News editor gets thrown in jail

It certainly was a first for me.

Some may find it surprising, but I’ve never been arrested nor thrown in jail.

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Stunningly that is exactly what happened Tuesday afternoon as I prepared to head home after work. Out of the blue came our sales manager, Valorie Higgs, claiming I was under arrest.

“What in the world for?” I exclaimed.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” she snapped as she slapped on the cuffs and dragged me screaming from behind my desk.

“Come quietly, or it won’t go easy for ya,” she said.

Sensing there was no way I could escape the inevitable, I took her advice. I soon found myself crammed into the minute reception area of the Battlefords Animal Shelter. Crammed, because there was a host of other folks who had been rounded up for incarceration. Talk about a serious crime wave.

“What’s going on,” we were all shouting. It really was bedlam in there as we fought to be heard above the sound of barking dogs.

We all wanted to know what the charges were and whether we should be engaging the services of a lawyer, but our questions went unanswered.

Instead, shelter manager Michelle Spark briskly told us we were all going to be spending time in the shelter’s isolation ward. We would each have our own cage equipped with a blanket, a water bowl and a stuffed animal. Yikes! Not exactly luxury here.

Still none of us had any clue as to what the charges were. It was a long time later, during a taped interview, that I became aware I was being charged with cat trafficking! Me! I would never do such a thing. Protestations of innocence fell on deaf ears, however, and in the cage I remained.

With dogs barking and people talking on their cellphones trying to raise the bail they needed to get out of the smelly holding area, I wasn’t able to hear what my cellmates were charged with, other than the woman across the aisle. She was being accused of dog napping.

Just prior to our incarceration, Spark, who oddly was also shoved into a cage and locked up, advised us we could choose between good ventilation and warmth during our stay. We opted for the ventilation, so the blankets provided were put to good use. But it’s not exactly comfortable sitting on a cold concrete floor with only a blanket and a stuffed animal.

Our jailers were not inhumane, reflecting the philosophy behind their involvement with the Battlefords Humane Society. We were fed and watered. I enjoyed an unbaked cookie, which my children always referred to as “dog poop” cookies. The water came in a bottle, we didn’t have to slurp it out of our bowls. Later we were served a sandwich and soup. The soup came in a cardboard bowl, not a dog dish.

One odd part of the experience was having people wander in to take a peek at the prisoners. None showed the least bit of compassion for our plight, simply wanting to appease their own sick curiosity at seeing others helpless at the hands of law enforcement.

After about an hour and a half, rumours of a Dog Mob breakout attempt started to circulate. One of the mob actually made it into Spark’s cage and our hopes soared briefly. Sadly the attempt was nipped in the bud by our stern guard, who sadly was also impervious to any of my eye-batting attempts to win his favour.

My next-door cellmate Jim Shevchuk had his family come to visit, which I found touching. None of my clan bothered to come and see what was up. Such a fickle bunch they are. I’m always there in their times of need!

We clamoured, we campaigned, we shouted “ring those phones” while rattling the doors of our cages, but our pleas went unheeded.

At one point our jailers took pity on Jim, offering him a dog to keep him company. I was miffed. Here I was stuck with the hapless Scooby in my lonely cell. My complaints were eventually heeded and I enjoyed a brief visit with Pulitzer, now known as Harley.

Harley, an 18-month-old cat, came barging into my house on the evening of Boxing Day. He jumped up on the couch, threw his paws around my neck and began rubbing his face in mine as if to say, “I’m home, I’m home, I’m finally home.” Sadly he was not chipped and efforts to find his people failed. I was forced to drop him off at the shelter, where he has been ever since. I’ve paid his adoption fees, so he’s yours for the asking. He’s a huge gorgeous tabby and a total sweetheart. He deserves a good home, a home I am unable to provide because he who thinks he’s in charge says “no, no, no.”

But to get back to the incarceration situation, after being informed of our alleged crimes and enduring the discomfort and confinement for three solid hours, we were miraculously all let go. Apparently they weren’t able to make the charges stick, but they were still happy to pocket the bail money raised. Unscrupulous bunch, I’d say.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist

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