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Scabby the Rat's Creators Miffed Their Rodent Was Cut, Run Over

 Scabby the Rat, a balloon used in picketing and other protests, was created by Big Sky Balloons.
Big Sky Balloons
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CHICAGO — Scabby the Rat's "mother" isn't happy with the man who allegedly cut open and ran over the giant inflatable rodent last week.

"Go to anger management class instead of doing something like that," said Peggy O'Connor, who co-owns Big Sky Balloons and Searchlights Inc. with her husband. Big Sky has created large inflatables for unions in the past, but the rat often used in union protests is near and dear to their hearts.

Wauconda resident George Koukos allegedly stuck Scabby with a box cutter after being blocked by the rat as he was trying to leave work near a Teamsters Local 705 protest Downtown on July 7, according to prosecutors.

The air rushed out of the inflatable rat as Koukos got into his vehicle and ran Scabby over, according to court records.

 Big Sky Balloons and Searchlight Inc. owners Peggy and Mike O'Connor.
Big Sky Balloons and Searchlight Inc. owners Peggy and Mike O'Connor.
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Big Sky Balloons

Koukos was charged with criminal damage to property and aggravated assault in the incident.

Peggy's husband, Mike O'Connor, came up with idea for Scabby in 1990 when a Chicago bricklayers union wanted a rat that "looked mean and snarly looking," Peggy O'Connor said.

"They weren't going for cutesy," she said. "They wanted lengthy claws and festering nipples. I know it's kind of disgusting. Yuck."

But Scabby has been quite popular — it even has a Twitter handle with more than 9,000 followers and a Facebook page with almost 1,200 followers — despite its ugly appearance. Peggy O'Connor said Big Sky sells an array of Scabby the Rats, which come in seven different sizes — from 6 feet ($2,000) to 25 feet ($8,000). Scabby has spawned other inflatables used at protests, including the Corporate Fat Cat, Greedy Pig, Union Skunk and Cockroach.

Peggy O'Connor said Big Sky, which is based in Plainfield, sells most of its inflatables on the East Coast. Only 10 percent  to 15 percent of its sales are in the Chicago area.

Though she hasn't seen the wounded Scabby yet, she said the 12-foot rat might be damaged beyond repair.

"It's too bad," she said. "It's my baby, festering nipples and all."