The Great Raccoon Massacre - Part 4

Welcome to the final installment of my "house painting gone bad" story. Please go back and read parts ONETWO and THREE by following the links associated.


WELCOME TO DANTE'S NINTH LEVEL OF HELL
As I returned to the side of the house with a handful of black plastic bags for the dead raccoon, the DFW agent was perched down examining the animal on the ground and I noticed my dad had a concerned look on his face. I'd seen that same look on my dad's face many times before. It was a confusing look that seemed to say either, "I have some really bad news for you" or "We're not dealing with an expert here." As it turns out, the look on his face was actually saying both things to me.

Are you telling me what I think you are telling me?

"We might have a little problem," the agent said looking up at me as he showed me the belly of the raccoon. "This isn't a male racoon. It's a really big female raccoon and it's possible she was hiding in your roof because she was protecting some kits."

"Are you telling me what I think you are telling me?" I asked and then continued, "Did you just kill a raccoon and her babies are still hiding up in my roof?" This is horrible on so many levels. Didn't he notice any tiny raccoon eyes or baby raccoon noises? I thought to myself as I felt the pit in my stomach grow.

"I don't know yet," the agent snapped, "We'll have to go back on the roof and see if there are any kits hidden in that roof space."

Did you catch that? Did you notice what happened right there? Did you recognize how he suddenly pluralized the necessary investigation. The agent was departing from the solo job he was asked to perform and declaring that this was going to require a corporate solution. We were needing to go back on the roof.

"Follow me. Let's go," he said and started climbing back up the ladder.

I just looked at my dad and shook my head in disbelief. Things were suddenly much worse than I expected. Speechless, I followed "Six Shooter McGee" back to the roof.

I watched as he flattened himself again on the shingles and grabbed his flashlight and peered deeply into the space.

"Damn it. Damn it. Damn it," I could hear him say. He really didn't need to say anything else. I knew already that we were going to burn in hell for what this agent had done in the blink of an eye with his jittery trigger finger.

"How many are in there?," I asked, wiping the sweat from my head and feeling sick to my stomach.

He pulled himself back out of the hole and sat on the roof. "At least four of them by my count. Do you want to have a look and see if you count the same?"

I didn't really want to look. I felt that if I grabbed his flashlight, it committed me to even more involvement in this massacre. Suddenly, I was thinking in fast-forward motion. What about fingerprints? Will they be able to get my fingerprints off the flashlight? Wait a minute, I thought. This is a state agent. He is employed by a govenment agency. He is licensed to do this. What did I have to worry about? He's the one that assasinated a raccoon. I was just an innocent home owner asking for help. I grabbed his flashlight and peered down into the hole. Sure enough. Four sets of tiny raccoon eyes lit up in the dark roof space. Not knowing what this guy had planned, I realized that I should probably do everything I could to help save these little guys.

"What are you going to do?," I asked. 

"Well, here is what WE are going to do. First, YOU are going to go down and get my snare pole for me and then WE will pull them out one at a time," he said. 

The last time I checked, I was not wearing a uniform or a badge. I'm not sure why it was necessary for him to continue to emphasize what WE were going to do. The afternoon sun was clearly affecting this guy. But, to prevent the unnecessary extermination of any more baby raccoons, I decided that I would help this crazy agent with his dilemma and headed back down the ladder to get his pole.

GET A CRATE
"Do you have an animal carrier?," he shouted, as I started down the side of my house. 

"What do you mean, do I have an animal carrier?" I responded with a confused look on my face.

"Well," he said with an annoyed voice. "We are going to need to put these into a carrier or a crate or a heavy box or something so you can transport them to the wildlife rescue center."

I'm sorry. What was that he just said? Did he just say "I" was going to transport them to the wildlife rescue center? Me? Why am "I" involved with their transport? How am "I" responsible for their rescue? I must have had a very confused look on my face when I was done talking, because he interrupted my blank stare abruptly.

"Chop! Chop! We need to hurry up and get this going. You are going to want to get to the wildlife center before it closes for the weekend." he said as he clapped his hands and pointed back down to his snare pole on the ground.

I climbed down the ladder and explained the situation to my dad. He mentioned under his breath that this agent might not be the "sharpest tool in the shed." Nevertheless, he told me that he did have an animal crate that would work and sent me back on the roof to give the agent his snare pole. 

I headed back onto the roof.

