Thumbs Up to Gov. Bill Clements, for refusing to press charges against Highland Park eccentric Dale Cope in the now-famous swan-strangling case. And thumbs down to the Highland Park Police Department for jailing Cope for an entire night on a charge of “investigation of cruelty to animals.” After a woman told police she’d seen Cope wrestling with one of Clements’ Australian black swans, he was arrested despite protests that he merely tried to free the bird from some fishing line-and despite the fact that the swan waddled away from the encounter with only a few ruffled feathers. It seems Highland Park has it in for Dale Cope and his family. Cope, his brother Dennis and his mother, Dorothy, have all spent time in the Highland Park Jail for owning too many cats. The town allows families to keep only three cats; until city animal workers started cat-napping the felines, the Copes owned several dozen, many of them adopted strays. “Animals are our friends,” Dorothy Cope says. “Dale wouldn’t hurt the governor’s swans.” At least the governor believed it.


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