Drue Wagner

Strangest State: Fashionable Critters and Creepy Heirlooms

Plus, a dog from Plano shot his owner in the leg.


A version of this story ran in the January / February 2021 issue.

LUBBOCK // A hairless opossum in Lubbock became a viral sensation after the local animal shelter asked the public for fashion advice for the critter. KLBK reported that a concerned citizen brought the opossum, which suffers from alopecia, to the South Plains Rehab Center. Then officials asked the public to help them clothe the critter—a call that was echoed by the Today Show and the New York Post. “She needs an agent,” the rehab center’s director said. 

EDINBURG // A Catholic parishioner gave a priest in Edinburg a family heirloom that had been in its possession for 40 years: a human skull. KRGV discovered the strange handoff through an open records request in November. The Texas Department of Public Safety is looking into the incident, which it’s investigating as a “questionable death.”

COLLEGE STATION // Citing an uptick of rodent-related issues during 2020, Texas A&M University hosted a Rodent Academy in December. The confab brought together exterminators, public officials, and food safety experts, AgriLife Today reported. “As the Year of the Rat wraps up, there is no better time” for those with a gnawing interest to learn about rats, said Janet Hurley, an AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist in Dallas.

PLANO // A man in Plano was injured after his dog shot him in the leg, NBC’s Dallas affiliate reported. The pistol was tucked inside the man’s pants when he picked up the dog, whose paw pulled the trigger. The TV station noted the dog shot its owner “accidentally.” The man was sent to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Plano police urged residents to practice gun safety.

WICHITA FALLS // As many Texans redecorate and renovate their homes during the pandemic, some may consider adding a 10-foot-tall floating wooden duck sculpture. Wally the Wonder Duck, a Wichita Falls landmark, is for sale. Ralph Stearns, the local artist who crafted Wally, is asking for $8,000 for his one-of-a-kind creation. Wally spent many years afloat in local lakes, but now he’s strapped to a trailer, waiting for the chance to splash again.

TYLER // Almost 80,000 turkeys were smoked twice over when an explosion rocked Greenberg Turkey in Tyler on November 6. After receiving reports of an explosion and fire, the Tyler Fire Department rushed to the site of the 81-year-old business, KLTV reported. Firefighters found smoke billowing from the roof and debris in the roadway when they arrived. The turkeys were frozen and ready to be shipped at the time of the explosion. 

HARRIS COUNTY // Two people found themselves in hot water after trawling for shrimp in a fish nursery, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Field Notes. Responding to a complaint about illegal fishing, a game warden tried to call one of the suspects but the suspect hung up—and then butt-dialed the game warden back. “Maybe the game warden didn’t see,” one of them said to the other as the warden listened in. Both people were cited for catching undersize fish and ordered to pay restitution.  

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