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Condo owner: It's no dastardly duck deed, just kitty care

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published February 6, 2007


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PINELLAS PARK - A Pinellas Park homeowner has been arrested and charged with committing a fowl deed - harboring ducks.

Police have accused Tracy A. Thomas, 45, of leaving her garage door open so the ducks can go in and snack, which is against the law in Pinellas Park.

Her recent arrest was not the first time that Thomas has run afoul of city duck laws. She was cited last year for feeding the ducks at the Lake Forest Condominiums on 93rd Terrace, where she has lived for 17 years.

Thomas denied the latest charge, saying the issue is cats, not ducks. She leaves her garage door open to allow her cats to come and go.

"There's no food in there for them," Thomas said. "There never has been."

She plans to fight the charge in court in March. If she loses, she'll face a $500 fine, which she says she might not be able to pay because she's "totally flat broke" after being laid off Monday from her job. If she's unable to pay, Thomas could be jailed or subject to community service.

Thomas tells the saga this way: Last April, police received a complaint that she was feeding the Muscovy ducks that hang around the condos. At that time, she was feeding them a mixture of chicken feed and dog food. The police issued a warning, and Thomas stopped feeding them.

The ducks didn't get the message. They continued to hang around hoping for a handout, and Thomas continued to get warnings. Thomas said she was issued a ticket in August for the April feedings. She decided to fight the charge in court and lost. She was fined $250.

Then early in January, the apartment's maintenance man reported that she was leaving her garage door open a few inches so the ducks could slip in and get to food she had left for them. He took pictures of ducks hanging around a slightly open garage door.

The police again came and charged Thomas with "harboring and feeding" ducks. Because it's a second offense, the potential fine is doubled.

But Thomas said it's a bum rap and that the fight is actually about her three cats, Duke, Junior and Madison. The cats, she said, like to go outside and sit in her driveway.

Thomas said she used to leave her front door open for the cats to go in and out. Neighbors complained that she was leaving her front door open for the ducks.

Thomas then put in a cat door. Neighbors accused her of installing the door for the ducks.

"Are these Ninja ducks, or what?" Thomas asked.

The condo complex put metal over the cat door, and Thomas said she had to replace her front door. So she began leaving the garage door up for the cats. But she leaves no food there for either the cats or the ducks.

"It's always been an issue for my cats. That's it," she said. "It's never been an issue about the ducks."

Thomas agreed that one or two Muscovies do waddle into the garage on occasion.

"They just go in there and sit," she said. "But when I see them, I shoo them out."

[Last modified February 6, 2007, 06:58:46]


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