Clinic Stories

It's A Jungle Out There- Raccoons

Most raccoons we see are for euthanasia. The typical history is that Animal Control is called because a raccoon is hanging around a busy area during the day, a sure sign that something is not right and that the raccoon is possibly rabid. If there is no human contact they are simply put to sleep. In cases where there has been human contact, they are checked for Rabies afterward. Rabid raccoons are more common than most people think and we see a few positive cases every year.

Less frequently the raccoons are sick or injured and we carefully treat them if it looks like they have a chance. Occasionally one will develop signs of Rabies which can be quite dramatic. Mostly they are very lethargic then will go into a full fury, sometimes biting their own front legs. Every so often, they recover and are released. Orphaned raccoon babies are transferred to Wildlife Freedom Rehabilitation Center.

A raccoon, healthy or sick, is not to be taken lightly. They are fierce fighters and are very aggressive when threatened. I have seen numerous dogs that have been severely injured by raccoons. A toy poodle in Paterson was in his back yard with his owner when a raccoon came over the fence and attacked him, breaking his jaw and front leg. A Lab seen on emergency had such severe wounds on his leg that the owners first two questions were “Do you think he'll live?” and “Do you think he'll keep the leg?” Both dogs recovered.

Personally, I'd prefer to wild encounter a rattlesnake than a raccoon.

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