The Stories of Animal Control Officers Joe Tuesday and Bill Cannon: “Squirrel in the Chimney” Episode #4

Episode 4 – “Squirrel in the Chimney”

“The Stories of Animal Control Officers Joe Tuesday and Bill Cannon”

(With a nod to Jack Web’s ‘Dragnet’ TV series…)

By Keith Kaniut

We were finishing the paperwork for our previous code ‘473’ call – A fruit bat in the bathroom. My partner Bill and I removed the megachiroptera using the standard protocol of nets, fruit, and interpretive dance.  The home owner thanked us with a plate of warm cookies that were only now beginning to cool. 

But we don’t do this job for the treats or professional glory.  We do it because we took an oath – “…to protect all creatures great and small, furry and finned, ferocious and friendly; and also humans…” It’s what we do.

Bill was doing some professional reading and while I dunked my cookie and mused sadly about how we rarely in Minnesota dealt with something more exciting than a fruit bat.  I was thinking ‘Just one rabid black bear every now and then would be nice…’ 

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The station phone rang.

“Sergeant Joe Tuesday, Animal Control.” I listened and wrote. “OK sir. We’re on our way.”

“Bill, we have a ‘220’ at the domicile of …” I checked my notes. “..Mr. & Mrs. Sal Salsbury at 31416 Springer Street.”

“A ‘220’ Joe?” 

“Yes. That’s a ‘squirrel that’s done a ‘Santa Claus’ down the chimney’.”  Dirty business.

“You’re kidding.  We actually have a code for that?”

“Bill, we have a code for everything.”

We arrived at the Salsbury address shortly. Mr. Sal Salsbury, the homeowner, met us on the porch. 

“Am I glad to see you guys!  What a mess! That squirrel; he’s fast as all get-out, covered in soot, and has petitioned the warden for an early release!”

“Is that a joke sir?”


“I do the jokes Mr. Salsbury.”  I paused to let that sink in and continued. “Tell me what happened sir.” 

“Well…the little guy either fell or climbed down the chimney.  When he couldn’t climb back out he squeezed past the screen and started running a sooty-footprint-marked circuit of my living room, like a squirrel version of the Indy 500.”

“Is that another joke sir or were you just using an analogy?”

“The latter.”

“That’s OK then sir.  Please continue.”

“Well you can imagine the mess. Between the pictures, vases and lamps he’s knocked over and the sooty trail across the couches, I have quite a cleanup ahead of me.” 

“Yes sir. I’d say that you do.  Have you been bitten by the now-sooty tree-climbing furry tailed rodent from the ‘Sciuridaefamily?”

“You mean the squirrel?”

“Yes sir.  I value a comprehensive … collection of uh, different… words.” 

“You mean ‘vocabulary’.”

“Yes – that’s the very word sir.”  Bill made a note and I continued. 

“I’m asking because of rabies sir. Did you notice any frothing at the mouth or otherwise strange actions for a squirrel – like being unafraid of humans or stopping to sing ‘We’re off to see the Wizard’ complete with the echoing chorus related to the ‘Yellow Brick Road’?”

“Not really, I think I’d remember the chorus.” 

“Yes sir.  Most do.  Good.  That information helps. Bill, forget the heavy armor.  Just grab the big net and special squirrel recording.”

He grabbed the items.

I positioned the large net at the front door and then chased the squirrel from the kitchen back into the living room by yelling ‘Boo!’  Simple but effective.  I was pleased to see Bill make a note.

As soon as I activated the recording, the squirrel ran to the farthest point in the house from the sound.  Conveniently, that point was the open front door. 

The suspended fine-mesh net facilitated the squirrel’s capture and removal.  While Bill moved the squirrel to the cage I confirmed the lack of mouth-frothing or strange un-squirrel-like behavior.  Mr. Salsbury asked how we’d managed it so quickly.

“Well sir. The American tree squirrel is very patriotic and tends to favor the traditional Kate Smith version of the National Anthem.  Instead I played two versions from the list of “Top 10 Worst Superbowl National Anthems”– one by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler; the other by Rosanne Barr.”

“Ah. I wondered what that awful racket was.”

“He’ll calm down quickly now sir that I’ve switched to the sound of acorns falling from an oak tree.  That both soothes and excites them.”

“I can see how it would. Say, do you know a good cleaning service?”

“No sir.”

“Well, thanks then.  By the way, the missus and I just finished some chocolate chip craisin oatmeal cookies. We’d like you to take some.” He handed me a bag of the still-warm delectables. I looked at Bill and grinned.  Those are his favorite.

“Happy to help Mr. Salsbury.  We took an oath.  It’s what we do.”  I saluted and accepted the cookies. 

As we returned to the station, the truck smelled cozy and we were both satisfied with a job well done.  A code ‘220’ can be tricky but Bill had quickly grasped the essentials. 

“Bill – Good job.”

“Thanks Joe!  You want a cookie?”

“Let’s wait until we get to the station.  I like mine with coffee.”  It’s important to show restraint.

Bill nodded and then looked at me questioningly.

I nodded.  Bill fist-pumped and hit the siren. 

Sure, it was unnecessary and although as the senior ACO I couldn’t show it, I was grinning on the inside…

Stay Tuned to Blue Water Healthy Living for more episodes of “The Stories of Animal Control Officers Joe Tuesday and Bill Cannon”.

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