The City of Fitchburg Police Department has received several messages via Facebook, email and phone related to a recent call for service involving an injured raccoon on the side of a road in a rural portion of our city. Most of these messages were received after a YouTube video related to this incident was released earlier this week.
The video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKGA2BaOvHA
Consistent with our policy of transparency to the public, we have prepared this response, and the posts made to the Department’s Facebook page will remain posted. Additionally, following this message you will find the unedited messages we have received via Facebook and email.
This message has been prepared to clarify:
•The initial call for service
•Actions taken during the call for service
•State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommendations on response to raccoon calls
•Wildlife rehabilitation resources in the area
•The Fitchburg Police Department’s efforts to address calls for service involving wild animals
Initial Call for Service
On February 22, 2016 a City of Fitchburg Police Officer was dispatched to a report of an injured raccoon. The raccoon was located on the shoulder of County Trunk Highway M near Blizzard Road. When the officer arrived he met with a woman who was on the shoulder of the road near the injured raccoon. The woman was very distraught as a result of seeing the injured raccoon. The subject had already attempted to contact several rehabilitation resources in hope of having medical assistance provided to the raccoon.
Actions Taken During the Call
The officer explained the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) considers raccoons as nuisance animals due to disease issues and over population. The DNR recommends euthanizing injured raccoons to prevent spread of disease. (http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/wm/wm0571.pdf)
The officer observed the animal had an injured leg with blood extending from the upper leg area to the paw. The raccoon was not behaving consistent with an animal that was healthy other than the injury; in so much as it was sitting in an upright position, lethargic and making no effort to move.
The woman was provided an opportunity to spend time with the raccoon along the roadway and did so prior to leaving the area.
The officer waited until the woman left the area and no other citizens were in sight of the animal, after which the animal was euthanized.
Area Wildlife Rehabilitation Resources
The Dane County Humane Society maintains a wildlife rehabilitation center, Four Lakes Wildlife Center, (https://www.giveshelter.org/four-lakes-wildlife-center.html) and the Fitchburg Police Department has taken many wild animals to the center in the past. Four Lakes Wildlife Center does not work with raccoons.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources maintains a listing of Wildlife Rehabilitators (www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat). In Dane County, there is only one listed wildlife rehabilitator who works with raccoons. Due to capacity issues, much of their rehabilitative work focuses on working with baby raccoons with injured raccoons evaluated on a case by case basis when space is available.
Calls for Service Regarding Wild Animals
The Dane County, Wisconsin Health Department Division of Animal Services, is the primary agency responsible for handling calls for service regarding animals in Dane County. The Animal Services Division does not respond to calls involving certain wild animals, including raccoons. To provide a complete set of animal services, the City of Fitchburg Police Department employs two Civilian Service Employees who are State of Wisconsin Certified Humane Officers, which is unique in Dane County. These Humane Officers are trained and certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WIDATCP).
In addition to their training through WIDATCP, the Humane Officers work closely with other agencies including Dane County Public Health Animal Services, the Dane County Humane Society, the Wisconsin DNR and area wildlife rehabilitators. Fitchburg Police Officers receive training from the Humane Officers and respond to calls for service related to animal issues when Humane Officers are not available.
Officers responding to animal calls, like every call for service, must evaluate all the circumstances of the call. Decisions regarding calls for service involving animals must be made consistent with policy, as well recommendations of the State Department of Natural Resources, State of Wisconsin Biologists, Dane County Public Health, the Dane County Humane Society, and area wildlife rehabilitators. Keeping these recommendations in mind, consideration must be given to maintaining the balance of safety of not only humans, but also other animals, including wild and domestic, as well as livestock. In the event an animal must be euthanized, all personnel are required to complete a report on the incident and use of a department weapon.
It is unfortunate when any animal requires euthanasia due to injury or disease issues which are beyond the capacity of rehabilitation efforts. The City of Fitchburg Police Department is committed to handling all living creatures with compassion and care. We are charged with many duties and among them include balancing the needs and safety of all residents as well as domestic animals, wild animals and livestock. We take citizen’s concerns seriously and we will always investigate the issue and respond appropriately.
Subject: Worthless cops have no value especially those like you,
I hope you realize that raccoons have gained respect and love, Your generation may have eaten them but now people see them for the incredible intelligence as well as their unique personalities,, I know your parents probably tied a porchop bone around your neck so the family dog would get close to you but humans evolve but maybe you are one who digresses. Im glad the rest of society does no have your mind set or serial killers would out number good hearted law abiding citizens.
