Boaters rush to raccoon rescue
ROCK HALL — When two vacationing boaters rescued a raccoon from the Chesapeake Bay near Rock Hall on Monday, July 4, they did not know they would be receiving an award for this simple act of kindness.
In a news release, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that Dennis Jay and Peter Lamb, both of Annapolis, will receive Compassionate Action Awards for their good deed.
“We give them to people and organizations who save or improve the lives of animals and don’t turn away from them in times of need,” PETA community outreach liaison Ashley Rhodes said in a Tuesday, July 12 telephone inter view.
Jay said he and Lamb, along with friends and family, took several sailboats and spent the Fourth of July weekend in Rock Hall.
“All night Sunday (July 3), we kept hearing this noise,” he said Tuesday. “I just thought it was a bird or something on the top mast.”
The next morning, as one of the boats was heading back to Annapolis, a passenger spotted a raccoon trying to stay afloat in the water.
“Of course we didn’t believe it at first, but then we saw him,” Jay said. “He was treading water and looking helpless.”
He said though the boaters wanted to help the raccoon, they were wary of picking it up because of the possibility of rabies.
“He also looked very small and young, and probably was half the size of an adult,” Jay said. “We didn’t want to get any foreign scents on him that might startle others of his kind.”
After debating on how to rescue the raccoon, someone came up with the idea of lowering a life preserver attached to a a dock line into the water. After spotting the makeshift raft, the raccoon immediately swam to it and hung on.
“He struggled a little getting on,” Jay said. “He was obviously exhausted and had been in the water for a while.”
As Jay used his phone to take a video, Lamb tied the end of the line to a dinghy and carefully towed the raccoon to a swamp area, near the entrance of Swan Creek.
“As soon as the animal saw land, he hopped off the life jacket and started to rest,” Jay said. “That was the last we saw of him.”
Jay, who works for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington, D.C., said he posted the rescue video on Facebook and then YouTube.
“I was blown away by the comments and the numbers of views we’ve received,” he said. “At my last count this morning, we were over 400,000 views.”
Jay said among the various comments from both local and international media outlets, there was one posted from PETA.
“We always keep an eye out online and in the media for kind people who don’t look the other way when it comes to animals,” Rhodes said.
She said after discovering the video and articles about it, PETA decided to award Jay and Lamb with Compassionate Action Awards.
“They’re receiving the awards for their bravery and determination,” Rhodes said. “They set a great example and we hope other people will follow that.”
She said the framed certificates will be mailed to Jay and Lamb, along with a box of vegan cookies.
“It’s always nice to get recognized, though there were no great heroics here,” Jay said. “There was just an animal in need. Most people would have figured out how to save it, we just happened to be there.”
He said he sold the licensing rights to the video and donated the proceeds to the Wilderness Society.
To view the raccoon rescue video, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Dsh96Jt_o.
In this screenshot of a video posted on Youtube, a raccoon climbs onto a life vest tossed to it by boaters in Rock Hall. A line was tied to the life vest, which was used by the boaters to tow the raccoon to land.