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Gator snatches family dog at Florida park

A family dog was snatched and killed by an alligator during the weekend when it ran from its owner to chase a rabbit.

Sue Fortenbery told WFTS she was walking with her grandson and her 1-year-old Jack Russell, named Bolt, over the weekend in Pinellas County when Bolt ran off to chase a rabbit. The next thing she could hear was his yelping after he went through a hole in the fence and into the waterway at the preserve.

“The screams is what you can't stop hearing, the yelping," she told WFTS.

There are several openings on the trail, and Fortenbery said those openings are what led to Bolt being taken away by the alligator.

"If the fence wasn't open like this, he couldn't have gone through and the gator couldn't have got him," she said.

Fortenbery told WFTS that she is upset with Pinellas County officials after they told her they wouldn’t remove the gator but would keep an eye on the area. At the moment, the gator is not considered a nuisance “because they had no other complaints” and a better description of the animal would be needed.

WFTS reports the county has yet to survey the area and is asking the public to contact the Parks Department if the gator shows up again.

Gator attacks have been in the news recently with the incident at the Disney resort in Orlando when a child was dragged into the water and killed. A gator was found in Florida with a body in its mouth, and a 10-foot gator had to be put down after it attacked a woman.

Read more at WFTS.

Manatee romance causes traffic jam in Florida

An intimate moment among a group of manatees led to a standstill with traffic in Tampa on Tuesday.

WFTS reports that dozens of people exited their cars to view the “manatee mating ball,” which is when at least seven male manatees are competing for the attention of a single female, with the end goal being to push her into shallow water in order to mate. The act is a rare sight, with WFTS adding that it only can be seen every three to five years.

“The easiest way to identify a mating herd is when there are groups, a large number of manatees that look to be frolicking with each other in shallow waters, generally climbing on top of each other,” Kane Rigney, a manatee biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a video from May. “There will be up to 20 to 25 manatees in some circumstances with a single focal female, and there will be a lot of splashing, a lot of physical interaction with the manatees, kind of like a big bait-ball of fish, but you’ll see the manatees up on shore, rolling on top of each other and climbing.”

Rigney added that manatee mating season begins as early as March, but can take place through the summer and into October and November.

“We generally ask the public to stay away from mating herds — we like to allow that natural process to take place,” he said in the video. “Any interruption to that process can be considered harassment — but not only for manatee safety, but also for human safety. A lot of these manatees that you will see are thousand-pound animals, and at any time, those animals can change their behavior and roll onto a human causing very serious injury.”

Read more at WFTS.

Mothers who brought babies to 'Bad Moms' screening asked to leave, reports say

Brookynn Cahill was set to attend a showing of “Bad Moms,” the new comedy starring Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis, on Friday evening with a large group of other Florida moms at a Fort Myers, Florida, theater, but according to her and other members of the group, they were forced to leave because of their children, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

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According to Amber Cebull, one of the moms, there is a rule in place at Regal Cinemas that doesn’t allow children under the age of 6 into R-rated movies after 6 p.m., but "no one had communicated that children under 6 were not allowed in R-rated movies," she said. "We had breast-feeding moms with infants, one 4 weeks and one 7 months, and they refused them entry."

The mothers were the only two in the group with infants.

Cebull told WTSP the group was refunded the cost of the tickets.

Cahill told the News-Press that an employee singled out, along with another member of the group of around 50 women, Juliana Valverde, mentioning that there was a showing of a more kid-appropriate movie, “Ice Age: Collision Course,” playing in an hour.

"They made me feel like a terrible person for bringing my child," Cahill said.

Cahill said she and Valverde went back into the theater playing "Bad Moms." She said the manger told them to leave when they were caught.

"I think that they have a right to have their rules for their theater," Cahill said. "But I think it needs to be a little different with the age limit. Young babies are sleeping and being perfectly fine. If our babies are going to make a noise, we know how to handle this situation."

Valverde told the News Press that the manager also asked Valverde to “cover up” while she was breast-feeding in the theater. "I am very modest about breast-feeding and, because of the fact I was doing it, I was even more embarrassed. I always have a blanket to cover," she said.

“There’s always people that are going to feel uncomfortable and they shouldn’t,” Valverde told WTVR. “I don’t need anyone’s approval to feed my baby.”

The News-Press added that Florida is among the states “that allow women to breast-feed in any public or private place and exempts breast-feeding from public indecency laws.”

According to the News-Press, the group of women left the theater with Cahill and Valverde and got refunds for their tickets.

