The targets had flown the coop, but Officer Frankie Blavet was on their tails, a capture imminent. With heavy gloves at the ready, Blavet cornered them. She was expecting a fight.
Then again, these weren't Pleasanton police's usual suspects. They weren't even human.
Blavet, Pleasanton's animal services officer, captured two baby owls who had fallen from a nest high inside Oldcastle Precast's warehouse rafters on April 7.
The owlets had tumbled from a broken nest, and it was deemed too dangerous for the animals since it was above construction equipment in the Valley Avenue warehouse. While the mother owl could have repaired the nest, the owlets probably would have fallen out again soon enduring another 25-foot drop to the concrete floor below.
They were taken to Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek to get checked for injuries, Blavet said.
"Lindsay Wildlife Hospital is incredible, and they take countless orphaned and injured wildlife from us in the spring and summer months," she said. "Should a citizen find an injured or orphaned wild animal, they can bring the animal to Lindsay directly as well."
The baby owls still had some of their down coat and were hopping around on the ground when Blavet found them, but they weren't tiny chicks. The officer got the roughly foot-tall owlets into carriers so they could be taken to the wildlife hospital.
"They were quite feisty, and I am glad I had my welders gloves handy," she said.
Lindsay Wildlife director of veterinary services Guthrum Purdin said the owls were in good condition and weren't injured, and they were just learning to fly. That was a sign that they could live outside of a nest and were ready to start hunting lessons.
"They can fly, but not very far. It's like training wheels," he said.
The owlets were returned to the warehouse and put in a spot where the mother owl could find them but far away from lumber storage, construction equipment and territorial crows, Purdin said.
The hospital followed up with warehouse staff, who told them they'd seen at least one baby owl hopping around with its mother, he said.
"It's the best that can be hoped for. These little guys were in a bad spot," he said, "and they were able to be reunited with their mother."