Eating this turkey for Thanksgiving is officially off the table in Grand Forks

“I humbly and graciously wield my authority to pardon you from any path to a nearby Thanksgiving table,” his pardon reads.


Tommy Turkey has a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Foremost is that he won’t be featured on someone’s dinner table, per an official pardon from Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski. Bochenski issued a pardon for the bird the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 20, after Tommy turned up at Circle of Friends Animal Shelter earlier in the day.

The shelter’s staff discovered the turkey after hearing the door to the vestibule open, then looking out the window to see someone dashing to a car, said Lauralee Tupa, Circle of Friends Animal Shelter CEO.

Such a sequence of events typically means that someone abandoned an animal at the shelter, according to Tupa. Sure enough, upon checking the vestibule, staff members discovered a white domestic turkey.

“It was in a cage with a blanket and a little bowl of food,” Tupa said. “We examined it, and it had a slight injury on its leg, so we took care of that.”


After the examination, Bochenski visited the shelter to pardon Tommy. Bochenski and his staff searched online for a pardon template to follow, but finding none, decided to wing it and made one up.

“I humbly and graciously wield my authority to pardon you from any path to a nearby Thanksgiving table,” his pardon reads.

Pardoning the turkey provided a little levity to what has been an otherwise stressful several months of making decisions, Bochenski said.

“This was an easy one and a fun one,” he said.

Tupa said she is thankful the gobbler quickly was adopted and now lives a good life on a farm near Fisher, Minn.

“They have a really cute corral for him. He has a little boy, who is his friend. He fits well in his environment,” she said

Though, Circle of Friends didn’t cry foul when the turkey was abandoned at the shelter, Tupa prefers that people call ahead if they are dropping off an animal – or in Tommy’s case –poultry.

If staff members know the pets are coming, they can prepare by having the proper food and caging and learn its health history and whether it needs any medications, Tupa said. All of those things will reduce stress on the pet and make the transition from its home to the shelter easier.


Meanwhile, giving Circle of Friends Animal Shelter staff a heads-up also will provide lead time to find potential new owners. The shelter keeps a list of people who want to adopt specific types of pets, she said.

Even turkeys.

“We have people who have been very supportive. We always have a lot of help for those types of situations,” Tupa said.

Tommy is the first stray turkey to be at the shelter, but, over the years, the shelter has received a variety of stray animals, including ferrets found by UND, a snake slithering along Columbia Road and a family of guinea pigs that were hiding under a car.

“We had a stray pig that was found downtown,” Tupa said. “The pig got claimed. The rest were abandoned and put up for adoption.”

Bochenski said he is pleased that the turkey’s visit to Grand Forks was short and that he was pardoned without incident.

“I think it worked really well for Tommy,” he said.


Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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