It’s been a week since Charmin the chicken was stolen from her coop at Pet House in Goleta. Her cage is empty but it hasn’t been taken away from its space at the back of the store.
“Somebody who thinks that they can do better for her stole her,” said Wendy Guyer, owner of the store at 5781 Calle Real. “They sent me a letter saying that they took her.”
Charmin, Pet House’s mascot and eater of stray crickets, first came to the store when she was a day-old chick about five years ago. She disappeared the afternoon of March 21.
The bird lived in a coop during the day to protect her from unruly dogs, but during the quieter times, she roamed the store. She ate well, with staff members competing to make her the best bug salads.
“We thought we were giving her a great home,” said Guyer, whose store gets regular inspections and passes every time.
The letter writer presumably is the person who stole Charmin, and Guyer said he or she could have been someone with whom she had had an earlier disagreement about the chicken’s store-dwelling lifestyle.
Like any pet owner, Guyer worries about Charmin and how she’s doing in a strange place, and she’s frustrated that someone could steal her chicken to prove a point.
“You just don’t take someone’s property,” she said. “If you disagree, then you disagree. Maybe we can talk or you can make suggestions, but you don’t just break the law.”
As upset as she is, Guyer does not want the loss of her chicken to create bad blood in the community.
“There’s a comment thread in the Rants and Raves section of Craigslist,” she said, where comments on Charmin’s disappearance have gone from unfriendly to unnecessarily hostile.
“I don’t want to be a focal point for that,” Guyer said. “It’s not good for business and it’s not good for animal rights advocates that go through the proper channels to resolve issues regarding animal care.”
While the Pet House family waits for the police to do what they can, they’ve at least been getting support and sympathy from the store’s regulars, those who’ve been around the chicken they called “Charmy.”
But even if the chicken does come back, she won’t be around for long. To avoid this kind of situation in the future, and perhaps for Charmin’s own protection, Guyer said she’d give everyone a month to see her one more time.
“I have a friends with ranches in Santa Ynez,” she said, “and I would retire her to a ranch there.”