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Wild Turkeys, Pet Raccoons: Top Alexandria Animal Control Reports of 2013

A look back at incidents involving Alexandria Animal Control in 2013.

A deer in Jones Point Park in Alexandria. (Photo credit: Drew Hansen)
A deer in Jones Point Park in Alexandria. (Photo credit: Drew Hansen)

Animal Control officers in Alexandria deal with a variety of calls each week. Here's a glance at some of the most memorable incidents of 2013 that have appeared in Patch’s animal control reports.

Turkey Runs Wild — Contrary to popular belief, wild turkeys do appear in Alexandria—and not just on the shelves of King Street bars.

On June 14, the Alexandria Animal Control office was beset with calls of at least one and possibly multiple wild turkeys in the Old Town area. Sightings were reported in the 500 block of Queen Street, 200 block of N. Pitt Street and the 400 block of N. Union Street.

In all cases, the turkey was reported acting like a turkey. It did not appear to be ill, in distress or in the way of harm.

In each case, the callers were advised that, although rare, wild turkeys are known to make their way through Alexandria.

As with all native animals, Alexandria Animal Control will not capture or relocate healthy specimens that are not posing immediate threats of harm or in immediate danger.

The turkey—which apparently struck fear in some callers—was allowed to continue about its business. No subsequent sightings have been reported.

The turkey’s opinions about waterfront redevelopment and set-aside funding remain unknown.  

Goat Remains — The eviscerated remains of a juvenile goat were mysteriously found July 24 within Dora Kelley Nature Park, located in the 5700 block of Sanger Avenue in the Alexandria’s West End.

An animal control officer responded to the scene and found no entrails or other signs of violence, leaving police officers to believe the goat was disemboweled elsewhere and its remains were dumped in the park.

With no evidence, the case was closed with no suspects.

Pet Raccoon Confiscated — While the folks at Alexandria Animal Control have received calls about raccoons holing up in SUVs or taking strolls through King Street Metro Station, the office heard a new one this week—a ring-tailed bandit was being kept as a pet in Del Ray.

On Aug. 3, an Animal Control officer responded to a complaint of a person hoarding raccoons in the unit block of E. Custis Avenue.

After a brief investigation, the officer discovered just a single raccoon being kept as a pet.

According to Alexandria Animal Control, the resident said they found the raccoon when it was a baby while on a trip. They did not want to leave it alone, so they picked it up and took it home.

The resident was informed it is illegal in the city to keep raccoons as pets. The officer confiscated the animal and turned it over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

While the animal control confirmed this to be the first case on record of a pet raccoon in Alexandria, it is not a wholly uncommon practice.

In Missouri, one family kept a 20-pound raccoon as a pet. Scooter slept at the foot of its owners’ bed, watched TV with the family and even learned to use a litter box by watching the family cat, according to The Kansas City Star.

Scooter, however, was removed from the family’s country home by the Missouri Department on Conservation, which said it is unsafe and illegal to keep a wild animal indoors as a pet.

Here’s wishing Del Ray’s black-masked mammal a safe stint in rehab. For its sake, raccoons are known for their intelligence and adaptability. 

For all we know, it might open a cub-free sushi joint in a tree in Simpson Park once it’s back on its feet.

Deer Chase — Two Fairfax County deer hunters chased a wounded deer into Alexandria and removed it, but no crime was committed.

On Sept. 7, an animal control officer was dispatched to the 6300 block of Stevenson Avenue after someone reported seeing two men in camouflage driving a pickup truck and discharging arrows at a deer.

Urban archery season for antler-less deer began Sept. 7 in many parts of Virginia, including Fairfax County.

Animal Control determined the deer was shot within the county border, then the animal jumped a fence into Alexandria.

The hunters followed the deer into Alexandria and “removed it,” according to the Animal Control office. The hunters had left the scene by the time police and Animal Control arrived. 

No crime was committed and the investigation has closed, according to the Animal Control office.

A Horse Walks Into a Party — A century ago, horses were a common sight on the streets of Alexandria.

Today, or course, a horse is quite peculiar and the animals are generally not allowed in the city unless specifically permitted and licensed.

On Sept. 28, an animal control officer was en route to a call when he spotted someone walking a horse along the sidewalk in the 2400 block of Cameron Mills Road.

The officer greeted the horse’s handler and inquired about what they were doing and where they were headed.

The handler said they were on their way to give rides at a girl’s birthday party nearby.

The officer spoke with the owner of the company that sent the horse and issued a warning citation before allowing the horse and handler to carry on toward their party.  

Kitten’s Wild Ride — On Oct. 13, an animal control officer responded to the 1400 block of N. Beauregard Street after a family visiting the area discovered a kitten in distress underneath the fender of their rental car.

The officer couldn’t determine how long the kitten had been trapped, but believed there was a good chance the car had driven some distance with the cat.

The Alexandria Fire Department was called in to assist in removing the fender from the car in order to access the terrified kitten, which refused to exit on its own accord.

When the fender was removed, the kitten bolted from the car and hid in nearby bushes.

Unable to locate the kitten, the officer set out a humane trap and some food in order to safely capture the kitten.

The animal was later successfully trapped and taken to the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter.

Sneaky Squirrel — Early holiday shopping appears to appeal to small mammals, too.

On Nov. 6, an animal control officer was dispatched to the 600 block of King Street after a squirrel gained entry into a store that had its front door open.

The officer succeeded in capturing the squirrel and returned it to the wild.

The shopkeepers were advised to keep their door closed in order to prevent other nut-enthusiasts from flying in for holiday deals.

One for the Toilet — Let’s hope this rat-in-toilet-bowl thing isn’t becoming an epidemic.

On Nov. 17, an animal control officer was dispatched to the 1000 block of Dewitt Avenue after a resident discovered a large rodent inside—you guessed it—a toilet bowl.

The officer was unable to determine just how the rat made its way into the depths of the toilet. The rodent was swiftly removed from the resident’s bathroom and released safely outside the home.

Just the day before the Del Ray incident, Arlington County Animal Control retrieved a rat from a toilet bowl in the Madison Manor community.

"Evidently, they tried to flush it a couple of times. But I guess he or she wasn't having it. They can fight the current," Arlington Animal Control Chief Alice Burton told Patch.

Officers trapped and removed that rat.

While rare, such incidents do happen from time to time, Burton said.

Oh My! — Giant rodents walk among us. Do not be alarmed. 

On Dec. 13, an animal control officer was on patrol on Eisenhower Avenue when he spotted a large animal in the grass on the north side of the street.

Concerned for the animal’s safety, the officer stopped to investigate.

Much to the officer’s surprise, the animal turned out to be a beaver of great size—about a 50-pound rodent altogether. 

Beavers never stop growing through their lives and specimens weighing more than 55 pounds are not unheard of, but can nonetheless prove startling.

The officer determined the giant beaver had emerged from a nearby stream and was just taking a rest. After some convincing, the beaver decided to return to the stream and walked away from traffic. 

For more information about Alexandria Animal Control, visit the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria website.

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