Preface to article: Remember George Orwell’s chilling novel, 1984? Remember how when you read it, you thought, this could never happen in America! Big Brother could never exist here! After all, our very national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner says we’re the land of the free. Well, doesn’t it? After all, we’ve got a constitution with a bill of rights that protects us from “Big Brother” and unfair and unnecessary persecution. Well, don’t we? If you really believe so, then read on and find out how: Big Brother Strikes in Ohio by Gregg Bassett
In May of 1996, Rev, Mary Jane Clifton, the 56 year old pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, found a sick baby squirrel on the sidewalk of Main Street in Circleville, Ohio where she lives. Since the squirrel was in bad shape and its mother was nowhere in sight, Mary Jane took the squirrel in and nursed it back to health.
Having raised “wild animals” in the past, she knew she need a permit in New York, where she came from. So, when she found the squirrel, she called the Wildlife Division of the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources and asked if there was anything she needed to do to help the sick squirrel. She was told at that time that she did not need a permit to help a sick squirrel.
Since then, the squirrel, which Mary Jane has named Angele Daniel Nicole, has become very domesticated and enjoys the good life living with Mary Jane and her husband, Mike. Angel has the run of the house, usually sleeps in a linen closet all tucked neatly away in a pink blanket (though, if she’s worried about something, she sometimes sleeps in bed with the Cliftons), gets fed very well and, when taken outside, stays very close to Mary Jane, never venturing more than about a car’s length away from her and then rushing back to her. Angele, in fact, not only has a wonderful life with the Cliftons; she could never survive on her own in the wild if set free. She has become too domesticated.
Angele even allows Mary Jane to dress her in homemade costumes, especially to keep her warm when they go outside.
Angele has also become a mascot for orphaned and disabled children in a children’s hospital in Romania that Mary Jane’s church helps to support. These children are living und terrible circumstances. Many die as a result. Mary Jane’s church is raising money not only to help these kids where they are, but hopefully to bring them to the United States for much better medical care.
Each of these children has a photograph of Angele that he/she can admire with the hope of someday coming to America and meeting Angele in person. On Oct. 17, 1997, Mary Jane dressed Angele up in one of her costumes and entered her in the pet parade at the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Angele won a prize for the “most unusual pet,” and her reward was being donated to the Romanian children.
In Steps “Big Brother”
Shortly after Mary Jane’s picture appeared in the local newspaper with Angele for winning the “Most Unusual Pet” award, she was approached at home by two officers from the Wildlife Division of the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources. They told her that, since she didn’t have a permit to house and domesticate a wild animal, she would have to turn Angele over to them to be released into the wild.
Mary Jane was horrified! She knew that Angele could not be undomesticated; that she didn’t even know what the wild was and would never survive out on her own. These offices were trying to tear her away from the only world she’d ever known. Mary Jane asked if she could apply for a permit to keep Angele. She was told no because she already had the animal. She asked if she could at least release Angele in her own backyard. One of the offices said that he couldn’t allow that. He said he had to take her and release her elsewhere.
Mary Jan refused to turn Angele over to them. So she has been charged with a misdemeanor that carries a penalty possibly as high as a $500 fine and 60 days in jail. This is how the state of Ohio rewards a woman of the cloth for deeply caring about animals and children in need.
Mary Jane was subpoenaed to court. She was heard by Judge John Adkins, who awarded her a jury trial by her request.