Saturday, July 21, 2018

Another WTH Story

Surprise! Another raccoon story
Last Saturday a guy was riding his bike around the neighborhood with his blind "pet" raccoon on his shoulders. A woman -- who didn't even know this dude -- asked if she and her five-year-old daughter could pet the raccoon. Can you guess what happened?

Baby Mama was able to pet the animal, but when her daughter reached for the raccoon it bit her on the hand. The little girl was taken to the emergency room where they started the very expensive, very painful rabies pre-exposure shots because . . . you guessed it . . . the owner was not licensed by the state and the raccoon never received rabies vaccinations.

Surprisingly, Baby Mama didn't contact Animal Control until Monday -- a full 72 hours after the bite. She was able to give me the raccoon owner's name (Rick Stone) and phone number, but no address. What struck me was how indignant she was, refusing to accept any culpability.

It took several hours, but I was finally able to make contact with Raccoon Rick. He agreed to bring me the raccoon, knowing it was going to be euthanized and tested for rabies. Rick wouldn't give me his address, but told me he would bring me the raccoon when he got off work. We agreed that he would meet me at the police station between 4:30 and 5:00 PM.

He didn't show up.

At 5:10 I called Rick to get an estimated time of arrival. He said he thought it will be another hour. I told him I'd wait. (I've played this game before.) At 5:17 Rick called me back, saying that one of his “idiot roommates” released the raccoon in a local park. I told him that was not good, and possibly criminal. I asked him for his address and his roommate’s name, stating I might be able to help “make things right.” He refused to give me that information. Again.

You're probably thinking "Holy Moly, what a mess!" Don't worry. My Spidey Senses told me the guy was squirrely and I came up with a Plan B hours earlier. (Remember, not my first time.) Dispatch ran his name several ways to look for a local address. I had my contacts at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Department of Health look for an address as well. Each came up with something different. I did my own research online and compared notes. (FYI: Facebook searches reveal a lot of information. If you're going to do dumb things, don't post pictures online.)

I guessed at the most likely address and started scouting the neighborhood. I found a man mowing the lawn and asked if the guy next door had a raccoon. He said yes. I asked him if the guy’s name was Rick. Again, he said yes. BINGO! My FWC guy and I knocked on the door at 6 PM and spoke with the afore mentioned "idiot roommate," convincing her to turn over the raccoon. Just then Rick showed up -- and boy was he surprised! He received two citations from me: One for not preventing the bite, and the other for harboring a potential rabies vector species in the city. THEN FWC cited him for having a wild animal without the proper licensing. Not a good day for Rick.

To be honest, not that great a day for the raccoon either.

Two days later, the test results came back negative. That's good news. However, a child had to endure painful shots and a beautiful animal had to die because people were stupid. Some days this job is so frustrating. -- K

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