Rooster wranglers ruffle feathers
December 15, 2009
By David Hayes
Issaquah icon McNugget the rooster became the center of controversy Dec. 8 and 9 when a group of concerned citizens were blocked from moving him to a warmer environment.
Kristen Parshall and her friend Debby Welsh, both of Fall City, became worried about McNugget’s welfare in the face of temperatures reaching overnight lows in the teens and below.
“Our biggest concern is the winters,” said Parshall, a former employee of Pasado’s Safe Haven. “He needs to be in a coop with a heat lamp.”
Their efforts were met by those who disagreed, saying McNugget had ample care at the Your Espresso stand and had survived just fine in previous winters.
“McNugget eats three times a day and gets fresh water provided as a second source of water intake,” barista Candice Mercado wrote in an e-mail. “McNugget uses the small creek mostly for all his drinking needs. He never leaves the property and if a rooster were unhappy, he would have left over five years ago.”
Parshall said Welsh called the nearby Issaquah Grange Supply the next day, this time asking for permission to remove McNugget.
McNugget escaped from the Grange years ago during a customer appreciation day event. Grange General Manager Gary Olson said McNugget was brought in as part of the petting zoo, but somehow got away.
The rooster later adopted the parking lot of the Staples store as its new home. Employees of the espresso stand in the lot adopted the rooster and gave him his name and a crate for shelter. Your Espresso owner Michelle Schneider said customers, baristas and local residents all provided feed for McNugget over the years, enough to give him three square meals a day.
About three years ago, Parshall, a regular customer of the espresso stand, provided a home upgrade to a doghouse and stopped by occasionally to feed him.
She and Welsh’s concern for McNugget peaked when the temperatures dropped to overnight lows of 10 degrees.
“It also looked like his comb was frost-bitten,” Welsh said. “I just felt so bad for him, standing there shivering while I was feeding him.”
Parshall said she later offered Schneider hundreds of dollars to purchase McNugget, but the offer was declined.
“I would leave them alone if they put up a proper coop with a heating lamp,” she added.
Schneider said that over the past weekend a couple of her employees had offered to take McNugget to their family’s farm, where they have chickens and a coop. But the offer proved unnecessary.
“I called both the Renton Animal Control and King County Animal Control,” Schneider said. “Both said to just leave the rooster alone. So, that’s what I’m going to do.”
She added that if animal control officials told her McNugget needed to be moved to a farm, she would have acted without hesitation.
Olson offered to provide a chicken coop hand-crafted by a Grange employee should a new home not be found for McNugget. Even so, Olson said a coop does not provide a surefire safehouse for the rooster.
“The reality is no chicken is absolutely safe in a coop,” he said. “Predators, like raccoons, have gotten into coops on my farm and killed chickens. So, it’s not a sure bet, but it is better, keeping him out of the wind.”
He said providing a coop is still not the end of the situation. Someone has to be committed to stay at the end of the day and lock McNugget safely inside the coop and again let him out in the morning. Those logistics have yet to be worked out.
David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.