Police were called to a Dubuque bar Sunday night for a welfare check ... on a zebra and a parrot in a truck.
Dubuque Police Officer Chad Leitzen, according to an affidavit, said when he arrived at the Dog House, 1646 Asbury Road, at about 8 p.m. Sunday, he saw a truck backing up in the parking lot and observed two male subjects in the front of the vehicle, a zebra in the back seat and a parrot sitting on the driver's shoulder.
Police wound up charging a Cascade, Iowa, man at the scene.
Jerald A. Reiter, 55, was charged with operating while intoxicated at around 8:10 p.m. in the parking lot of the Dog House.
The original call came from an unidentified complainant who said there was a zebra and parrot inside of a tan 2011 Ford F250 pickup truck.
Leitzen said he detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage from Reiter's breath, slurred speech and red, watery eyes. He also had poor balance and appeared to be dull and sleepy as his eyelids were half closed. Reiter told the officer he had two drinks, one at home and one at the Dog House, according to the affidavit.
Reiter disputed that to the TH, saying he did not have a drink at the bar, after the bartender informed him the animals could not enter the establishment. He claims that he was outside the vehicle when the officer arrived and was about to let the human passenger begin driving, since the bird started "throwing a fit."
Reiter failed a field sobriety test and later gave a breath sample of 0.148 blood alcohol content at the Dubuque Law Enforcement Center.
Reiter told the officer he had been getting out of the vehicle so his passenger could drive because he knew he had too many to drink to drive, according to the affidavit.
Reiter's fiance, Vickey Teter, said the almost 3-month-old baby zebra, Kiwi, is one of four the couple own as pets on their farm, along with the macaw parrot, Izzy, five Watusi cattle and longhorns. She said Reiter breeds the zebras, one of which was in the 2005 comedy movie "Racing Stripes."
She said the zebra has been bottle fed since two or three days old, sometimes sleeps in the couple's bed, couch and floor and is potty trained to go outside. She and Reiter take offense to the rumors that the animals were abandoned in the vehicle, after a picture surfaced showing the zebra in the front seat.
Reiter said the picture was taken by a police officer following the breath test.
"We don't have any kids, our animals are our pride and joy," Teter said. "The animals were never left in the vehicles alone, except when the officers made them get out of the vehicle."
Teter said Reiter, better known as "Bones," knows the owner of the bar and walked in with the parrot on his shoulder and the zebra on a leash. A bartender at the Dog House, who declined to give his name, said Reiter was told he couldn't bring the animals into the bar since they serve food.
"Animals are never allowed in the Dog House," the bartender said.
Reiter was released on Monday and the animals were taken back to the farm by the vehicle passenger, according to Teter.
Teter said they plan to contest the drunken driving ticket.
"We are fighting it tooth and nail," she said.