America’s most unwanted

Thanksgiving is a special time of year when we come together with family and friends, eat enough high-calorie food to make Kate Moss look human, and complain about the fact that, after 200 plus years of democratic elections, Americans in certain swamp-infested regions of the U.S. still have no clue as to how to cast a simple ballot. Now that the election is finally over, and we know that (editor: please insert name of winner here, if in fact the election is over) will be president for the next four years, maybe we can turn our attention to the really important issues, such as the bowl games. By now, as a patriotic American, you are probably about as tired of leftover turkey as you are of hearing about pregnant dimples. But you probably aren’t quite as tired of turkeys as a couple of Pittsburgh residents, who were the victims of attempted turkey attacks earlier this year. In incident one, reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a 25 pound turkey crashed through the windshield of a dump truck and made threatening gestures toward the driver, who jumped out of the truck and called police. Incident two, reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, occurred just two days later, when a woman got out of her van and was almost hit by a falling, 25 pound turkey, which had evidently flown into a skyscraper window above her. These two totally different cases of attempted turkey obviously bring up a number of questions, such as: do all Pennsylvania newspapers have two names, and will this trend eventually take over our nation’ Will our local papers end up with names like “The Melvin Standard-Review-Times-Post-Tribune-Dispatch-Herald-Daily-Gazette-Weekly'” Wouldn’t that be great’ But my point here is that animals are sometimes not wanted where and when they turn up. And turkeys are not the only birds guilty of this infraction. India’s Border Security Force recently captured a Pakistani agent sent to spy on India’s border activities. The spy happened to be a falcon, which was fitted with a “tiny antenna and a powerful radio transmitter,” with which it evidently reported back to its superiors. This is the third falcon caught by the BSF this year that was equipped in this manner. One can only hope that, like Francis Gary Powers, the falcon will someday be traded back to its homeland. The falcon being caught in a place where it wasn’t wanted brings up the question of whether it is ethical to send animals into “dangerous situations,” where they might be captured or killed. We can only assume the Pakistanis used falcons because pigs can’t fly. Usually. Perhaps you heard about the recent incident involving a 300 pound pig named Charlotte who flew first class from Philadelphia to Seattle on a US Airways Boeing 757. The pig’s owner, Maria Tirotta Andrews, calls herself “a big animal rights person,” and said that she took the pig on the plane with her on recommendation from her doctor. The Reuters story said that Andrews suffers from a heart condition, and was moving from New Jersey to Seattle “for health reasons.” It evidently doesn’t rain enough in New Jersey. Strangely, Andrews’ mental condition was not mentioned. Andrews said that Charlotte is “one of the best-trained, best-behaved animals there is.” Maybe so, but when the plane started to land the pig went nuts, squealing, trying to get into the cockpit, crashing through the cabin and pooping everywhere. So the other passengers on the flight were not happy that the pig flew with them, and to make matters worse for Andrews her new landlords are threatening eviction because of Charlotte. Andrews is quoted as saying, “They said they were animal lovers, and they’re not!” As unpleasant as it might be to be confined in an airplane cabin with a 300 pound, incontinent hog, it would probably be worse if the animal had been a Bengal tiger. Not that anyone has tried to take a live, carry on tiger on a plane lately, but there happens to be one loose near where I live, which is almost as bad. A couple of hunters recently reported seeing a Bengal tiger and two cubs on the McGowan Ranch in Menard County. Raymond Jaramillo, Menard County’s game warden, has looked for the tigers on foot and from a helicopter, but so far has only found some cat tracks, which may or may not have been made by a tiger. Authorities don’t have a clue as to where the tigers came from, but believe they may have been released from captivity when someone got tired of taking care of them. This makes very little sense to me. It’s kind of like turning a rattlesnake loose, and then having to worry about being bitten by it. Jaramillo said that if anyone came into contact with the tigers they should “remain calm, seek cover and call for help.” Right. Oh, yes, and try to get a picture, so the age and size of the tigers can be determined. Under no circumstances is anyone to shoot the tigers unless they attack, since they are listed as an endangered species. Well. I don’t know about the rest of the Bengal tiger population, but the ones loose in Menard County are probably more endangered than most. If I see a tiger near my house, buddy, it’s attacking. The last thing we need is the EPA coming in and declaring West Texas a tiger habitat, and making ranchers move all the cattle off their land, so the tigers will have room to live comfortably. If anyone sees the tigers they should call the Menard Sheriff’s Office at 915-396-4705. Hopefully the tigers will be caught soon, and their pictures won’t end up on milk cartons. If you see any other animals where they aren’t wanted, call me. But I can’t help you with the leftover turkey . . . Write to Kendal Hemphill at PO Box 564, Mason, Tx 76856 or email hemphill@towa.org

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