Columns

Bullets and animals not always a perfect mix 2016.03.16

By RICH FOLEY

Sometimes it’s not easy to be an animal. Those darn humans often find a way to get you into trouble when all you want is a little snack. Take for instance, the case of Benno the dog.

Benno, a Belgian Malinois who lives in Arkansas, is known for having an interesting appetite, having in the past added marbles, magnets and even socks to his regular diet. Despite that, owner Larry Brassfield told the Associated Press that he didn’t think the dog would eat bullets. So, Brassfield left a bag of ammo by his bed. I swear I’m not making this up.

 The AP story said Brassfield “realized Benno needed medical attention after the pet vomited up four rounds.” The vet removed another 17 rounds from the dog’s stomach, but “left two in his esophagus, which the dog was allowed to discharge on his own.” Please, someone adopt this poor dog.

An armadillo in Georgia wasn’t quite so lucky. One news report says a man fired at it, but the bullet ricocheted off its armor. The bullet hit a fence, went through the door of the trailer belonging to the shooter’s mother-in law, through her chair and hit her in the back. The mother-in-law survived with minor injuries, but the armadillo was dead on arrival.

Not all animals wind up dead or at the vet. Some become celebrities. Last September, a small brown chicken held up traffic at San Francisco’s Bay Bridge toll plaza. The AP said it was ultimately captured by the California Highway Patrol. Didn’t actor Erik Estrada once do something similar on an episode of “CHiPs?”

The chicken was taken to the Oakland Animal Shelter which named her Chip in honor of her rescuers. Several individuals claimed ownership of the chicken, but the shelter was holding out for proof, “such as previous photos of the famous fowl.” Let that be a lesson to anyone raising backyard chickens: take lots of photos, just in case.

In Pennsylvania, a woman blamed her parrot’s love of coffee for crashing her car into a guardrail. She told responding police that she noticed the bird pecking at the lid of her coffee cup. While watching the parrot, she lost control of her car and hit the guardrail.

She explained to police that the parrot enjoyed coffee, but apparently didn’t see any reason to carry the bird in a cage. The police found bird seed in a cup holder next to the coffee. I wonder who put it there? The bird was uninjured in the incident, but the woman broke her arm. I’m finding it hard to feel sorry for her.

A miniature donkey got a ride in an Oklahoma police cruiser after Norman police found him wandering along a country road. Eventually, he was reported missing by a chiropractor in Norman who thinks the donkey, named Cruz (once again, I’m not making this up), somehow got out under an electric fence. The officer who chauffeured him home said Cruz fit perfectly in the back seat. 

Finally, an Ohio man was reunited last summer with a Vietnamese pond turtle he rescued 50 years ago. While serving in the Navy during the Vietnam War, James Lowery’s duties included collecting animals and insects and checking them for diseases.

As a civilian, Lowery had worked at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and when directed to dispose of the tested animals, he decided to send the pond turtle to the zoo, along with some snakes and small mammals. After receiving permission from wildlife officials in Vietnam to export the animals, he packed them for shipment and sent them to the U.S. on a Pan Am airliner.

 At the time, the turtle, named Ba Cu, was the only example of its species in the United States. Fast forward 50 years, and she is still living at the Columbus facility. The Aquarium’s reptile keeper thinks she is the oldest living Vietnamese pond turtle on record. Usually, they live about 25 years.

Now the size of a football, Ba Cu is one of 12 of her now-endangered species at the Aquarium. She is no longer on display due to her age. During Lowery’s visit, she kept her head and feet inside her shell most of the time. He did get to see her swim after she was returned to her tank, and since nobody fed her any bullets, it was a happy ending for both man and reptile. And to repeat, the miniature donkey really was named Cruz.