Originally created 08/07/02

Judge rules rooster has made final crow



SAVANNAH, Ga. - His owner pleaded, but he couldn't save Fred.

Arthur Weed's beloved rooster - named for Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy - is headed for exile.

Mr. Weed's impassioned pleas didn't persuade Recorder's Court Judge Lawrence Dillon, who gave the bird two weeks to vacate the backyard coop he shares with five hens. Mr. Weed already has paid $640 in fines and court costs.

Until Fred moves, Mr. Weed must keep him indoors at night, as he has done for six weeks.

Still, Fred's daytime crowing stuck in the craw of some neighbors. Christina Keith complained that Fred woke her up Saturday afternoon, when she was sleeping after finishing a night shift.

"I'm a nurse, and I need my sleep," said Ms. Keith, who lives about four doors away from Mr. Weed on Victory Drive.

Neighbor Catherine Cooper, who first faced off against Mr. Weed in court more than seven months ago, told Judge Dillon that she thought two weeks was too much time.

"You've got to have a little heart," responded Mr. Weed's lawyer, Tom Edenfield.

Mr. Weed said he hasn't decided where to move Fred - or whether he would visit once they've parted. He does have options, though. About 100 people have contacted him, Mr. Weed said, and some have offered homes for the bird.

The chicken has made a media splash. Eight news outlets have reported the story, Mr. Weed said. Even CNN participated, interviewing him by phone Sunday.

Mr. Weed said he hasn't given up hope. He may ask the city to grant a variance for the "natural sound" of Fred's crowing. He is also considering an appeal.

Mr. Weed, an antiques dealer, says Fred's calls are a soothing balm in a noisy, urban world. He bought him as a chick last fall after a doctor admonished him to slow down and live a healthier life.