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Duck Killers on Trial in Palm Beach Gardens

In scenic Frenchman's Landing, they came for the ducks.

The ducks were captured -- probably in a standard trap that resembles a soccer goal -- and brought to the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League. And they were killed.

Their probable crimes? Noise and poop.

This was April 2009. Today, the Frenchman's Landing residents who orchestrated the ducknapping are in court for the second day in a row, where they could be sentenced to up to a year in prison. It arrives that the ducks were never theirs to kill: The homeowner's association of Frenchman's Landing hatched them from eggs. Still, residents Blain and Robert Aymand grew tired of the animals' squawking and constant defecation. They hired a trapper and sent the animals to their doom.

As the Aymonds sat teary-eyed in a Palm Beach Gardens courthouse, New Times spoke on the phone with David Miller, the new (as of January) executive director and CEO of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue. Miller, a thoughtful-sounding man with a low, mournful voice, feels terrible about the ducks. "We've got a lot of people asking questions as to what happened," he says. "Since this transpired, we've put some new protocols in place to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again."

According to Miller, "thousands upon thousands" of animals are euthanized in Florida each day. "Between veterinarians, animal shelters -- there are a lot," he says. Still, "it's an emotional industry. And in a shelter environment, sometimes difficult decisions have to be made."

Such difficult decisions can have grim consequences. One neighbor of the Aymonds', interviewed by Channel 12, said she and her husband "fell to the ground crying" when they learned of the ducks' deaths.

New Times asked Miller, who has some experience with grieving animal lovers, what the consequences might be if the unnamed neighbor were ever to visit Talay Thai -- a well-regarded Thai restaurant very near to Frenchman's Landing -- and discover the Masaman duck on the menu ($23, with bay leaves and cardamom). Miller wouldn't say.

"I can tell you that if the ducks were brought in today, we would be more cognizant of the situation surrounding the animals brought in," he said. "From what I've heard, the homeowner's association purchased the ducks. They were part of the community. This is very sad."

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Brandon K. Thorp

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