News, Flash

All of us are aware of the implementation of the “Amber Alert” system and how important these child abduction warnings are, as well as the importance of similar alerts for elderly people who, not infrequently, may wander off or otherwise become disoriented. Obviously, prison break alerts are imperative for other reasons. These are all, of course, wonderful and much needed services in our society. And please understand that this article is not intended in ANY way to demean or otherwise ridicule these terrific benefits.

But were any of you cognizant of the fact that there are others that need similar services and that these services are readily available in many areas.  For example, just this past week, in Bay Village, Ohio, right here in the greater Cleveland area, Sheldon, the 7-inch Russian-Mexican box turtle, made a startling break for freedom. Apparently using his blinding speed, age old wisdom and possibly with help from Joyce E. Mitchell (the woman who helped two murderers escape from a New York prison) who may have fallen in love with the turtle, Sheldon escaped from his confinement without anyone noticing. We are not sure exactly how he escaped at this time since authorities are still conducting an investigation but there are reports that several lettuce leaves were found tied together in Sheldon’s terrarium.

Now, upon finding that your turtle had gone missing, most of us would have probably said something like, “Oh, well, he’ll turn up,” or “Let’s go down to the pet store and buy another one,” or, possibly, “We had a turtle?” But, not Sheldon’s keeper. No, David Adams, Sheldon’s owner posted what can only be called a “Yurtle Alert” on his Facebook page. The “Yurtle Alert” read as follows:

“Reward offered for LOST small 7-inch long Russian/Mexican box turtle, lost near the intersection of Wolf and Vineland, just down the street from the community garden. Lost around 6 pm Thursday night. He is harmless and won’t bite!!! Please just put him in a box and call ASAP if you or anyone might have seen him!!!”

And he posted a picture of Sheldon. (See above) This picture lends further credence to the saying that “nobody ever takes a good mug shot.”

Local ABC television affiliate WEWS, Channel 5 in Cleveland, picked up on the “Yurtle Alert” and like any news organization that knows a huge story when they see one, ran with it, albeit probably a little faster than Sheldon.

They broke into local broadcasting to present a breaking news bulletin and went live to the location of the breaking news incident. Well, okay. WEWS didn’t actually go that far but they did post the “Yurtle Alert” on their website which was then text “blasted” out to millions of subscribers. Okay, at least twelve subscribers, (I will confess, I am one of them) and to their Facebook page.

Anyway, not more than an hour later, WEWS was extremely proud (see:  to announce that Sheldon had been re-captured by a young boy who was riding his bicycle and was able to capture the turtle after a long and potentially life endangering chase. (I don’t think the chase was shown on one of those police chase channels, however. Sheldon is no O.J. Simpson.)

The young hero (who was not identified other than as being the son of Meg Ashley) said that although he was extremely apprehensive about getting involved and despite the fact that the turtle could have been armed and dangerous (police say they found a shell but no bullets), he felt it was his civic duty to bring the escapee to justice. Young Mr. Ashley stated that he thought he saw the turtle make a furtive move toward his pocket to get a weapon, until he realized that turtles don’t have pockets and then he was happy it wasn’t a kangaroo.

He also indicated that he was very happy that David had included a picture of Sheldon in the “Yurtle Alert” because without it he probably would not have been able to distinguish Sheldon from the hundreds of other turtles that wander the streets of Bay Village.

When asked by reporters how the actual capture of the turtle came down, the Ashley boy said he couldn’t remember because it “all happened so fast!”

Reports do not indicate whether Sheldon was handcuffed or “just put … in a box” when captured, but Sheldon’s psychologist did tell journalists that Sheldon has “just been a shell of his former self” since the breakout.

When questioned by the media, Sheldon’s only response was “I’m actually glad I got caught. I almost got run over by a car. Thank God I was able to out run that Prius!”

Okay. I confess. I made up some of what I claim Sheldon and the kid said. All right, I made it all up. But some of the other stuff is true. And, there really was a “Yurtle Alert.” And, so far, 100% of all “Yurtle Alerts” have been successful!