SAN ANSELMO, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents of a Marin County assisted living community learned a sad lesson about rescuing and domesticating wild animals.
The sign out front of the Bello Gardens Assisted Living facility in San Anselmo says residents had a pet duck, then lost it and though it has been found, it will not be coming home.
Residents took part in a sign writing campaign Wednesday morning and wrote messages to Juanita, their beloved duck.
"I don't know why we can't have her back. Not going to happen, is it?" said LaRita Clark a resident of Bello Gardens.
Juanita's backyard pool remains empty. Now residents only have photos for memories.
"She is used to this place. She is just a pet to everybody. We all love her," said Norma Manning, a resident.
Juanita arrived at Bello Gardens as a four day old duckling, rescued from the street by a passing gardener, who gave it to Walter Peredes, the cook.
"He say, 'I find a duck.' I say, 'I keep the duck,'" Peredes said.
Peredes nursed Juanita back to health and built a cage for her. Two weeks ago, Juanita flew away, only to be rescued by WildCare in San Rafael where she must now remain because, as director Melanie Piazza explains, Juanita is technically wild animal protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
"Hopefully, people will not hate and demonize us over something we have no control over. It's the law. We are not allowed to give her back," Piazza said.
Back at Bello Gardens, executive director Neysa Hinton says sometimes laws get it wrong.
"It's a gray area, but so many things in life are," Hinton said.
Including the mood of residents at Bello Gardens, gray and gloomy over the loss of the colorful mallard that brightened their lives.