It was around 04:30, when we first heard the whacks and squeals.
At first the pops sounded like a BB gun, but we soon realised the sound was caused by a metal pole hitting concrete. We looked outside to see two neighbours trapping something beneath an upturned garbage can. Fair enough, I thought, they managed to catch whatever pest was causing them problems, and now they’re going to leave it there until morning for maintenance to deal with.
Well, they didn’t. For whatever reason, the pair of adult males started giggling like maniacs, before letting a raccoon loose and chasing it around the parking lot with their broom handles. Still, benefit of the doubt, they could just be chasing it away from the property. Keep your mouth shut Matt, you don’t know which of these Americans are packing shooters.
I had enough when they caught up to it and started beating it over the back with their sticks. It was around 04:45 in the morning at this point, so I didn’t have the good sense to go down and talk to them like an adult. I now understand why people yell from windows in the small hours. Newfound empathy.
We told them to stop, they said they had a pest problem and that the raccoons “live in his walls”. I yelled to let the professionals deal with it, he said they’ve tried that but they won’t. I say we’ll go to the office tomorrow to help you complain, but that you shouldn’t be beating animals like that. In the distance, I notice the raccoon hobble into the bushes. So we end the exchange and the two guys go back inside.
I hope that at some point after they went back to their apartment, one guy turned to the other and said, “Was that crazy guy British?”
So let’s talk animals. I’ve only seen real-life raccoons in the last ten months, because we don’t have them in the UK. Little trash pandas are just as cute as I’d imagined. But then again, we’ve never had them “in the walls” of our apartment, or had them inconvenience us in any way. I’ve seen them in the parking lot a few times, usually waddling about as a family, but they run away if you get within twenty metres of them.
I completely understand that they’re considered pests to some people, especially if they’re getting “in the walls”. But you don’t just start knocking them off your balcony, to then run downstairs and beat the poor things with sticks.
In the UK, uppity people would always complain about urban foxes. They’d point to Daily Mail articles that tell of foxes sneaking into the bedrooms of young children and biting their faces. Which, to me, is a total Madeline McCann of a situation. They left the door open overnight, so curious animals are going to come in, they should count themselves lucky it was just a fox, and not Mr and Mrs McCann. (Joke)
The reality of any fox that myself or my friends encountered over the years, would be it running away as soon as you looked at it. And raccoons, well they feel like the foxes of America. Well, America actually has foxes, so I guess they’re more like the badgers of America. Except badgers which behave like foxes. That’s what raccoons are.
Are you following?
So if the building owners aren’t dealing with it, then surely you call an exterminator yourself and bill the owners? Hell, buy some poison yourself and then bill them for that. My issue here isn’t the raccoons dying. As I said, if they’re causing someone grief, then something needs to be done. The problem I have in this situation, is the prolonged cruelty to the animal, and the laughing whilst it’s happening.
I mean, if that’s how they react when killing an animal with a face, in a non-sport hunting situation, I don’t want to imagine how many steps they are from doing that to a person.
I know, it’s a big step to make, but from what I’ve learned, this is a pretty violent country. At least compared to the UK.
So in a country where the public are allowed to buy guns, I’m constantly analysing people’s behaviour and thinking, “Huh, if he has no criminal record, then he’ll be allowed to buy an assault rifle. But I did see him do that thing to that raccoon…”
I watched a lot of police procedurals growing up, don’t judge me it was a pre-quality TV drama world. Anyway, whenever they caught the murderer, they found out that he’d tortured dogs as a kid. Or flayed rabbits on the front porch. Or put a lobster in a gimp suit, without consent. Either way, killing animals in any way other than hunting, or to humanely remove pests, was always seen as a precursor to murder.
Now I don’t know if that’s just TV land, or if that’s a reality, but the way these guys were getting pleasure from beating this raccoon was something else.
As I wrote these words, I was prepared to let this behaviour slide. We’d still go to the office to encourage something be done about the pest problem, if only so these raccoons can die of a light poisoning over an hour or so, rather than a broken spine over the course of many nights. I was ready to let my anger subside, and to come to the conclusion that they wouldn’t murder anyone.
Then my super-sleuth wife left for work. She lifted the upturned trash can to see if another raccoon was trapped. Instead, she found two knives, with duct-tape around the handles, as well as blood trails all around the parking lot. These sick f***s had strapped large blades to the ends of their sticks and had been stabbing the critters. Not only that, but they were dumb enough to leave the evidence, which Audra snapped pictures of.
No benefit of the doubt, they brought knives to a poison fight. Which I could just about cope with, if they hadn’t been enjoying it so much.
Today is Tuesday, July 10th and I really want to hear from American natives on this one. Is it cruel to spend half an hour stabbing/beating a raccoon or am I just a British snowflake?