Jane Hansen loves animals, which is apparent in the names she gives her pets.
There’s Ruby, a cute dog whose age is unknown. And there are her three cats, Fishy, an orange tabby, Swagger, a brown tabby, and Granma Mima, whom she describes as a “deluded tortoise” coated cat that’s about five years old.
And, there’s Chica, a spunky little chihuahua that Hansen rescued from a dog pound in east Los Angeles.
But mention another animal, an outcast, masked bandit who’s been terrorizing a quiet corner of Albion in eastern Maple Ridge and Hansen changes her tone.
“This one is a serial killer,” she says.
“It’s just an insane, serial killer. It’s hungry.”
Hansen is referring to a renegade raccoon that’s been attacking pet cats along 102nd Avenue and 243rd Street, and when it can get away with it, likely eating them.
It’s attacked two cats fatally as well as dogs. It stalks its prey waiting to pounce and even the human residents, armed with brooms and hockey sticks, rest uneasy.
The neighbours are split on whether it’s a protective mom looking out for its kits or a mean, old angry male wreaking havoc.
Hansen encountered it firsthand about 4 a.m. May 31 on her front porch. Swagger was dozing there when the raccoon pounced. Her son managed to drive it off but not before it took a chunk out of Swagger’s leg.
Later, when she was on vacation, the raccoon came through the doggie door of her house, looking for cat food and bit one of her other cats. Her son and her little chihuahua, Chica, ran it off.
Hansen adds that four days after her cat was bitten, the raccoon struck again, this time in a neighbour’s carport, at midnight. It jumped on to the neighbour’s cat before being chased off.
When she was trying to save her neighbour’s cat, she waved a hammer at it. “It just looked at me like, ‘I don’t give a … about you.’
“Other times, I’ve seen it sitting on the fence glaring at me.”
Only licensed trappers can kill the animals but Hansen says this raccoon’s likely been trapped before and is too smart to be caught.
Mandi Procknow also lives nearby and has been through the same thing.
“It attacked our cat (Marbles) in the middle of the day (June 11). It came on to the patio and just attacked her because there was nothing else up there,” she said.
They managed to push it off with a hockey stick. “It turned and came at me. I couldn’t believe it. It was really mean. I was yelling and waving my hockey stick. The neighbours came out, they thought I was going crazy.”
She took their cat to the vet to sew up her stomach and repair her broken leg, leading to a vet bill totalling $1,200.
“She survived. We’re praying she’ll walk one day.”
The next day, another family let their dog out and as they opened the door, the raccoon jumped on to the dog. The dog’s owners got scratched in the process.
“We’ve always had raccoons here. They just waddle through the yards … they just do their own thing. We’ve never had one that started hunting pets. This is really quite alarming,” Procknow said.
“In the evening I’m watching my neighbours walk by and they’re carrying pepper spray and sticks. “That’s kind of scary.”
The animal doesn’t seem to be afraid. Last week, “It walked by, and it snarled and it growled and kept walking.”
People are pretty good about picking up their garbage to minimize the attraction, she added.
Local veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton points out the raccoons are carnivores and they can get big.
“They’ll eat whatever they can get.”
He’s treated eight cats in the last two months with what are likely raccoon injuries.
“They seem to be targeting the fatter (slower) cats.” The raccoon has also discovered that targeting a cat’s paws removes its defences. “The damage they’re doing is horrific.”
Walton said he’s had to euthanize two of the cats because the injuries were so bad.
The vet added that the types of injuries the pets are arriving with are not caused by other cats. And coyotes instead will go for the neck of a cat causing puncture wounds.
If people see signs about cats that have gone missing in an area, it’s time to keep yours indoors, he added.
A B.C. conservation officer said they don’t deal with nuisance complaints and said people should call the city bylaws department.
When Tracy Stoochnoff’s chocolate lab Candi was attacked on June 10 about 4 p.m. the raccoon just jumped on to the dog’s back.
“If it wasn’t so scary it would have been funny. It looked like it was riding a horse.” Candi survived.
“About a week later, it was back again attacking the dog in the back alley while they were playing soccer. “It swiped at her and got the pad of foot, (paw).”
It wasn’t afraid, she added.
“It just doesn’t care. It’s not afraid of people at all.”
She sees them often during the day. “It’s very odd that they’re out at that time.
“So it’s a very weird raccoon.”
One of the fatal encounters involved Dawn Brown’s pet Lill Kat. That happened early June as her pet cat was sleeping in her kennel on the front porch.
The raccoon picked up the cat’s kennel inside and tossed it around the porch. The raccoon was trying to get at Lill Kat inside but eventually they were able to drive it off.
“It’s a big monster of a raccoon.”
They nursed Lil Kat back to health, only to have the raccoon back again on June 22. But this time the injuries were too extensive to survive.
Brown too says the raccoon seems to have no fear of humans.
“It’s been going through screen doors. It’s like you don’t even want to sleep with your bedroom window open for fear that it’s going to come through the screen window.” Seriously, I feel like a hostage in my own house with this beast.”
She can’t let her dog out. Last Friday, she saw it chasing a cat. The neighbours all came out to chase it away.
“It’s not afraid.” It always seems to pounce from above. “It lays in wait.”