Clinic Stories

It's a Jungle Out There—Skunks and Raccoons

Even in this suburban environment pets can have encounters with wildlife. Here are a few. Skunks, besides spraying, are one of the safest. Their defense mechanism is effective in preventing them from making physical contact; they don't have to bite and don't usually get bitten. I was once asked to look at a skunk, not even full grown, because he had walked into a barn and between a horse's legs in broad daylight. I did what I had to do and stepped on him to avoid contact with a rabies suspect. I didn't realize it when I was outside but those sneakers had enough skunk perfume to smell up the entire house. I threw them out. The lab report was positive for rabies.

Raccoons on the other hand, are brutal. A woman in Paterson presented her 10 pound poodle for raccoon injuries. She had the dog in her fenced in back yard, a raccoon climbed the fence and attacked the dog breaking his jaw and front leg. A man brought in a Labrador retriever that had been attacked by a raccoon. His first question was “Do you think he will live?” and when I answered, "Yes," he asked, “Do you think he'll keep the leg?” He did keep the leg but it took months of bandaging, flushing and antibiotics. Despite the smell, a dog is better off tangling with a skunk than a raccoon.

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