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Carpenter Fired For Freeing Wild Raccoon At San Francisco Construction Site

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A carpenter was let go from his job after saving a wild raccoon at the San Francisco construction site where he worked.

The builders had hired professional trappers to have the critter — which was blamed for damage at the $610 million project — removed and euthanized. The wild raccoon made itself at home at the SF MOMA expansion site several months ago. Workers would even see it peering down at them from the rafters from time to time while they worked.

One of those workers, Todd Sutton, decided he simply could not bear to see the animal trapped and euthanized. So once the raccoon was caught in the trap, he decided to take action himself.

"He didn't do anything, he's just kind of trapped in our building, you know?" he said. "He was calling was for me to let it go. Trapped in the cage, the poor little guy looked pathetic. He was looking up at me, [saying] 'let me out of here.'"

Surrounded by skyscrapers, Sutton needed to find the nearest semblance of wilderness he could find.

With cage in hand, Sutton brought the raccoon to the Embarcadero and released it in a nearby bush.

"When I got that cage open he scooted out pretty quick. He was free," he said. "It felt good for me and I know it felt good for him."

The 49-year-old carpenter said his employer then accused him of stealing the cage and fired him.

"To euthanize the animal for no apparent reason, I don't think that's right," Sutton said. "Hunters wouldn't do it. I just did what I thought was right, you know."

Sutton hired an attorney and is considering taking legal action against his former employer. He has since been able to find another lower-level job.

KPIX called the RFJ Meiswinkel Company, but they would not comment.

Sutton's attorney is adamant this is not about the money and calls Sutton freeing the wild animal a First Amendment Act.

But according to state law, if the raccoon was causing damage -- like chewing through wires -- then it would be legal to kill it.

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