yelps, barks, growls, whimpers and whines can be heard. The air is filled with the smell of dry dog food, fur and the faint scent of urine and feces that's constantly being scooped up by a staff of eight.

Andy Wong / AP
Chen Yunlian plays with two dogs said to have saved an elderly woman who was trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building in Pengzhou during the May 12 earthquake.

The main building in the shady complex is a concrete U-shaped structure divided into rooms that serve as kennels. Each has a large front concrete patio that's enclosed by a knee-high wall and wire fencing. Dogs and cats are also kept in a network of recently built cages and dog runs. Dogs with a history of good behavior are allowed to roam the wide square-shaped walkway within the complex.

There are poodles, a couple of collies and an elderly, forlorn-looking Afghan hound named "Ah-foo" with clumps of missing hair and large polyps growing on his chest and legs. But the majority of the dogs are classic Chinese mutts: terrier-Pekingnese-pug-poodle mixes with squatty bodies, short legs, curly tails and pointy ears. Most looked healthy, with few signs of skin disease or digestive problems common in such conditions.

"Chinese people prefer purebred dogs and the mixes probably won't be adopted," said Chen, adding that she cares for every dog until it dies. "But mutts are the most intelligent and the most affectionate. They really appreciate you."

One of her superstar mutts from the quake zone was a small, brown, short-haired terrier with alert brown eyes named "Qianjin," or "Forward." Rescuers said Forward and another dog — a shelty named "Guai Guai" — belonged to an elderly woman who was partially buried in rubble at a Buddhist temple that collapsed in the city of Pengzhou. The dogs stayed with their master while she was trapped for 196 hours.

"The rescuers told me the dogs were drinking rain water, then they would lick their owner's lips to help keep her from getting too dehydrated," Chen said.

When the 7.9-magnitude quake struck, Chen said she wanted to race to the hard-hit cities — most an hour or two away from Chengdu — but she had to wait 10 days because of road closures and restrictions on traffic.

When she finally got in, she cruised the streets in her van looking for homeless animals or asking locals if any pets needed rescue.

In the city of Guangyuan, she found the white terrier mutt with the mangled legs. Like other dogs with crippled hind legs at her shelter, the dog — whose name was unknown — now walks with the aid of a wheelchair-like device made of PVC pipes. It's a design a shelter worker copied from an American Web site.

Only a few of the quake dogs were injured and the rest were in good health, she said.

A month and a half since the quake, Chen still gets calls from people with quake strays. During an AP interview, Chen's cell phone began ringing. It was someone from the hard-hit town of Beichuan.

"Our van is broken now so we can't go far," she told the caller. "How many dogs do you have? We can take them in if you can help us arrange a vehicle."

Chen said her shelter is close to full capacity and her budget isn't big enough for many more dogs. She said she spends $8,743 each month on dog food, salaries and supplies. She takes donations but pays for much of it from her own pocket, she said.

It began with Ben Ben
Chen, who made a fortune as a distributor of cosmetics and other consumer goods in the 1990s, was on her way to see a client in 1997 when she saw a stray dog in the street. The dog made eye contact and something clicked, she said.

"He looked so sad. I said to him, 'Are you lost you silly little dog?'" she said. "I decided to take care of him and I missed my meeting. I named him Ben Ben."

She started taking in other strays, and her obsession with caring for homeless animals eventually eclipsed her interest in business and she retired. She sold her cars and properties to finance the expanding operation. She moved the shelter to the current location, which she rents, two years ago.

"I started down a road," she said, "and I couldn't turn around."