Local woman attacked by raccoon after rescuing dog

Whistlerite recovering from bites and scratches following unlucky incident

A Whistler woman is recovering after a raccoon attack in her backyard last Sunday (Nov. 19).

Cheryl Parker was sitting in her Tapley’s Farm home, about to take her 12 lb. pomeranian, Zoey, for her last walk of the day.  

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“She went off the back deck, and I think there was a raccoon under the deck and they met. I was still in the house… I heard the raccoon screeching and the dog screeching; both of them. I just bolted out the door,” Parker remembered.

“It was dark, so all I could see was a ball of fur, and I didn’t know which was which, so I just reached down, grabbed the ball with two hands and pulled it apart. The one on the left was the raccoon and the one on the right was the dog, so I threw both of them.”Parker knelt down to scoop up her pup to safety, but the raccoon, about twice Zoey’s size, wasn’t happy about being tossed around. It quickly turned its sights on Parker and lunged towards her.

“It flew and jumped and landed on my thighs, because I was sitting in the snow,” Parker explained. “It got my thigh, and of course you go to hit it with your hand, so it grabbed my hand.”

Luckily, Parker wasn’t alone: due to the snowstorm and subsequent highway closures that plagued the resort that day, a friend from Vancouver had opted to stay the night, planning to drive back the next morning. As the raccoon latched on, Parker reached up to pass the dog to her friend.

“It was gnawing on my left arm, so she took the dog. Apparently after she had the dog, I reached over, grabbed (the raccoon) again, ripped it off and threw it off into the bush… My dog is my family, I’d do anything to protect her.”

While Zoey escaped unscathed aside from a small cut on her nose, Parker didn’t fare as well. Although she was spared from any tendon or ligament damage, she suffered an extensive series of cuts, scratches and bite wounds during what she estimates was a five-minute battle.  

“It looks like Wolverine attacked me,” she said with a laugh.

The raccoon bit Parker “six or seven times.” she said. “I could feel it, as I was passing Zoey up to (my friend) Shannon, it was biting me and biting me, I could feel its teeth going through my skin.”  

Parker headed to the emergency room, where she was told she was the first raccoon attack case they’ve seen.

“We weren’t completely sure what the deal was, because they haven’t had that happen before,” she explained. “(The doctor) had to flush it all out and clean it all out, and then the next morning I had to go back in... They had to call Coastal Health and find out how to deal with raccoon bites and find out about the rabies, because again it’s not something that’s common.”

While Parker learned that raccoons, thankfully, can’t pass rabies to humans, she’s still had to undergo treatment to ward off any diseases or infections from the bite wounds. That treatment comes in the form of a “nasty” drug, that Parker will have to stay on for a total course of two weeks. Following the attack, she’s been going to the hospital twice a day so the drug can be administered intravenously.

Despite categorizing the incident’s origin as “a fluke confrontation” between the wild animal and her dog — “like going around a corner and bumping into somebody” — Parker is still warning her neighbours to remain cautious of the commonly-spotted scavengers.

She called the Conservation Officer Service the next morning, who confirmed that the animals will react aggressively when threatened. “Because I threw it away, I thought if people should know anything they should know this: just because you separate them, I would have thought they would run away, being wild animals (I thought they’d be) spooked, but apparently it just pisses them off,” she said. “They’re like evil cats.”

While local bears may be headed for hibernation, Parker’s experience is also one more reason to keep wildlife attractants in mind throughout the colder months. “You know that bird food you put out? Well putting it on the table, it’s not bird food, it’s raccoon food,” she said.

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