Belfast Telegraph

Missing Ballymena raccoon found after taking over the bed of a family cat

By Nevin Farrell

Petrified pensioner Valerie Craig has revealed runaway raccoon Rab - missing from a pet shop for several months - "scared the life out of me" when she and her husband Archie discovered the animal in their car port.

In fact cheeky Rab had ousted the family cat Sooty and had taken over the feline's sleeping quarters at Moyle Road in Ballycastle.

The couple thought it unusual Sooty was not going near its bed and they got a shock to see a raccoon in front of their eyes.

Valerie quickly recognised the raccoon as Rab and was aware that it had been previously spotted in Ballycastle, almost 30 miles from Ballymena, where he had escaped from a pet shop.

She phoned the police and officers were able to ensure Rab did not make another bolt for freedom before he was caged by a council dog warden and eventually brought to a USPCA centre for a check-up.

Last night it was understood Rab had still to be reunited with his mate Rita and their young at Jungle World in Ballymena.

While raccoons don't pose any great risk to the public, they are classed as dangerous wild animals and people had been warned not to approach the runaway.

PSNI wildlife officer Marianne Breen said: "Police captured a raccoon in Ballycastle earlier after a member of the public called to say that she had spotted the animal in her car port. I believe it is probably Rab the raccoon that was reported missing from Ballymena back in September. The USPCA are caring for the raccoon at present until he can be returned to his owner."

Earlier, PSNI officers Tony McConway and Brian Walker had responded to a callout with a difference and managed to keep on-the-run Rab cornered until back-up could arrive in the shape of the dog warden with specialist equipment.

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