This cop’s a hawk when it comes to protecting animals.
Officer Demitrios Raptis, who works out of the 112th Precinct in Queens, has rescued more than 40 different animals in his 14 years on the job.
And while Raptis, 38, has rescued his share of cats and dogs, he doesn’t shy away from the more exotic species (like a red-tailed hawk, baby raccoon, baby opossums and chickens).
“In the beginning, you’re a little scared. Once you catch the animals, they’re really harmless — they just look ferocious,” he said. “You just get used to it, it’s no biggie.”
Raptis keeps gloves, a blanket and a leash in his police car, and a foldable crate in his locker “just in case.” When he hears a call about an animal in need, he goes out of his way to respond.
“Some cops . . . they dont know how to handle it,” he said. “To me, an animal is an animal. They suffer, they feel pain and I have a heart for it. I feel bad for them, if i can help, I do what I can.”
In February, Raptis found an arctic goose in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Woodhaven Boulevard, its wing injured probably from mistaking the asphalt for water.
“It was hurt, you could see the wing stuck up in the air,” he said, recalling one thought: “I cant leave it there, obviously.”
Raptis helped chase the bird for moe than an hour before catching it with blankets that the hardware store employees had brought out.
“It was huge,” he said of the bird. “We put him in a box and I drove him all the way out to Long Island to the rescue group.”
Raptis works with rescue group WINORR, or Wildlife In Need of Rescue and Rehabilitation, based in North Massapequa.
It wasn’t the first time he brought the rescue group a large bird. A few years ago, Raptis recalled finding a hawk on a balcony in Queens, with a wing span of four of five feet and its legs burned, possibly from power lines. A neighbor had called to report the giant bird.
“It was there for a day or two so it was hungry, too,” he said. They called Raptis for the job. “I can catch ‘em and I’m not scared of them.”
The bird was rehabilitated, he said, and released into the wild.