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Lawyers, Humane Society work to save raccoon

August 20, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A Washington County woman's fight to save her longtime pet raccoon is continuing, one week after she said she was giving up.

Hagerstown attorney Jerome Joyce said Thursday that he and attorney Wiley Rutledge have gotten involved and are trying to find someone in Maryland certified to take in wildlife.

At the same time, the Humane Society of Washington County is checking with wildlife refuges in Maryland and other states, according to Executive Director Paul Miller.

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Carrie "C.J." Giffin said last week she'd lost hope that she'd reunite with Onix, the raccoon she found on a road as a baby more than 13 years ago and nurtured as a pet.

It's illegal to keep wild animals as pets in Maryland. Raccoons, in particular, are carriers of rabies, a fatal neurological disease, although Giffin has said Onix has had a rabies shot every year.

After Onix briefly got loose, the Humane Society confiscated the raccoon on Aug. 5.

Under Washington County's Animal Control Ordinance, Giffin had a deadline of Wednesday to reclaim Onix, but the state wouldn't issue her a permit to do so.

The ordinance says the Humane Society could euthanize the raccoon after the deadline, but it does not give a time limit.

Miller has said the passing of the Aug. 18 deadline did not mean the raccoon would be euthanized.

The ordinance also allows the Humane Society to find a suitable home after the deadline - again, with no time limit. Miller said Wednesday that the Humane Society is still trying to find a home.

On Thursday, Giffin - stirred by the attorneys helping her - reversed last week's concession of defeat and vowed not to stop battling. "We're going to work all the way to the end," she said.

Giffin said she has received numerous calls and e-mails of support from other states. Wildlife lovers from Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa and Ohio have contacted The Herald-Mail with pleas not to euthanize Onix, who, they said, is a hot topic in a raccoon lovers' chat room.

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