Trigger Warning: the following account may be unsuitable for grinchy readers.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has teamed up with the Flagler Humane Society to host the Santa Paws Food Drive and Adoption Event on Tuesday, December 10, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Flagler Humane Society, at 1 Shelter Drive in Palm Coast.
It did so after crushing what could have been an ungodly though seasonal crime spree: the Grinch, wearing his usual scarlet costume–a costume bright enough to be spotted from the International Space Station with the naked eye–had managed to evade every deputy, every license-plate reader, every analytical tool at the sheriff’s weekly crime-maps pow-wow and even the sheriff’s own patrols, and was running loose in town, burglarizing a home on Commerce Parkway sometime this week.
Fire Flight, the emergency helicopter and Grinch-hunter went out of service Monday for the rest of the month. So word went out to a pair of deputies on the ground–actually, one deputy and an oversize dog impersonating the now-39-year-old McGruff–who caught the Grinch green-handed outside a sad little structure hopefully nobody calls home. The Grinch had managed to steal a few surprisingly light presents, which he promptly threw higher than the roof as he raised his hands in surrender. He was wordless.
Because his DNA was known to be an exact match with that of Cmdr. Mike Lutz, who can be grinchier than the Grinch, the Grinch’s arrest was gentle and skipped the usual booking traumas, resulting in the quickest first appearance on record: He was hauled before Chriscuit Court Judge Mark Stobridge, who presided in the case–The Grinch v. The People of Flagler County.
According to a video FlaglerLive obtained today without a public record request, Strobridge found the Grinch–who appeared before the judge without a lawyer–guilty of course, “of attempting to steal Christmas from the people of Flagler County, and for the mistreatment of this poor little pooch, Max.” Max was in the courtroom. He was not given a backstory so much as a back-rub (by McGruff who, despite the obvious age difference and the proximity of the law, seemed to have a thing for Max).
Strobridge, whose recent day job has included the wardenship of the Flagler County jail, had initially considered sentencing the Grinch to the jail, where the Grinch’s skin complexion would have matched well with the jail’s equally greenish, equally grinchy moniker. Burglary and animal abuse are both felonies.
“However,” the judge said, “I’m sentencing you to community service.” To the sheriff’s chagrin, local judges sometimes go soft on criminals, at least in his view far from the bench. Strobridge, a closet liberal, was no exception. The Grinch was touched. Taking advantage of a remarkable lack of security in the courtroom, he stepped back from the podium, touching himself over his heart with both hands in thanks. The judge continued to read from what looked suspiciously like a script: “It is my hope that you can find the true meaning of the holiday season by spending time with the great men and women of [the] Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and helping those who are less fortunate,” the judge continued. (Amazingly, the judge was spared a lawsuit or a beating by the Christian Christmas SWAT Brigade despite saying “holiday” instead of “Christmas” in that one unpardonably secular instance.)
Taking no victim-impact statements, considering no pre-sentence investigation, though he was unquestionably dealing with a repeat offender, Judge Strobridge then imposed sentence: “Mr. Grinch: you will meet the wonderful people of the community, you will shake their hands, you will pose for pictures, or you’ll be spending the remainder of this holiday season in the Green Roof Inn.” The judge did not explain the paradox of ordering a felon to shake hands and pose for pictures with people who may or may not include children. Thankfully, dogs of all sorts, including a sheriff’s K-9 unit and the ageless McGruff, possibly even the harassed Max, would be nearby at all times during that event at the Humane Society.
It’s for a very good cause.
“Everyone is invited to come out to the Flagler Humane Society and help support the shelter for the holidays,” Sheriff Rick Staly is quoted as saying in a release. “Bring some dog or cat food or some cleaning supplies as a donation. In return, take a photo with the Grinch and McGruff. If you still need the perfect Christmas gift, take advantage of the free adoptions taking place during the event and come home for the holidays with a fur-ever friend.”
The Flagler Humane Society will waive all adoption fees during the event. Bring a donation and receive a free photo with the Grinch. Donations can include canned dog or cat food, bagged food, kitty litter, paper towels, dish soap, or laundry detergent.
“This is a great event and a great cause,” the sheriff said. “The Grinch is counting on you, so are the animals here at the Humane Society. We hope to see you there.”
To learn more about the event, and see the events depicted in the account above, watch the video below, conceived, produced and edited by Shannon Martin. A sheriff’s spokesperson in an interview today said no animals or humans–who included both Cmdr. Phil Reynolds and Police Athletic League Coordinator Kerri Henderson as McGruff–were harmed in the filming of the video. The sheriff, however, was battling a cold, and being non-union, could not call in sick on filming day.