Friday, August 24, 2012

Breaking Rules or Rules That Are Broken

Every week as I read all the crazy stories of idiotic burglars fumbling their way into the "Weird News" columns, I can't help but think of all the funny jokes to be made at their expense.  You can't really feel too sorry for a person that ends up in trouble in their attempt to do harm to someone else and in the process bungle their way into jail.  However, there are occasionally stories, that I become conflicted over.

As you all know, I have this problem over-analyzing and weighing the pros and cons of all the assorted information that makes it to my brain.   For that reason, when I occasionally see a story that has clearly "ANOTHER SIDE", it causes me to stop and consider the situation from the perpetrators and the victims points of view.

Joy McDonald had some dogs, E, I, E, I, O...OH NO

You might of heard about the story coming out of  Missouri a couple of weeks ago about Joy McDonald being charged with a Class A misdemeanor for animal abuse because her yappy little pooches barked at the neighbor's chickens.  Joy's two Chihuahuas were out playing with their friends according to Joy when their alleged barking supposedly frightened a neighbor's nine-year-old chicken so much the fowl had a heart attack and died.  It turns out that elderly chickens are fragile and can have heart attacks.

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
George Gamblin called the authorities and is adamant that he wants to press charges.  Joy McDonald thinks it's asinine.  The prosecuting attorney isn't saying much except "When you see this kind of case, especially in a rural county, there are other contributing factors."

 There seems to be no upper limit to the amount of time I can waste on the 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:

He called “screaming and cussing that his chicken was dead because my dog was barking at them,” McDonald recalled. “He said my dogs were giving him a headache.”
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??? 

Scooter Rooter

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?  


Bodaciousboomer said...

Scooter is not a lion, tiger or bear or from what I can tell allowed to run wild outside. These other people need to get a life.

Cheryl P. said...

That one makes me sad. You would think there would be a solution whereby everyone could be happy.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

I'll gladly chip in for that KFC gift certificate.

Cheryl P. said...

Haha, you are as bad as I am. I toyed with the idea of having a picture
of the Chick-fil-a cow that says "eat more chickin' holding a KFC
bucket but I probably don't want to go near a Chick-fil-a cow right
now. I guess I had better stick with the Taco Bell Chihuahua saying "Yo
no quiero problemas"

Annie (Lady M) x said...

Ummm it's a toughy. But ultimately I think the dog woman is to blame. When you live in the countryside you know about the need to keep your dog under control, especially where there is livestock or wildlife. But the chicken man is just being opportunistic trying to get more money out of her!

Cheryl P. said...

I might agree about the woman needing to keep her dogs under control. It sounds like she is being rather cavalier which is not helping her cause, But the whole thing takes on a level of ridiculous. An average chicken lives around two years and this chicken was 9. There was talk from the lawyers that they needed to do an autopsy on the chicken to verify if it really was a heart attack. Pullleeezzz enough already. The chicken owner needs to take some money for the cost of his chicken, the lady with the dogs needs to keep her dogs in her own yard, and the prosecutor needs to not waste tax dollars taking this thing to court. I wish they would let be be the arbitrator.

Linda R. said...

So they put the raccoon in a cage. Is that still not confined? And if they turn it loose, will it be able to survive on its own after being raised by humans since it was 2 weeks old? I agree that raccoons can be troublesome and carry disease, but this one hasn't had the chance to become diseased. Laws are laws and rules are rules, but sometimes there needs to be an exception. Just my thoughts.

Cheryl P. said...

I am totally with you on this one. This one is someone's pet. They have had it 8 years and haven't had a problem. Rather than separate it from the family get a vet or other animal expert involved and evaluate the health and temperament of Scooter. I think the way this is being handled is cruel. To both the owners and little Scooter.