Grumbles, the pet rooster who lives at Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar, has gone missing. Jessica Barhitte, Grumbles’ caretaker, is offering up to $300 for the rooster’s safe return.
Barhitte works in an office behind Swordfish Grill and cares for Grumbles on a daily basis. Since she went looking and was unable to locate him Sunday afternoon, Barhitte has called Manatee County Animal Services, posted a notice on Facebook and sent the word out to anyone who can possibly help.
“I’m just so heartbroken about him,” Barhitte said. “It’s so awful and I haven’t heard anything.”
She’s afraid someone “thought he was a pretty bird” because of his iridescent green scales and white-plumed wings and took him home to mate with hens. She often referred to Grumbles as a “barnyard mutt” because he was dropped off in the Swordfish Grill parking lot four years ago.
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Barhitte also fears someone stole him for cockfighting or use as a bait bird, but said she’s trying to not let her mind gravitate toward those thoughts.
Barhitte looked around the Swordfish property and didn’t see any blood or feathers indicating a coyote or raccoon stole Grumbles. The pet rooster usually freely wanders the property and is trusting of most people. Grumbles’ name comes from the noise he makes, which Barhitte said is his distinguishing feature.
“I would recognize his crow from a mile away,” she said. “He sounds like an angry old man but he’s a really sweet bird.”
Swordfish Grill held the Classic Rock & Crabs event Sunday, the date of Grumbles’ disappearance, which brought a “different crowd” than the usual band of locals who visit the restaurant during the offseason.
Grumbles had many local fans who often came looking for him during visits to Swordfish Grill.
“Whoever comes in wants to pet him,” Barhitte said. “People love him.”
Barhitte is hesitant to call the sheriff’s office and file a report because she’s not sure if she is allowed to keep the rooster on the property under Manatee County code ordinances. No one has complained about Grumbles as far as Barhitte knows. The Manatee County Code Enforcement Division was not immediately available for comment.
As of Wednesday morning, Barhitte’s Facebook post about Grumbles was shared by 650 people.
“Someone has to know something,” she said. “I just don’t want him to be harmed. If someone could just find it in their heart to bring him back, that would be amazing. I’m beside myself not knowing where he is and what happened to him.”