Imagine returning to your Atlanta home, your arms laden with packages from a day of running errands. You put your key in the lock, and your spouse says, in a low voice, “Move away from the door.” Of course, you are like, “Um, no, my arms are full, need to put things down.” He repeats, in the same furtive voice, “Just move away from the door.”.
This happened to me a few years ago. After moving backwards, I looked up, above the mail box attached to our brick house, to find a raccoon hanging onto the bricks. And, although I had always loved raccoons, being up close and personal with one was a whole different story.
Bags went flying, cries were uttered (my husband’s were louder and shriller than mine), as we flew down the stairs and away from what I now saw as a vicious, possibly rabid, animal. We called the police; they laughed and told us raccoon removal was not a police matter. We called the fire department; they showed up three hours later, with what looked like five poles put together. They stood in the street, reached across our front lawn, up the steps and over our stoop with their weapon, and poked that poor raccoon until if finally dropped to the ground (a good 8 feet). It then scampered off, leaving us with the five firemen it took to discuss, prod, and, at the end, shriek over the departing beast.
It took several days, and retelling that story a few times, for it to hit me how incredibly inhumane the whole raccoon removal incident actually was. At the time, I was happy to see it go, and to be allowed to enter my house. As we discussed it, we realized it was probably not a full grown raccoon, and it must have climbed up, then been too afraid to climb back down. So, we called a bunch of men over to poke it with a stick until if fell. Not a proud moment, in the end.
I have been vegetarian all my life, and animal welfare is something I’ve always thought was foremost on my mind. The raccoon removal debacle, as we came to call it, was a blight on my otherwise animal loving and caring life, and I was determined never to let anything like that happen again. I researched humane methods for taking animals from a Atlanta home, everything from squirrel removal, to skunks (yes, that does happen!), to mice and (shudder) rats. There was even information on bird and bat removal. I felt safe and secure in my new found knowledge; then, we moved from New York to Virginia.
Two months in our new home presented us with the opportunity to test the squirrel removal methods I had researched. For nearly three weeks. While they ran around our attic. And pooped on our stored belongings. Then we called in professionals, who had them humanely and safely trapped, and released, within hours. I learned that squirrels love chimneys and attic vents. Bats and birds could easily travel through the openings for dryer vents. Mice and rats (shudder again) could chew through wood siding and enter a home. I happily took my friendly neighborhood wildlife specialist’s card. Little did I know, he would be back within a year to practice his bat removal techniques, as we had not yet gotten around to covering our dryer vent.