A rooster that was abused, dumped and apparently left for dead in downtown Medford last summer is well-healed now and surreptitiously living the life of Riley with seven new girlfriends in a west Medford backyard.
The rooster, named Kayden by his benefactor, Kevin Merriman, has grown back the tail and other feathers that were plucked from his body before he spent two weeks dodging cars and people around properties, including the Mail Tribune, at the intersection of Fifth and Fir streets.
His wings that were cut down to the bone likewise have healed, and only a lopped portion of his right ear and damage to the tips of his crown remain from the rooster's past life.
"He's got a really good life, a really good home and a really good group of girls," Merriman says. "It's better that someone does this instead of it living a life of unwantedness, or worse."
Merriman's only problem is that a backyard rooster runs afoul of Medford's new poultry ordinance that went live on the books Monday. It's punishable by a flat fine of $250 per day, which has Merriman and Kayden flying under the city's radar as best they can.
"I don't want people to know where I live and what I have," Merriman said.
Merriman didn't set out to be a one-man rooster rebellion when a friend told him shortly after the Fourth of July that a dilapidated chicken was running around Fifth and Fir streets.
Apparently, the chicken was dumped just outside of the Budge McHugh Plumbing Supply Co. pipe yard several days earlier by a passing motorist.
"The guy stopped, opened his door and out it jumped and the guy took off," Budge-McHugh worker Ken Henricksen says. "All of a sudden, there's this chicken."
The largely featherless chicken beat feet right into the pipe yard.
"He's run into a piece of 8-inch pipe and there was no getting to him," Henricksen says.
The chicken spent time in the Mail Tribune parking lot across from Budge-McHugh as well as the enclosed grass patch for dogs at the adjacent apartment building.
Merriman, who has a history of raising chickens, says he tried several times to catch the chicken and finally nabbed it July 10 with a fishing net.
"He was literally tortured and thrown away," Merriman says.
Despite the bird's obvious signs of abuse, Merriman took it home, named it Katie and slowly nursed it back to health. A month and a half later, it crowed.
"I thought it was a her," Merriman says. "I didn't plan on him being a rooster."
So now the name is Kayden because he seems to respond to the K sound, Merriman says.
The neighbors know about him and Merriman says they're cool with it, particularly when he pays them off with eggs from the passel of seven hens.
And if saving a rooster in Medford is wrong, Merriman doesn't want to be right.
"He's better off with me than in that pipe yard," Merriman says.