My dad returned with the animal crate and brought it up on the roof along with several pairs of leather gloves to protect us from any bites or scratches. Then, one at a time, the agent lassoed and lifted the baby raccoons out of the roof. He handed the scared little animals to me and I put them in the animal crate. 

Once he was done, we each took turns looking in the hole and making sure there were no more animals trapped in the rafters. I sealed off the hole with roof paper and plastic and then we grabbed the tools and each made our way down the ladder. 

NEEDING CLARIFICATION

When we got back down to the ground, I immediately began questioning how this entire procedure was going to play out.

"Remind me again why are you not taking the raccoons to the wildlife rescue center?," I questioned the agent.

"I don't need to do that," the agent responded. "It's the end of the day and you can drive down there right now and drop them off. It's not that big of a deal."

"Yeah, I know," I said, "But isn't this part of your job to take the animals with you? Like the wild animal in the back of your truck? Isn't that what you are supposed to do?," I asked, trying to push on his authority or appeal to the regulations involved with his job. Simultaneoulsy, I realized that I really didn't know what his actual responsibilities included.  

"Look, I still have to head east to release the one animal I already have trapped. I don't have a second carrier and I won't have time to release that animal and get these to the wildlife rescue center. If you don't do this, these raccoons are going to die in the wild without their mother. You will need to do this. The rescue center is less than 2 miles from here and you need to get going." He was very matter of fact and very convincing. It felt like I was being deputized into the local DFW. I decided it wasn't worth asking him again. He clearly didn't think this required his "expertise" and as the afternoon pushed on, I didn't want to miss my opportunity. Besides, how could my involvement get any worse, right?

IT GETS WORSE
"So, just to be really clear. All I need to do is take these raccoons to the wildlife rescue center down by the river, right?" I asked. "They are prepared for this kind of thing? They are used to people showing up at random times with wild animals like these raccoons? There is a system in place? There are professionals who will take these raccoons?"

The agent had picked up the dead raccoon and was beginning to double-bag it in the black plastic bags I had given him. I don't think he liked all my questions.

Raccoons.jpg

"What do I do if there is no one there?," I continued, "What do I do if the wildlife center is closed? Do I call you to come back for the baby raccoons?"

"Yes. This is a very normal procedure," he assured me as he began to duct tape the neck of the plastic bags holding the giant dead raccoon.

"Yeah, sure, sure, normal procedure," I thought to myself. "They do this all the time." I've heard that before.

The agent finished his taping and looked up and said, "Just to be safe, why don't you call them and make sure they are still open and then get your butt in gear and get down there."

That seemed like the safest route to take. So, after a quick number search, I called the Wildlife Rescue center and listened to the recording which said the center was going to close at 5pm. I had less than 30 minutes to make this all happen. I gathered my keys and gloves.

"One more thing," the agent said, as I reached for the animal carrier. "Don't tell them you killed the mother."

"Don't tell them I killed the mother?," I thought to myself, "Yeah. No problem pal! You killed the mother, not me." Like those words would ever leave my mouth.

"Uh. I didn't kill the mother," I reminded him. "Technically you were the one that shot the raccoon. You are the only one with a gun here. Besides, what difference does it make? You are a licensed agent. Even you said it was necessary to exterminate this one. Why will they care if you had to kill the mother."

The agent chuckled. "Yeah, but the people at the rescue center are a little different. They won't see it that way. They don't like me or what I have to do. So, like I said, just don't tell them you killed their mother."

"I didn't kill the mother," I clarified again.

"Well you know what I mean," the agent said. "Just tell them you heard these raccoons crying in the chimney and found them alone and you were worried your dog would eat them or something like that...so you brought them down to be rescued at the center...make up a story. Just don't tell them you shot the mother."

This guy was as dumb as a bag of hammers. No matter how many times I clarified that he held the smoking gun that killed the raccoon, he still tried to implicate me in the murder. I asked if he was going to give me a copy of his report, because I wanted to make sure he didn't blame me for shooting the raccoon. He told me that it would take a few minutes to fill out and since time was running out, I decided to leave.  He promised to leave a copy with my dad.

TO LIE OR NOT TO LIE
The rescue center was located adjacent to our local river access point. Fishermen, boaters and picnickers drive by this place daily on their way to the river. I assumed the staff would be excited to have a visitor actually stop in for once. I pulled into the gravel driveway and contemplated whether I should start by bringing the raccoons in with me or lead by telling the story first. I decided to bring the little critters along with me. As it turns out, I chose well.

The volunteers in the rescue center were exactly as I pictured them to be. They were clearly lovers of both rescue animals and the environment. Overall, they seemed like very kind-hearted people. As soon as the volunteers at the rescue facility saw the carrier, they asked,"Well, what do we have here?"

"I have a family of raccoons," I told them and quickly handed the animal carrier to the closest volunteer, while all thinking to myself over and over: Keep it simple. Don't share any more information than necessary,

"These are cute little guys," said the young woman as she reached in the carrier and began pulling out the baby raccoons. "Where did you find them?" she asked as she got a small bottle of milk.

I could feel the noose tightening around my neck. Keep it simple. Keep the story straight. I was worried that I'd say the wrong thing. "Funny enough, I found them in the roof of my house," I told her (choosing to omit the part about the chimney, the DFW agent, and the dead raccoon mother).

"That sounds like a story. How did they get in the roof of your house?" she asked with a puzzled look on her face that seemed to accuse me as a liar. She followed up with, "These animals are still babies. They are too young to crawl up on a roof."

I thought back to the murderous field agent I left back at my home. This is exactly why I didn't want to get involved. I am a horrible liar and I knew I would implicate myself with this stupid story.

"Well, it's actually a long story," I said and then proceeded to share my adventures from the week that involved house painting, power washing, chimney destruction and then chimney repair and animal rescue. I chose to leave out any discussion of the mother raccoon and the gun slinging agent. I hoped they would be satisfied and stop asking questions.

"Did you happen to see their mother? She wouldn't be too far away." she asked.

See. This is just what I didn't need. Tricky questions.

"No, I don't know where the mother has gone," I said, technically telling the truth.

raccoonrehab.jpg

Then, as she started returning the baby raccons back into the animal carrier, she said, "Well, we would recommend putting these babies back where you found them and letting the mother raccoon return, so she can take care of them and protect them."

Picturing myself driving back home with the raccoons, I had to think fast. How could I tell the truth and still accomplish my intended goal.

"Well that's not going to work out," I assured her as I pulled the raccoons back out of the carrier and placed them on the table. "You see, I already sealed up the hole in my roof." Yes, I realize it was only a paper seal, but she didn't need to know that.

"If I bring them back to my house, I will have to let them loose in the garden, but I don't think my dogs or my cats will take kindly to a roaming pack of small animals. They are going to think I brought them snacks." I began corralling each of the baby raccoons on the table in front of me. "We wouldn't want anything to happen to them. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye open for their mother," I suggested.

The volunteers looked at each other. I waited and hoped the deal would be done and there would be no more questions.

PLAYING POLITICS TO SOLVE A PROBLEM
Instead, they chose to tighten the noose a little more. "It might be helpful if we came out to your property and helped you search for the mother raccoon," one of them suggested. "We have done this before and we might be able to find where she is hiding."

All I could picture was the image of my chimney and the blood on the side of the house. What if they showed up and the DFW agent was still there? What if they saw the bagged carcass of the raccoon? What if my dad or kids got involved? There were too many variables to this story for me to contain. At the same time, I was feeling more and more personal guilt over the whole situation.

Think fast, Fletch.

Then in a stroke of brilliance it came to me. 

I suggested the following: "You know what? I guess I misunderstood what you did here at the wildlife rescue center," and began slowly returning the raccoons back into my carrier. "I thought this was a drop off location. If it's easier on everyone, I'd be happy to personally help out with the rescue. I can just take these little guys back out to my property and see if their momma comes back to find them. I'll be able to keep my animals away and as long as the owls and hawks don't get involved, it should work out just fine."

I paused for effect.

"Then, if the momma raccoon doesn't show up in a day or so, I'll just bring them back down here. But if it's the weekend and you are closed, I guess I can call the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I'm sure they would help and pick them up for me. How does that sound?," I closed up the animal carrier and prepared to head out and waited to see if they would take the bait.

The volunteers glanced at each other quickly and it was clear to me that I had chosen the right tactic. "No. No. No. That's not necessary," she said as she reached for the animal carrier. "It's getting late. We will just keep them here for you. We have the food and milk they need. You do your best to look for the mother. If you spot her, we can set a trap. But, whatever you do, do not contact the department of fish and wildlife. They don't get involved in rescue. You call us if you are having anymore issues or need help. We can come out directly to help."

