Rural animal rescues by police caught on tape – Police News

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Policing the Remote and Rural
Cops spend a lot of time rescuing critters from places they shouldn’t be, and we’re going to look at a few rescues from this year

After a full year of just surviving the news – news that makes you want to pull the plug and pull the covers over your head – you don’t need a reminder about everything that was stressful. No, what you need is a nightcap to put this year to bed: something satisfying, relaxing and maybe a little bit sweet: spiked hot chocolate, if you will, in a story. Put on your bunny slippers (I won’t tell) and read on.
Cops spend a lot of time rescuing critters from places they shouldn’t be, and we’re going to look at a few rescues from this year. A potbelly pig, for instance, was rescued from the side of a dusty Arizona road where it was abandoned, with just an empty water bowl for company. There’s not much on the highway between Cameron and Flagstaff, and what there is – cars, coyotes and rattlesnakes – are uniformly dangerous for domestic pet pigs. Luckily, at least one Arizona trooper knows how to use a lasso, and put it to good use. The Coconino Humane Association took it from there; turns out potbelly pigs fit in large dog crates.
Critters with hooves, as any rancher or farmer will tell you, have an absolute genius for getting themselves in trouble. When they’re little and lost, they’re adorable anyway. A US Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer got the chance to introduce a tiny fawn to his own baby boy while he waited for a wildlife rehabber to pick it up. Protocol for finding a fawn on its own calls for the finder to leave it strictly alone and wait for Mom to come back, but this little one wandered into a local business. Clearly, they couldn’t leave it there, so they called the officer for help. The wee beastie was healthy, just too curious for its own safety, and was handed off to the pros until it’s big enough to be on its own.
The fawn rescued by a Manatee County sheriff’s sergeant was in a more perilous position: only a day or two old, he had been attacked by dogs and injured. (Note to dog owners: Florida laws detail specifically an owner’s responsibility for a pet’s behavior, and has codes prohibiting dogs molesting wildlife during a closed season. Control your canines.) Sgt. Hendricks scooped the baby up in a blanket, buckled it safely into his patrol vehicle, and took it to Wildlife Inc. Education and Rehabilitation Center for care.
As the hooved critters get bigger, they get more dangerous and the rescues get more complicated for the officers called to intervene. In the little town of Old Town, Maine, a police officer got an unusual call. The dispatcher for Maine Warden Service explained they needed an immediate response in town, for a buck in a swimming pool. The homeowner had looked out to see the buck balanced on her pool cover; the cover being neither solid nor ground, the deer was soon in the water and couldn’t figure out how to make an exit. The rescue was caught on camera, the officer with her catch pole, the homeowner corralling the critter from the other end of the pool, and the buck squealing and splashing, undoubtedly convinced he was being abducted by aliens. The episode ended safely for everyone, and the buck was released to run away and start chasing does, hopefully having learned a lesson about pool covers.
Also caught on camera was a simpler problem, but more hazardous rescue: a young moose with a bag over its head, running into houses and calling for Mom. Moose look comical but are famously cranky, protective of their calves, and big – like the size of a thoroughbred horse but with a bad attitude, big. (More people are injured by moose in Alaska each year than by bears.) Video shows an Alaska trooper approaching the giant teenager cautiously, snatching the bag from its face, and retreating before it can react or Mom can take offense.
Out in the plains of Saskatchewan, an even riskier rescue was recorded on video: a mule deer buck locked antlers with a white tail during a rare interspecies battle. Without intervention, this situation ends with both animals dead of exhaustion or dehydration, even if they don’t break each others’ necks. The footage shows a conservation officer striding into the scene, pulling on gloves and grabbing the white tail’s hind leg while the mulie continues to leap and twist. Once the pair is stopped, the officer bears the mulie’s head down, apparently using nothing more than a firm grasp on an antler, body weight and considerable command presence. Straddling the exhausted whitetail, he saws quickly through a key tine, then holds both antlers for a moment and shoves the buck’s head away, risking his own safety and maybe an eyeball. At the end, the mulie pronks into the distance leaving his fallen foe behind, and the officer walks back into the foreground like a boss, beard, shades and all. It’s a victory.
And before we go, nature wishes to remind us that humans – even officers – need rescuing sometimes too. On the Kenai River, Alaska Wildlife Trooper Laura Reid was letting the dipnetters know closure was near, when she saw a boy whose waders had filled with water; he began to sink, and the river’s current was sweeping him toward the sea. Trooper Reid bailed into the river and caught the boy, but couldn’t free them both from the swift water. One fisherman, Andre Aridou, saw them struggling and used his long dipnet to help them both to shore. He was honored by the governor for his quick thinking that saved two lives.
We’ve made it through one more year. As you face the next, remember that the first rule of rescue is not to make two victims. No matter what else you do, take care of yourself; you matter and I see you. Here’s to good deeds, and second chances.
Kathleen Dias writes features and news analysis on topics of concern to law enforcement professionals serving in rural and remote locations. She uses her background in writing, teaching and marketing to advocate for professional levels of training and equipment for rural officers, open channels of communication for isolated departments, and dispel myths about rural policing. She's had a front-row seat observing rural agencies – local, state and federal – from the Sierra foothills to California's notorious Emerald Triangle, for more than 30 years.
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