Emu alert

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Coal Grove – Cathy Martin spied the peeping Tom about 11 a.

Wednesday, January 05, 2000

Coal Grove – Cathy Martin spied the peeping Tom about 11 a.m. Tuesday, when she glanced out the living room window after the phone rang.

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"I first thought a person was walking up to the door and then I looked closer and I about had heart failure," said Mrs. Martin of Lane Street.

Tom turned out to be an emu – a flightless bird slightly smaller than an ostrich.

"I called the sheriff’s department and they thought I was loco, probably," Mrs. Martin said.

Village police officer Charlie Hammonds arrived soon after, with Lawrence County Sheriff’s department Deputy Quincy Milem as backup, and watched the fowl offender grazing in the Martin yard.

"This ranks right up there as one of the most interesting calls I’ve had," Hammonds said, chuckling a little.

"We got an escaped jail bird here," Milem added, also smiling.

Although friendly, the emu disliked being corralled for a trip to the Lawrence County Animal Abuse and Adoption Center. It disliked being tied up even more, said Hammond, who probably has the bruises to prove it.

Police and village officials tried to find the bird’s owner shortly after the trip, but had to temporarily adopt it out to county commissioner Paul Herrell.

Several people in the county keep emus, like for livestock or pets, so it probably just got loose, said Herrell, an Aid farmer.

The commissioner locked the feathered felon in his barn until the owner could be located, which happened by this morning.

"But I tell you," he said, with a little chuckle. "I didn’t realize a commissioner’s duties went this far."

Hammonds suspects the emu probably escaped from a farm on Possum Hollow, which makes sense.

"Several people saw it in Crabtree Hollow on Monday," he said, adding that Possum Hollow connects with Crabtree Hollow.

"And it’s not that far (to Lane Street) when you go through woods."

Village mayor Tom McKnight, one of those who searched for the emu’s owner and a temporary home Tuesday, said the whole affair kept him smiling, although everyone was serious about trying to help the animal.

"But if a tiger shows up next, I may be on my way past Hanging Rock shortly," he said.

It didn’t turn the village into a three-ring circus, but it could be something for Jay Leno, McKnight said with a chuckle.

"My second day in office and someone’s already given me a bird."