Politics to the rescue! It was a brilliant technique. Slightly sneaky, but brilliant. There is no way these volunteers would let me leave knowing that I might call the DFW and ask for help. 

We quickly unloaded the raccoons and the volunteers began feeding them bottles of milk. I packed up my crate, filled out a comment card and wished them luck as I headed toward the door. At the last moment, I reached into my wallet and grabbed some cash and put it in the donation jar. It was the least I could do to appease my guilt and help out these volunteers.

By the time I got home, you could not even tell there had been a raccoon homicide. The agent, his truck, and all the evidence of the unfortunate event had been removed. 

The chimney was eventually repaired, the house was eventually painted, and this chapter of the great raccoon massacre was brought to a close. I still receive a monthly email asking for donations to the wildlife rescue center and occasionally I'm coaxed and moved to donate by the picture of baby raccoons. Let me know if you ever my help with pest removal. I'm here for you.

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

12 A Little Nonsense Is Okay

I am continuing down the Fletchifesto and I cannot think of a better example in my year where this next philosophical statement plays out in real life more than September 19th. Yes, I have reached that point in my life creed/manifesto where I get to share one of my absolute favorite quotes:

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How does that relate to September 19th? I would hope that most of the loyal readers of theMangoTimes would recognize the picture above and know this date by heart. The Fletcher family honors and celebrates the 19th of September every year. This year I began planning at the turn of the new year. Typically I am planning everything from clothing to personal grooming to potential travel. Parties are scheduled. Dental patients are shuffled. To say that September 19th holds more value to me than my birthday is a gross understatement.

September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

It is one thing to commit to talking like a pirate. It's quite another to also dress like a pirate. You know your are committed to the celebration when you go on to actually act like a pirate and get involved with general piratey shenanigans.

Employment in my office requires participation too! There are two rules at my office. You can be a pirate or a wench. Normal clothes and behavior are not an option. From clothing, to music, to inappropriate commentary...it's a pirate's life for us!

Black Beard and His Crew - Fletcher Dentistry Talk Like A Pirate Day

Black Beard and His Crew - Fletcher Dentistry Talk Like A Pirate Day

I know what most of you are wondering: Why would a professional like Fletch choose to behave this way?

More than any other reason, I want my kids to remember that it's okay to enjoy a little nonsense in life. Face it, if you are choosing to live life as an adventure and enjoy the journey, you are most likely going to brush up against a little nonsense here and again and that is okay.

Life is too short to always be proper and it's certainly fun to occasionally break stride and get silly. Check out this quote by Willy Wonka in the YouTube clip below. A little nonsense is okay. Are you with me?

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

The Great Raccoon Massacre - Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of my "house painting gone bad" story. You can read parts ONE and TWO by following the links. 

HELP ARRIVES
As the heat of the day began to soar, the kids and a few friends were enjoying an afternoon in the pool and I was wondering what a dead animal would smell like in the roof and rafters of my house.

Finally, near 2PM, the DFW Agent called me back. The first thing he asked over the phone was, "Is the animal still trapped in your chimney?"

"Yes," I said, wondering if he thought I tried to rescue it by myself, "I'm pretty sure he's still down there."

"He didn't want to use the ladder to climb out, huh?" The agent was referring to the makeshift ladder he encouraged me to build out of wood and chicken wire in an attempt to encourage the animal to climb out on his own.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had not even attempted his ladder idea, because first, I thought it was a stupid suggestion, and second, I was still doing everything I could to NOT BE INVOLVED in this entire project. So, I tried this response: "Uh no. He apparently isn't in the mood to leave the chimney space by climbing up a ladder to freedom." Then in order to quickly get this agent to commit to coming out to my house before the weekend started I said, "When do you think you will be here?" 

"It will take me at least an hour or so to get there," he told me and with that, I lost any chance of avoiding the serious afternoon heat.

"It's only getting hotter," I said. Then, feeling the need to remind him of urgency, I added, "I really need to get this animal out of of my chimney today."

"Roger that, I'll be on location as soon as I tie up a few loose ends on my current project," and with that, he hung up the phone and I waited for my expert to arrive.

