When an animal rescuer agreed to take in a horribly abused raccoon, she could never have anticipated the unbreakable bond that would form between them. Warned that the animal would be dangerous and aggressive, she quickly discovered that the furry critter just wanted love and affection.
Maxine Baird, founder of A New Hope animal sanctuary in Georgia, has taken in more than 200 raccoons. Given Baird's experience and expertise with the mammals, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources turned to her when they rescued an albino raccoon that had been abused, Shareably reports.
DNR officials had found the 4-year-old animal in a wire cage, where it had been kept for the majority of its life. Because of its rare snowy fur and pink ears, officials suspected that the raccoon's abusive former owner planned on using it for taxidermy. Baird expected she could only house the albino for a few days after being warned that it was highly aggressive.
When the raccoon was brought to Baird's shelter, it was in terrible shape. After years of neglect and being confined in a small space, the raccoon had matted fur and was covered in painful sores.
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"She smelled horrific ... She was covered in feces, urine -- so much to the point that she had urine burns all over her rear and stomach," Baird told The Dodo.
The animal rescuer noted the raccoon's paws were riddled with sores, which was "especially sad because raccoons are sensitive in their hands ... Her sores must be pretty excruciating."
Because the DNR had warned her the raccoon could be dangerous, Baird was shocked when she sat by the enclosure and "she came up and sniffed me, and put her little hands in my hand."
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Baird kept the raccoon indoors with her on a veterinarian's recommendation. The albino critter swiftly became inseparable from her rescuer.
"I just saw a complete 180-degree flip in her personality the minute she was exposed to some kindness," Baird said. "All it took was a couple scratches on the head and she completely attached herself to me."
Baird named the sweet raccoon Isis, after the Egyptian goddess of compassion and forgiveness. Eager for affection, Isis follows Baird around the house and prods her constantly for cuddles.
Isis loves clambering up on Baird's lap for a hug.
While Baird is overjoyed by her deep bond with Isis, she is also dismayed by the circumstances that have made the raccoon so co-dependent.
"It's pretty amazing to see her cuddling and giving kisses and being sweet, but that is not normal, not natural, and it's really not that good," Baird explained. "If she hadn't been in an abusive captive situation, then she'd be out in the wild, and that's what we would really want for her -- it's just not going to be a possibility because of what she's been through."
The animal rescuer is quick to assert that raccoons are not meant to be pets, and that Isis' attachment to her is born out of a tragedy. While their relationship is bittersweet, it is moving to see the abused animal finding solace in the arms of a caring guardian.