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LA MESA -- The looming return of free running poultry to the single family homes all over the Jewel of the Hills makes this journalist's mind race.
How to gird oneself for such a shift in local culture?
Dog bites man is not news. Man bites dog is news. Dog eats neighbor's beloved chicken is, well, potentially really big news. We need to start thinking about these things now so when confronted with the issues, we've worked through the legal, ethical and even moral implications. You wouldn't want to wing it (pun one).
Suppose this is the headline: German Shepherd Kills Neighbor's Beloved Hen.
What is the dog owner's legal obligation? Should they look up the price per pound of a roaster at Von's, hand over the money and sheepishly walk away?
Killing a hen is one thing, but if this animal has been named and is, well, part of the family, should there be a doubling or trebling of the per pound cost for pain, suffering and loss of yolk consortium?
La Mesa Police Chief Ed Aceves could offer only general guidance for such a case. "It would be a civil matter,'' he said. That is a police chief's way of saying: Not my job. The police won't be arresting the dog or its owner.
Still, imagine this headline: Man Accused Of Swapping Dud Chicken For Prized Layer.
What with the three chicken limit on most home lots, keeping up an adequate flow of eggs may depend on having real one-a-day egg producers. And what with most chickens looking largely similar, this could happen. It might even lead to spray painting your chickens with a sort of easily identified brand.
And then, given Californian's preference for animals over humans, there is a distinct possibility that over time, groups will form to combat chicken slaughter. A Chicken Anti-Vivisection League. Think headline: Chickens Are People Too!
In time, cultural anthropologists tell us that all humans get bored and look for ways to get bigger, bolder. It's part of the human condition. Just look at the Hummer, a Jeep on steroids. The Big Gulp at 7-11 - drink or wading pool? The double-wrapped burrito at Roberto's on Jackson. It is only a matter of time before La Mesans grow tired of the little chickens and start bulking up.
Turkeys first and then, inevitably, the ostrich. Bigger, better and beyond their enormous eggs, a leathery skin that can make nice boots along with a spiteful personality that doesn't engender the anti-vivisectionist feelings so readily. And truth be told, in an ostrich versus coyote fight, my money is on the big bird.
Eventually roving bands of angry ostriches will be traipsing across Mt. Helix and environs, terrorizing the coyotes in our canyons and daring nuisance control officers to come in an lasso them. Herded into a downtown pen, each year they would eventually be run through the village to eventual harvest.
The Chamber of Commerce will market the annual Run With The Ostriches to the outside world and soon the Pamplona crowd will abandon Spain for La Mesa, driving up hotel occupancy rates, filling restaurant coffers and retiring our $40-million unfunded pension liability.
Headline: How Chickens Saved La Mesa!