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SIDE STREETS: Slaughter of pet hens teaches kids sad lesson
Thu Mar 17, 2011 04:40

SIDE STREETS: Slaughter of pet hens teaches kids sad lesson
Comments 13
March 16, 2011 11:59 AM

Three dead chickens in a backyard coop don’t make headlines, normally.

But the senseless killings Monday of Snowball, Moto and Nugget are not just malicious vandalism to be shrugged off.

They were more than barnyard animals destined for slaughter. They were pets that followed 11-year-old Dalton Holm around his Cheyenne Cañon neighborhood and playfully chased Dalton and his friends, Sammy and Chloe.

The white, black and golden hens also were teachers. From them, Dalton was valuable lessons about responsibility. About caring for animals. About entrepreneurship as he sold their eggs in the neighborhood.

And now, in death they are teaching Dalton and his friends about human cruelty.

That’s because Dalton, his family and their neighbors are convinced the chickens were killed — their necks broken, bodies stomped, one even decapitated — by a person who entered their tightly fenced enclosure.

Everyone who saw the crime scene, including a police officer friend, concluded there was no way for an animal or predator bird to get the chickens. And the birds were not eaten or even bitten. Simply killed.

“I did my homework after school and I went to feed my chickens,” Dalton said. “I saw one of them laying there and thought it was just resting.

“Then I saw another. And another. Its head was off. I was crying.”

There was no sign wildlife dug into the coop or forced open the fencing, which even covers the top.

(See photos of the hens and coop on my blog.)

“Someone came in our yard, opened the gate and went inside,” said Dalton’s mother, Stacey Stallwood. “Somebody really abused them. Their bodies had been smashed. Somebody had to jump on top of them.

“Dalton was devastated. He was hysterical.”

Neighbors are equally upset at the incident.

“It was horrid,” said Leona Breaker, who lives across the street. Her daughter is Dalton’s friend.

“All the children would go and feed them, visit them and gather their eggs,” Leona said. “This has been horrifying to the children.”

She said the neighborhood has been peaceful for the seven years she has lived there until a recent break-in at a neighbor’s garage followed by someone painting graffiti on several vehicles and houses.

“We’re concerned,” Leona said. “Is this a teenager doing this? It seems like things are continuing to escalate. This is scary. The kids are really afraid. How could somebody do something so cruel? They are so innocent.”

Dalton said he, Chloe and his buddy, Sammy, are equally saddened by the chickens’ deaths.

“We’re feeling sad and mad,” Dalton said.

He said his pet hens taught him a lot of lessons including a really hard one:

“Some people,” Dalton said, “are messed up.”

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Side Streets Bill Vogrin

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