Pittsburgh Welcomes Outside Help to Nab Elusive Rooster

City officials say Rudy the rooster has become a neighborhood nuisance.

photo: shutterstock


Why did the chicken cross the road? To hide out in a Pittsburgh lawn.

A mischievous rooster (similar to the one pictured above) has been squatting on the corner of Wylie Avenue and Robert Street in the Hill District for months, violating city code dealing with urban agriculture. So why is Rudy, the neighborhood nuisance, still home on the range?

No one can catch him — and that includes the owner of the property Rudy lives on, a city inspector, animal control agents and an assistant city solicitor. He’s too fast and too intelligent, according to neighbors.

Roberta Bullock, a city inspector, was in the process of citing Henry Gaston, 69, for overgrown weeds when she heard a cockle-doodle-doo. She went to investigate and discovered the elusive Rudy. To Gaston’s irritation, that led to another charge.

“I knew I had to pursue this so people could get some rest,” Bullock told the Wall Street Journal. Rudy cannot live in Gaston’s yard under section 912.07 of the city’s code.

Rooster possession is likely illegal due to the loud shrieking noises they make. Rudy becomes vocal around 4 a.m., neighbors told Bullock.

Gaston told the Journal that the rooster began squatting in his yard along with two other chickens, though the others were much slower than Rudy and the city caught them.

In July, District Court Judge Oscar Petite told Gaston that he had 30 days to remove the weeds and Rudy from his yard, or he’d face a $1,000 per day fine. The weeds are history, but animal control hasn’t been able to nab the rooster.

Sonya Toler, spokeswoman for the city’s public-safety department, told the Journal that it takes “a lot of luck in capturing a rooster,” as she saw on her great-grandparents’ farm as a young girl.

In comes Frank Cantone, a school resource officer from St. Louis who rescues chickens and roosters. When he discovered wily Rudy on an online forum for chicken keepers, his interest piqued.

He’s called Bullock and talked to Gaston and Judge Petite to offer free rooster removal service, and the city approved.

Cantone hatched a plan to scatter feed on the ground and lure Rudy to his hand, also full of chicken feed and sunflower seeds. Once the rooster eats from his palm, Cantone will snatch up the rooster. In the past, he’s had success with this method.

If that doesn’t work, he’ll either distract Rudy with his two daughters and attempt to grab him, or tackle him at night when chickens are nearly blind.

“I’m not leaving town until I catch him,” he says.


Categories: The 412