If officers of the Fitchburg Police expect to be respected by their
public, they must be MADE to shew respect to all those they're sworn
to protect ... including the state's wildlife. No exceptions :
I'm disgusted !
Dear Mayor Arnold and Chief Blatter,
I’m hoping the information sent by Animal Help Now is inaccurate.
Otherwise, shame on the officer who shot the raccoon -- and shame on the city that keeps this officer on the payroll. He’s a criminal.
Seriously, are taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars being used to pay someone who feels it necessary to kill an innocent, injured animal?
Can you explain why?
Attn:Mayor Steve Arnold:
Per our conversation here is the video that was posted after Chief Thomas Blatter inhumanely shot and killed innocent wildlife animal, that animal was asking for help. Chief Blatter is a government employee. As the Mayor I hope you understand the ramifications of such a brutal act of violence to an innocent sentient being. We do not live in barbaric society anymore and this type of behavior reflects the mentality of you and the community you represent.
I am horrified to learn on the wrongful death of the injured raccoon that occurred recently in Fitchburg,as I’m sure the woman who witnessed the incident was as well.
All wildlife are an important part of our ecosystem, and raccoons in particular are sentient, smart, social beings who deserve better.
Please train your police officers to humanely respond to wildlife emergencies. This animal could have easily been saved by treatment by a wildlife rehabilitator. Excellent animal resources can be found using the app Animal Help Now (www.animalhelpnow.org), and perhaps your officers could at the very least download this free app, so that they can better serve the public.
Facebook Message #1 (Also received as a Facebook post)
Really? Shot the innocent raccoon....Let me count how many REHABBERS there are around the area, and close in vicinity. YOU ALREADY KNOW! What a CRUEL, DISGUSTING, INHUMAN THING TO DO. CITIZEN DEFINITELY DIDN'T EXPECT TO SEE OFFICER MURDER THE DEFENSELESS RACCOON. One shouldn't be able to sleep at night, though I'm sure you sleep Humanity could LEARN SO MUCH from ANIMALS!!! IF THEY'D ONLY LISTEN..... CAution calling our authorities, who's to say what devastating unlikely vision we'll have once they leave.
Facebook Message #2
This evening I have received several emails, texts, posts and messages about one of your police officers. They say this man responded to a call about an injured raccoon. Instead of helping the compassionate people or calling a wildlife rehabber this guy shot and murdered her. Now I'm from Santa Barbara California, our officers help living things they find foxes, possums, raccoons, coyotes, Eagles, owls, skunks etc. you name it they have helped it. I hope this story isn't true. I'm going to research it and get to the bottom of this horrible story. I know of several licensed rehabbers in Wisconsin that would have been happy to get the raccoon healthy and release back into the wild. If release isn't possible then they have people and property to help with that. Licensed professionals. It sounds as though this cop is a sociopath who couldn't be bothered with a poor animal in need of help, not a bullet. It's barbaric. We will find out what happened. If this is true we hope this officer is fired immediately and put in jail for felony animal cruelty. I won't pass on these emails, posts etc until I know what happened. Be warned you might have a monster working for your department.
Facebook Post #1
Why don't you know who your local wildlife rehabbers are and shoot injured raccoons when citizens ask for help? Find out who to call from 1-888-WDNRINFO before telling a concerned citizen racccoons are useless and shoot them. What do you think we are here FOR? Do you know how traumatizing that IS to the general public and how infuriating it is to we rehabbers? All you need to do is find out who your local ones are.
Facebook Post #2
Why is it the police departments don't know who their local wildlife rehabbers are? Don't they have any idea how traumatizing it IS for a citizen to call for help and the animal killed instead of helped? 1-888-WDNRINFO .... has ALL the wildlife rehabbers listed
Facebook Post #3
Dear Fitchburg Police Office, based on recent news I became aware of the incident with an injured wild animal (raccoon) that was shoot by one of your police officers. I am contacting you to politely suggest to use the proper channels to take care of this matter. A wildlife rescue organization should had been involved because this is what they are here for. You do a great job keeping your comunity safe but you are not experts when the subject is related to an injured animal. Please consider this suggestion if you face a similar situation in the future. Thank You.