Pet stuck up a tree? Don’t ask your friendly neighborhood cop for help — unless you want your little furry friend brought down with a bullet.

To be fair about it, raccoons aren’t exactly pets like Fido and Fluffy. They’re aggressive scavengers and famous for their taste for chickens, which were kept at the time by many Santa Rosa households for eggs and meat. (Disease, however, wasn’t an issue; there was no recorded case of raccoon rabies in California until 1936.) More’s the question why Officer Hankel showed such restraint when attacked by the dog that the owner couldn’t control.

Took Fancy to Policeman

A pet raccoon belonging to ex-Marshal Charles Holmes, kept at the home of his mother, Mrs. Annie M. Holmes, got loose Thursday and created considerable excitement. Mrs. Holmes appealed to the police, and Officer Hankel responded. All attempts to capture the animal were unavailing so the officer shot it.

It was a fine shot but only wounded the pet which dropped to the ground and retreated under the house for safety. Hankel then suggested that Mrs. Holmes release the bulldog to bring the prey from cover. She released the dog but the canine saw more sport in Hankel and drove him into the house where he was kept a prisoner until Mrs. Holmes could capture and chain the dog up again.

– Press Democrat, June 17, 1905


The pet ‘coon of Mrs. A. M. Holmes has been recaptured and the honor of Officer Hankel is vindicated. The animal escaped a couple of weeks ago and after all efforts to secure it had failed the officer was summoned. Failing in his efforts to capture the animal he took a shot at the creature which fell from its hiding place in the tree and took refuge under the house.

Hankel was confident he hit the animal but there are always those who feel sceptical of such stories. The ‘coon, however, returned Wednesday minus a front leg which was where the officer’s bullet had taken effect. The wound is healing and the animal will go through life minus one leg.

– Press Democrat, June 29, 1905

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