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Supporters Rally to Raccoon's Savior

Monday, March 16, 2015

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Todd Sutton and the raccoon he famously freed have developed a global following, with hundreds of people from dozens of countries demanding that the San Francisco carpenter get his job back.

From Argentina to Zimbabwe, supporters of the soft-hearted construction worker have come to his defense in an online petition that seeks to reinstate him.

The story of the construction supervisor who was fired for derailing his employer's plan to euthanize the pesky critter has drawn headlines around the world.

Todd Sutton via San Francisco Chronicle

Todd Sutton freed this raccoon and lost his job in the process.

And overwhelmingly, the public has been in Sutton's corner, with many calling him a hero.

Trap and Release

As reported first by the San Francisco Chronicle, Sutton found the critter in a cage on a late February morning when he arrived for work on the site of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art expansion.

The trap had been set to capture the coon, which had sneaked onto the job via a sewer and started causing damage on the $610 million project, Mark Rossie, a vice president for general contractor Webcor Builders, told the newspaper.

Rossie also said he was concerned about the danger of having a wild animal on the work site. Webcor planned to euthanize the animal, reports said.

But Sutton, who worked for Webcor subcontractor RFJ Meiswinkel, balked at turning over the doomed creature.

Moving On

“He was just a little baby," Sutton told the news outlet. "I said, 'I’m not going to let this happen. I’m going to do what is necessary for this raccoon.’”

Sutton then drove the critter to a public area by the Bay Bridge, let it go, and returned the cage to the job site.


The petition to reinstate Todd Sutton appears on Care2, which allows the public to create online petitions for a variety of causes. Among the site's successful petitions is one signed by more than 35,000 people that allowed a girl named Ayla to keep her pet rooster, Dallas.

When Webcor learned about the release, it reportedly asked Meiswinkel to take Sutton off that job site. Instead, after confirming the release with Sutton, Meiswinkel fired him, Sutton said.

Unapologetic, Sutton found another (though lower-paying job) and seemed inclined to let the matter go.

Not the public, who urged everything from suing the contractors to trapping and euthanizing them.

Petition Drive

This week, a petition appeared on Care2, demanding that Sutton get his job back. (The petition is aimed at Webcor, although Meiswinkel was the direct employer.)

Care2, which claims more than 28.3 million members, bills itself as "the largest online community of people passionate about making a difference."

The petition, created by a member named Mathida_regn?r, demands that Sutton be rehired. Organizers were seeking 2,000 signatures and had 1,658 by Friday (March 13) afternoon. The number rose every few minutes.

SFMOMA rendering
Courtesy Snøhetta

The raccoon trespassed at the site of the $610 million expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which is scheduled to open in 2016.

And the signers were not just from the United States. Signatures came from the UK, India, Canada, Norway, Italy, France, Germany, Sweden, Vietnam, Ireland, Mexico, Serbia, New Zealand, Spain, Russia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and on and on.

The petition's author could not be reached Friday.


"I am so glad Todd had compassion for the baby animal!" wrote Sabina Robertson of Texas, who also pledged $10 toward Sutton's legal fees. (He has hired an employment lawyer.)

"Give this caring man his job back," added Susan May of the UK.

"Puleease!" said Joan Dabulewicz of South Africa. "[Lose] a job because the man saved a wild animal! That is a pathetic action [to] take!"

"Don't be stupid heartless people," said Anne Warton of California.

Meiswinkel has declined to comment on the situation. Webcor has not responded to requests for comment.

Nevertheless, the controversy seems sure to continue.

Petition signer Premita Pillay, of New Zealand, offered this warning: "sacking a good don't hire him your huge loss."

"World is watching."


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Commercial contractors; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; Museums; North America; Project Management; Renovation

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