Owner of Chihuahuas avoids trial in death of chicken

The world may never know whether the irritating yap of a pair of Chihuahuas caused a chicken to suffer a fatal heart attack.

The dogs’ owner, 30-year-old Joy C. McDonald of Odessa, Mo., avoided a trial and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement Thursday with Lafayette County authorities, who brought a criminal case against her after a neighbor’s chicken died.

McDonald agreed to follow several conditions, and in exchange, county prosecutor Kellie Wingate Campbell will not pursue the criminal case.

In April, authorities charged McDonald with a misdemeanor count of animal abuse, alleging she did not control her Chihuahuas, Peaches and Domino, who wandered next door and allegedly caused the chicken's death. Court records did not say how the chicken, which belonged to George Gamblin and his wife, was killed.

McDonald had said the chicken apparently suffered a heart attack after her five-pound dogs barked at it while running loose in their rural neighborhood.

Campbell could not be reached for comment on Thursday, and McDonald declined to comment.

Under the terms of the 12-month agreement, McDonald admits that on April 5 she failed to control her dogs and allowed them to wander onto someone’s property.

McDonald must perform 20 hours of community service at an animal shelter, not allow her pets to wander off her property and tell Campbell anytime she is arrested. McDonald is supposed to work full time or attend school and live in Lafayette County.

McDonald also was required to sign a letter of apology, which said: “It was unfortunate that one of Mrs. Gamblin’s chickens died and it was never my intention for my dogs to wander away from my residence or to have them cause any harm to my neighbor’s property or pet.”

According to court records, a sheriff’s deputy was called to the Gamblin residence in the 9800 block of U.S. 40, where he found a white, lifeless chicken sprawled on the ground inside a pen.

Gamblin’s wife heard noises and saw the two dogs inside the pen. She chased them with a stick, but the dogs escaped through the fence.

When she filed the charge, Campbell said: “There are photos with a poor, dead chicken and feathers everywhere.”