All was going well. The kids were climbing, sliding, teeter-tottering and swinging. Over-dressed stay at home moms huddled in little cliques around the playground area...filling each other in on the latest gossip. Babies were swinging in baby swings, stick sword fights battled on in the meadow and little kids were running amuck. amuck! amuck! amuck! amuck! (sorry...had to throw that in there..for all of the Hocus Pocus fans )
I guess that when we watched a rather large German Shepard jerk itself loose from it's owner and attack a small Sheltie right in front of the playground equipment, I should have known it was going to be a strange day. And as I gathered my children like a mother hen because HELLO-rather large attacking dog on the loose-we cringed at the Sheltie owner's screams as her little doggy yelped in pain from it's unwarranted attack. The kids were all "what's going on, what's happening?" and I was all "just get on the picnic table NOW heathens". (Because rather large attacking dogs can definitely not jump up on picnic tables..uh, yeah. That's what I am going with) After a few minutes, the German Shepard's owner was able to finally corral the dog in her truck and I was all "Off with you children...go forage on the grounds and like, chase a squirrel or something"
Just as we were starting to relax from all the dog excitement...a woman came shrieking from behind us..
"There is a raccoon. It was chasing and attacking my children. My dad fought it off with a stick and now it has him penned up on a picnic table. You should gather your children and leave."
So, we glanced in the direction the woman is gesturing wildly to and sure enough...there was a man on top of a picnic table with a large stick and he was swatting at what appeared to be an attack raccoon. It was going from bench to bench, attempting to jump up and each time it tried, the guy poked it with the stick to keep it down.
"Did you call anybody" I say.
"Nooo!!!!" She says. "I have to go and try to save my dad"
AND CUT!!...Interjection here...
For you city people: Raccoons may be cute but they are not the cool bandits you know from the movie The Great Outdoors They are wild NOCTURNAL animals. Which means they sleep ALL day and come out at night. They are generally NOT people friendly. The mere sight of a human usually sends them scurrying up the nearest tree. They also harbor rabies. In fact, a lot of the cases of rabies in domestic animals comes from these cute little bandits. Another fact...rabies is FATAL in humans 99% of the time once symptoms appear. SO...when a crazed wild animal that should be sleeping is up during the day and is not only NOT afraid of people but is chasing after them...BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID. They are also quite cranky and vicious. Having been raised on a farm and having many a chicken devoured by a coon, I have seen what these creatures can do...and it ain't pretty.
So, knowing what I just told you above, I decided to call the non emergency line for Marion County.
(Another, albeit it smaller, interjection...Why did I not call 911 immediately, you asked?? WEeeeLLLL, you see..having been married to a dispatcher, fireman, police officer for almost 10 years, I know that when you call 911 on a cell phone, it can be picked up by any tower and where ever that tower is located is where the call will be directed...Since this park happens to be located on the Marion/Shelby/Hancock County line but IN Marion county, I thought it would make things easier to just call the Department directly. I wouldn't have to take the chance on getting the wrong county and then having to be transferred. See how amazingly clever I am?)
ANYWAY..The phone rings and it rings and it rings....no answer. So I called 911 figuring talking to anybody would be better than talking to nobody. A very..oh how should I say..ethnic woman answered. Not that there is anything wrong with that. She was very nice and did her job very well...it just makes the story better if you can read it with the proper ebonic inflection. It goes like this..
911 what's yo' Mergency?
(Yep. Right then I knew that Marion County picked up the call)
Hi, I just tried the non-emergency line and there was no answer so I had to call 911.
We answer both lines, honey. What's yo' Mergency?
Um, OK then, I am at Southeastway Park and there is a raccoon chasing people and it even has a man penned up on a picnic table. I think we may need some help.
A COON?? A RA-ccoon?? Is chasing people?
Yes ma'am. A RA-ccoon is chasing people. And they are, you know, like nocturnal and wild..so it shouldn't be out during the day...much less chasing people.
Nocturnal? You fo' real?
Um, yes ma'am. You know, they only come out at night..and it's like CHASING PEOPLE. And since the park is full of children, I think we may need some help.
OK. Where's yo' location?
