Readers sometimes send me letters or emails or psychic messages telling me they enjoyed a column or asking me to help them get out of prison or suggesting I tackle a topic of interest to them.

This email from Ward in Walnut Cove, North Carolina, is one of those. The subject line reads “methamphetamine attack squirrel.”

“Dear Mr. Hollifield — Once more I am forced to write you (I contacted you a few years ago about something — I think it was monkeys) and ask, demand ‘why no word about the meth squirrel? Is it that you don’t consider squirrel news as compelling as monkey news? Well here in Walnut Cove, North Carolina, squirrels are very compelling. Almost as compelling as the black-headed vultures that have come to call our town their new home for the last few years. I expect to see more coverage in the future (squirrel not vulture.)”

Ward is referring of course to a widely reported story about an Alabama man sought by authorities for various alleged crimes — and later arrested — who was accused of putting the wild in wildlife.

“Prior to the search warrant, investigators were informed that Mickey Paulk kept an ‘attack squirrel’ inside his apartment, and that Paulk fed the squirrel meth to keep it aggressive,” the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office in Athens, Alabama, said in a statement.

The squirrel was released on its own recognizance after police said there “is no safe way to test a squirrel for meth,” according to a report from NBC News.

As the theoretical cigar-chomping, hooch-swilling, skirt-chasing, cholesterol-lowering-medication-taking, underpaid and overworked 1930s newspaper-style bureau chief of the fictional yet highly respected Monkey Action News Team, I admit to focusing heavily on monkey-related news in these columns, but I am not afraid to go out on a limb for a squirrel story, especially one as important as this one is to Ward and others — or probably just Ward.

And I’m going to do it through a public service announcement aimed at all those kids out there who read that story on the internet and thought it would be “cool” or “hip” or “the bee’s knees” to feed dangerous narcotics to wild animals. Here is that message:

Hi, kids. You may be wondering why your grandma handed you this newspaper and said, “Read it.” It’s because Ward from Walnut Cove and I have an important message we want to share with you.

You probably read on the internet about some yahoo in Alabama who kept a meth-fueled attack squirrel in his apartment and said to yourself, “Wow, I want one of those.” If you meant “apartment” that’s fine, but if you meant “meth-fueled attack squirrel” that isn’t fine at all.

Giving drugs to animals is wrong. I once knew a guy in college whose dog ate a bag of pot it found under a couch cushion. The result? The dog devoured an entire 25-pound sack of Kibbles ‘n Bits and scratched the guy’s Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” album.

And where is that dog today? Dead, because dogs only live to be 13 or 14 and that happened in 1986.

In a worst-case scenario, legions of meth-fueled attack squirrels could escape into the wilderness and keel over dead from drug-related heart attacks. Their bodies are then consumed by the black-headed vultures that have come to call Walnut Cove home and suddenly the entire community is terrorized by meth-fueled, squirrel-fattened black-headed vultures. Who wants to live in a world like that?

So, kids, take it from me, one of the world’s most respected journalists focusing almost exclusively on monkey news but willing to branch out to squirrels when necessary, and Ward, a guy from Walnut Cove, when it comes to giving dangerous narcotics to wild animals, just say no.

You can even say hell no and we promise not to tell your grandma.

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Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, N.C., and a humor columnist. Contact him at rhollifield@mcdowellnews.com.

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