The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Freddie ruffled, but still cocky
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Oh, the inhumanity.
Only a few days ago, Freddie the Free Range Rooster was cock of the walk at the east end of the town of Culpeper.
Today, he paces around anxiously in a pen at the Culpeper County Animal Shelter.
And not even a rooster pen, but a dog pen! In fact, the name on the cage door reads “Lucky, a pit bull”!
Perhaps it will get changed to “Unlucky Freddie” in the days to come.
During an exclusive interview, Freddie indicated that he is being treated well, although the howling dogs seem to be getting on his nerves and the screaming cats are driving him crazy.
But as this reporter left the holding area, there came a loud “cock-a-doodle-do,” which loosely translated apparently means “Somebody get me the heck outta here!”
“He’s been crowing all day,” said Animal Services Director Jamie Bennett. “He’s kinda cocky.”
And Freddie has a right to be a bit haughty. Although town police Chief Chris Jenkins has refused to release details regarding his capture, accounts of the late-night raid have emerged.
According to an eyewitness report, it took five officers (with three police cruisers) nearly 20 minutes to get their hands on this tough old bird after they sneaked up on his English boxwood roost at 3 a.m. Saturday.
“From what the eyewitness told me, the cops were chasing him all over that yard,” said Donnie Kilby, manager of County Farm Service, Freddie’s adopted home for the past six months.
Kilby added that Freddie fought hard for his freedom. This rooster was no chicken.
County Farm Service employees are still shaken by the ordeal.
“Spirits were pretty low around here today,” Kilby admitted Tuesday. “It was sad not to see Freddie when we opened up this morning.”
Since spring, the red rooster had been an unpaid regular at the feed store, with employees putting out scratch feed for Freddie every morning, noon and night. When squirrels would attempt to share the meal, the rooster would chase them up a tree, neighbors said.
Then, early last week, one neighbor complained about Freddie’s early morning crowing and he became a wanted chicken.
“It was only one person who complained,” said Bennett, the animal services director. “That person complained several times.”
“Myself and two other officers went out to catch him,” said animal control officer Nicki Shugars. “We tried to corner him, even used a net. We had no luck.”
So animal control enlisted the aid of the town police, who patrolled the neighborhood for several days attempting to apprehend the fugitive rooster.
Old Freddie outfoxed the cops until Saturday morning, when a full-fledged posse arrived. Now this symbol of freedom in the Wausau Place–Spencer Street area is in the pokey.
His tail feathers may have been ruffled a bit, but Freddie still struts with his head held high, and there is still that look of defiance in his eye. At times he seems to be saying, “If only somebody would bring me a sack of corn with a hacksaw inside.”
Fortunately, Freddie won’t have to bust out of jail. Even as some of his fans are contemplating having “Free Freddie” T–shirts printed and others are seeking to go his bail, an area farmer has asked to adopt the rooster.
“We have to keep him seven days in case his rightful owner should show up,” Bennett explained.
Then, after a week in the clink, Freddie will be free of the howling dogs and screaming cats and will be able to sit on a rural fence post and crow his little heart out every morning.
Freddie, the Free Range Rooster: Culpeper’s latest folk hero.