By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
On the TV news recently, I watched as several black and whites along with some officers on foot attempted to herd escaped cattle in the middle of the night. While they played cowboy, I sighed thinking I had never had a call like that.
I never chased a wayward horse, mule, donkey or even an old milk cow. I never went in pursuit of a sheep, goat, or even a fat old pig.
I did however remember two interesting animal calls.
“3-A-15, See the woman; unknown trouble.” Oh boy, let’s pause here for a second. When a person calls the police, the phone is usually answered by a sworn officer (depending on the size of the department) who attempts to determine the nature of the problem and whether to dispatch a car.
If the call comes out as “unknown trouble,” it means a trained officer was unable to determine the problem. Cops hate these calls. It could be anything from a cockroach in the bathtub to “I think there is an atomic bomb in my attic.”
The caller was at the curb when we arrived. The middle-aged housewife bounding up and down, crying and so worked-up she had the hiccups. We tried to calm her down and convince her she was safe and to tell us what the problem was. She gestured toward the house and finally said, “Snake.”
“OK, where?” I ask.
“Kitchen under the fridge.”
She holds her hands approximately 20-24 inches apart.
I asked, “What kind?”
Her answer was an annoyed look and a shrug.
We all know Southern Calif is a desert and all I can envision is RATTLESNAKE. I am also aware that I never met a snake that I liked. I have no desire to cultivate a relationship with one now and do not intend to change my mind.
The house was a small WWII duplex—the kind that seem to be everywhere. She tells us the back door is unlocked so my partner and I decided to surround the critter, Frank in the back door to the kitchen. I went through the living room. Batons at the ready we entered the kitchen and there he was coiled in front of the refrigerator.
Copperhead? Cotton Mouth? Mamba? Rattler? or could it be a Fer de Lance?
It is 10 inches of ferocious garter snake. The housewife provided a shoe box and after a short struggle, he was subdued.
She refused to look so there was no discussion regards length. We released him with a stern warning at a nearby vacant lot.
Another chapter in the “Naked City” (sorry about that)
“3-A-15 Choking Baby, FD (fire department) enroute, code three.” We were only a few minutes off and were there quickly. Front door was open, and we heard wailing from the rear.
In the back yard we see a woman trying to support the weight of a large dog who when attempting to jump to freedom, snagged his choke chain on the fence, and hanged himself. He appeared lifeless and the woman was unable to lift him high enough to get him down.
As we lay him on the lawn the FD arrives. Frank alerted them, and they brought a portable oxygen bottle.
In a few minutes they had revived him. Everybody congratulated everybody, too emotional to speak.
It is my understanding the F.D. now carries small animal sized masks.
Oh, and the dog’s name was “Baby.”