Critter stories of 2013
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Animals are newsmakers, too, and stories about them are among the most popular with our readers.
The year 2013 saw the deaths of a beloved police dog in Elgin and of an elderly bison at the city's Lords Park Zoo. As well, a buck tore up a Sugar Grove home and a resilient kitten lived through a 300-mile trip inside a semitrailer's air cleaner.
Here are the furry, winged and feathered friends — or, in some cases, foes — who made headlines in 2013.
Aurora bird hoarder pleads guilty
An Aurora man who kept more than 450 living and dead birds in his townhouse was convicted in November of animal hoarding and cruelty charges. David Skeberdis, 58, pleaded guilty in DuPage County court and was sentenced to one year of probation, counseling and 50 hours of public service.
— Bob Smith
Buck invades Sugar Grove home
Keith Mohr, 71, was taking a shower in his Sugar Grove townhouse in mid-November when a six-point buck crashed through a window and began running around his home, destroying virtually everything in its path. Mohr, who was naked, tried to open a door and window for the buck to leave, but to no avail. He even ruined a prized Calloway golf club, striking the bleeding buck before it bounded through a window, tugging curtains on his only remaining antler. A local radio station bought Mohr a new club. The buck was never found.
— Harry Hitzeman
Bison dies at Elgin's Lords Park Zoo
2013 was a tumultuous year for Lords Park Zoo in Elgin.
Its longest bison resident, Pokey, died in March, just weeks after welcoming two new girlfriends to the bison herd.
The new bison — Drew and Becky — were donated from Brookfield Zoo to keep Pokey company.
Pokey was born in 1991 in Elgin, where she also raised bison calves.
Her health started declining and she got stuck in a mud hole within her enclosure. Workers freed her, but she had to be euthanized.
Even in her advanced age, she remained at a good weight at more than 1,000 pounds.
— Elena Ferrarin
Police dog dies on duty in Elgin
Eight-year-old German shepherd Keiser was the first police dog to die on duty in Elgin. He collapsed during a routine patrol in July after being diagnosed with cancer about two months before.
Keiser's duties included both patrol and narcotics detection. His handler, officer John Slocum, was paired with him in 2007.
Once, Keiser and another police dog saved a suicidal man's life. He also recovered $62,000 in cash and found a 6-pound package of marijuana vacuum-sealed and packed in dryer sheets.
— Elena Ferrarin
Kitten survives in truck's air cleaner
Kane County animal control authorities reported in June that a kitten survived a 300-mile journey inside a semitrailer's air cleaner from Wisconsin and was subsequently adopted by an Oswego family. The black kitten, about 4 months old at the time, was named "EB," short for "engine block." She was found in late May after a police officer pulled over the truck's driver for talking on a cellphone. The Sugar Grove officer heard the cat's meows and discovered the hitchhiking kitten clinging to the truck's air cleaner with all four paws. The kitten was treated for ear mites, but didn't show any signs of hearing loss after spending time so close to the engine. The truck was traveling from Tomah, Wis.
— Daily Herald staff reports
Bees in Carpentersville, West Dundee
Carpentersville and West Dundee eventually lifted their bans on backyard beekeeping after a pair of residents asked them whether they could raise honeybees. The villages did an about-face in part due to the national honeybee shortage and officials' desire to raise their population while promoting pollination. In West Dundee, officials invited an expert to dispel myths about the insects and the measure still barely passed by one vote. Three trustees were concerned about allergic people getting stung by the bees. In Carpentersville, Trustee Kevin Rehberg, the only one to vote against the measure, expressed similar concerns and said Dundee Township and the Kane County Forest Preserve District are better able to regulate honeybees.
— Lenore T. Adkins
Roadside puppy sale
An Elburn man drew attention to puppies being sold out of the back of a pickup in August, posting video of the sales on his animal-rights' group's YouTube channel. Steve Hindi, of Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, was dismayed that local police did not stop the sale. Police said they could not do anything because the man was on private land, an ice cream shop, and had the permission of the owner. Hindi also reported his findings to the state agriculture department, which regulates the pet industry.
— Susan Sarkauskas
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