Seeing is believing in case of orange raccoon
Nobody believed Kevin Blackford when he said an orange raccoon had been eating his cat's food.
Blackford lives northeast of Bloomfield on Cold Springs Road in an area where unwanted cats are frequently dumped.
"My wife and I took in one of the stray cats that was dropped off, so we leave cat food out on our front porch. Then something else kept eating all of the cat food," said Blackford.
On the lookout for the cat food thief, Blackford finally spotted the culprit.
"At first glance, I thought it was a big red tomcat, but when I stepped out on the porch, it turned around -- it was no tomcat. It was an orange raccoon!" said Blackford.
When Blackford told Craig Reel and the guys over at Reel & Sons Feed Store in Worthington, they all shook their heads at his tall tale. But Blackford insisted he had seen an orange raccoon. He even said it had orange eyes.
"Nobody believed me," said Blackford.
Reel, who has a frequent problem with raccoons trying to get into his building to eat grain, decided to set one of his traps on Blackford's porch.
"We got him right away, with just a little dab of strawberry preserves. Raccoons love strawberry preserves," said Reel.
The next morning, the orange raccoon, in the trapping cage, was taken to Reel & Sons Feed Store where all of the disbelievers could see the unusual animal.
"I've never seen anything like it. It's completely orange and it does have orange eyes. When they catch the light just right, his eyes look gold," said Reel.
Over the course of the day, several visitors agreed they had never seen such a thing. Reel even called someone he thought knew a lot about raccoons -- Jack Benham. He told Reel in all his years, he hadn't heard of an orange raccoon.
For one day, the orange raccoon was a star and didn't seem to be bothered by all the attention. Blackford said he seemed calm most of the day and though he hissed a few times, he didn't growl.
At the end of the day, Reel and Blackford planned to send the orange raccoon safely back into native habitat. A man who lived in the country, far away from the Blackford's front porch, was going to pick him up and let him go in a suitable spot deep in the woods.
Reel and several others now admit that Blackford was telling the truth. So will they believe his stories in the future?
"No, not unless he brings in proof. We've got to have the proof," said Reel.