Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Harsh Treatment

Firefighter Charged With Biting Head Off Pet Parrot

I have a lot of time for firemen. People who run into burning buildings for a living deserve our respect, particularly in a country where they print warnings on coffee cups that the content is hot; and on ammunition boxes that the content may be dangerous if fired into one's skull.

Sometimes firemen need to chill out; to relax; to have a few beers with their friends and try to forget the stresses and strains of their calling. Occasionally, like Lt. Bruce Coates, they do this by biting the head off of a live parrot.

And who are we to judge? Who among us can honestly stand up and say "It would never occur to me to bite the head off of a live parrot!".

You should never judge people, lest one day it is you standing there in front of a bunch of your cheering mates, with a gallon of beer sloshing around inside you, and a squawking bird in your hand.

Lt. Coates, this blog salutes you, and hopes your suspension ends soon, so you can get back to saving lives!


A firefighter accused of biting the head off a pet parrot at a party was charged with felony animal cruelty Monday and placed on administrative leave.

Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said witnesses told deputies that Lt. Bruce Coates was at a party early Sunday when he took the Quaker parrot, valued at $200, off someone else's shoulder, put the bird's head in his mouth and bit it off.

Police said the incident occurred at a party at the home of Coates (pictured, left) at the Saddle Club Estates community near state Road 44 and state Road 415.

Coates told deputies that he was drinking alcohol and couldn’t remember what happened. He was apologetic and offered to replace the parrot, according to the sheriff's report.

Witnesses told deputies that Coates and several other people were playing billiards. The parrot was on one of the player's shoulder when Coates grabbed the parrot, put the bird’s head in his mouth and bit it off.

Coates was booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail.

Edgewater Fire Chief Tracey Barlow said Coates, with the department since 1991, came to him Sunday and told him about the incident.

He will stay on leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation, Edgewater fire spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said.

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