Foul-Mouthed Cockatoo at Center of R.I. Trial
A pet bird who allegedly was trained to curse at its owner's ex-husband's new girlfriend is at the center of a noise ordinance violation that has gone to trial in Warwick, R.I.
The bird's owner, Lynne Taylor, was issued a $15 noise ordinance ticket in May because her pet bird, Willy, makes noise that disturbs her next-door neighbors, the Providence Journal reported. Those neighbors happen to be Taylor's ex-husband, Craig Fontaine, and his new girlfriend, Kathleen Melker.
According to information from the Warwick City Clerk's office about the noise violation complaint, the bird, a cockatoo named Willy, squawked a lot, and used profanity, including the phrases "f***ing whore" and "f***ing slut."
Melker believes Taylor trained the bird to use those phrases against her. She has posted videos on YouTube documenting the noise.
"Our life basically is hell. We have no quality of life. We can't go out in our yard. We have no peace," she told ABC News on Monday.
Relations between the Harris Avenue neighbors have degenerated so much that Fontaine and Melker have obtained restraining orders against Taylor, and Taylor in turn has taken out restraining orders against Melker and Melker's cat.
Taylor did not respond to a message for comment from ABC News, but Stephen Peltier, a lawyer who is representing her in court, said the cat repeatedly encroached onto Taylor's yard, provoking the bird.
"The bird makes noise," he said on Monday. "But when you listen to those videos too you can hear the seagulls making louder noise. You can hear her wind chimes making louder noise … ."
The case over the $15 infraction ticket went to a hearing on Thursday in Warwick municipal court . Witnesses were called to testify, and evidence was presented, including videos.
Melker told ABC News that she believes the trial is "frivolous."
"This is ridiculous. It's a $15 fine that your bird is loud. I mean what more can you say? And her lawyer is turning this into … a federal case," she said.
Melker said Taylor has been harassing her since she moved into Fontaine's home last year. She said Taylor and her boyfriend even baited a trap to catch her cat and locked the animal inside the back of a hot box truck.
Melker called police to have the animal freed. In another video posted on YouTube, a police officer can be seen yelling at Taylor to release the cat from the truck.
Asked for his reaction to some people's online comments that the case is a waste of taxpayer dollars, Peltier said it's not just about the money.
He said any further calls from Melker about the bird could eventually result in higher fines for his client. He also said the ordinance about noisy animals is arbitrary and could allow people to report neighbors' pets simply out of dislike of the animals.
"My client has to defend herself in this," he said, adding that his client and her ex-husband had lived peacefully next to each other for years until Melker moved in and started calling police repeatedly about the noise.
"She just does not like my client and while she's there she's making life miserable for my client," he said of Melker.
But Melker said she has done nothing wrong. She called Taylor "malicious and petty."
As for the bird's decidedly salty vocabulary? The violation doesn't take issue with the type of language, but Peltier denied that the pet bird said "f***ing whore."
Fontaine testified in court last week that when he and Taylor were together, he trained the bird to say "knock it off," Peltier said.
His client says the bird says 'knock it off,' and if you could translate that into parrot, 'knock it off, knock it off,' say it over and over guess what you come up with?" Peltier said.
Melker said she and Fontaine plan to move.
"We have no peace. We are moving. We are leaving. We cannot take it anymore," she said, adding that she believes not enough had been done to enforce the restraining orders.
The trial continues on Thursday evening.