US man arrested after flinging pet iguana at restaurant staff

The 60cm-long iguana was swung in a circular motion above the man's head and flung at the manager of Perkins Restaurant in Painesville, Ohio.
The 60cm-long iguana was swung in a circular motion above the man's head and flung at the manager of Perkins Restaurant in Painesville, Ohio.PHOTO: PAINESVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT/FACEBOOK

PAINESVILLE, OHIO (WASHINGTON POST) - Arnold Teeter was loud and unruly on Tuesday morning (April 16) when he entered the Perkins Restaurant in Painesville, Ohio, police say.

The 49-year-old laid down in a booth and chucked a menu at a server: a jarring outburst that drew the attention of the restaurant's manager, who sought to calm the man.

But Teeter wasn't out of projectiles.

Police say the man reached under his sweatshirt and unveiled his next weapon of choice - a 60cm-long iguana - which he swung in a circular motion above his head and flung at the manager.

But he missed, sending the poor lizard sliding across the tile floor.

Part of the incident was caught on a camera in the restaurant, which shows Teeter picking up the iguana by its tail before leaving.

Lieutenant Toby Burgett of the Painesville Police Department told the Washington Post that Teeter was arrested about 30 minutes later outside the local YMCA, where officers found him walking in an erratic manner that forced vehicles to swerve out of his way.

Lt Burgett said Teeter claimed ownership of the lizard, which police retrieved from his sweatshirt and affectionately named Copper.

Officers soon granted custody of their new, cold-blooded friend to the Lake County Humane Society.

A vet determined that the female lizard was suffering from poor body condition, metabolic bone disease and a leg fracture that would require surgery to repair.

Copper, who is a brilliant shade of turquoise, was also missing part of her tail.

"We've seen a few cases of animal cruelty in the past, but we haven't seen anything involving an iguana," Lt Burgett said. He added that Teeter was no stranger to the department, an observation corroborated by online court records.

It was not clear on Wednesday if Teeter had an attorney. He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and cruelty to animals. Police said he is being held on US$10,000 (S$13,500) bond.

The Post reviewed footage and still images from a camera inside Perkins, which revealed bits of the Tuesday morning ordeal. At one point, Teeter is seen carrying the iguana on his shoulder.

Perkins Restaurant declined to comment. The Lake County Humane Society was closed on Wednesday, and Copper's condition was not immediately clear.

But in photos provided by the Painesville Police Department, the reptile appears to be in good spirits.