Court Rules In Favor Of Duck
April 4, 2008
Like any other victim of a violent attack, Circles the duck now has legal protection - an order of protection against the man charged as her assailant.
In addition to getting shot in the neck by a pellet gun, Suffolk prosecutors said Circles, of Mastic, managed to make legal history yesterday.
"To my knowledge, it's the first order of protection for a pet in Suffolk County outside of domestic violence cases," said prosecutor Michelle Auletta.The attack was quick, said Circles' owner, Janet Lippincott, 53.
A group of teens jumped the backyard fence and charged at her with pellet guns, Lippincott said.
"My son just lost it," Lippincott said, describing the March 17 shooting. "He saw the blood on both sides of her neck."
But yesterday, the yellow-billed Pekin duck - the same variety as Long Island duck fame - scored a legal victory. The man police say is her attacker, Ylik Mathews, 21, of Mastic, pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty charges in First District Court in Central Islip.
Judge John Iliou issued a full order of protection for Lippincott's family, including Circles.An attorney who has represented Mathews in the past said he was unfamiliar with this case.
Mathews was held on bail of $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond."She's made a remarkable recovery," Lippincott said as Circles made gurgly duck sounds at her feet yesterday.
According to court papers, the single pellet pierced the duck's larynx, shattering a bone around her voice box and leaving two holes on opposite sides of her neck. Circles' veterinary bill totaled $200.
Lippincott said Mathews first told her the shooting was an accident. But she said she decided to press charges after Mathews sought assault charges against her son, Michael.
At first, Lippincott said Suffolk police were stumped. "They'd never ran across it before," she said of assault on a duck. In 2006, then-Gov. George Pataki signed into law the legal provision to include pets in orders of protection.
The measure was first used a month later in Queens, when a judge listed Be Be, a 5-year-old bichon frise, as a party in a domestic dispute. Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said he could not recall a case involving cruelty to ducks that led to court.
If convicted, Mathews faces up to two years in prison. State prison records show he has a felony conviction for first-degree robbery. Circles is back to sleeping in the dog crate she shares with two pit bull-Labrador sisters, Viper and Sweetie.
"It wound up a nightmare," Lippincott said, "all because they shot my duck."
We don't know about you, but we here at HPO are quite satisfied that justice was served and that the court ruled in favor of that duck. Does a duck not breath the same air as all of us? Does it not deserve the same standards of safety and common decency as we do? How would you like it if your pet was shot with a pellet gun?
Right. But on the other hand, ducks can be pretty agressive themselves: