Watch CBS News

Busy Wellesley animal control officer becomes temporary "raccoon mom"

Wellesley animal control officer reunites baby raccoons with mother
Wellesley animal control officer reunites baby raccoons with mother 03:01

WELLESLEY - Every day is different for Wellesley Animal Control Officer Jenny Smith. And especially right now, her days are busy. Between the number of dogs in the town's dog parks and wildlife in distress, it's not unusual for Jenny to be on the move for her entire shift.

Breeding season for many wild animals is in April and May and babies (including fox, coyote, deer, and raccoons) are born in mid-June. Turtles are laying their eggs right now. Because many Wellesley properties border the town's conservation areas, it's not unusual for wildlife and humans to encounter one another in warmer months.

Wellesley Animal Control gets 4,000 calls a year    

Jenny's office gets about 4,000 calls a year-which really means that, as the lone employee in the office, she gets 4,000 calls a year. Roughly half of those calls involve wildlife. And many of the wildlife calls come in during the late spring and summer.

Jenny prides herself on helping animals and helping people with their animals. It is hard to imagine someone better qualified for the job, both in skills and temperament. As a child, she attended a camp at which she learned animal first aid. Before attending the Animal Control Academy and joining the Town of Wellesley, she managed a doggie daycare. She is a lifelong student of animal behavior. On her family's farm, she cares for goats, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and dogs. Oh, and for a brief period, she also cared for two baby raccoons.

Because of the number of wildlife calls all over Massachusetts, the rehabilitation experts who typically take in wounded and orphaned animals are at capacity. With no one to take in the two baby raccoons found in the science building at Wellesley College, Jenny stepped in to become a temporary "raccoon mom." 

Baby raccoons
Baby raccoons found at Wellesley College. CBS Boston

In an effort to reunite them with their mother, she returned to the campus twice in a single day-once to bait a trap for the mother and once to respond to a call that a man using the bathroom heard scurrying above his head. Because the babies learn all their survival skills from their parents, Jenny was eager to reunite the family as soon as possible. A search of the building didn't result in finding the mother raccoon. But Jenny wasn't discouraged.

Already that week, she had helped a fawn, saved a young hawk from a sprinkler, and rescued a young brown bat. Typing reports in her office, she looked at a pile of paperwork and explained, "I haven't had a moment to catch up on this stuff." Every now and then, a faint chirp interrupted the sound of her fingers on her keyboard. Just around the corner, sharing her office, is a rescued parakeet named Lucy. A beautiful little bird who clearly adores Jenny, Lucy was flying wild until colder weather settled in. That's when Jenny saved her. Asked about other birds, Jenny laughed about tackling one of the town geese before a veterinary appointment. Asked if the memory evokes a feeling of accomplishment, she smiled, "Accomplishment and embarrassment like, 'What did I just do?' This is going to be on the internet!"

Jenny Smith
Wellesley Animal Control Officer Jenny Smith CBS Boston

An owner of a black lab and a German shepherd, Jenny helps dog owners whose pets get into trouble find the trainers who can correct unwanted behavior. With so many "pandemic puppies" Wellesley's dog parks are often packed. On a recent outing at Morse's Pond, temperatures were high enough that she observed plenty of people near the beach but no dogs. Earlier in the day, she had responded to a call about a dog in a hot car. What she wants-for people and pets-are good outcomes.

Raccoons reunited     

As luck would have it, she didn't have to wait long for a good outcome for the baby raccoons. The next morning, she got a call that both the mama and another baby were contained at Wellesley College. She packed the travel kennel into her SUV, headed for Wellesley and-a distance from the Wellesley College campus-reunited the babies with their mother and sibling. A great way for an animal lover to start--what was sure to be--another busy workday. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.