Raccoon rescued from drainpipe after being stuck 24 hours

A raccoon was rescued from a Watsonville drainpipe Friday night after being stuck in it for what a veterinarian said may have been over 24 hours, according to the wildlife services company that helped save him.

"This was, by far, one of the most challenging rescues we've faced," Wildlife Emergency Services president and CEO Rebecca Dmytryk said in a statement.

At around 3 a.m., a homeless man called the police to report hearing the raccoon's grunts and cries from a drainpipe in a parking lot in front of La Princesa Market at 1424 Freedom Blvd.

Crews from the Watsonville Fire Department and the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter responded by midmorning, but were unable to help the raccoon, Dmytryk said.

When WES crews responded at 3 p.m., they found the raccoon wedged in too tightly to be pulled out.

Watsonville Public Works and Utilities officials recommended cutting through the pavement and digging into the pipe, Dmytryk said.

The owner of the shopping center where the drainpipe is located gave her permission to dig up the parking lot, so crews from WES and the Public Works department started in with shovels and a rented saw, then a large truck and jackhammers.

By 10:30 p.m., crews reached the raccoon, but he was comatose, hypothermic and near death, according to Dmytryk.

Native Animal Rescue personnel bundled the raccoon up in heating pads and took him to a Santa Cruz vet, who said he was severely dehydrated and so cold, his temperature did not register on the thermometer.

The raccoon was given warm fluids and swaddled in warming blankets.

By 1 a.m. this morning, his temperature was registering on the thermometer.

"What's more incredible than us getting this animal out alive was the tremendous heart that went into its rescue," Dmytryk said.

"People giving their time and energy to help this poor creature This heart gives me hope for the new year."