Joy McDonald had some dogs, E, I, E, I, O...OH NO
Initially, Joy McDonald thought this was not that big of deal. Because she lives in a rural area without leash laws, she offered her neighbor George Gamblin $30.00 for the deceased bird. (the average price of a non-pet chicken in Missouri is $2.62) George, however, said that his wife loves her chickens and this one was a dear pet. He also, claims that McDonald's dogs, Peaches and Domino did more than bark at his chickens.
The County Prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell, isn't discussing the details as the case remains unsettled, but Joy McDonald is saying plenty. If she is found guilty she could face a year in jail, a $1000.00 fine and the charge could impact her aspirations of becoming a veterinarian.
|McDonald with the yappy killers and their victim|
There seems to be no upper limit to the amount of time I can waste on the computer...so it may not surprise you to know that I looked up up a number of local stories dealing with this event. The consensus of most of the news agencies seemed to think that Joy would be hit with the maximum fine in a plea bargain and serve no jail time. Several articles noted that she is probably getting treated more harshly because she didn't take Mr. Gamblin's initial phone call seriously. She said in one article in the KC Star:
McDonald said she asked Gamblin if he was sure that her dogs were the culprits.
“I might have said it with a little smile because I thought it was asinine and that I was holding back (from laughing),” she said.
That only upset Gamblin further, she said.
“He’s still cussing and screaming, saying I wasn’t taking it serious enough,” McDonald said. “So eventually I hung up on him.”
So, who is right and who is wrong? Does the fact that she initially responded in a less than concerned manner influence how you think it should be resolved? I suppose offering him a $100.00 gift certificate to KFC might not be appropriate. How about Taco Bell certificate. Still not good???
Terrissa Evans of Seligman, Missouri describes Scooter as one of her babies. Scooter is a raccoon that was rescued by Terrissa's husband, Tim when she was less than two weeks old. He was working in a barn across the state line in Arkansas when he found three abandoned baby raccoons under an old couch. The Evanses maintain that an Arkansas conservation agent gave Tim Evans permission to take the cubs home, noting that they would otherwise die from lack of care.
So he did, transporting the cubs back to the family’s farm, where the Evanses also keep mules and horses and chickens. The family bottle-fed the cubs until they grew and finally released the two males into the wild after about 18 months when they became too ornery.
But Scooter, so-named because she walked poorly and scooted around the kitchen floor, was more docile, nuzzling up to the kids and their friends.
Inside the Evan's home the now 8-year-old, 20 pound Scooter sleeps at the end of Terrissa and Tim's bed, watches TV, uses a litter box and interacts with the two Evans children.
But now, Scooter is gone — removed from the Evanses’ country home by agents from the Missouri Department of Conservation who argue that it is both unsafe and illegal under state law to confine a wild animal indoors as a pet. Had the Evanses kept Scooter outside on their 30-acre farm all these years and, say, fed her on the porch, that would have been fine. “If they don’t put it in the house, it is not confined,” said Larry Yamnitz, chief of the Conservation Department’s Protection Division. “If they put it in the house, it is confined. … There is no law that allows them to have that raccoon.”
Around Seligman, a rural community just north of the Arkansas line, the case has spun into a minor controversy, one that turns on the question of what constitutes a pet as opposed to a pest.
Some worry that the raccoon, having never lived in the wild, will not survive if the Conservation Department releases her into nature. The Evanses have consulted a lawyer, contacted local media and prepared a petition aiming to save Scooter from that fate.
Emory Melton, the Evanses’ Cassville, Mo., attorney, said he is unsure whether the family has any recourse against the Conservation Department for taking the family raccoon.
“Under the conservation laws, I suspect they probably have a right to do that,” Melton said. “But, morally, it strikes me as a touch ridiculous.
“That raccoon has been with them for eight years. The only thing the Conservation Department can do is turn it out to the woods and, of course, it won’t live. It seems utterly ridiculous.” But conservation officials said the law is clear, meant for both protection and prevention. It is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine up to $1,000 and a year in jail, to house a wild animal. The Evanses have not been fined or been charged, but the Department of Conservation has up to a year to do so, officials said.
They added that the department every year has to remove wild animals being kept as pets from people’s homes. “We’ve had snapping turtles in bathtubs, snakes, raccoons, deer in the house, possums. Just about any animal you can name in Missouri, an agent, at one time or other, has removed it from a house,” said Danton Letterman, district supervisor for the southwest region of the department’s Protection Division.
Letterman said he recognizes the emotional nature of the issue.
Although the Conservation Department is charged with protecting wildlife, it also must consider human safety. Raccoons can carry distemper, rabies and giardia, a microbe responsible for gastrointestinal infections including dysentery. The Evanses insisted their raccoon never posed any danger. “She is a very gentle and loving girl with not an ounce of meanness in her,” Terrissa Evans.
In a recent column, Missouri wildlife writer Larry Dablemont took up the Evanses’ cause. A frequent critic of Conservation Department practices, Dablemont said taking Scooter from the Evanses is a case of overreaching. “It is little more than taking power and using it against people in the wrong way,” Dablemont wrote. “It wasn’t necessary, it benefits no one! There is the law, he said, and then there is common sense." Dablemont wrote. “If you shine a flashlight at a deer from your car window, it is illegal, known as ‘harassing wildlife.’ There are all sorts of things that the (department) can charge you with because they have some silly law from out in left field to support them.”
He suggests that the Evanses be allowed to have Scooter back under the agreement that they keep her as an outdoor pet. For now, Scooter is being kept in a cage on private property by an individual licensed to keep raccoons. The Department of Conversation intends to release Scooter back into the wild.
Wouldn't you think there could be some sort of compromise on this. The person that is presently holding Scooter in a cage has a license to keep a raccoon. How does one get a raccoon license? The Evans need one of those.
What are your thoughts? Should someone have a criminal charge because of a dead chicken? Should people not be allowed to keep a animal they consider a pet?