LOS ANGELES (AP) -- There's a good chance Santa will be remembering Rover. A new poll finds just over half of American pet owners plan to buy gifts for their furry friends this holiday season. Toys and treats top the list, according to the AP-Petside.com survey. The poll finds the average budget for gifts for Fluffy and Spot is 46 bucks, $5 more than last year. Pooches will be giving presents, too. Gayla McCarthy from Hawaii says her husband will be getting a shirt for Christmas from their dog Echo. There will also be a toy under the tree for Echo, an Australian shepherd.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Penguins are hot. And soon visitors to SeaWorld Orlando will be able to enter the chilly world of the Antarctic bird. Officials at the Florida theme park are announcing the biggest expansion in SeaWorld's nearly 40-year history. One of the new attractions will be "Antarctica -- Empire of the Penguin." Visitors will experience a radical temperature change, which could be welcome in the Florida heat. The new attraction is set to open in the spring of 2013.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- What do your call it when someone gives a panhandler five bucks -- then forcibly takes it back? For Meghan Fleming it's robbery. The Salem, Oregon, woman has pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery. She faces two years' probation when she is sentenced in January. Her lawyer says the 26-year-old gave $5 to an aggressive beggar, then returned with a pellet gun to demand her money back. The lawyer tells a local paper, (Statesman Journal) Fleming's behavior could also be explained by a change in her medication.
HILLSBORO, Ohio (AP) -- Drew Hastings is getting laughs and votes. The veteran standup comedian was been elected mayor of Hillsboro, a small city in southwest Ohio. Hastings moved from Los Angeles to the community six years ago, buying a cattle farm. He was a regular on the comedy club circuit and Comedy Central. Hasting says he's not much of a celebrity, maybe a "D, E, or F-list celeb." He suggests Hillsboro could attract visitors with "agri-tainment," like hay art and hay bale races.
BOSTON (AP) -- Veterans are getting some added respect in Massachusetts. The former GI's will soon have the option of having the word "Veteran" appear on their driver's licenses. The addition will be at no extra cost during the normal renewal process. State officials say it's a way make it easier for vets to take advantage of discounts and other incentives they have earned with their service. The veteran designation will also apply to state-issued ID cards.
BOWIE-GIRL SCOUT THEFT
BOWIE, Md. (AP) -- Girl Scout Leah Sawyer has a message for some crooks. She says, "Give us back the Girl Scout money." Police in Bowie, Maryland, are searching for two men suspected of stealing Girl Scouts cookie dough. The scouts were selling cookies at a Wal-Mart last month. Police say one of men asked how much the cookies cost, then grabbed the cash box and ran. Officers say they got away with 200 bucks of the scouts' money.
Copyright 2011. The Associated Press.