The story of the barred owl that caused a hoot at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in 2009 came to a sad end when she had to be euthanized after a month-long illness.

The story of the barred owl that caused a hoot at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in 2009 came to a sad end when she had to be euthanized after a month-long illness.

Shannon LaMonica, with the Wildlife Show Staff at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., emailed the Carthage hospital on Thursday to break the sad news.

“She had to be euthanized a few weeks ago due to an infection she got that she couldn’t recover from,” LaMonica said in her email. “Our vet staff and our wildlife show keeper staff here worked incredibly hard to save her but she just wouldn’t recover. She stopped eating on her own when she was sick so had to be force-fed for over a month. After that, we gave her over two weeks to eat on her own but she wouldn’t eat anything. The vets said she probably just didn’t feel good enough to eat. 

“We all felt that being force-fed to be kept alive wasn’t a good quality of life for any animal so it was decided for compassionate and humane reasons that she should be euthanized. It was a difficult decision for all of us and we all miss her and her spunky personality.”

Don Kittrell, maintenance supervisor at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital, said the barred owl, which measured about three feet tall and lived in the hospital's central garden for about a month, left an impression on the hospital staff.

“I have people ask me all the time how Hooter is doing,” Kittrell said.

Kittrell found the owl on the side of the road south of the hospital on a cold February morning in 2009. She didn't move when approached, so he called co-worker Steve Schneikert to help him load the barred owl into a box and take it to the hospital.

Named Hooter by hospital staff, the owl obviously had something wrong, but, being an owl, she was less helpful in finding the problems than the hospital's normal patients.

X-Ray technicians checked the owl for injuries but could find nothing obvious.

The owl could fly, and in once instance, flew out of the central garden to the roof of the hospital, then flew into the field behind the hospital.

Kittrell chased her down after watching the bird struggle

“She's able to fly, but her landings suck,” Kittrell told The Carthage Press in 2009.

After spending a month in Kittrell's care and living in a box and on a limb in the hospital's central garden, the Department of Conservation took the owl to Dickenson Park Zoo, where it was discovered that she had been injured in a collision with a car, and was blind.

Zoo staff in Springfield also determined the owl was a female, but they had no place to keep her permanently, so Hooter was shipped to a zoo in Portland, Ore., and renamed Pokey.

In January, LaMonica reported that Pokey was doing fine and plans were in the works for her to become part of a public forest exhibit.

Then she came down with the infection and had to be euthanized.

“I know you all miss her too and I’m so sorry to have to deliver this sad news,” LaMonica said. “Right before she got sick, I was planning on taking a video of her feeding routine for you all to see because she was so cute the way she walked over to us tapping on the platform to call her to her food. I’m really sorry I didn’t have a chance to share that with you.”