Chicken Corner has learned that the owner of Verdugo Pets, Herve Chapman, died on January 27 at the age of 73. Because he looked well on Christmas Eve, the last time I bought specially mixed chicken feed at his shop, I had hoped he'd return to run the shop again, despite the seriousness of his illness. It was not to be.
On Monday of this week, I drove to the shop. There was a single bouquet of flowers. Inside was a friend of Chapman's, who said that he fed the animals inside when Chapman was ill. (The animals were all sold in early January when it was clear that Chapman would be away from the shop for some time.) The man said he had just spoken with the bank, and that bank officials had told him to leave the Highland Park shop immediately and stop coming inside to feed the feral cat who lives there.
An avid runner, dancer, hiker and animal lover, Chapman was best known as the shy, friendly man behind the counter of the Vergudo Pet Shop on 5022 York Blvd. Chapman was also a devoted clogger, who had even installed a clogging floor in his home where he would practice his dancing.
Hervey had run in 20 marathons and 143 half-marathons and had already registered for this year's Los Angeles marathon. His brother, Wayne Chapman, said Hervey's primary training technique included lifting 50 pound bags of feed at the pet shop.
Born on New Year's Day in 1938 in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, Chapman had a natural kinship with animals since he was a young man, family members said.
He briefly served in the United States Armed Forces as a youth, before returning to Los Angeles to open the Verdugo Pet Shop.
In addition, Chapman was known to rescue roosters, which he refused to sell to people whom he feared would either eat them or put them up to fight.