A Minnesota police chief sparked outrage after he allegedly responded to complaints about a 5-year-old boy’s pet chicken by chopping its head of with a shovel.
The Turnbull family says Atwater Police Chief Trevor Berger was trespassing and is guilty of animal cruelty.
Ashley Turnbull’s son Phoenix had a red hen named Carson Petey that he would snuggle “like a puppy,” she told told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
“I came home to find the chicken’s head lying in front of its coop,” she said. “No note left on the door. He just left the head.”
When news spread of the Aug. 16 incident, it sparked outrage among animal rights activists.
Berger admitted Tuesday that he killed the boy’s pet over repeated complaints from the Turnbull’s neighbor. He claimed he didn’t realize that Carson Petey was a pet and thought he was simply protecting a nearby elementary school from a chicken on the loose.
“I was concerned about the public health issue,” Berger said. “There are little kids over there who are playing. I don’t want them to get sick.”
“I did not have any clue that this was Phoenix’s pet,” he told the Star Tribune. “I feel terribly about it.”
“I’m going to apologize to him in person in just a few minutes,” he added.
Looking back on the incident he says he should have issued a citation to the family.
Keeping chickens or other fowl is currently prohibited in Atwater. According to a local ordinance dating back to 1960 chickens “are hereby declared a public nuisance and may be abated according to law.”
Phoenix’s parents gave him three baby hens and two ducks as a birthday present last spring, without realizing that the animals are prohibited.
According to a police report, an officer told the family to get rid of the fowl during an Aug. 7 stop at the home.
Turnbull says she wishes she had taken the police warning more seriously, but she is grateful that she was able to remove the hen’s remains before Phoenix could see it.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Elias Gayles