AR-News: (KY) A wayward alligator gets reprieve, boot
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WeArPetitions at aol.com
Thu Oct 9 14:54:11 EDT 2003
By Shelly Whitehead
Post staff reporter
Judges see a lot of slimy characters in their courtrooms, often with tales of
how animal instincts and primal urges somehow turned them against the law.
Dundee, the wayward alligator of Florence, was no different.
The instinctive urge for crawdads in nearby Utterback Creek prompted his July
16 escape from his Florence home. And that escape is ultimately what landed
his owner, Sandy Smith, in front of Boone District Judge Michael Collins
Tuesday on a charge of harboring a wild animal.
Smith, a laid-back 45-year-old self-employed contractor, has been a bit
mystified by the whole ordeal. What was the big deal? So his toothy,
three-foot-long American alligator took a quick jaunt across Rosetta Drive for a crustacean
canape? Wild animal ordinance or not, Smith didn't see any harm in that.
But a lot of other people did, particularly Boone County Animal Warden Becky
Reiter, who is charged not only with enforcing local animal control laws, but
often retrieving the wild "pets" of those who break such legal mandates.
Tuesday afternoon, Reiter was among those at the Burlington courthouse where
Dundee was finally getting his day in court.
And, as it turns out, there's apparently a little scaly reptile in even the
most warm-blooded judge, because Boone District Judge Collins gave Smith and
Dundee a second chance at life as a couple -- as long as it was somewhere else.
"He (Smith) agreed to get (the alligator) out of the county," Reiter said.
"He's got property someplace that he's going to take it to. He's been given
60 days to do that, and if there's another occurrence of the animal getting
out, we will take immediate possession of it. But, if there are no other
incidents, they'll dismiss the charges."
Last month, Smith told The Post that he has vacation property on Lake
Cumberland and has considered taking Dundee to that secluded south-central Kentucky
But after Tuesday's District Court meeting, Smith clammed up on his plans for
After his alligator's tale aired on television a while back, Smith got to
thinking. Perhaps his little 'gator could be a money-maker.
"It's gonna go down -- like a mystery, like 'Who shot J.R.?'" Smith said,
recalling the craze over the killing of the lead character in the 1980 television
"This'll be 'Where's Dundee?' -- And we're going to let people bid on the
story of it. -- Then whatever we get out of it, we'll use to build Dundee a
So it's the county line for Dundee.
"That's the thing that worries me at this point -- it's going to another
community," Reiter said.
"But then, maybe all this gave him the motivation to do the right thing."
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