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Happy Raccoon Rescues

Story ID:7646
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various usa
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Today on Care2 I uncovered some very interesting and happy rescue accounts
of raccoons. I guess for you who have had your garbage cans tipped over by
industrious raccoons, these stories may be of little interest. Living in an asphalt
city jungle like so many of us, I don't have that problem and all I see is these
cute animals wearing bandit-type masks. But then, I still hope that all of us see yet
another wild creature of God who has basic needs like the rest of us.

I'm sorry if any of you have been bitten by one and had feared the possibility of him
or her being rabid. Yes, that is scary. Last night on the new doctor segment, a woman
was bitten by a rabid bat without knowing it. From this account I learned that unless
you report a suspected rabid bite immediately, the consequences usually mean death.

She and her boyfriend had slept under the stars on a camping trip and she was bitten
then- unbeknownst to her. Now, days later the horrible symptoms of this disease had
manifested itself. And because of this lateness in addressing it, the doctors could do
nothing to save her life. She could have been treated from the outset had she reported
the bite immediately, but once the symptoms appeared it was too late to do anything
for her.

As a footnote - I hope that we all realize by now that not all bats are rabid and that
the healthy ones are even a necessary and indispensable adjunct to a healthy environment.
At one time I feared them because of faulty, scarry, and erroneous information re them.
I now see them as friends of nature and us. But how any animal -bat, raccoon, or dog
becomes rabid is something I really don't understand or know at this point.

I loved LAURIE RAYMOND'S story of freeing a raccoon from a leghold trap. Years ago
she was the director of Paws in Lynnwood, Washington. This organization not only
had a dog and cat shelter, but an advocacy department and a wildlife clinic as well.

One evening in fall she received a call from a woman who reported that she and her
young son while hiking came upon a raccoon caught in a leghold trap, and they didn't
even begin to know how to help him get out.

Having dealt with raccoons before, Raymond had learned to have a healthy respect
for them as they are known for their formidable fierceness. Still, she asked the woman
to stay where she was and hopefully, she and another staff member would be out there
to help.

No one volunteered to go with her, so she went out alone. It was almost dark when
the woman and her son led her to the very large raccoon who was trapped. She approached
him quietly and with soothing tones told him she was going to help him. She managed
to work the loop of her snare pole around his body and under one arm so that she could
lift his upper body. In this way, she could work on his trapped hind leg withut him being
able to get at her.

She showed the woman how to hold the snare pole while she worked on the trap. The
raccoon was near a creek and she crossed the creek approaching the raccoon's hind leg.
He made one attempt to pull away but then settled in stoically. Kneeling in the creek,
she tried to pry open this rusty trap and found very little success in the way of progress
opening it.

Using her all purpose tool to pry at the jaws, suddenly she felt a difference in pole
tension, and to her surprise, saw his face just inches from hers. The woman who was
suppose to be holding the pole steady had moved away and let go of the pole because
her son had slipped into the creek. Coming back to hold the pole, she became
frightened when the raccoon moved and backed away.

Luckily, the raccoon had seemed to understand the situation and probably realized that
Raymond was his only hope. Finally, she was able to spring the trap. And then she writes:
"The raccoon looked at me, then at his freed leg. Without moving away, he picked it up in
his hands and examined it carefully, then put it in the water and moved his foot, and
finally his toes."

Raymond released the snare and the raccoon scuttled up the bank, stopped and gave
her a long look back. She thought it meant "Thanks, catch you later," and then he
disappeared. She felt that the raccoon's leg was going to heal and the feeling that
she had saved him made this event rank as a high point in her years of animal rescue.

And even now -years later, the memory is vivid and sweet for her. And indeed it should
be. She did something good for a needy animal few of us would have the courage to do.

The next account involves RACHEL JETTY of Maine. I admired that as a kid she said
they had a pet raccoon and before that her family lived in a campground that had
five raccoons. She learned from these experiences with them to not be afraid of
raccoons and then made this observation: "They are smart, mischievous and very,
very cute."

A few years later she had moved from Maine to Rhode Island where she landed a job
as manager for a sub shop chain. One day while helping a guest at the sub shop, the
patron mentioned that there was a family of raccoons in a dumpster across the street
near the professional plaza. She also mentioned that they had been in that dumpster
for quite awhile. Jetty immediately realized that this must be a very hot place to be
for those poor raccoons in the middle of summer.

She was disappointed to learn that all the people in that building knew about them, and
instead of trying to help them, were even warning each other to stay away from the
dumpster. Great people! All they cared about was their own comfort and no one else's.

Jetty went to investigate and crossed the four busy lanes of traffic to see what was going
on. There she found the momma raccoon and her 5 babies huddled together. She returned
to the restaurant and called animal control. Another bunch of great people. Animal
control said that if they came, they would have to put the raccoons down. "Yikes, she
thought - not on my watch." So in essence, she told them -thanx but no thanx.

Soon the enterprising Jetty found a wooden ladder in the basement. In a bag she put
some rolls and salad, and once again crossed the 4-lane highway - this time with her
ladder and food.

She propped the ladder against the dumpster and put some food on the steps. No motion
from the raccoons at this point. She realized that they must be afraid. So back to the sub
shop for now. She returned a while later and to her huge relief, the dumpster was empty
and the mamma raccoon and her babies were gone. Great job Jetty!

The last raccoon rescue was written by MELANIE BLOW of New York. Her beginning
statement is wise and thoughtful and deserves to be quoted: "They say that when
opportunity knocks, you'd best be around to answer the door. We usually think of
opportunity in financial and material terms, but sometimes being able to experience
an intense bond with a wild animal is a true opportunity." Well said, and I can't agree
more with these sentiments.

In her senior year in college, Melanie and her boyfriend had rented a little house on a
horse farm. On their first night there they soon realized they had an upstairs "guest."
The guest turned out to be a large raccoon walking and digging in their crawlspace.
This was a little bit upsetting, but when they found out that their landlord was always
willing to kill raccoons because he saw them as a threat to his horses, they decided
instead to co-exist with the raccoon.

Then one afternoon when Blow was cooking dinner, she heard a noise at the door.
There on her hind legs was the raccoon scratching on the door. What did this mean?
To find out, she and her boyfriend went outside and saw the raccoon scratching at the
window and then circling around the house doing the same scratching at every door
and window.

They realized then that since they came to live there, there had been more activity
in the crawl space, so it was very likely that the raccoon had given birth to a litter.
They also both realized that walking outside with a mother animal who is frantic to
get to her babies could be dangerous, but still they ventured out. Blow's boyfriend
thought he knew how the raccoon had gotten into the crawl space from outside.

Blow armed herself with a fireplace poker -just in case as her boyfriend discovered
that the landlord had nailed a piece of plywood over a hole in the carport that had
allowed the raccoon entrance to the crawl space. After the boyfriend removed the
plywood -both of them slowly backed away and into their house.

The next morning while doing dishes, Blow saw three fat, healthy baby raccoons line up
right in front of the kitchen window. What a lovely parting gesture. This was the last
time either of them would see this mom and her babies. The crawl space remained empty.

Again Blow says it so well re their experience: "I have never had an experience with a wild
animal like that, where they so clearly expressed a need, and risked so much by trusting
that someone would understand and help them. But it worked out for everyone."