WARREN TWP. - It looks like a case of love at first quack.
Humane Officer Misty Carpenter, with the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, delivered a female duck to the home of Roger and Kathy Bonnette Thursday, two weeks after the family's pet of six years was found beaten to death. The wild mallard that had been their duck's companion for more than three years knew its mate was gone but didn't understand why, searching the property for her since.
"I just felt bad for him," Carpenter said. "He was just wandering around here, looking for her."
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Warren Township resident Kathy Bonnette watches as the wild mallard, left, that has lived at the pond in her front yard for more than three years walks with a new female brought to the house Thursday, two weeks after the family's pet duck of six years was killed.
Carpenter obtained another white, female duck from a Waverly, W.Va., resident Thursday and brought it to the Bonnettes' pond later that day. The mallard reacted quickly upon seeing the new arrival.
"He swam right to her," said Roger Bonnette, 60. "It was like he had a big smile on his face."
The smaller male followed the female around the Bonnettes' yard before going into the pond, where she followed and swam after him.
"It's just so sweet," said Kathy Bonnette, 52. "I'm just happy that he's got someone again."
Carpenter said two teens have been charged with delinquency by animal cruelty, the equivalent of a misdemeanor for an adult, in the killing of the Bonnettes' duck.
The couple discovered their pet's bloodied body - and the smashed eggs on which she'd been sitting - after returning to their home on July 25. Kathy said they had passed two boys they'd seen walking on their road many times this summer on their way in and it looked like one had thrown something into the grass by the road.
The Bonnettes headed back down the road and asked the boys if they'd seen anything, and they said they hadn't. Soon after, a neighbor came to them with a piece of bloody PVC pipe he'd found nearby.
Carpenter came to the scene to investigate.
"She was upset, heartbroken too, we could tell," Kathy said.
Carpenter said she contacted one of the boys that day and caught up with the other the next day. The case has been turned over to the Washington County Prosecutor's Office.
Sworn in as a humane officer last year, Carpenter said she's investigated other animal cruelty cases, but nothing like this.
"I just don't understand why somebody (would) do something like this," Carpenter said. "It was a pretty brutal thing for kids that young to do."
Kathy Bonnette said one of the boys came to their house with his father last week and apologized, both face to face and in a letter.
"We told him that we wanted him to have a good life and a successful life," she said. "We have no hard feelings; we'd forgiven him before he came and asked for forgiveness."
Roger Bonnette even invited the boy and his father back to the pond to fish.
"Because fishing's the best thing for a kid," he said. "My dad said if every kid had a fishing pole, the whole world would be a better place."
The pond is a popular fishing spot for area youth, and Roger Bonnette welcomes them, provided they follow his rules.
"That's the main reason Roger built it is so families can have fun," Kathy said.
It's also long been a haven for ducks in the spring, with Roger saying he's had nearly 30 adults and ducklings gathered in the yard before. Some mothers teach their ducklings to fly from the small dock in the pond.
The mallard that's lived at the pond for more than three years was hatched there, but took up with the Bonnettes' duck instead of leaving as its siblings did.
"They were side-by-side for three-and-a-half years," Kathy said.
A few weeks before the female was killed, Kathy took pictures of the ducks together, with the thought of writing something about their relationship.
"I'm so glad I took those pictures," she said.