Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Incredibly Horrific Ordeal of Decibel the Parrot

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" We've got some good news and some bad news. So in the grand tradition of Appalachians everywhere, we'll start with the bad news. Tomorrow we'll pony up the good stuff. So if you don't like bad news, biff off for now and come back later.

For about ten years now, la famille Johnson has placed Decibel the parrot on the front porch during the warm months. Decibel isn't out there 24/7, only during daytime hours when someone is home. Mr. Johnson works at home, but way in the back where he can't see the front porch.

Decibel is 24 years old now -- more or less the same in parrot years as in people years. He was captive bred, so he really doesn't know what it means to be a macaw. He's just a little human with feathers. Who screams loud. And bites hard. Really hard. He can't break an adult finger bone (although he's certainly tried), but I don't know about the slender digit of an elementary school kid.

Why would I care about Decibel biting a kid? I'll get to that.

First I would like to say that Decibel has become a happy fixture in our neighborhood, which is walker-friendly. Kids and adults alike greet him from the sidewalk, and I always warn the little ones to look and not touch, to only come close when Mom or Dad is with them.

Imagine my consternation, then, when on Friday at 3:30, The Spare called me (I was still working at school). One little girl -- name, age, address unknown -- had come up on our porch, banged Decibel's cage, pulled his food out and dumped it, then started shoving her fingers in between the bars. When Decibel did what Decibel does, i.e. lunged with intent to maim, the unruly child threw Coca-Cola all over Decibel, his cage, and my front porch.

Spare told me that this same child has come onto the porch before, usually with friends, and that she has agitated Decibel before, but never to this extent. (Spare did not speak up and chase the kids off because she was partly raised Methodist and, as she put it, "knows what it's like to be yelled at by a stranger." Of course the yelling occurred at church, and nowhere but church.)

I could use your advice on this, readers. Am I liable if some moron twisted girl gets bit by my parrot because a parrot's gonna do what a parrot's gonna do? Decibel won't bite if you don't stick your fingers in his space. It's not like he's a dog on a leash. He's sitting in a cage on my porch.

Should I keep Decibel indoors?

We have a few more prime weeks of "parrot weather" here in October. Decibel likes the porch ... under normal circumstances. And all the other parents and kids in my neighborhood like seeing Decibel out there.

I don't want any kid to get bitten, though. This is Snobville, a village of 11,000 people -- 9,000 of them lawyers.

Forget the twisted kid. What are Decibel's rights?

Oh, and by the way, I intend to come home from work early on Monday. If this child goes for Decibel again, she will find herself in the stern hands of a Title One District school teacher who not only loves Decibel but also hates coming home before all her work is done and her desk is tidy.


Sarita Rucker said...

I'm pondering this, and truthfully I don't know if you could be held liable for your parrot attacking a girl who attacks it first. (As I'm pondering this I remember a fuss being made at the Oregon Zoo because loose peacocks will attack kids who have bullied them. The peacocks were rounded up and sent somewhere else, but I don't remember if there was a lawsuit.) Maybe it would be a good idea to ask a lawyer?

Either way, it would be a good idea to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. Maybe there's something you can do to keep people off your porch, and away from the bird cage when you put him outside.

Anonymous said...

I'd imagine that, legally, if Decibel (what a fitting name) was caged to begin with, he's not exactly a public menace. It's perfectly normal in society to expect a level of distance when an animal is on the other side of a panel of glass or bars. At least it is in zoos and pet stores.

I wouldn't let a kid do crap like that to my bird! If I know what it's like to be yelled at by a stranger, I'd use that to its full advantage if my bird were being harassed. Honestly!

Alex Pendragon said...

Now wait a second...Isn't your front porch PRIVATE PROPERTY? Has this UNDISCIPLINED child not TRESPASSED? Did the Parrot escape his controlled environment (a cage) and attack the child? Do you know who's kid this is? I would be proactive and call her parent's and inform them that this can easily become a criminal complaint if they can't control their kid's behavior! A pit bull died on my property while viciously attacking my goats, and the owners were WELL EDUCATED after the fact that I was well within my rights to protect myself and my property, by both animal control AND the sheriff's deputy who responded to THEIR complaint. Stand up for your rights, Anne, before some sleazebag lawyer tries to make a buck off of this. As for the kid, well, they learn not to touch hot stoves after they touch them ONCE...........

Pitch313 said...

Legal advice comes from lawyers. My comments are of the layperson sort.

A caged Macaw on your front porch could be considered an "attractive nuisance." The sort of thing that children find themselves drawn to in spite of trespassing or violating other laws and regulations. Householders are, I think, typically held responsible for mitigating attractive nuisances. Swimming pools are the classic ones.

