AUBURN — Police and an animal rescuer wrestled with a 20-pound raccoon for more than an hour Tuesday after the animal got stuck beneath a dumpster outside Denny’s restaurant.
The raccoon was ultimately freed, although it did not happen easily. Wildlife control agent Rich Burton described the adventure in a Facebook post that quickly went viral.
Burton was called by Auburn police at about 7:30 a.m.to help with a raccoon said to be stuck inside a dumpster. Problem was, it was not inside the dumpster, it was stuck beneath it.
“Really stuck,” Burton said. “The adult male was so wedged that he was in respiratory distress and fading fast. Officer Michael Chaine ran to a muffler repair shop next door and borrowed a floor car jack so that we could lift the dumpster up and free the raccoon.
“The jack could only raise the dumpster a few inches, and with only a few inches between the dumpster and fence, it was very difficult for me to use my tools.”
Working on wet pavement in the rain, Burton and Chaine tried a variety of things to lure the coon to safety. But the coon was not having it.
“With Mike poking at him from the front and me trying to coax him out from the back, he finally made a break for it,” Burton wrote in his post. “Mike dropped the dumpster as soon as he was out. We wanted to catch him and move him out of town so the chase was on.
“As we tried to corner him, and get a snare pole around him, he did what I was worried he would do — he tried to wedge himself back under the dumpster.”
This time, it was Burton who was not having it. A longtime animal rescue agent, he decided it was time for a more hands-on approach — an approach that would cost him some blood.
“With everyone a little tired and frustrated — we were at this over an hour — and not having enough room to use the snare pole, I decided that I had to get up close and personal with this 20-pound raccoon,” Burton wrote.
“I grabbed him by the rear leg and pulled him back out from under the dumpster and the fight was on. He bit my gloved hand hard, hard enough to cause blood blisters, and at one point he got between my legs — NOT a place that any male wants a ticked-off raccoon!”
The fight went on.
“I managed to pin him to the ground and Mike got my rescue carrier in position,” Burton wrote. “I then slid him in and Mike slammed the door shut. With blood running down my rib cage and elbow, dumpster goo on my face and covered from head to toe in rotting food and whatever, the raccoon rescue was complete. Now time for some patch work and a long shower!”
The raccoon was not hurt in the dumpster brawl. Burton cared for him the rest of the day and planned to release the animal in Durham, along with three other rescued coons.
Burton loves the animals, he said. But the Denny’s dumpster coon turned out to a tough way to start a day.