I am at SOUTHEASTWAY PARK...on the SOUTH EAST SIDE of Indy. It's on the Marion/Shelby line. (clever name for a park, I know)
Is that the one off Carol Road??
OK. Where's yo' location?
No, Honey. Wheres yo' at IN the park?
OH! Sorry, I was confused. We are at the playground. The raccoon is across the road by the parking lot.
OH Lawrdy!! Hold on, baby girl, we gots someone on the way.
Thank you very much.
And we waited for help. We watched the first lady try to drive her van over to the picnic table to rescue her dad from the potentially rabid and crazed raccoon. She pulled forward and backed up, honked her horn. RUN IT OVER, we yelled but the raccoon is much to clever for that. It started jumping up on her van and then running back to the picnic table. Back and forth, back and forth. Finally, after what seemed like forever...the man was able to jump from the picnic table to the van and climb inside unscathed. The woman drove around the block, came back, parked and ran up to the playground screaming...."YOU should all get your kids and leave. This is a crazed raccoon. It was hissing and growling and trying to attack." We all looked at each other like..THIS WOMAN IS NUTS!! We are way over here...that raccoon is way over THERE...a mere 30 or so feet from where we parked. We are not about to try to drag 8 small children to load them all up. That takes an act of God to do when we aren't stressed by potentially rabid raccoons. There is no way we could get it done safely and not draw attention to ourselves...I'd rather take my chances with a large stick should that 'coon start to come our way.
By this time, another
911 what's your emergency?
Um, yes I am at Southeastway Park and a raccoon is chasing people.
You are at Southeastway Park on Carrol Road?
That's Marion County, hold on, I'll transfer you.
(just my luck, got Shelby dispatch this time)
**on hold for like 3 minutes**
911 What's your emergency. (different lady this time)
Um, yes I am at Southeastway Park and a raccoon is chasing people.
Ok, Did you call about this already?
Yeah, like a half an hour ago. There are a bunch of people here and it's trying to get across the road...Where the children are playing.
Ok..an officer is almost there.
Five minutes later, a state police officer pulled up. As he was talking to the first lady in the van (yes she was still there, watching the raccoon. I guess having her dad almost attacked was just not enough excitement for her) The raccoon was jumping up on his car. He pulled forward, removed his campaign hat..or as I like to refer to it, his mount me (mounty) hat...and got out of his car...Taser in one hand, baton (night stick) in the other. He was using the taser to make noise, trying to scare the raccoon off. But it wasn't scared. It just kept running up to him. Every time it got close, he'd whack it with the baton. It'd run off, then it'd run back to him and WHACK. Over and over. We couldn't figure out what he was doing. It was running at him! Why was he just whacking it. Why didn't he shoot it? I mean, a service revolver might be a little much in a park full of people but I know he had a shot gun in his car..that certainly would have done the job. (buck shot covers a wider area but doesn't travel as far so generally it's safer when there are people off in the distance..Unless you're Dick Cheney.)
That Trooper whacked and chased that raccoon for a good 15 minutes before a Conservation Officer got there. He walked up to assess the situation. We could see the Trooper...he was very animated in telling what he had been doing for the last 15 minutes...he swung the baton a few times as if he was replaying the whacking moments. They talked a bit longer until the raccoon decided to run up to the conservation officer. Here it goes, we thought. Surely the Conservation Officer will take care if it. Does he shoot it? Nope. Does he stamp his foot at and try to scare it off? Nope. Does he try to capture it? Nope. He freakin' bends down and pets the darn thing. PETS IT!! Next thing we knew, they were both feeding it and petting it. Then they were standing there talking and it was walking between their feet like a cat. And when Animal Control got there, it ran right up to her. She put the snare around it's neck and it walked with her like it had a leash on...like a freakin' dog. Seriously. You can't even make this stuff up. It jumped up in her van by it's self..Like "Come on, let's Go!! These people around here are CRAZY!!"
The general consensus? Somebody had a pet raccoon, couldn't handle it and turned it loose in a park thinking it would find it's way...WRONG! It just scared the crud out of everyone then got whacked on the head several times by a state trooper.