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Former DeKalb police officer saves owl struck by vehicle

September 28, 2018

DeKALB – Jeff Winters, known for his impromptu philanthropy during his 24 years as a police officer in DeKalb, already has made quite an impression in Lakewood.

Winters, who left the DeKalb department and started with the Lakewood force a couple of months ago, got a call about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 from a motorist who witnessed a vehicle strike a female barred owl on Ackman Road.

“The owl swooped down in the line of traffic,” Winters said. “The car struck the owl, and it tumbled off to the side of the road.

“We responded to that location and located the owl. It looked pretty much in a dire condition on the side of the road. ... We didn’t think the owl would make it.”

Because it was too late to call local veterinarians and animal shelters, Winters, who said he loves wildlife, called his old contacts in DeKalb County.

“[I’ve] got a person who does wildlife rehabilitation,” he said. “I went through some vet friends of mine that own a vet clinic in Virgil, and they made some phone calls and got back to me with a lady who said she would take the owl. I heard that she looks a lot better and was going to be there for a while, given the fact that the owl wasn’t eating on its own,” Winters said.

He said the caregiver will get in touch with him when the owl is ready to be released, so that it can be brought as close to its natural habitat as possible.

He said residents expressed concern for the animal and have been thanking him for saving it.

“We’ve had several people inquiring as to what’s going on,” Winters said. “I was at a store in Lakewood, and I spoke with a lady who knows where the owl lives, in a set of trees across the street from where she lives at. ... I asked her if she’d like to be part of the release when they bring it back. She’s pretty excited to know it’s OK.”

Winters was featured in the Daily Chronicle in June 2017 after he provided a sleeping bag, food and water for a homeless man he encountered along Sycamore Road.

“I would hope someone would do it for me, if I was in their shoes,” Winters said at the time.

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