Open Letter to: Inspector Ted DeJager, Officer-In-Charge, Mission Detachment
My wife Claudia and I wish to express our appreciation to one of your officers, I think his name is Constable Tilma and to a woman on your reception, who at approximately 4:00am and for some time thereafter, Cst. Tilma arrived to assist with the life-saving of a baby Racoon.
My wife was awakened approx. 3:20am by a growling Racoon, which is not uncommon in our ravine yard but this was followed by incessant “chittering” of a baby Racoon, again not uncommon, but the chittering between short quiet intervals commenced and it started to get more stressful, high-pitched and took on a frightened persona.
By this time I was awake and joined my wife trying to find the source, that in the pitch dark, the “chittering” came from our neighbours yard. We eventually found the noise to be coming from our neighbours above-ground pool. We witnessed the Mother Racoon climb upon the pool rim and looking inward. Ironically, the Mother Racoon came into our yard and approaching my wife, had a nervous look and almost pleading expression, to help her.
By now I was on the phone and wondering who to call first. I decided upon the Fire department given their expertise in rescue efforts but to my chagrin, got “voice mail messages’ that to leave a message to a variety of Officers, from Chief down, push a button” and I would be called on next business day or if an Emergency call 911.
I thought, this is an “Emergency” to me, so I called 911, got an Operator, who listened to my story and informed me “this is not a Police or Fire Department emergency as “not a threat to humans”, huh? Anyway, she said call Conservation Officer and gave me a number (1-800-663-9453).
I spoke with a lady at the Conversation department, but was told again, “not a threat to humans”. She went on to advise, “these are deemed nuisance calls and Conversation Officers do not respond, only when a threat to human life” (but I have to ask, what about the life of the poor Animal, isn’t this a concern a Conservation Officer should have and should it not be mandatory that some judgment be a trait needed by Conservation Officers)? She said, try the BC SPCA and gave me an Emergency number to call (604-879-7343). If no success, call back.
I called the BCSPCA “Emergency number 604-879-7343” and was told “lines are now all closed, leave a message and I would be called the next business day” or if Emergency call local RCMP.
So, I called local RCMP and the lady first, said, “you must be the person who called 911” and I said yes I was. So, I proceeded to describe our plight and she first, reiterated “this was not a threat to human life” but then she at least showed some compassion to not only the plight of a stressed and possibly life-threatening situation of a Baby Racoon who may be drowning but yes, as well, a Senior couple desperately seeking some assistance and empathy from authorities who thus far had shown no compassion, empathy or moreso just an indifference and eagerness to pass the matter on to someone else, it seemed. Being around 5:00am by now, we were very tired having been awakened and being outdoors trying to track the source of problem, we would welcome any help.
This RCMP phone operator offered to call some members or alert members, unsure just what she had in mind, except she seemed the only person aware and willing to do something constructive. She called back informing she had to talked to a Watch Commander and others and was going to try and find an Officer familiar with wildlife. A short time later she called back to inform a Constable was on his way and I arranged to meet the Officer and take over to our neighbours yard, which we are both located at the rear ravine lot properties, some 140′ off the main road and pitch black.
So, with flashlights we ventured up the long driveway, and into the back yard of our neighbour, toward the large above ground pool. As we reached the pool, and looked in, there in about 2-3′ of water, on a floating pillow, the baby Racoon sat, soaking wet and scared. The Officer and I placed a handy pool ladder over the edge into the pool, the Officer went around and with a long stick device, he pushed the floating pillow toward the side of the pool housing the ladder. Well, as soon as the floating pillow was within a couple of feet of the ladder, the Racoon seemed to sense freedom was at hand, and jumped onto the ladder and climbed out.
Meanwhile, my wife was next door in our yard with the Mother Racoon and two additional babies, standing patiently nearby waiting. My wife said, “suddenly, the rescued Racoon came over our fence and joined the others, who all huddled around it, sniffing and chittering”, welcoming the baby.
The Mother Racoon looked up at my wife and one could sense she was saying Thank You.
This experience leaves me angry at the senseless ineffective protocols in place and the apparent perceived indifference, a process I strongly suggest bears witness to needing some revision and empathy for layperson residents, like my wife and I, who would greatly benefit by knowing someone had our back in these trying and difficult times even if not a “threat to human safety”, show some compassion to a threat to life, in this case, a baby Racoon who sold have drowned while we are being transferred from authority to authority, That, if not for the kindness of the women at the local RCMP using some judgment and the kindness and quick thinking of the Officer responding, to similarly exercise some compassion, the Baby Racoon could have died at the sheer ineptness and perceived indifference.
Our neighbours perceived being negligent to not have a pool securely covered and equally as bad, to permit water level to diminish to a mere 2-3′, that in this example, prevented the Racoon from being, if a full pool, to swim to the edge and climb over, instead being at the bottom of the pool and if no floating device, could well have drowned after becoming too tired treading water. Possibly all Pool or Hot tub owners ought to check their pools to ensure secure and safe, as wild life apparently like to swim. As well, our Bylaw Manager, in this case, might assess if any infraction to bylaws governing pools and/or take appropriate action to secure this pool, to prevent a future occurrence? Our neighbours, not a sound or appearance, so may not have been home or sound sleepers not hearing anything.
So, that is what we were doing for a couple of hours between 3:30 am & 5:30 am Tuesday morning.
Finally, Inspector DeJager, I wanted to let you know this heroic act by your two compassionate employees speaks volumes about the type of officers or staff needed in detachments and they are both a credit to not only Mission but to the RCMP force itself. Please extend a heartfelt appreciation to these two on behalf of a very appreciate Racoon family and from my wife and myself, well done and Thank you.