Saskatchewan couple fights to keep pet raccoon | video

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 18, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

A Saskatoon woman and her pet raccoon have fled the city to escape municipal bylaws that outlaw ownership of the mischievous, bandit-faced animals.

Wendy Hook, who moved to Saskatoon with her husband this spring, said she was trying to be a law-abiding citizen when she went to City Hall last week to get an exotic pet license for her beloved raccoon, Dennis. When she was told it was illegal to keep Dennis in her house, she “panicked� and moved in with friends outside city limits to avoid the possibility of bylaw enforcement officers taking her pet away.

“I’m willing to stay away with Dennis as long as I have to, to hopefully get the city to turn around on this. If they won’t, we really don’t have any other option but to move,� Hook said Thursday from her City Park apartment, where she had brought Dennis for a visit.

Provincial legislation allows Saskatchewan residents to keep raccoons as pets, but raccoon ownership is forbidden within Saskatoon city limits because the ring-tailed mammals are classified as “prohibited� under the municipal animal control bylaw.

Hook said she hopes the city makes an exception for Dennis and is exploring the possibility of getting him involved in an educational program, which she believes could make him eligible for a special permit.

If the city won’t budge, Hook said she and her husband are prepared to abandon city life to remain united with their 30-pound raccoon, who could live for up to 20 years.

“We would do whatever we needed to do to make life easier for Dennis,� she said.

Dennis came into Hook’s life 17 months ago, when she and her husband were living in southeastern Saskatchewan. Her landlord at the time had discovered two baby raccoons on the floor of her barn, and asked Hook if she wanted them.

“Well, of course I did,� Hook recalled.

One of the raccoons died within a few hours, but Dennis “just kept growing and growing and growing,� she said.

It was like having a baby — Dennis needed to be fed with an eye dropper every couple of hours for the first few months, and Hook eventually weaned him onto a baby bottle. As he grew older, she trained him to use a litter box and respond to his name.

“He is like nothing we’ve ever had,� Hook said. “He’s a little bit of canine behaviour, a little bit of feline. He’s just as happy to have a chew toy as he is a feather.�

A self-professed animal lover who’s previously had dogs, cats, gerbils, rats and snakes, Hook said Dennis has been more like a companion than any of her previous pets.

“He will sit on my lap and I will talk to him, and I talk to him a lot. I’ve never had an animal that paid attention. He will make eye contact and he will keep it,� she said. “When either one of us are sick and in bed, he will come and he will just lay with us and cuddle. It’s like he knows when we’re not feeling well or when you’re sad or you’re frustrated. He’ll come and give you a little lick.�

Dennis sleeps on Hook’s bed, eats from her hands and likes pulling items out of her pockets. He eats dry dog food, wears a collar and likes going for walks, though he often shuffles between Hook’s feet. She said Dennis will nip affectionately when he’s hungry or tired, but is never aggressive.

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