It was exactly 3:30 when I watched him pull into our driveway and his truck was everything I pictured. A forest green government truck with utility boxes mounted on the sides of the truck bed and a ladder roped on the top. It had several spot lights mounted to a bar over the truck cab and a tow winch on the front. On the doors were large government decals that said California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The driver door opened and out popped my expert/hero. Dark green pants, khaki shirt, and a wide brimmed hat. He was the exact picture of what I thought a DFW agent would look like, complete with a uniform that said: Stand back, I know exactly what I am doing. He scribbled some notes down on his clipboard as he began recording the details of this incident. This was official and I felt certain I had the right guy on the job. I did notice one small detail. Overall, he was extremely dirty and I remembered back to my earlier phone call with him where it sounded like he was in the midst of a struggle. I pictured him lassoing foxes or maybe even having to wrestle a mountain lion. Yup, this was clearly my guy. He was not afraid to get involved in animal rescue!

chimney.jpg

UP ON THE HOUSETOP
After a few quick introductions and details, the agent got to work immediately. I showed him the destroyed chimney and he climbed up on the roof. As he approached the hole, he turned on his flashlight and peered slowly down the massive rip in the side of the chimney and asked,"What did you do with the ladder?"

Busted! He was wondering where the makeshift ladder was that he had told me to build. The same ladder I did not build, but had earlier indicated to him that I had built and tried to use.

He was high enough on the roof, so I pretended that I did not hear his question and let him continue his investigation. He got down on his knees and stuck his head in the hole. As he shined his flashlight in the hole he let out a loud, "Aha! I see what we have here. You've got yourself a coon problem!"

Finally! My rooftop nemesis has been identified. A raccoon. I had assumed a possum, but a raccoon seemed just as easy to solve.

The agent surveyed my roof and then proceeded to describe just how this happened. The raccoon had probably climbed the lime tree next to my house and then on the night that my chimney facade was destroyed by the power washer, he jumped up on the roof and found a great place to burrow in the substructure of the rafters. I'm not sure I needed a play by play, but I agreed with him that this is probably what happened. I don't know if we needed to discuss these facts, but this guy was the expert and maybe this was important to his investigation. I wasn't so interested in how the animal got into the roof, I just wanted to know how the agent was going to get the animal out of the roof.

I don’t think I’ll need to shoot this one...

"Yup! This is your basic raccoon extraction. I'll take care of this in no time," he said and then added, "I don't think I'll even have to shoot this one."

Shoot this one? Why would he have to shoot anything? What was he talking about? We were just discussing lime trees and chimneys and now we are talking about shooting things. This situation seemed to escalate rather quickly. Gunfire seemed like the last option we should consider, especially since this guy looked like he had just been wrestling wild animals all morning. Did he shoot those too? I did find it necessary to remind the agent that this raccoon was wedged in the roof/chimney rafters directly above my living room ceiling, If his shot wasn't perfect, I'd probably have a ceiling repair to add to my list.

"True," he said, "that is what I prefer and I normally like to practice catch and release, but like I said, I don't think I'll need to shoot this one." I was super glad to hear that we were making it our primary goal not to shoot my roof. He then yelled down, "Hey I'm definitely going to need your help. Can you go to my truck and get the snare pole off my truck and bring it to me." Then he added, "Get me the long one. The 8 foot pole. It might be in the bed of the truck."

As a reader, can I remind you how I began this story? Remember how my involvement was supposed to end by simply writing a check to get my house painted. Then like a cosmic vortex I was slowly sucked in to this whole crazy animal situation. This is a pivotal moment in the story. Remember this point. By walking to this DFW agent's truck to get a snare pole, I was descending one more level into the pit of partnership. I should have stopped and questioned why the agent did not have a partner or an intern or anyone else with the basic training required for wild animal rescue. Disappointed at my inability to walk away, I headed toward his truck.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
When I reached the back of his truck, I realized that I had no idea what he wanted me to find (and no business searching the back of his truck). He clearly wasn't known for organization and there were all sorts of gadgets and contraptions in this truck. I saw a variety of traps and even a few large hooks (which I assume he used to pull dead animals that he had shot when they are trapped deep in a roof). I was focused so closely on what I thought a snare pole should look like, that I didn't even notice the large animal carrier in the back of the truck bed. I was alerted initially by a slight scratching noise, but as I began to move tools around the truck bed, all hell broke loose in that box!

