OLYMPIA, Wash. (CN) — After finding a baby raccoon by its dead mother, a Washington family saved the 6-week-old orphan, eyes not yet opened, and raised it as one of the family. Now, seven years later, the Greers have sued Washington state, which seized Mae the raccoon, for what the Greers say is no reason at all.
“The only home Mae ever knew after being rescued on June 21, 2010 was the Greer residence,” the Kellie and Chris Greer say in the complaint in Thurston County Court.
After offering the infant raccoon to several wildlife centers, the Greers say, they accepted an offer to raise her as a sub-permittee of an established shelter, which certified their outdoor shelter as clean and safe. Mae grew up as a member of their family, including the Greer children, two cats and chickens.
“The Greers never treated Mae like a circus attraction. Rather, they spoiled her. Neighbors, young and old, have positively interacted with Mae, even taking pictures with her,” the complaint states. “Seattle Police Department officers have done the same.”
The Greers say they are not the only Americans who have kept a pet raccoon. “President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace Coolidge owned and cherished a raccoon named Rebecca.”
The Greers even took her camping, keeping her on a leash.
“Instead of citing, threatening to cite, warning, or otherwise admonishing the Greers against keeping her, the wardens fawned over her, took pictures with her, and, thus, encouraged the Greers to continue keeping the clearly tamed and human-friendly raccoon,” the family says.
Mae was never cited for any infraction, and Washington does not list Procyons (raccoons) as potentially dangerous.
“Seattle Police Department officers and even federally employed park rangers at the Icicle Creek Campgrounds expressed only fascination, exclaiming over Mae’s docility and whimsy, never threatening seizure,” the family says.
Perhaps it was one of those interactions with admiring game wardens that led to Mae’s arrest and seizure. The Greers do not know who blew a whistle, or for what. But “on November 26, 2017, during the Seahawks game, a WDFW officer came to the Greers’ home and seized Mae.”
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is a defendant, along with the State of Washington.
Sad to say, when the wildlife agent rang the doorbell, he was invited inside by 7-year-old Kellie Greer, who “asked if the officer would like to come inside and meet Mae.”
When the officer entered, Mae “took no aggressive action,” but kept on “playing in the house with the Greers’ cats.”
The state took Mae away, but has given the Greers no citation, notice of violation, or any other document “noticing them in writing as to the alleged basis for taking Mae, or providing them with a meaningful opportunity to be heard before an impartial arbiter before or after the seizure,” the complaint states.
The family is not allowed any contact with Mae while she is in the state’s animal jail.
They seek replevin, a protective injunction, declaratory judgment of their right to keep Mae, equitable relief, and reserve the right to file a tort claims, for “inter alia, outrage, conversion, and trespass to chattels.”
They are represented by Adam Karp, of Bellingham.
News of this lawsuit was received, and reported on, after office hours Tuesday and before office hours Wednesday, so none of the parties could be reached for comment.