BREAUX BRIDGE – Ms. Fest is back and neither she nor Paula Faucheaux could be happier.
Ms. Fest is pretty, cut and spoiled - and is a raccoon.
She was found at the 2009 Crawfish Festival by security employees who were attempted to bottle feed it when Faucheaux volunteered to care for her.
Unaware she was violating the law, Faucheaux took the animal under her wing, raising it in her home home along with dogs Xena and Peddie.
Then along came wildlife authorities, who took Ms. Fest away.
“If I had to do it again I would have raised Ms. Fest until she was old enough to survive, then release her back into the wild,” says Faucheaux.
Watching the coon and her keeper is just like a child with its mother, except Ms. Fest can’t speak.
Faucheaux didn’t hide the fact that she had a raccoon in her house.
After it was falsely alleged that Ms. Fest had bitten someone, the raccoon was taken from the home and placed with Valerie Jagneaux of Possum Hollow Wildlife Center until a decision could be made about the Ms. Fest’s fate.
Paula and Ms. Fest were separated for one month. Eager to get her pet back, Paula asked the authorities what she had to do to reclaim her animal.
Authorities allowed a “soft release,” which lets Paula tend to Ms. Fest’s needs only, she could not be in the house and had to be in a cage outside with access in and out of the cage on her own.
A new home was built for Ms. Fest and she was returned to the Faucheauxs. Paula says with tears in her eyes, “First thing Ms. Fest did was give Xena a big hug.”
Ms. Fest will do anything for a cookie from Paula.
Paula makes it very clear that Ms. Fest is a wild animal, she doesn’t advise people to attempt to raise raccoons as a pets.
She was given a ticket by Wildlife and Fisheries and is facing a fine, probation and community service for possessing a wild animal.
A fence is being added around the back yard to keep Ms. Fest safe. Paula is also applying for a license to rehabilitate wild animals.