I could not see inside the carrier, but based on the sounds I heard, I pictured a large Bengal tiger ripping apart a family of bunnies. There was thrashing, shaking, and snarling as this carrier bounced all over the truck bed. I really hated my involvement in this whole stupid plan and I didn't want to search anymore around this caged beast, but I finally found a large pole with a wire noose on the end. That had to be the snare pole the agent wanted.

As I returned to the side of my house and climbed the ladder to hand him the pole I asked, "Hey what's in the back of that animal crate in your truck?"

"Did she wake up?" he asked, "With the amount of tranquilizers I used, I didn't expect her to wake up until I released her later. I bet she's pissed!" With that he quickly moved on to the business at hand and I never got an answer to my question. It seemed sketchy to me.

"Alright, stay here," he said, "I'm going to try to snare this raccoon and I might need to hand you the pole so I can get down the ladder without killing myself in the process. Depending on how angry he is, things might get dicey. So get ready"

I stayed perched on the ladder and watched as the agent laid flat on the roof and bent deep into the roof hole. As he stretched down with the snare pole, he seemed to keep diving deeper into the hole and I almost thought he was going to fall in. All along he was having an out-loud conversation with the animal and struggled to manipulate the snare pole in the dark among the wooden substructure.

"Gotcha!" he finally yelled and then, suddenly, there was a thrashing and I watched him struggle to back out of the hole and get on his knees. I knew this was where I was supposed to be helping him, but I instinctively climbed down and backed away from the ladder. "Whew! Success!," I thought, as I watched the agent struggle to get to his feet and fight the snare pole while pulling a giant raccoon out of my torn apart chimney/roof hole.

As a nocturnal animal, this raccoon was clearly angry at being snared and dangled in the afternoon sun. Likewise the DFW agent was struggling to control this animal from his precarious position on the roof. It was also clear that I was going to offer no help to this agent. I can't believe he thought I would be any help to him by "holding the pole." This was one angry raccoon and I didn't want any part of it. 

theMT_gunfigher.jpg

HOPALONG CASSIDY
"I'm going to need to exterminate this one," he said as he unholstered his pistol. But, before I could say anything, the agent opened fire.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

He struggled to get an accurate shot at the very angry raccoon on the end of his pole. PIcture a fisherman trying to shoot a flopping fish on the end of his fishing pole while standing in a rocking boat. The whole thing was chaotic and I'm not sure he thought through his actions because accuracy was just not happening.

Bang! Bang! The final two rounds landed in the animal.

"Whew! Sorry about that! This one was a fighter. I couldn't trust handing you this bad boy. I should have warned you about that," he apologized as he untied the snare and dropped the raccoon carcass off the roof at my feet thudding like a bag of sand. I sat there stunned at everything that had transpired in the previous 5 seconds.

As if I didn't have enough to process, the popping of the gun alerted all six little kids out of the pool. As they came running around the side of the house to see what was happening, my elderly father also came out of his house from across the driveway to investigate the gunfire.

"What the hell is going on out here?"  This is one of my dad's favorite questions. I have heard him ask me this same question too many times in my life to even count.  But this time I was speechless. I had a large dead animal at my feet and a streak of blood on the side of my house. At the same time, I had six little kids asking me why I killed the raccoon. It was chaos. Much to their disappointment, I instructed six unwilling kids to get back in the pool and at the same time tried to explain to my dad about what happened with "Hopalong Cassidy" up on the roof. 

After climbing down the ladder, the agent approached us and apologized for disturbing the kids, "I'm sorry, I didn't know there were kids here, I hope they weren't upset by the gunfire?" 

"No," I said, "I'm pretty sure my kids were fine with the gunfire. I'm just not sure they were prepared to see a raccoon shot in midair and then watch as his bloody body flung off the roof like that."  But then again, I am pretty sure that I wasn't prepared to see all of that.

Without skipping a beat, he turned and asked my dad, "Do you have some large heavy duty plastic bags that I can use for the remains?" The last thing I needed at this point was for my dad to get involved with the process. To be truthful, I was starting to feel weird about how this was being handled and wanted to limit any more evidence of our culpability in the murder of this raccoon, so I quickly intervened in the disposal process.

"I'll get you some bags," I said and then thought to myself as I walked away, "Why doesn't he have his own plastic bags? How does he normally transport animal remains? Why am I the one providing the plastic bags? Something didn't seem right about this whole process. Again, one more level of involvement, but little did I know that this was going to get a little bit worse.

