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East Vandergrift tangles with ornery iguana

posted Nov 28, 2009, 8:02 PM by Vandergrift Police
 
By Chuck Biedka, VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Thursday, October 22, 2009
 
Maybe it was the darting tongue, its green skin, or its long, flicking tail.

A 3-foot-long iguana startled some people along the 400 block of McKinley Avenue near the Lithuanian Club just after 3 p.m. Wednesday, police and neighbors said.

The lizard was sunning itself on a park bench near the club when someone saw it and became alarmed.

For whatever reason, the iguana jumped down from the park bench near the Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic church parking lot and stood its ground in the middle of the street.

When Vandergrift Police Lt. Casimer Maszgay got the call about the lizard, he went to the Pampered Puppies pet supply store near the police station to ask what they recommended.

"After all, what do you do with an iguana?" he said. "At the store, they told me to be careful. It could bite, and it could hit you with its tail.

"They gave me heavy gloves and a strong sack."

He drove to East Vandergrift, which Vandergrift police patrol, where he encountered it in the middle of the street.

"It was snapping, and it wasn't happy," Maszgay said.

He said one unidentified woman offered him the use of a pet carrier — when, and if, he got it into the sack.

Then an unidentified young woman chimed in.

"She said, 'I know iguanas, and I can get him into that sack for you safely.' So I said, 'OK. Go ahead, but be careful.' And I handed her the gloves."

"It bit at her three times," Maszgay said, before she corralled the aggressive — but vegetarian — lizard.

Maszgay said he took the iguana to Pampered Puppies.

The lizard was held there briefly until it was returned to its owner, who didn't want publicity, according to a man and woman inside the dog-grooming and pet-supply store. The couple declined to give their names or comment.

It's unclear if the iguana was staying with its owner in East Vandergrift or how it wound up on the street. Maszgay said he has handled many snakes during his 33-year police career, but this was his first iguana.

He is concerned that Vandergrift doesn't have an exotic-pet ordinance, and the same is likely true for East Vandergrift.

"I've been told that somewhere in Vandergrift is a 4-foot-long alligator," he said. "I don't want to meet it."

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