On March 24, Cheryl Blasius was stopped cold at her front door. Hanging from the doorknob was a notice from Terrell's animal control department:
Got complaint you own a monkey. You cannot have a monkey in Terrell. 10 days to remove of you will recieve (sic) citations for keeping an exotic animal.
That's true. Blasius does own a monkey, a capuchin by the looks of him, and has for the past 20 years. His name is Tyler.
It's also true that keeping a monkey in Terrell is illegal. See city ordinance 2321:
It shall be unlawful to harbor, keep or maintain any wild or exotic animals within the city limits including, but not limited to, poisonous reptiles, bats, skunks, coyotes, foxes, wolves, alligators, lions, tigers, leopards, and monkeys. Further, the chief of police or his designated representative within the police department may declare any species of animal not listed in this section as "prohibited" if the confinement of the animal within the city can be shown to constitute a threat to public health and safety. The city council, however, may grant exceptions from time to time, such as for special events.
But justice? That's a different matter. Though the city has allowed him to stay beyond the 10-day window, and despite his undeniable cuteness, Terrell officials are still pushing for his expulsion. They've offered to grandfather him in but know full well that Tyler was living just outside Terrell city limits when the exotic-animal was passed in 2004 and therefore not eligible for exemption from the law.
Blasius, meanwhile, is marshaling forces for a protest, launching a "Save Tyler" Facebook page that led to an interview last night with WFAA.
Judging by the many supportive Facebook comments, the Internet at least is on her side:
The city of Terrell is full of monkeys! At least this one is cute and adorable. What about the dangerous dog that lived next door to my mom and bit someone on her property?! They don't do a thing about it.
OMG he's cute. I used to want a monkey growing up. How long have you had him and why does Terrell want you to get rid of him.
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If people didn't care for these lovable creatures, their habitat is being demolished at alarming rates. Why don't people worry more about child molesters, killers and drug addicts and leave this family pet alone.
Looks like my cousins, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandmas, great aunt, lol
Surely, Terrell bureaucrats won't be able to withstand such forceful protests for long.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.