Atwater police chief apologizes for dead chicken

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, September 3, 2014

ATWATER — A Minnesota police chief apologized to a 5-year-old boy for beheading his pet chicken, more than two weeks after he killed the animal with a shovel and left the head lying by its coop.

Atwater Police Chief Trevor Berger said Tuesday night that he didn’t realize the chicken was a pet when he killed it Aug. 16. Berger said he went to the house after a neighbor repeatedly complained about a chicken loose in the yard.

“I honestly didn’t know that the chickens were his pets,” Berger said. “Once I found out they were his pets, I felt obviously terrible about what I had done.”

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The boy, Phoenix Turnbull, and his mother, Ashley Turnbull, accepted his apology on Tuesday, Berger said.

Ashley Turnbull had said in a complaint to the city that Berger trespassed and committed animal cruelty. Phoenix often pulled the chicken, named Carson Petey, in a small wagon and snuggled it “like a puppy,” she said.

Fowl aren’t allowed under city ordinance, and Berger said he was concerned the bird was a public health issue.

“Chickens carry a lot of disease,” he said. The house is across from an elementary school park.

Ashley Turnbull said she came home to find the chicken’s head lying by its coop. She said she discarded the head before Phoenix could see it but a child next door announced to him, “The cops killed your chicken!”

Berger said he didn’t realize he had beheaded the chicken.

“I never meant to leave anything behind,” he said.

He said he still plans to propose allowing chickens within city limits at today’s City Council meeting. The council had asked him to draft the proposal earlier this summer.

City Clerk Goldie Smith said the idea seems unlikely to move forward now. The council is expected to discuss Berger’s actions at the meeting.