(To Be Continued)

Quietly making noise,
Fletch

The Great Raccoon Massacre - Part 2

In case you are just joining me, I am picking up where I left off at Part 1 of my story. It is the introduction to my story of how a simple house painting project became an animal extraction situation.

Allow me to catch you up. It is now Friday morning. Day three of my simple project. Half the facade of my chimney and portions of my roof had been torn apart. There was also an unknown small animal wedged into the substructure of my chimney somewhere between my roof and my living room ceiling. Temperatures on this summer day were expected to soar above 110 degrees and I was still unsure how I was going to remove the wedged animal.

Welcome to my life.

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I began the day on the phone with the pest expert from the day before and gave him all the information he requested. I told him that I had no idea how the animal got into my roof and proceeded to explain the location and description of the situation. I asked him for his best piece of advice to which he said: "If I were you, I'd call the county's Animal Control division. They deal with this kind of stuff all the time." To which I thought, "Duh." Why didn't I start here at the beginning? I thanked him and quickly looked up the number for the officials who deal with this kind of stuff ALL THE TIME.

ANIMAL CONTROL
Now, I'm not sure how she was able to assess my situation and draw this conclusion, but the young woman on the phone who I spoke with at the Animal Control office had NEVER heard of a situation like this and was almost certain they could not help. Her first suggestion made me laugh: "You should probably call an exterminator, I bet they deal with this kind of stuff..." I assured her that she was my current expert on animal extraction services, so she promised to "run it past" the Animal Control Officer on call and get his opinion on the situation.

The Animal Control officer was very unhelpful and gave me several reasons why they were unable to help: "We don't remove animals from within homes or dwellings. You'll need an exterminator for that." He followed up with what I thought was the real reason for his lack of willingness to help, "I don't do roofs." But, followed up with the only excuse I couldn't argue with: "You actually live out of our region of service." 

When I politely asked who took care of my "region of service" he informed me that my property location was actually covered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Then as if on cue, he promised me that they would be able to help with my issue, because they probably deal with this issue...wait for it...ALL THE TIME.

BUILD A LADDER
It was 10AM when I reached the voicemail for my local CA DFW field officer. I had now become a detailed expert on describing the situation and I laid it on thick. The roof destruction. The heat. The trapped animal. I told him about everyone who had already said they could not help and then begged him to call back and help me solve my animal, roof, chimney, rafter situation.

Then I waited for the bureaucracy of the government system to kick in to gear.

I was totally surprised when he called back in less than two minutes. Unfortunately, he did not listen to the Academy Award winning voicemail message I had left for him, so I was forced to repeat the entire situation to him again. I noticed something odd about this phone call. It sounded like he was struggling, because the entire time I spoke with the officer he was grunting and sighing into the phone. I felt like he was only half-listening to my dilemma. Something wasn't right on his end of the phone.

When I finished describing my problem, he said he was going to be unable to help, because he was currently involved in another "animal situation" out on the west side of the valley. Aha! Suddenly I understood all of the grunting and sighing. He was literally involved with solving the problem while he was on the phone and I pictured him pulling an animal out of another roof. Knowing I had probably found my solution, I begged him to make the effort to help me.  "If I can help you," he said. "It won't be until late afternoon and by that time the animal in your roof will probably be dead from this heat."

Now, as I've said multiple times: This is not my area of expertise, but I could only imagine that a dead animal wedged in the rafters of my roof was exponentially worse than my current situation. Again, I'm no expert.

I must have sounded like Princess Leia in Star Wars but I pleaded with him as though he was my only hope. Without any confidence in his voice, he said that he would try his best, but in the meantime I should build a ladder for the creature to crawl out.

Build a ladder? What do you mean "build" a ladder? I could feel the noose tightening around my neck. My involvement in a simple house painting project was pulling me in even further.

I reminded the officer that it would take me longer to purchase the necessary supplies and build a magical roof-chimney escape ladder for my unknown wild animal than it would take for him to get to my house and solve the problem correctly. He interrupted to clarify and remind me, "...if I can get to your house." We agreed that I'd wait to hear from him after lunch, when he would have a better idea if his current "animal situation" was going to be resolved. I hung up slightly disappointed and void of any hope that this would be solved.

(To Be Continued)

Quietly making noise,
Fletch