A Charlotte woman tells WBTV that she has decided to temporarily give her pet emu to a petting zoo in Monroe because she is worried for its safety.
Neighbors are blaming her pet emu for bringing rats and flies into the neighborhood, but Shellie Pincay says that's just not true.
Pincay says her pet emu has been in her back yard for about 10 years but she is willing to part with it "for her safety."
"She knows no fear of humans. So she will walk right up to you. And as I said earlier if I leave her out unsupervised she could be harmed," Pincay said.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Animal Control had told Pincay that she had 30 days to get rid of the bird. July 31st is the deadline.
"An emu us an exotic animal and therefore is in violation of City of Charlotte ordinance," Animal Control said in a news release. "Permits that Ms. Pincay had received in the past were issued in error and she will not be able to receive a new permit for the emu."
Animal Control also says Pincay does not have permits for three other animals in her care: a peacock, turkey and duck. Two dogs she owns were also not current on their rabies vaccines.
Pincay says she intends to request a hearing to appeal the decision. She says she's sending her emu to the petting zoo until then.
"It's like giving up something you treasure, that you've taken care of for a very long time and I just think it's very unfair."
Pincay says she got her pet emu because she wanted to save it from slaughter. For years she raised it, kept it in a pen in her back yard – with permits from animal control.
"It's basically like a child because I've had her since she was a little baby" says Pincay. "She's very sweet, very docile. I mean she's just my pet."
WBTV contacted Animal Control to get some answers. A spokesperson says they're waiting to talk to the person who approves permits.
Pincay thinks Charlotte city officials are listening to her neighbor.
"The smell" says neighbor Willie Williams. "We know for sure they are the source of the rats that inhabit some of the houses around here."
Williams says he called city officials several times to complain about the emu. His house is behind the emu's pen. He says the bird's food is attracting rats – which he took pictures of.
Williams says the emu might be a pet for Pincay but for him it's a quality of life issue.
"You're living next to something that large, has a horrendous smell - especially in the summer -it draws flies."
But Pincay insists her emu is not the source of rats and flies. She says she cleans up after it.
"She's a pet. I'd be devastated if they took her away from me" says Pincay. So she intends to fight her pet's eviction.
Pincay says she will still appeal the decision and ask for a hearing so she can get her emu back without all the trouble from her neighbors.