Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spotlight: St. Louis School Safety Officer Moonlights as Chicken Rescuer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spotlight: St. Louis School Safety Officer Moonlights as Chicken Rescuer

Article excerpt

Anyone picking up a Pittsburgh newspaper last week probably saw a story about "Rudy, the Rogue Rooster," a fowl that had decided to make his home in the yard of a man named Henry Gaston.

But as Pittsburgh reporters pointed out, the city does not allow people to keep roosters, and the cock had crowed enough to send neighbors howling to city officials.

And even though the city's own animal control officers couldn't catch the bird, a judge ruled that Gaston was responsible: Get rid of the fowl, or get fined.

Then the press reported that Gaston's hero came riding from the west: Frank Cantone, head of St. Louis Chicken Rescue.

Frank who? St. Louis what?

"What can I say, I've grown to love chickens," said Cantone, a former paramedic who lives in south St. Louis and has for three years worked as a safety officer for St. Louis Public Schools.

After hearing about Gaston's plight through a chicken-farming website, Cantone offered his help.

"I talked to a Pittsburgh reporter who'd been covering it, and she got me in touch with a city inspector, who connected me to the judge," said Cantone, sounding exactly like people in St. Louis expect people from New Jersey to sound.

On Nov. 16, Cantone told the judge in an open-court phone call that he would come to Pittsburgh, no charge, and rescue the bird. "Then the city administrator said they'd tried to catch Rudy, and it just couldn't be done."

"I took that as a direct challenge."

So before dawn on Nov. 19, Cantone and his daughters Lindsey, 12, and Felicity, 10 headed east.

"We drove through sun, rain, sleet, snow, a blizzard in Ohio, and we got to Pittsburgh 12 hours later," Cantone said, adding that his girls "saw it as a road trip, an adventure."

The trio immediately went to the Gaston home, and indeed saw Rudy on site.

"The wind was blowing and it was snowing like crazy, and there were TV crews there. When I got close to grabbing him, he flew into a tree."

At this point, Cantone explains that roosters can't really fly, but they can hover and hop from perch to perch.

"But this rooster flew about 75 feet straight up into the air," he said. …

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