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Thursday, September 25, 2008

'Dangerous' emu flees coop in Camas

Meanwhile, over in Pennsylvania, an emu was tasered and died earlier this month.

September 25, 2008

CAMAS -- Of all the drunk, belligerent or otherwise threatening subjects to meet the wrong end of a police Taser, the one stunned Tuesday in Camas stands out for his name alone.

There it is, on the front page of Clark County sheriff's office report 08-14151:




Before this story goes further, let one thing be clear: The emu survived, and on Wednesday was showing no ill effects of having his feathers ruffled.

"He recovered," said owner Daniel Garrison. "He's up and running around now."

The emu tale began Saturday, when Garrison reported his big bird missing from his home in the 200 block of Southeast Everett Road. The day before, he and his wife, Svetlana, had sold two other emus and three llamas, leaving the emu by himself.

Lonely, he escaped his pen to search for his friends.

Garrison, who had recently sprained his ankle, wasn't feeling up for a bird hunt and assumed the emu would be home by Saturday morning. Wrong.

On Tuesday afternoon, drivers along the 700 block of Everett Road, near Grace Foursquare Church, reported a big bird was slowing traffic and pecking vehicles.

Some reports were exaggerated, with one caller describing the emu as a 7-feet-tall, 350-pound ostrich.

The emu, Garrison said, is actually 5 feet tall and 110 pounds. And unlike ostriches, emus don't have wings. But like ostriches, they run fast.

Also -- and this is what prompted use of the Taser -- they can rip people apart with their feet.

Also Tuesday afternoon, Kay Watson was at her home, which is in the middle of 7 acres on 271st Avenue, a private road east of Camas High School.

The retired teacher was cleaning her carpets when she glanced out at her patio and "saw something fluffy go by."

She thought it was a weird sighting, but shrugged it off because she has seen plenty of animals on her property.

Later, she left her home to run an errand and saw the emu in her field. Students had just been let out for the day at the high school, and students at Lacamas Heights Elementary School would be released next. She didn't want the emu to run up on Southeast 15th Street and tie up traffic or start chasing children.

She called her neighbor and asked him to call animal control.

Officers from the Camas Police Department and the sheriff's office responded instead. They called Garrison to let him know his emu had been found, and he showed up, too.

Watson said that before Garrison arrived, the officers were keeping their distance from the bird as they figured out what to do. The concern was the bird's big feet.

Watson said she remembered hearing once at the Western Washington Fair in Puyallup that a toe on each foot has a long talon for fighting, and could rip people apart.

Once Garrison arrived, a plan was hatched.

Deputy Gregory Chaney Tasered the emu, while Garrison bound the bird's feet.

Sergeant James Eastman kept his rifle on the bird, just in case.

Garrison took his emu home. He understands why people were afraid of his emu's feet, and said he was fine with the use of the Taser.

"They are dangerous (birds)," he said. "They've ripped three pairs of jeans right off my body."

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