A flock of loose chickens enjoyed a ride in a cruiser and trip through Dunkin Donuts drive through after being rescued. Credit: Credit: courtesy of Jessica Jackson

Jessica Jackson has seen a lot in nearly two decades as an animal control officer. But chickens riding shotgun in her cruiser was a first.

On Wednesday Jackson, the ACO for Casco, Naples, Raymond and Harrison, responded to reports of a flock of chickens creating a traffic hazard at a busy intersection in Naples. When she arrived the chickens were crossing Routes 302 and 11 with the drivers of cars and tractor trailer trucks swerving or slamming on the brakes to avoid them.

“It was a huge traffic hazard,” Jackson said. “Animal safety is my job, but I was also worried about the public’s safety.”

The six chickens eventually made their way to Dodge Oil Co. on the corner of the intersection, where Jackson said they hunkered down on an oil truck.

Meanwhile, Jackson knocked on doors near the scene asking if anyone was missing the fowl. No one was and, without any clear evidence of where they came from, Jackson said her only option was to corral the birds and take them to a foster farm for safekeeping.

Easier said than done.

“I tried to get them into dog kennels I carry, but I did not have enough kennels for the amount of chickens,” she said. “My capture net is broken because it had been chewed by a rat so I could not use that.”

Jackson ended up opening the rear door to her cruiser and tossing in bits of dog kibble to bribe the chickens. She figured they could ride securely in the back seat, since the car is outfitted with an aluminum canine holding area and partitioned off from the front seat by a sliding door.

It was a good plan, right up to the point when — at about the same time — Jackson and the chickens noticed the sliding door was open.

“I was tossing the kibble and they started hopping into the cruiser and I was rather proud of myself,” Jackson said. “Then I saw the door between the front and back seat was open and they immediately jumped into the front.”

There were chickens on the steering wheel, on her computer and on the dashboard.

Jackson said she tried to shoo them to the back seat but all that did was agitate the birds, which started to do what agitated chickens do — poop.

“For the sake of my cruiser, I decided to let them ride shotgun,” Jackson said. “We took a side trip through Dunkin’ Donuts for donut crumbs and a coffee and then headed off to the farm.”

For their part, the chickens seemed to enjoy the road trip. One sat on the seat next to Jackson, another stayed on the floor, one rode on the computer mount and another remained on her shoulder the entire drive.

Jackson said the farmer will hold the chickens until someone claims them. If no one steps forward, they will become permanent residents of the farm.

It has been a busy week for livestock and wranglers in Maine. In Aroostook County, 10 bison ran amok for much of Wednesday after breaking out of their Fort Fairfield pasture. Meanwhile a rooster named Dave mysteriously turned up, a bit worse for wear, in Unity after being missing since last May.

If anyone is missing a mixed flock of chickens in the Naples area, they can call the Casco, Naples, Raymond, Harrison Regional Animal Control Office at 207-893-2810.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.