In pet sitter v. Roswell 'attack rooster,' court rules in favor of bird

Sam the rooster attacked his pet sitter.

But Sam's owners are not at fault, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled this month.

Josephine Gilreath had been hired by Bruce and Jodi Smith, of Roswell, to watch over their animals a few times.

She was warned about Sam’s bad-boy behavior.

On one occasion, Jodi Smith told Gilreath she didn’t have to fill up the water dishes in the cage if she felt “uncomfortable” with the rooster, the filing says. The owner also advised she herself uses a garbage can lid as a makeshift shield when tending to Sam.

Another time, Jodi Smith sent her a clear message on Facebook: “Just throw food into cages. Rooster will attack!”

The Smiths hired Gilreath again in April 2014. She was asked to retrieve eggs from the coop, and wasn’t given any additional warnings about the rooster, according to the ruling.

During that stint, Gilreath approached the chicken coop. It had two signs on it.

One said: “Welcome.” The other: “Area patrolled by Attack Rooster Security Co."

Gilreath opened the door.

That’s when Sam charged through and set upon her, pecking and inflicting deep wounds, which caused a “serious infection,” on her legs, court documents say.

The pet sitter sued the Smiths.

Gilreath learned that hers wasn’t Sam’s first attack; he’d previously turned on his own loved ones, Jodi Smith and her mother, on separate occasions. Gilreath, who had at least nine years of pet-sitting experience under the name Crabapple Critters, said she “probably” wouldn’t have taken the job had she known about the attacks, the filing says.

But the Smiths argued Gilreath assumed the risk of the rooster attack. A trial court’s summary judgement ruled in their favor, finding Gilreath had been warned of the risk by the owners.

The lawsuit was dismissed.

Gilreath appealed that ruling, but it was upheld this month.