Hayes Branch Animal Refuge, Inc
Hayes Branch Animal Refuge is a family program, born from a 40 year love affair with nature and animals. We held an Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources rehabilitation permit until 2012. During that time, we received a wonderful gift:
We do have one permanent resident. She came to us in the spring of 2008 when a pregnant raccoon ventured into the wrong place, at the wrong time. She was shot and thrown into a dumpster. With her last breath, she gave birth to three babies. Only one survived and was discovered, wading in chemicals that eventual stunted the full growth of her tail and burned her tiny fingers and toes so badly, most simply dried up and fell off a few days later. With no fingers and only stubs for toes, she would never survive in the wild. The ability to climb is crucial for a raccoon in the wild.
We strongly prefer that wildlife be released back to their natural habitat, however, there are certainly exceptions to that and Angel is one. So, we applied for and received an Indiana Wild Animal Possession permit. Her name is Angel. She has become a hard and fast member of our family. Even our Border Collie, Blessit, knew that she was one of his new charges. Like her or not, he would still guard her while she played in the yard. In the picture above, she was only seven months old and about 6-7 pounds. Angel turned twelve years old in April and weighs in at nearly 30 pounds. She is a delight, but we are always vigilant to the fact that she will always be a 'wild' animal at heart. Her reflexes are lightning fast, can startle easily, and is one tight little bundle of muscle. So, we spend a great deal of quality time with Angel to make sure she gets plenty of interaction and knows that she is loved.
For those who might consider taking a raccoon as a pet, please be advised that in many states, it is illegal to keep wild animals as pets. It also requires a great deal of time and patience! Much, much more than any cat or dog. While many wild animals are very sweet when they are small, most will become quiet aggressive and unmanageable by the time they are two or three years old. It is a great tragedy to try and domesticate ANY wild animal, only to drop it off on some back road because they became unmanageable. Also, raccoons have been known to live up to 25 years, so that's a very long commitment to consider. If Angel's fingers and toes had regenerated and she could have survived in the wild, that's exactly where she would be right now.
Angel Gets a Friend
In the summer of 2009, we received such an animal. A friend stepped out her front door just in time to see a passing car launch a small kitten out of the car window. Luckily, he landed in the grass and took off running, none the worse for the ordeal. Our friend finally tracked it down and brought him to us for a "visit". We fell in love with this adorable little long-haired, Hemingway cat and gave him a permanent home. Although it wasn't planned, he and Angel became fast friends and enjoyed a mutually controlled romp occasionally.
Named Mr. Puddyfoot, after a Harry Potter character and his big feet, of course, we find it more convenient to simply call him Puddy. When he and Angel first played together, Puddy was always the one to start the fun. Blind siding Angel with a flying leap, only to pull up short when Angel just steped to one side and gave Puddy a look of "Whatever". In other words, the romp didn't start until Angel said it was time. They would both roll around on the floor, one submissive, then the other, their mouth's wide open to look threatening, but never biting down.
Mr. Puddyfoot's safety was never at risk. Angel clearly has the strength advantage, so their play time was supervised for the first two years. In fact, Angel wore a harness. A raccoons natural instinct is to climb, and we try not to deny her that. If she can wrap her arms around it, we simply let her 'go for it'. But, with the harness and a lead, we could prevent a dangerous fall, and she WILL fall without the proper claws to grip. Her weight is more of a deterrent now that she's getting older, so she rarely tries. She has become quite the jumper, though, and those tiny little front paws still have amazing pulling power.
For the first three years, Angel spent much of her time outside, playing and surveying her domain in what we liked to call her Throne Room. Two slides, a raised platform, a tunnel and a small wading pool.
Thank you Noah, Nicole, & Aiden!
4/21/10 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGEL!! Angel is two years old today. We played out in the big, fenced yard for a long time. Her co-birthday step-sister, Angela, called from Iraq so they could wish each other a very happy day. Angel and all the rest of us miss you Angela. Thank you for your service!
5/22/10 - Angel got to visit Debbie today. So-o-o-o much to see and do! She especially liked the water fountain and the donated fur coats for lounging.
Thank you for a fun day, Debbie.
Special "Thank YOU" to Pat, who took the better part of two days helping to shuffle cages here and yonder. Tony and the girls will thank you too, as soon as they get big enough to take advantage of the increased living quarters.
4/21/11 - Aaaah, nothing like a cushie pillow for an afternoon nap. Can you think of a better way to spend your third Birthday?!!!
4/21/12 - Angel just turned 4 this year and she now has her own room. She is learning to let us brush her teeth and enjoys setting on the sofa with us while we watch TV....as long as we're scratching her.
4/22/13 - Angel is most likely a "teenager" in raccoon years now, at five years old. She outgrew her harness over a year ago and doesn't get outside as much as I'm sure she would like. So, this summer we're going to try to find the funds to put up a solid wood fence around the side yard so that she can play outside more. We have several rescue cats that will share that space with her, including Mr. Puddyfoot, Chini, and Butterscotch. Blessit, our Border Collie, is a very old man now, but he and Izzy, an older Rat Terrier, will still watch over the lot of them.
11/22/14 - We finally got the fence up for the cats, however, Izzy patrols the area alone. It's been just over a year since we lost Blessit. He is greatly missed and will forever stay in our hearts.
Izzy has two rescued roosters now that follow her around and guard her....although we're not sure from what. We have noticed a considerable drop in the general flea and tick population, though. Yeah!
Angel is 6 1/2 years old and just as sweet as ever. Unfortunately, when we took her out to play in the new enclosure, it was more than a little difficult to get her back inside when play time was over. Just like most kids, she didn't want to come in. Still searching for a good harness that she can't slip out of! So, we brought Mr. Puddyfoot back inside to keep her company and we just received a new kitten, Cutie Pie, who keeps them both jumping.
4/21/15 - Angel is 7 years old today. She seems to be holding steady at 28-30 pounds, despite efforts to reduce her weight by 5 pounds. Cutie has managed to get her up and moving a little more, but Angel is not one to prolong playtime if it interferes with lunch or a nap.
12/14/2020 - Angel has seen a few years added since we last got on here and updated you all. She turned 12 this past April!! Just an amazing little fluff of quirkiness. She isn't really into playing on her slide or romping with her kitties. She has become the overseer for all the baby kittens we have in the nursery. She tolerates their rambunctious jaunts with a quiet grace even when it involves a sneak attack on her tail, and on more than one occasion we have caught her napping in her pickle barrel with a couple of little ones fast asleep around her. But almost hands down, her favorite place to be is with her person Kea, relaxing in a rocking chair while simultaneously supervising our movements.
Thank you Sue, for finding Angel!
Have a question or comment for Angel? Send her an email to:
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Click Angel's picture below to go to her Facebook page. Do the "Friend" request and see lots more pictures: