Saskatoon

Dennis the pet raccoon forced to leave Saskatoon for 2nd time in 3 years

Wendy Hook isn't sure she would recommend keeping an adult raccoon in one's home.

Owner Wendy Hook leaving city again after threats from animal control, does not recommend keeping live raccoon

Dennis the pet raccoon and owner Wendy Hook in 2014. (Don Somers/CBC)

Wendy Hook isn't sure she would recommend keeping an adult raccoon in one's home.

In 2014, Hook, her husband and her pet raccoon Dennis made the news when she discovered the city of Saskatoon would not allow her to keep a raccoon in her house. She moved into a home outside the city in response.

Eventually, she, her husband and Dennis, quietly moved back. But after a surreptitious phone call to animal control from a neighbour last month, Wendy and Dennis are on the move again, this time perhaps for good.

She told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning it's been a difficult time, especially after she launched an online fundraising campaign to help her with the move.

"It's been really hurtful reading the comments that have been made out there on social media," she said. "People have been accusing us of being irresponsible for having her, people accusing us of all kinds of things."

It is almost as hard as raising a child.- Wendy Hook

While Hook says Dennis has her shots and is spayed, she admits taking care of a raccoon in one's home is a full-time occupation.

"It is almost as hard as raising a child," she said. "There's a lot of commitment to it. Our entire life changed doing this."

After almost four years, she said she now feels responsible for Dennis, and couldn't imagine releasing her into the wild.

"The less human contact that that animal has, the better chance it has surviving in the wild," she said. "I definitely feel guilty that Dennis didn't get to lead a normal life."

Bad idea

Haley Hesseln, head of Saskatoon's Bandit Ranch Rehab, which helps raccoons, says the animals do not make very good pets.

She's spoken with Hook, and while she believes she has her heart in the right place, Hesseln said an adult raccoon in a house can become a big problem.

Dennis the pet raccoon is on the move after Saskatoon animal control ordered the animal out of the city. (Don Somers/CBC)

"It's not a good idea," she said. "Once (they) mature and become sexually active, he's going to want to rip the couch apart, and they get very wild."

Hessln said she only keeps the raccoons in her care until they are around nine months old before releasing them into the wild. She slowly weans them off human contact before letting them go.

"At that point, they do start growling, you cannot handle them, and nature just takes over," she said.

Ultimately, Hesseln feels bad for Hook.

"I think they went into it with the best intentions, and I know that they didn't know there were other options."

Anyone who finds a baby raccoon in the wild is asked to contact the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan.

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