More to the point, though, is that the more or less unattended parrot on your front porch is in some jeopardy from folks who might want to poke, disturb, or harm it. What if a stick rather than a finger?

I'd say take some precautions, mostly to safeguard the bird.

Calandreya said...

In the same vein as a thief on your property getting injured is "your fault," I think you could be held accountable.

Anne Johnson said...

Pitch, I tend to agree with you. As much as my bird likes the fresh air, he is certainly more in harm's way on the porch than inside the house. Now that I'm back in school and not around to supervise, I think he is indeed an "attractive nuisance."


I'd waylay the kid Monday and take her to her mother and tell her to keep her kid out of your yard, off your porch and to teach her some manners..then put the bird in the house..the child needs bipping.

Anonymous said...

Let the sensible parrot out, and stuff the stupid child into the cage.

Anonymous said...

oops, forgot to sign that comment - am sitting in car in pine forest, and new laptop doesn't know who i am .. heh.

Vivienne Grainger said...

I have to agree that undeserving Decibel wears the "attractive nuisance" label. Can you move him to the back porch for a new POV, where your husband might be more aware of his visitors? Can he be satisfied with some early-evening hours?
Parrot weather will end soon, but he obviously requires some supervision/safeguarding from this little menace.
The sad story is that when I was a small girl, I made overtures to a dog who was not receptive, and at that point in my life (5-ish) I couldn't read the signs that the dog had had enough. The animal bit me, and although I was clearly at fault, my parental units were able to insist that the animal be put down. (Yes, I feel bad to this day, almost 60 years later.) You don't want that to happen to Decibel.
If you like, I'll come cross-country and yell at the brat for you.

Lori F - MN said...

It wasn't Decible's fault that the girl got bitten. Or his fault that he got covered with cola.
Definately find out who this girl is and tell her parents what she has done.
But I would place him on the back porch, for his own safety.

Mama Kelly aka Jia said...

Unfortunately you can be held liable (ainsofar as my own layperson understanding of the law goes). That being said, the child did trespass and did harass your pet. She is deserving of some consequence beyond the finger nipping she already endured.

Unfortunately too many parents these days seem unwilling to discipline their children.

Hope Decibel is ok.


Fox said...

I honestly don't know how legally liable you would be in this case, though I think it is a possibility. I think you may also have something of an animal cruelty counter case on your side if the family wanted to pursue this issue. Besides the issue of trespassing, this child (ie monster in training) disrupted your pet's home and invaded his living space. Not to mention throwing soda on him, which I'm sure isn't something that is all that comfortable for a parrot to be covered in the sticky mess or to clean up.

I would suggest posting a sign near the parrot with a warning that he WILL bite if fingers intrude on the cage and maybe figure out a way to prevent people from easily gaining access to your porch, not because you want to cow to those that don't respect your property, but to protect your family, including Decibel.

Anne Johnson said...

Decibel has been placed in his winter quarters in my dining room. He will not be outside any more until next spring ... if then.

A Wild Celtic Rose said...


I posted a comment this morning but don't think it posted.

Do you know who the little brat's parents are? If not, I'm sure it's easy to find out.

Her parents need to know that their spawn is trespassing, abusing animals and vandalizing property.

She should be made to apologize, clean up her nasty, sticky coke spill and to stay the hell away from your property. (and be threatened with whatever the worst family punishment is) if my kid had ever pulled this, I'd have marched her over there to apologize and clean up the mess immediately, and then she'd be in deep doo doo at home.

If the parents aren't receptive, then a call to law enforcement is in order.

No one should be able to just walk onto your property, torment your feather child and then engage in an act of vandalism.

You may have protected decibel for the rest of this winter, but what about next year? what about the next animal?

Anonymous said...

Well, I live in the South. I'm not sure what the laws are like in your neck of the woods, but, here in mine no you would not be liable because trespassing is trespassing here. It's just like a dog in it's own yard, here. If he attacks a trespasser, it's their fault. The only way you would be liable is if Decibel were loose and decided to go after said child.

Unfortunately, if it were me, I would keep him inside except for those occasions where I could be with him on the porch for the time he's out there. I'm really leery of people, though, and I don't trust them. For this reason, in many cases. The child should obviously not be around animals.

Sorry to hear about Decibel's incident. Poor guy. :(

Intense Guy said...

The law is an ASS - you must assume that you will be liable - if nothing else, I'm sure the powers that be would drag you through interminable legal hearings at the courthouse and sap your wallet and will even if you "win" in the end - you'd lose.

Anonymous said...

let the parrot spank the brat