A Phenix City woman who was visiting Columbus to house-sit for her daughter got into trouble with the law for duct taping a dead chicken to a dog’s neck, “to teach it a lesson,” Mayor Teresa Tomlinson confirmed Wednesday.
It all began Monday night at about 10:30, Tomlinson said, when police were called to a Wilton Street address to investigate reports of what appeared to be a pit bull or pit mix in a fenced yard with a dead chicken duct taped to its neck.
The unidentified 74-year-old woman had apparently brought a live chicken with her from Phenix City while she house sat for her daughter.
“I don’t know if that means it’s a pet chicken or what, but she’s house sitting, brings her chicken with her to her daughter’s house and the dog kills the chicken,” Tomlinson said. “So she said that she duct taped the dead chicken to the dog to, quote, ‘Teach it a lesson not to kill her chickens.”
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The woman claimed to officers that that’s what people do in the country to train dogs not to kill chickens, Tomlinson said.
“She didn’t understand that there was anything wrong with this,” Tomlinson said. “She thought it was basically a dog training technique.”
The woman was cited for criminal animal cruelty, which carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail, Tomlinson said.
The incident then set off something of a Facebook fire storm.
Columbus resident Hannah Gillespie posted pictures on her Facebook page of the dog with a dead chicken duct taped to its neck beneath its jaws, setting off a torrent of comments and condemnations and calls for punishment.
Gillespie wrote on Facebook that the dog had the chicken taped to its neck for nine hours, until police arrived, then called Animal Control officers, who cut the tape and removed the chicken and presented the dog’s owner with a citation, which summons him or her to court.
Several of Gillespie’s Facebook friends joined in condemning the treatment of the dog, and several suggested that police should have arrested the owner.
At another point, someone tagged Tomlinson, who responded that the dog’s owner actually had been charged with criminal animal cruelty and will be arraigned in Recorder’s Court. Another commenter, not Gillespie, said she was told that Animal Control had issued the citation.
“All I can tell you is that I talked to the Chief of Police and they (CPD) have one criminal animal cruelty charge issued to this address last night by CPD,” Tomlinson posted. “Drale Short of Special Enforcement confirms the ticket was issued by CPD and the arraignment is set for Recorders Court, not Environmental Court where Special Enforcement tickets are heard.”
Several commenters on Facebook said that what the woman did is in fact a common rural practice to discourage dogs from attacking chickens.