Two Fort Myers mothers were asked to leave a showing of "Bad Moms" because they brought their infants along to the...Posted by 10News WTSP on Monday, August 1, 2016

Photos: Democratic National Convention Day 3

Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion regulations

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out Texas abortion restrictions that would have closed more than half of the clinics in the state.

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The ruling overturned the heart of the law known as House Bill 2, passed during the second of two tense special legislative sessions in 2013, leaving 19 abortion clinics operating in the state, with the possibility that more could open in the coming months or years.

Ten of those clinics would have closed if the court had upheld the Texas law, including the Austin Women’s Health Center.

The Supreme Court said the Texas rules -- requiring abortions to be performed in hospital-like settings and doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals -- combined to erect an improper barrier for women seeking abortions.

The ruling, 4½ months before the presidential election, is sure to have an impact on the race for the White House, with the winner being able to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s leading conservative voice.

SEE: An interactive timeline of the Texas abortion law’s twists and turns

Abortion providers sued to overturn two parts of HB 2, arguing that the rules were medically unnecessary and were instead intended to close clinics in an unconstitutional attempt to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for many women to get abortions.

Many doctors had difficulty gaining admitting privileges, abortion providers testified, because nearby hospitals opposed abortion, did not want to get involved in a controversial issue or required a certain number of annual admissions that abortion doctors could not meet.

Providers also said abortion, a relatively safe procedure, was not made safer by the surgical-center rules, adding that it was prohibitively expensive, in some cases several million dollars, to renovate existing clinics or build new facilities to create hospital-like settings that call for fully equipped operating rooms, sterile ventilation systems, wide hallways, emergency power and other requirements found in 117 pages of state regulations.

Led by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, state officials argued that HB 2 was intended to protect the health and safety of women.

Paxton told the court that requiring all abortions to be performed in accredited surgical centers, would guarantee that women received high-quality treatment while ensuring that Texas would not see a repeat of Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania abortion doctor who is serving life in prison in the murder of three infants born alive after late-term abortions and in the death of a patient. Investigators found bloodstained furniture, unsterilized instruments and bags of remains stored in Gosnell’s clinic.

Paxton also said the admitting privileges rule ensured that abortion doctors would continue caring for patients who experience complications after an abortion -- a claim that professional groups disputed, saying that most complications occur hours or days after the procedure, and women typically seek help from a hospital closest to their home, not the clinic.

The Texas case set the stage for the most significant decision on abortion rights since the 1990s by offering better direction to lower courts as well as state legislators on the increasingly thorny question of how much regulation is too much when it comes to laws that could shut down clinics.

The high court has said since 1992 that state regulations cannot pose an “undue burden,” a nebulous standard that left a lot of room for interpretation on which laws placed a substantial obstacle in the paths of women seeking abortions.

Ten states have enacted admitting privileges rules, for example, but courts have blocked enforcement in six of those states.

 

Florida man called hero after he saves falling ducklings

A man sprang into action Saturday and saved ducklings that were falling off a steep ledge at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.

Eric Pelno was startled when a small duckling fell and hit his shoulder while he was walking with Channing Deren, WFLA reported.

Pelno saw more ducklings about to fall, so he began to catch and bring the animals to safety while Deren videotaped.

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“Eric is today’s hero. There were 15-20 baby ducklings literally falling from a nest at least 30 feet high as we walked by. At first one hit my shoulder and we didn’t know what was going on. Then Eric just went into beast mode and started catching ducklings from the sky” Deren said in a Facebook post.

Deren told WTVT that she and Pelno had been startled by seeing the ducks falling. "There were like 20 duck faces just looking down at us!" she said. "He'd catch it in one hand, and then he'll catch another one. I was just watching him thinking, 'How are you doing that?'"

Deren said the mother duck was nearby and reunited with her babies. One had a broken leg from the fall. WTVT reported that the injured duck was taken by Busch Garden staffers to get treatment, while Pelno became a Father’s Day hero to his daughter.

"She was, just, the whole rest of the day, 'My dad's a hero.' She was so excited." Deren said.

Eric is today's HERO!  There were 15-20 baby ducklings literally falling from a nest at least 30 ft high as we walked by. At first one hit my shoulder and we didn't know what was going on... then eric just went into beast mode and started catching ducklings from the sky! They all joined up with mama duck after this and one has a broken leg... but ALL DUCKLINGS WERE SAFE!!! SO PROUD OF THESE TWO FOR SAVING THE DUCK POPULATION!!!!Posted by Channing Deren on Sunday, June 19, 2016

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