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December 04, 1987|CAROL McGRAW | From Staff and Wire Reports

Jet, a 6-year-old Doberman pinscher, has been chosen from thousands of entries as one of five finalists in the national Dog Hero of the Year award sponsored by a pet food company. Last year Candy Sangster of Sepulveda passed out with a potentially fatal attack of hypoglycemia. Jet went out an open door, used his nose to unlatch the front gate and ran next door, where he barked until a neighbor appeared. When paramedics arrived, they hesitated to go inside because Jet looked ferocious. But the anxious dog ran to the gate, looked at them, barked and ran back to the door. She repeated the action until the firemen followed. Jet's competition includes a German shepherd that alerted its family to a house fire, a Doberman that led rescuers to its injured owner in the woods, and two dogs that saved tots from drowning. The winner will receive a gold medal--and a year's supply of kibble.

Speaking of pet food, the infamous rats of Beverly Center have appeared again--but this time at a store on Melrose Avenue. Unlike the real pests, (which caused much embarrassment by chowing down in some of the center's posh restaurants until they were zapped by an exterminator) these namesakes are windup rats made of tin.

"They run around in circles and dive for crumbs," explained Paul Strauss, a clerk at The Last Woundup. "They were pretty ordinary until we named them after Beverly Center."

And some animals may never become pets.

Actress and dancer Juliet Prowse, who was bitten on the ear and neck by an 80-pound leopard Wednesday while taping a TV show, vowed Thursday to restrict her appearances with animals to those "no bigger than an alley cat."

Vinnie Pelliccia, who recently gained public attention when he was arrested after 41 years as a chain gang fugitive, sent a check for $1,000 to the Permanent Charities Committee of the Entertainment Industries, which sponsors 400 philanthropic groups. The money had originally been raised by supporters for his defense.

"My story had a fortunate conclusion and I wanted to help people more needy," the retired Burbank Studios electrician said.

It was a different friendly gesture that lost him his freedom for 14 days in August. He was arrested after giving a ride to a slight acquaintance who was under police surveillance. The officers checked Pelliccia's license plate and found that he had escaped in 1946 from a Virginia prison where he was serving time for burglary. After a thousand former co-workers petitioned the Virginia governor, Pelliccia was pardoned. Since then, he's been approached by several movie producers interested in his life story.

Another area resident also slipped himself out of a legal entanglement. It all began when Thomas (Ski) Demski, who runs a Long Beach bumper sticker business but is better known for flying giant American flags from his 125-foot flagpole, decided that he needed a Yuletide theme. He converted the pole into a Christmas tree with 5,000 feet of red, green and yellow streamers. The $2,500 attraction is brightly lit at night and music blares from one of his bumper sticker-covered hearses (his personal passenger cars) parked outside his front door.

When several people complained, city inspectors issued a violation notice earlier this week and threatened to remove the decorations because the "tree" hangs over the sidewalk. Demski retaliated by collecting signatures of people who wanted to see his creation stay.

Apparently moved by Demski's holiday spirit, City Design Engineer Bill Post said the display can remain up through Christmas. Demski still can't understand why people complained. "I don't think they own the air," he said.

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