Thursday, December 17, 2009

Raccoons and Regulations

"Saving just one animal wont change the world.....but surely, the world will change for that one animal". A friend sent me that quote last night, I like it. I got it right before the phone rang at about 930 at night, which is always a Trooper, Sheriff's Deputy, ACO (Animal Control Officer), or a upset civilian with animal issues. I had just got off the phone with a really great man. There are two dogs in a kennel, no shelter near his house and he is concerned for their well is abuse, nothing will get done.... I DON'T have a badge or any ACO authority at all. I just run a huge animal rescue facility, have almost bankrupted my family several times and have no legal authority to get people to feed their horse or take care of their dogs. What I do know is that the squeeky wheel gets grease. I do know how to get people to do their jobs, it might take a couple of weeks but people can be pressured to do the right thing. I hung up the phone, kind of depressed about not being able to give the guy any quick solution. Remember do not take the law into your own hands, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Write down dates, times, take photos and keep track of vital facts. It can all be used to force someone to feed their animals, get them shelter or for a law enforcement officer to write tickets ... people dont like fines. My next advice is ALWAYS cover your ass, by documenting everything and knowing the laws ... you can keep yourself from being sued.
Shortly after I hung up with the man concerned about the dogs left outside 24/7 with no shelter (a violation of Ag and Markets Animal Welfare Law). The phone rang again; ohhhh no.... RVS or Rabies Vector Species are tough to handle because few people in the State of NY are licensed to handle them. (That problem is another story, this story will show the need) I called the woman, It was an Animal Control Officer in the Capital District (I never use names/agencies). She had answered a call on a busy city street where a car had run over a Raccoon, which I thought was strange on a very cold, windy winter night. She had responded to the call where a concerned motorist had stopped, removed the Coon from the road and had left the scene. The first problem that I had with this was who is he, where did he go and DID HE TOUCH THE COON? As I was talking the ACO through what she needed to do and her options, the motorist showed up and was irate that she hadnt put the wounded coon in her van yet. She put me on speaker phone while she was getting the coon in a box into a crate and into the heated van. I tried to explain to the man that we needed his name and number and I would do whatever I could to help the Coon but procedure had to be followed. He said he paid taxes, said that we were doing everything wrong and fled the scene of the incident but luckily we had his license plate number. A witness (whose name and number we already had) said she saw him pick the Coon up and put it in the box with his bare hands. A foolish move to deny and a action that will cost the wounded coon his life. With the info up to this point, I told the ACO that she would have to take the Coon to a 24 hour Emergency Vet Clinic (name not included here), have it euthanized and they would need to send it to Wadsworth Lab for Rabies testing. The coon had been hit by 3 cars, was squealing in pain but fighting death. I thought that was the end of a bad day for the coon, concerned motorist and the ACO that had been "off duty" for 2 hours by this point. Once she got to the Vet Clinic, since the Coon was still alive, they wouldn't take it, wouldnt euthanize it and wouldn't help her...said they were not licensed..... Am I the only one in the State that has a license to handle Coons? Im back on speaker phone again by this point, the vet agreed to package and send it to the lab if it was dead.... they didn't have a pole syringe (which I find amazing). The ACO does not have her Rabies Vaccinations (which I find amazing)....NO ONE wanted to deal with this. Dispatch was pissed the ACO picked the coon up (she had to there was human exposure, she is sworn to protect the public), No one would come to shoot the coon (not the humane euthanasia I had visioned) and this poor ACO was at the end of her options and talking about driving the coon an hour and a half to me.
Very few people are aware of rabies protocol, the hazards of raccoon roundworms in their feces (also fatal in humans), nor the procedures for dealing with a coon after a human has been exposed by touching them, being bitten, etc.. My last resort, I told her to call DEC Dispatch and have them send out a CO (Conservation Officer) to euthanize the coon. The ACO was thrilled and told me the officer that was responding, I know the officer so I called him to let him know what the situation was. I look forward to hearing the results of this rabies test, if it is positive, this motorist is really lucky that this ACO got his license plate number. I wish that I could have saved the coon but it wasn't in the cards in this hand. Im glad that I could do this one by phone and I wished that more law enforcement officers, veterinarians, ACO's, health departments and civilians knew the procedures for handling wildlife RVS rabies potential exposure. Your lesson for the day, if you see a injured animal in the road ... do NOT touch it. Even if it is not rabid (which it most likely isn't) hooves and talons can be just as dangerous. I actually had someone bring me a deer last year (that had been hit by a car) in their backseat....very foolish. I should write a book.:) Later.

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