A Richmond District couple says they feel so menaced by area raccoons that they won't leave the house after 11 p.m. for fear of the masked beasts. And, sure enough, when their walk-needing dog forced them to deviate from that rule last week, they found themselves under brutal raccoon attack.
ABC7 reports that Patty Upsavs and her husband were out late Monday night, walking their little dog near 40th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. Suddenly, Upsavs says, a pack of raccoons pounced...and the woman and dog weren't the only victims.
"I started swinging the dog around trying to get [an attacking raccoon] off,...And then I got another one on my other leg. And so at this point, I'm in the middle of the street and I look up to see, 'Where is my husband? How come he's not helping?' And I look and he's throwing...raccoons are just jumping on him."
The couple and their dog were saved when neighbor Brian Wong ran from his home, yelling, waving his arms, and banging on a trash can with a golf club. Wong provided enough of a frightening spectacle that the raccoons were scared off, leaving Upsavs and her husband with a number of alarming-looking scratches and bites as well as an ongoing regimen of anti-rabies injections.
Though an urban wildlife expert tells ABC7 that raccoon attacks are rare, they do indeed happen: for example, there was a wave of raccoon attacks on dogs in Alameda in 2010, and who can forget Digg founder Kevin Rose's (caught on video!) tussle with a raccoon that attacked his pup back in 2013?
Though ABC7 reports that SF's Animal Care and Control claims that trapping raccoons is illegal, it's apparently not that black-and-white. According to a UC Davis report from July off this year, the California Department of Fish and Game Regulations allow the trapping and relocation of raccoons and other wildlife with written permission, and "some counties have trapping programs for nuisance animals, including raccoons."
However, as trapping and relocation are "a major factor in the dissemination of numerous diseases to other animals including pets and humans," euthanasia is a far more common fate for "raccoons causing damage," as they "may be taken [which in this case means euthanized] at any time by legal means." It's unclear from ABC7's report why the ACC is not pursuing euthanasia for violent and aggressive raccoons like the ones that attacked the Upsavs, nor was a call from SFist on the topic responded to at publication time.
Barring ACC intervention, one of the primary reasons raccoons feel emboldened to move on humans, the urban wildlife expert says, "is if somebody has been hand feeding them and they're used to people." As this photo taken at the Legion of Honor in 2006 reminds us, raccoon feeding is all-too-common on the west side of SF (and elsewhere). Perhaps it's better that we admire these urban warriors from a distance.