Monday, March 24, 2008

Beloved chicken stolen


One of the few animals not for sale at the Pet House in Goleta was stolen last Friday, and unlike past incidents of theft, this time it’s personal.
Pet House employees noticed their longtime mascot Charmin, a 10-pound hen that lays between three to five eggs each week, was missing after a rush of business kept many of them occupied throughout the afternoon.

When the customers stopped flowing through the door, it didn’t take long before the employees noticed the usually cackling Charmin was missing from her pen.
Pet House owner Wendy Guyer said stolen dog leashes, cat food, and an occasional snake is one thing, but when it comes to Charmin, who is often called “Charmy,” she draws the line.
“Never in a million years would you think somebody’s going to take a pet chicken,” she said. “Clearly she’s not for sale.”
Guyer said Charmin’s cage was locked tight when it was discovered she was missing, which means someone managed to unlatch the cage, pluck the golden hen from her home, shut the cage and relock it without anyone noticing — a feat she says suggests more than one person was involved.
When asked if Charmin would have fled on her own if the opportunity presented itself, Guyer said she would not, and besides, the pen was locked.
While Charmin’s abduction has been on the forefront of Pet House employees’ minds, it has also shaken a number of locals who regularly stop by to say hello to the chicken on their way to nearby stores.
Guyer said she didn’t realize how many people visited the shop just to see Charmin until she was gone.
“All the exotic pets in this store and the chicken is the most popular to come see,” she said.
Four-year-old Dillon Cordero has been visiting Charmin for two years. Dillon’s father, David, said he brings his son to Pet House as a reward for going shopping.
But when Dillon arrived yesterday, Charmin’s cage was empty and a sign read, “Our beloved Charmin was stolen from us!”
“That’s a bummer,” David Cordero said. “We come in here just to say hi to Charmin.”
Guyer said the store enjoys a good relationship with regulatory agencies and has a reputation of taking good care of its animals. As a result, she doesn’t suspect an animal rights organization is involved.
She said Charmin was allowed to roam the store in the mornings and evenings and would round up and eat stray crickets when the store received its regular shipment (the store sells the crickets, which are commonly fed to reptiles).
“She was an employee,” Guyer said. “She was very important for pest control.”
Tracy Neal, who has worked at Pet House for a year and a half, said the store was one employee short last Friday and as a result, couldn’t keep an eye on Charmin, but also said they don’t normally have to.
“People have watched her grow,” Neal said. “She’s just really cool to come visit because she’s different. Most pet stores don’t have a chicken.”
Guyer said anyone with information about Charmin’s whereabouts should stop by Pet House, which is located at 5781 Calle Real, or call 967-7716.
“We have our fingers crossed,” she said. “Basically we just want our chicken back.”

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