A community comes together during the CoronaVirus crisis and joins me on a mission to save a life! ❤️
This story begins on the NextDoor APP where someone reported a raccoon with a broken leg stranded down in the L.A. River. The young adult raccoon was there for at least 4 days, alone, and unable to get out.
In an attempt to help the young raccoon, someone threw down a rope and tied it to the fence above - hoping she would climb out, but she was badly injured and was unable to help herself.
Because you share our rescue videos, there are more and more Hope For Paws supporters out there, and when a couple of supporters had seen the post, they knew to contact us for help.
When I arrived at the location, the scene was a little different than I expected - the raccoon was now surrounded by water. A few minutes after my arrival, I noticed an Animal Control Officer on the other side of the river. I said "hello", and she remembered right away that a couple of months earlier she helped me save this special cat from a very difficult situation. She was asked by her boss to hold and wait for a rescue team with specialized equipment to arrive. When she told me it would take them two hours to get there (as they were busy on another rescue), I decided to move forward with the rescue by myself.
We are on lockdown here in Los Angeles, and doing this alone is less than ideal, but things changed quickly as the raccoon started moving into the water, and eventually crawled into one of the larger pipes leading water into the river. She struggled to get in due to her injury, but 10 seconds after she did, I lost sight of her. I had no idea how far she would go under the city, but I knew I had to go after her... fast! I rushed to get my stuff, deployed a portable ladder, and I was so happy when Joleen Belle and Joachim Svare (who contacted me about the raccoon), showed up and offered to help!
I went down to the river (which is against the law and it's dangerous, so please NEVER try this!). I asked Joleen and Joachim to throw a blanket and a net down to me, and I crossed to the other side of the river (the side where the raccoon entered the drain system didn't have a fence strong enough to hold my body). One hand was holding the camera and my flashlight, and with the other hand, I held the hula-hoop with the net (I placed the blanket inside my shirt). I walked into the dark tunnel in hopes that I will find her. I know these tunnels split in many different directions, and she could be anywhere.
A couple of minutes of walking inside the dark tunnel, I spotted her... curled like a ball - sleeping and trying to deal with a lot of pain. I was hoping to sneak up on her, so I left my car keys and cellphones on the ground so I wouldn't make any sounds. Unfortunately, just by walking in the water, I made enough noise to wake her up! She immediately started running away from me... deeper and deeper into the tunnel. I ran after her, managed to get close, threw the net, but because the pipe was curved, she managed to slip under it and she got away! I picked up the net and kept running. 20 or 30 seconds later I managed to catch up with her again, I threw the net ahead of her, and by the time it landed on the ground, she was inside the net and I got her!!!
This was my first raccoon... I never got to handle a wild one, but I knew I better not get bitten! The hospitals have enough work as it is with the COVID-19, and I didn't want to be a burden on them. I pulled the blanket out of my shirt and covered her in hopes that she would calm down. The challenge with her being covered is that I didn't know where her teeth were, and because I only have one hand available (the other one held the camera and flashlight), I decided to keep her in the net, and just carry her out towards the river in hopes that she doesn't bite my hand.
As soon as I got to the entrance I laid her on the ground, and took this picture for our supporters who make all these rescues possible! ❤️🦝
This beautiful wild animal was injured, and I had to be careful not to let this cute face confuse me 😊
You see a video on her on our Instagram page, and you will see - SHE HAS TEETH:
Next thing I had to do is to figure out how to get out of the river with her - safely!
I asked Joleen and Joachim to go to my car, take a large trap, ropes, and lower it to me. It was just amazing to see them spring into action as if they had done this 1000 times before! The trap was lowered exactly over my head, I used one hand to secure the net, and the other hand to direct the trap towards me. I was able to place her inside the trap with the net, and I knew I would have to cut the net (these nets are expensive, but there was no other way to do this safely alone). My knife was thrown down to me, and then I noticed the audience that gathered on the bridge. People kept the social distancing rules, so they had to talk loudly to each other... I could hear their excitement as they were telling other people "it's Hope For Paws down there!" and "check out their YouTube channel".
As soon as I got the raccoon out of the net, I realized that now comes another dangerous part - pulling the cage up and getting it over the fence! I turned to all the people on the bridge and asked them to help pull the rope, and without hesitation, they all joined the effort! It was so cool to see a community coming together to help - I am really so blessed to have had so many people appear out of nowhere at just the right time.
The team of volunteers did an incredible job of pulling her up, and then safely down to the ground!
During this CoronaVirus lockdown, it is challenging to find an open clinic that would assist with a case like this, but I am lucky enough to have multiple friends who managed to get me not one, but two surgeons who were willing to assist with this case. I had to pick one, and so Freddy Kelly from PAL Rescue sent me to Animal Hospital of South Bay. Due to the CoronaVirus outbreak, I wasn't able to enter the hospital and film the medical procedures, but the medical team there is so amazing and they keep sending me photos and medical updates. I won't share pictures from the surgery here (I'll post those later on our Flickr page), but I wanted to show you just one of the two abscesses she had (this one is in her hind leg, and another big one in her neck).
X-rays revealed that her leg wasn't broken! The wounds became badly infected, they were filled with puss, and the infection traveled through her body and it made it impossible for her to use her front leg. When I saw the pictures from the surgery, I knew how lucky she was! She REALLY needed to be rescued so she could get medical treatment.
The hospital just sent me a photo update of this special girl... less than 24 hours after the surgery. She is resting comfortably, eating well and recovering nicely 🥰👍
I'm so happy to report that I got this whole rescue on camera, and I will post her video really soon here: http://www.YouTube.com/HopeForPaws (Please subscribe and click on the notification bell so you will know when I post it).
This young raccoon will still have a couple of weeks of recovery ahead of her before she can be released back to the wild. I am working with the medical team, and I will keep you posted on her 😉
My heart is so full of joy from this experience! Seeing all the people on the street who forgot for a few minutes about all the problems in the world and joined me on this rescue was just a beautiful thing to see (remember, I started this mission alone). The people who helped me don't even realize it, but beyond their help, they also have given me a gift... the gift of HOPE!
I want to thank you for being there for the animals with your donations that paid for her medical care.
Please be safe, stay home, and stay healthy!
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