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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

June 7, 2011

Security Breach

By Elizabeth Creith


A telephone call after midnight is hardly ever good news. When David came back from answering it he started to dress.

"That was the security people," he said. "The front motion detector went off at 11:45. That means someone's in the store. I'm going to check. Are you coming?"

"Might as well. I won't sleep until you get back."

We cruised past the front of the store. There was no damage, but Jack, the umbrella cockatoo, wasn't on his perch. I spotted him pacing the floor of his cage.

"The window's okay," I said, "and the door, too. But something's upset Jack."

We circled to the back of the store, parked by the steel receiving door and got out of the car.

"You stand back," David said, "and I'll go in. Wait until I call you, okay?"

I nodded. David unlocked the door, flung it open and charged in. The door alarm began its warning "beep!beep!beep!". In a few seconds David came back and shut it off.

"There's nobody here," he said. "They didn't come in this way, and they didn't break the window. I'm stumped."

We walked around the store. Nothing was disturbed. The cash register hadn't been touched. Nothing was out of place, except Jack, still pacing his cage and making "pick me up" noises. David obliged, and Jack snuggled into David's neck and talked nonstop in the garble we called "fluent mutter."

"Nothing stolen, nothing broken," I said, "what's going on? Check the camera."

On the monitor in the back room, the four cameras showed the whole store on four separate screens. We sat down to run through the recording on the front camera.

"I don't see anything," David said. "Just…here, Jack starts to flap and then he's down off his perch. I'm going to run it half speed."

He went through it again and then stopped and pointed at the screen.

"There, on the floor," he said. "It looks like an animal. Like…a ferret?"

When we looked at the ferrets' cage, we saw that the lid was askew and only one of four ferrets was inside. The large garbage can at the end of the shelf began to chitter, and I picked a second ferret out and put him back in the cage.

Then we began a hunt for the two still on the loose. It took about 15 minutes to find them. One led us a merry chase under the dog food shelves before we coaxed him out, and the other was nesting happily behind the printer on the shelf under the cash register. We got them back into the cage and they curled up in a furry four-ferret ball, happy and tired from their adventure, asleep before we got the lid secured. The clips were tricky; probably whoever had last shown the ferrets to someone hadn't quite got them done up properly.

It was close onto one o'clock when we got back to bed ourselves. In the morning we were both tired and a little draggy, and even Jack seemed quieter than usual.

Not the ferrets, though. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, they bounced and chittered as I fed them and shoveled out their litterbox.

"Tonight?" they seemed to ask. "Can we do it again tonight?"

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