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Drainpipe Too Much for Rotund Raccoon, Rescued After 2 Hours in Laguna Beach : Rocky’s Match

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nearly every night in the Temple Hills neighborhood, residents have come to expect a certain rotund raccoon waddling to their back doors, sniffing for scraps left out by the neighbors. Dubbed “Rocky,” the friendly raccoon has become a fixture in the area.

So on Thursday morning, when Rocky was discovered wedged in a storm drain on Terrace Way, a hairbreadth away from certain death, a neighbor placed a frantic call to Laguna Beach police.

Three officers responded and spent the next two hours trying to save the animal with efforts that included chipping away at the concrete around the raccoon and sudsing him with liquid soap to slide him out.

“The officers were so compassionate about the whole thing,” said resident Lise Nieto, who witnessed the rescue effort. “They worked so hard. You could tell they were silently praying for it.”

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The 30-pound animal was sedated, in an effort to keep him calm during the efforts. “If they had pulled any more, they would have broken his legs,” Nieto said.

Finally, Keith Hall, an animal control officer with the Police Department, discovered that Rocky had been hung up on a piece of wood that inadvertently had been cemented into the storm drain. Hall, a 16-year department veteran, cut the wood out of the cement, wormed the beefy raccoon out of the hourglass-shaped hole, then rushed Rocky to a local veterinarian, Hall said.

“There were bloodstains on the curb where he had clawed all night trying to get out,” Hall said. “It was coming down to the point where we were going to have the city jackhammer him out.”

The raccoon was checked out by veterinarian Susan Davis, who found no broken bones but was concerned about the lack of circulation in his swollen legs. “His little feet were cut up and his claws were broken from clawing the cement,” Davis said.

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“And he had a tummy on him, that’s for sure,” she added, laughing.

After Davis gave him a clean bill of health, Hall took the raccoon back to the Temple Hills neighborhood, where he was released back into the wild.

For the residents who waited and worried about the raccoon, Hall, 44, and the two officers who stood ready to help him became the neighborhood’s heroes.

“It was such a humanitarian thing for them to do,” Nieto said. “It just needs to be known.”

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As for Rocky the raccoon, Nieto said: “I guess we’re just going to have to put him on a diet.”


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