A number of workers at a Dulles International Airport office building complained yesterday that they saw two Federal Aviation Administration police officers kick and club a sick raccoon on the airport ground Tuesday.
A protest petition bearing the names of 29 persons will be sent to the FAA today, said Richard Bonney, a spokesman for the group who saw the incident from the Gateway One office building. The officers "need to be taught a lesson," said Bonney. "We all take our problems to our jobs, but when you carry a gun and protect the people you've got to be more than human. Frankly, these guys seemed less than human."
Cmdr. Lynwood K. Elkins, who heads the Dulles police force, denied last night that Officers Paul F. Weitzel and David A. Vantine treated the animal cruelly. "I don't feel any disciplinary action is warranted," he said. "I feel the action they took was very proper."
The workers and the police disagree on what that action was.
According to a statement signed by the 29 workers, the officers were called to a field next to their office building after the raccoon was seen wandering around.
The officers failed in an initial attempt to catch the animal, the statement says, and instead kicked it and struck with a long-handled pole. When they finally succeeded in subduing the raccoon, the two men dragged it 100 yards to their car and dumped it into a box in the trunk.
Elkins said the officers were not striking the animal but attempting to scoop it up with a long-handled snare.
"I wouldn't want one of my officers trying to pick it up in his hands," Elkins said."It maybe could have been rabid or something."
After the officers removed the raccoon, according to a spokesman for Metropolitan Washington Airports, the agency that runs Dulles, they attempted to free it in an unpopulated area. When the animal was unable to rise, said spokesman David Hess, the officers shot and buried it there.