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Ill raccoon?

By Chuck Piper
Posted Monday, June 6, 2005

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Warning, long story with a not so happy ending, for the raccoon.

When I returned home Saturday afternoon my wife told me she saw a raccoon in our back yard. She said it was trying to sleep on the septic cover, in full sun, but that flies kept bothering it. She tapped on the window and it moved toward the house and then went under the deck. As soon as she told me about it I quickly closed the garage door, which I had left open, loaded up a couple magazines (not the "Life" kind) and went outside to see if it was still around. After checking under the deck, from a good distance, I started heading back to the front of the house.

I stopped in my tracks when I found it was sleeping in front of the car I had walked around 10 minutes earlier when I got home. It was only about 2 feet from the garage door. As soon as I confirmed it was indeed a raccoon, in case my wife was confused, I went back inside and called the Sheriff's office. They immediately called animal control. Unfortunately, at this point the animal control person was in Siler City, so it was going to be a while before they got to my house, off of Mt Gilead Church Rd.

I decided at this point that I should "babysit" the sleeping rcacoon. Based on its behaviour I knew it was ill, and the most likely thing I could think of was rabies. I knew that I needed to stay away (far away), but I also did not want the animal wandering off and then spending the next few days (or weeks or months) wondering if it was still near. I also didn't want it wandering to any of my neighbor's yards.

So, I got a lawn chair, put it in the shade a comfortable distance away, and watched. Occasionally, it would move some, or flick its tail to try to keep the flies away. The thing that was quite odd is that it was sleeping close to the house. After quite a while in front of the car, it got up and actually moved to a spot against the house foundation, but in full sun.

Occasionally, my wife would come out to check on it. After watching it for at least 45 minutes I had convinced myself that this animal was very ill. It should have been able to sense my wife and I, and should have run away. It did not. A couple times it looked like it might actually come toward us.

At this point, I'm going to skip the rest of the survelance details. Eventually animal control arrived. She agreed that this animal appeared very ill, it was very, very thin. Fortunately, the animal's suffering ended quickly. She confirmed that some of the symptoms we described could be rabies, but that without testing it was not possible to be sure. Unfortunately, she said the state will only test for rabies if the animal actually comes into contact with a human. So we're left not being 100% sure. We were told that the rabies virus dies quickly outside the animal, but to be safe that we should spray chlorine on any areas we knew it had been in.

So, that's the end of my story. I've typed this up to remind people that rabies is in most parts of NC. If you see an animal acting weird, stay away from it. I'd like to thank the sheriff's office and animal control for taking this seriously and responding as quickly as they could.

And finally, if you've got a dog or cat, please be sure they are up to date on their rabies vaccine. Infected domestic animals are the primary way humans can be exposed to rabies.

 
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Ill raccoon?
 
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