An Ontario police force is looking for whoever was responsible for burning a baby raccoon, calling the treatment of the animal a senseless and inhumane act.
Barrie, Ont., police said a severely injured raccoon was found in a park on Sunday afternoon. The force said it believed a flammable liquid had been thrown on the animal.
"It is unacceptable," Const. Sarah Bamford said Friday. "If the person is caught, they can face criminal charges of animal cruelty."
The raccoon was brought to Procyon Wildlife Centre in Beeton, Ont., after a woman found the animal, police said
The raccoon is being treated by a veterinarian for burns to its face, arms, belly and one side of its body, the centre said, noting that the raccoon has been given ointment for its burns.
The raccoon's burns are so bad that Procyon staff haven't even been able to pick up the animal yet, the centre's director said.
"It will hurt," said Linda Moores. "And being a wild animal, she might bite us if we try to pick her up."
When the raccoon first arrived at the centre, Moores said the animal appeared frightened and was backed up into the small enclosure it was placed in.
"The raccoon was avoiding confrontation," she said. "Now, she is holding her own."
Procyon has dealt with many raccoons in the past, Moores said, but none have had such "dramatic" injuries.
Moores said she received nearly 20 emails since 11 a.m. Friday to notify her about donations to support the raccoon.
"Everyone is mad," Moores said. "A lot of people think of raccoons as big pests, but those same people have such empathy for any living thing that gets hurt like this."
Moores said Procyon hopes the raccoon will make a complete recovery. Even so, if the animal survives, it will have to stay under the centre's care for at least a year, she said.
Vancouver based animal-rights organization Fur-Bearers has offered a $1,000 reward for information about who may be responsible for what happened to the raccoon.