MESA, Ariz. - A Mesa woman is distraught after an encounter with law enforcement left her pet emu dead.
According to witness descriptions, the bird’s neck was roped off as deputies struggled to wrangle it into a squad car. Stephanie Moilan said she still can't believe it.
"You can’t put a lasso around their neck, trying to yank on them and get them to do what you want them to do. You’re going to kill them," said Moilan. "It was so inappropriate. It was completely unnecessary."
Moilan called her six-and-a-half-year-old pet emu ‘awesome.'
"You could hand feed her. I’d go out and pet her and cuddle her," said Moilan.
Moilan said her pet occasionally got loose, and that was exactly what happened on Sept. 28, when neighbor Michael Davis looked outside his window.
"He was just very calm, just wondering around. Not aggressive at all. Not threatening," said Davis.
Then, Davis said he saw the emu collapse and seemingly choke.
"I don’t think that it needed to happen the way that it did," said Davis.
In a statement to FOX 10, officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said deputies arrived after a call for a loose emu in a neighborhood, and "during the corralling, The bird collapsed and died."
"She was just so much fun," said Moilan. "I'm really going to miss her."
Moilan also rejected portions of MCSO's statement on what happened.
"There was no corralling. I don’t think you need a lasso for that," said Moilan.
Moilan is demanding that deputies re-evaluate how they handled the situation.
"I think that they were thoughtless," said Moilan. "My 11-year-old's first response was, ‘did they call animal control? Did they call wildlife response?’"
We reached out to officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department on when they respond to animal calls if contacted by law enforcement. Officials with the agency released a statement that reads:
"Some law enforcement agencies handle it on their own.
Keep in mind every situation involving animals is different, and if it involves wildlife or there's been an interaction between wildlife and a human, we would more than likely be contacted and respond.
Also, If the wildlife is unlawful in the State or Arizona, the law enforcement agency would have to report it to us or take some sort of enforcement action.
Keep in mind that the animals you're referencing, wallabies and an emu, are not considered wildlife in the State of Arizona because they would not be normally found in a state of nature here.
Wildlife in the State of Arizona is defined under ARS 17-101: ‘wild’ means, in reference to mammals and birds, those species that are normally found in a state of nature. ‘Wildlife’ means all wild mammals, wild birds and the nests or eggs thereof, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans and fish, including their eggs or spawn."