A Minnesota police chief has apologized after he killed a 5-year-old boy's pet chicken then left the head near the family's backyard chicken coop.
Atwater Police Chief Trevor Berger told The Associated Press Tuesday he didn't know the chicken (named "Carson Petey”) was a pet when he clubbed it and decapitated it with a shovel last month. Phoenix Turnbull and the boy's mother, Ashley Turnbull, accepted his apology, Berger told The AP.
The apology came after the Aug. 16 incident sparked outrage in the small central Minnesota town. Turnbull filed a written complaint with the Atwater Police Commissioner Aug. 20, saying Berger went too far when he went to their home and killed the chicken without notifying the family beforehand. She said neighbors had to tell her about the incident, KSTP reports.
Berger said he went to the Turnbull home after a neighbor complained about a chicken being loose in the yard. After failing to corral the bird, he killed it – chickens aren't allowed under city ordinance and Berger was concerned it was a public health issue, the West Central Tribune reported. Neighbors had previously complained about the chickens, saying they were roaming free and their coop was filthy.
"I did not have any clue that this was Phoenix's pet," Berger told the Star Tribune. "I feel terribly about it."
Berger told FOX 9 that looking back on the incident, he should have given the Turnbulls a citation, which may have led to a fine.
Turbull says she didn't know it was against city ordinance to have the birds when she and her fiancé gave Phoenix three baby hens and two ducks for his birthday last spring. Police told her Aug. 7 she needed to remove the fowl from her home, and she admits she should had taken the verbal warning seriously, reports said.
The issue is expected to be discussed at a city council meeting Wednesday, the same day Berger is scheduled to propose an ordinance to allow backyard chickens – a report the city council had asked him to prepare earlier this year, the West Central Tribune says.
Due to neighbors' complaints and the controversy over the death of the chicken, which Atwater's Mayor Mark Olson refers to as the "chicken fiasco," it's unlikely the proposal will move forward, reports say.
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