The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office pardoned the wild turkey, given the name “Tom,” on Facebook Wednesday, after he broke into the home on November 10. The office also posted body cam footage of two sheriff’s deputies as they caught the fowl in a bedroom, removed it from the home, then released it back into the wild.
“In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Sheriff [Jay] Armbrister has pardoned a Douglas County turkey from any criminal damage charges,” DCSO wrote on Facebook. “Tom the Turkey broke through a window and into a Douglas County resident’s home on Nov. 10. Thanks to the quick thinking and good work of Master Deputy Dunkle and Deputy Bonner, they were able to safely remove the bird from inside the home and set him free… the Sheriff’s Office is thankful for the work of our deputies and their efforts to go above and beyond for the community. #HappyThanksgiving.”
The body cam video begins with a brief introductory text. “The call you are about to witness is true,” it reads. “The names of turkeys involved have been changed to protect the innocent. Call him Tom.” In the video, the two deputies can be seen cornering the turkey in a bedroom. “Well, let’s just see what we got,” one of the deputies says. “He’s a little fired up, too.” A graphic on the screen informs viewers that the turkey broke into the home through a window. “Hey fella,” the deputy says. “What you doin’, old man, huh? What you doin’ up here?”
“Yeah, this is my first time with a turkey,” the deputy tells the concerned homeowner.
“He’s staring at me,” says the other deputy. “I don’t like this.”
“Oh, he ain’t gonna hurt you too bad,” the first deputy responds.
The two deputies stretch out a blanket; one of the deputies throws it over the bird and grabs it. But the turkey escapes his grasp and tries to fly out another window in the room. The deputy then hands the blanket to his partner, who wrangles it and carries it out. “You’ve got enough feathers in here for a feather duster, ma’am,” the deputy carrying the turkey jokes to the homeowner.
“I must’ve taken all the fight out of him,” his partner jokes as the deputy carries the turkey downstairs and out of the house. The deputy then lets the turkey out of the blanket, and the bird runs into the woods nearby. The homeowner then thanks the two deputies profusely.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden gave pardons to two turkeys from being stuffed at family tables for Thanksgiving, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. According to the White House Historical Association, President Abraham Lincoln was the first to issue clemency for a turkey in 1863. Turkeys were sent to the White House as gifts from the 1870s onward. The tradition itself stemmed from an offhand remark made by President John F. Kennedy in 1963; The Washington Post reported Kennedy’s comment, “let’s keep him going,” as both a “pardon” and a “reprieve.” The practice of sending the turkey to a farm began under Richard Nixon, and the formality of the pardon started under George H.W. Bush.