BELLOWS FALLS — The local police chief told the Reformer if he knew how the media was going to react, he would never have posted on Facebook about a monkey on the loose in the neighboring town of Westminster.
"I used social media and it has turned into a circus," said Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake. "I can't believe with all the important things happening in Vermont and the world that news agencies are devoting resources, even sending video teams to Bellows Falls, to report on this."
Lake said his department received a report from a man he knows well that while the man was driving down Route 121 near Back Westminster Road in Westminster, a small brown monkey ran across the road in front of him.
Lake posted the information on the police department's Facebook page on Tuesday and deleted it on Thursday.
"All I was hoping to do is what I have done in the past — reunite a pet owner with its pet," Lake told the Reformer. "If your dog or cat is missing, we will post it on our Facebook page in the hopes the animal will be returned, but this has turned into a disaster with me being inundated with phone calls from the media. I have been overwhelmed to the point where I can't do my regular job."
Lake told the Reformer that the monkey has not been found and no one has approached him about losing such a creature. His worry is that with the fall approaching, the monkey could freeze to death or a motorist might strike it if it crosses the road again.
"No animal deserves to suffer. That is why I posted it on our Facebook page, but in the future, I will think twice about what I post."
To own a monkey in Vermont, a special permit is required from the state, which might be why whoever owns the monkey hasn't stepped forward. But Lake said legality shouldn't matter when a relatively helpless creature is on its own in the forests of Vermont.
"This poor little creature is lost and scared."
Lake is urging anyone who has seen the monkey or knows where it belongs, to call the Bellows Falls Police Department at 802-463-1234. But, said Lake, if you are a member of the media, don't bother.
"Please, just stop," he said.
Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160.