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Monday, December 28, 2009

Animals on Aisle 5

Was that Rudolph who just crashed into Palm Harbor Publix?

Suncoast Animal League

The animal was taken to Brooker Creek Preserve north of the shopping center, where its legs were untaped, eyes uncovered and he was released.


Published: December 23, 2009

Updated: 12/23/2009 03:48 pm

PALM HARBOR - Oh, dear.

Rudolph made an early visit to his neighborhood grocery this afternoon, barging in the front door and creating quite the ruckus inside the store.

"I was standing by the pharmacy and it came flying in. I thought it was a dog at first,'' said Steve Jarrett, the Publix store manager at the Shoppes at Boot Ranch, 500 East Lake Road. "But then I noticed it was a reindeer or a deer.''

The male deer, sporting a small set of antlers and weighing about 150 pounds, ran between the checkout lines as holiday shoppers scrambled. He slipped on the tile floor and crashed into a display featuring – get this – pet toys.

Managers and workers and whoever else could help converged on the deer, putting a Publix apron over his eyes and taping the front feet so he could not do any more damage.

"If we had let it loose, it would have been out of control,'' Jarrett said.

So with a deer – red nose or not -- on the floor in a grocery right before Christmas, word travels fast. Soon kids and adults alike were coming from all directions of the shopping center to see the spectacle. Cell phone cameras and videos were everywhere.

"Everybody in the whole plaza came over,'' Jarrett said. "Kids were yelling at us to 'get off Rudolph, you're hurting Rudolph.'''

Marie Blaine, who works at My Pet Animal Hospital in the same shopping complex, saw the deer as she was walking to a drugstore a few doors down.

"I turned the corner and there was a deer in front of Radio Shack heading my way," Blaine said. She said she could almost see the headline" "Two days before Christmas, Marie gets run over by a deer in front of work.''

Still, that didn't deter her. As the deer rammed into various glass store doors, she went back inside the veterinarian's office to grab a slip leash. She envisioned somehow getting the leash on the animal and then coaxing him safely into one of the exam rooms.

The deer had other ideas.

"Everybody was running at him,'' she said of a crowd who had gathered to try to help before the animal went into the store. "He was so startled and so disoriented that he just ran and ended up in Publix.''

"It was amazing,'' Jarrett said. "We have a lot of people telling us that we should put a sign on the door that Rudolph visited here today.''

Rudolph's visit didn't last for long however – about 20 to 25 minutes.

Rick Chaboudy of the Suncoast Animal League responded to the scene. He said the deer appeared to be about a year and a half old and had been struck by a car just north of the shopping center prior to the Publix incident.

Between the collision with the car and it being breeding season, when deer can exhibit wacky behavior, this male was way out of sorts, Chaboudy said. Not to mention way out of place.

The deer seemed to be OK other than some minor head trauma, Chaboudy said. The animal was taken to Brooker Creek Preserve north of the shopping center, where its legs were untaped, eyes uncovered and he was released.

"He got right up and off he went,'' Chaboudy said.

After all, Rudolph has a busy night on tap Thursday.

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