Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Trouble With Raccoons

Raccoon by Teckelcar
Raccoon, a photo by Teckelcar on Flickr.
I wish all the raccoons in my life were as cute and sweet as this one. Unfortunately I have to deal with real raccoons in addition to adorable pretend ones.

Last week the red boys found a real one in our woods. Nate found them barking at what he first thought was a possum. The two dogs were circling around the poor thing while barking their fool heads off. I went down to fetch the dogs and both Dell and John willing left their new sport. It was almost a case of not knowing what to do and being happy to be redirected inside.

This relative peace lasted about five minutes. Then the red boys were back at the door, eager to resume their game. Max, not knowing any better, let the dogs out. The dogs streaked across the lawn and down into the woods to resume harrying their new toy. I slogged down with Nate again to round up the dogs. This time they were much harder to collect and I got a good look at the beast. 

It was not a possum.

Instead it was a rather battered raccoon.


I could see it was on its last legs. Barely able to move, it was ineffectively thrashing about. Luckily the dogs had not bitten it, nor had been bitten by the raccoon. However, I had to call animal control. Half dead raccoons are not something to ignore. So once the dogs were dragged back inside and crated (oh the pitiful sounds they made) I hunted up the number for animal control. It was well after normal business hours and the call went into a menu. Select one for a loose or stray dog, select two for dead or injured animal, and so on. I was transferred to the after hours desk and got a person who was very concerned when I said I had a half dead raccoon in my yard. He said an animal control officer would be dispatched asap. I told him to be sure they had a good flashlight because it was getting dark and by the time they would get to my house it would be nighttime.

About an hour later,there is only one truck covering the county after hours and it can be a haul from one call to the next, we saw an officer tromping around our backyard with a bright flashlight. I slipped on my boots and introduced myself and led him to the creature. At this point it was clearly dead.

It looked like to the officer that the animal had been involved in an altercation with another raccoon, it's face was bloodied and torn. The dogs would have been savaged and covered with blood if they had done the deed. Instead, both dogs had not a hair out of place or a speck of blood on their jaws. Rabies was unlikely to be a factor. The poor thing had lost a fight and had crawled off to die.

The raccoon was then bagged up and hauled away. I hope that's the last time I ever see a raccoon in our backyard.

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