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A bizarre raccoon attack story

Susan Charlip
Saturday September 21, 2002

To the Editor: 

Recently, I had the occasion, while sitting in a waiting room at Oakland Kaiser, of reading a letter in these pages from a raccoon sympathizer who advocated for the neutering of bad Berkeley drivers over these pathetic scavengers, forced to break into cars for stale snack foods. Imagine my surprise, when later that evening while walking my two miniature dachshunds – as if scripted in some bizarre book of fate – I was attacked and bitten by a wild raccoon in my south Berkeley neighborhood. 

It was early in the evening, about 8 p.m., when we approached a corner lot, and my dogs began growling at the pack of barking dogs within the fenced yard. As I coaxed my dogs down the street, I was assaulted from behind by a large adult raccoon. It jumped on me, clawed at my legs and bit me. I screamed hysterically and picked up my terrified dogs while it repeated its attacks to my back and legs. After a few jumps, the raccoon simply ran back down McGee Avenue and behind another house. 

Concerned neighbors ran out of their homes wielding baseball bats, brooms, and army surplus-sized flashlights. 

Recognizing my shock, one promised, “Oh, it couldn't have been one of ours. Ours never leave the yard.” 

“One of your...raccoons?” I stammered. “You keep raccoons in your yard?”  

“Yeah, but that wasn't one of ours, because ours never leave the yard.” I assumed it is illegal to keep wildlife in your yard in the city. I decided to report the attack as well as my neighbors did. 

When the police arrived at my door, the officer questioned me about the identity of my attacker. “This is a rather delicate question,” he hesitated, “but, did you get a good look at this raccoon?”  

It was about 30 pounds, wearing dark glasses and a fur coat. 

I have been reading these letters debating the value of Berkeley's increasingly bold, hostile pests while awaiting my rabies injections at Oakland Kaiser. So far, I have had 13 of 14 injections. The first 10 were extremely painful. 

My last one will be this week. Anyone who thinks that rabies are innocuous or neighborly critters in need of our friendship and protection, should come see my scratches, bites and injection sites.  


Susan Charlip