Big Red was part of the family.
But Big Red died Monday, leaving behind grieving 3-year-old twin sisters who watched him grow up, and their mother who raised them all and watched him get along with not only his hens and her daughters, but with the family dog, Elsa.
When that all ended Monday, it didn’t end well.
Big Red was a rooster who ruled the small roost behind Sally Mroz’s North Highlands bungalow until the family dog killed him Monday, Mroz’s mother duct taped Big Red under the dog’s chin “to teach him a lesson,” and, after the law was called in, the story spilled out into social media.
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Mroz’s mother was cited for animal cruelty and faces a possible $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Meanwhile, Mroz is trying to console her daughters and deal with the media storm the incident has created.
Because only half of the story was known initially, only half of the story was told. Today, we’ll tell Big Red’s, Elsa’s, and the Mroz family’s tale.
Mroz is a single mother of 3-year-old twins, Jezzka and Jazzmn, who all live in a small brick bungalow in North Highlands. In addition to their family dog, Elsa, they had Big Red and two hens, who provided the family not only with eggs, but with companionship.
“That rooster and two hens have lived with that dog for more than a year,” Mroz said. “They were family pets. They were loved.”
In fact, the whole family had a Sunday morning tradition that involved everyone.
“They would come knocking at the door every Sunday, to come and get their treats,” Mroz said. “It was a Sunday morning tradition that the chickens would come in, visit, walk around, have some food and then leave and go back to their roost.”
That all changed Monday when Elsa, who had always gotten along just fine with the chickens, Mroz said, attacked and killed Big Red the rooster. Mroz was at work and her mother was house sitting and babysitting. When she discovered Elsa had killed Big Red, she did what some people in the country are said to do when a dog kills a chicken. She attached the dead fowl to the dog’s neck for a few hours, “to teach it a lesson.”
But she did it with duct tape, which disturbed some of the neighbors.
They called the police, who responded and called Animal Control. That resulted in the citation for Mroz’s mother.
Mroz defended her mother’s actions and said no harm was ever done to the dog.
“The duct tape was only on the back side of the dog’s neck,” Mroz said. “She was not strangled. She was not harmed. Because the body of the chicken was put up at her neck, and you could still fit your hand between her neck and the chicken’s body. That doesn’t matter? All that matters is a piece of duct tape.
“And all people see is a strip of duct tape on the dog.”
Meanwhile, her twin daughters were practically inconsolable about the loss of a beloved family pet. They love the chickens and enjoy going out to collect the eggs in the morning, Mroz said.
“Do you have kids?” Mroz asked. “Do you understand the heartbreak of when they’re screaming and crying that their chicken is dead? And how hard it is to console a 3-year-old when their animal is gone?”
Now Mroz and her family are left to deal with their grief and the legal aftermath.
“I still have to go to court. I still look at 90 days in jail. I still look at a $1,000 fine,” Mroz said. “No matter the hurt that my family has endured. That 74-year-old lady? She helped raise that chicken, too. As a matter of fact, the two hens are still in the backyard.”
With the hens and Elsa still in the yard, Mroz is confident that her mother’s handling of the situation, while controversial, has been effective.
“Eighty to 90 percent of the time, it’s effective,” Mroz said of the technique. “I’ll tell you what. That dog hasn’t looked at another chicken since then.”