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Stubborn runaway gets corralled at city hall

by Mike Eckels | April 1, 2020 at 8:58 a.m.
Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Jennifer Rumsey and her mount escort an escapee to a waiting horse trailer March 24 after lassoing the loose mule in the Decatur maintenance lot behind City Hall.

DECATUR -- "A what is running loose?" was the question a city of Decatur employee asked as he answered a call for a runaway animal in Decatur.

A mule belonging to Shane Walkingstick of Decatur slipped out of its corral March 24 and was running wild along Arkansas 59 just north of the city. And anyone who has had dealings with mules knows that the animals can be extremely stubborn at times. This one loved its newfound freedom and was not about to go back home.

Ricky Burke, Decatur animal control officer, was tending the animals at the city dog pound when a call came over the city's dispatch system.

"The guys from the water department asked me how big the dog box on my truck was," Burke recalled. "They told me that they had a pretty big animal running loose near city hall. When I saw the mule, I knew that the box would not work."

Armed with a city truck and a backhoe, Burke and other city workers managed to block off the mule's escape route and eventually corralled the beast inside the fence at the maintenance yard behind Decatur city hall.

"I was afraid the mule was going to get hit by a car or truck," Burke said. "I'm just glad we got it safely inside the gate out of danger."

Walkingstick contacted Melissa Graves-Funk and Kaitlyn Funk to help capture the stubborn mule. Not having a horse trailer available at home, Graves-Funk called her brother, Rodney Graves, who had a horse trailer.

"Anytime I call my brother or uncles CG Knox, Ron Hickson or Randy Hickson to come help, they are hesitant because they never know what I am getting them into," Graves-Funk said. "In my defense, I don't think it is ever as bad in reality compared to the "fish" story they tell."

After a while, the mule posse managed to wrangle the mule.

Graves-Funk tried to calm the animal by feeding it a little jar of oats while waiting for the trailer. It worked for a while but, as the mule became restless, it began running around the compound, weaving in and out of water pipes, fire hydrants and equipment.

Armed with a small rope, Walkingstick, Burke and an unidentified bystander tried to lasso the beast. At first, the mule seemed to outsmart the trio by running in one direction and, as one of the men took a shot with the rope, the beast suddenly cut in the opposite direction, causing the rope to fly by and hit the ground.

Success came 15 minutes later as the bystander managed to get the loop around the mule's head. As it turned out, the mule was not only stubborn but also extremely crafty as well. A minute or so after it was caught, the animal managed to slip out of the loop.

Graves and his wife-to-be, Jennifer Rumsey, arrived with the truck, trailer and a pair of horses. Everybody inside the fence stepped back and let the masters wrangle the animal. Rumsey mounted her horse and, with a lasso in hand, made a slow approach to the mule which at that time was pinned against the fence with nowhere to go. Meanwhile, Graves, walking ahead of Rumsey, was also armed with a heavier rope ready for an opportunity to capture the mule.

But it was Rumsey that caught the mule, who had taken up a spot next to her horse. The horse acted as a calming agent and it was easy to slip the rope around the animal's neck. Rumsey led the little mule to the gate of the enclosure where the trailer was waiting.

After a few final acts of defiance by the mule, it was finally in the trailer, thus ending this one-act rodeo.

"Normally there is a pair of mules that are almost always together. It just so happened that only one got out of its pen," Graves-Funk said. "I expressed my concerns to Walkingstick about this happening again and he assured me it wouldn't."

Graves-Funk gave Walkingstick an idea which he eventually acted on.

"Before it was all said and done, I told Shane that, if he was concerned about a repeat incident and he can't or doesn't have time to break or calm the animal, to have Rodney Graves take them to calm them for him or sell them to another person that has the time and energy or have him buy them since he breaks and trains horses in Gentry," Graves-Funk suggested.

The two mules were reunited when Graves loaded them together and hauled them to his farm where he plans on breaking the pair so that a repeat will not happen again.

General News on 04/01/2020

Print Headline: Stubborn runaway gets corralled at city hall


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