Wild animals don't make good pets - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Wild animals don't make good pets

Sherry Hendley, BFHS Animal Control Officer Sherry Hendley, BFHS Animal Control Officer

Public health officials are urging you to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Wild animals such as raccoons can't be vaccinated which is one reason they aren't supposed to be kept as pets.

One Worth County woman learned the hard way when her pet raccoon attacked her. He had to be euthanized so he could be tested for rabies.

This year, there have been two confirmed cases of Rabies in Worth County- one in a bobcat, and the other in a Raccoon.

While most folks consider these furry creatures as wild animals, others consider them a family pet. "They've raised them since they were a baby on a bottle they keep them just like a cat or dog-- Companion animals," said Environmental Health Specialist Laura Searcy.

In South Georgia, raccoons are plentiful. "We've had reports of a couple of people riding raccoons riding around in their vehicles around town." In most cases folks are just trying to help rescue a wild animal they think is in danger.

"People are compassionate about animals. When they find babies, baby foxes raccoons squirrels, they want to help them. But sometimes rescue turns into attachment. A worth County woman developed that bond with a Raccoon she rescued three years ago.

"Oh yea, he was a big fat and chunky raccoon..liked to eat marshmallows and candy," said Sherry Hendley, BFHS Animal Control Officer.

She recently learned the hard way just how quickly her "pet" could turn on her. "He lived in an outdoor enclosure, but he could get out, and he ran up under the carport and bit her, and unbeknownst to her, would he bite."

A bite that landed her in the emergency room, and the raccoon in the hands of health officials. "He had to be euthanized so we could confirm that it did not have rabies at the time that he bit her. He did test negative, which is great for her and her family because she did have a small child in the house."

In Georgia owning a wild animal as a pet is not only illegal..but it's also dangerous. there are no approved vaccinations for wild animals..only approved ones for dogs cats ferrets and some livestock.

So far this year 33 bite cases have been reported in Worth County. Of those, a bobcat and a raccoon tested positive for rabies after they bit dogs. Dogs, Cats and cattle can carry Rabies too.

But unlike wild animals, they can be protected if their rabies vaccinations are kept up to date. Last year, a raccoon also tested positive for the rabies virus in Worth County.


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