A juvenile raccoon was euthanized by wildlife authorities after an unidentified woman brought it into a local pet shop for a nail trim.
According to Mark Latti, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesperson, the raccoon’s test results were ultimately negative for rabies and posed no rabies threat to the public. However, he emphasized that raccoons are one of the most common carriers of the deadly virus in the state and that bringing such an animal to a pet store poses a risk to other customers, even if it is low, especially since some individuals kissed the animal.
The woman allegedly brought the animal to a pet store in Auburn, Maine, on Tuesday, wanting to get their nails trimmed. However, the store does not provide such a service to raccoons. In fact, it is illegal to keep raccoons and other wildlife as pets in the Southcentral state.
The wildlife department said several individuals handled the animal during its visit to the pet store. The manager of the store later told the woman to leave and contacted the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The raccoon, which was being kept as a pet by the woman, was subsequently tested for rabies. However, euthanizing the animal was still necessary as there was no nonlethal test for the virus in animals.
To make matters worse, rabies almost always leads to death in humans once symptoms develop, and potential sufferers need to seek immediate medical treatment. For this reason, wildlife such as raccoons is best left in their own habitats. However, animal control can be called if an animal is in distress.
Latti emphasized that wildlife are more likely to be run over by a car or become a nuisance when they lose their fear of people.
The wildlife department recommends those who came into contact with the raccoon at the store contact their medical provider as a precaution as the animal is capable of transmitting other viruses and diseases to humans and other animals.
The pet store, a Petco located in Auburn, did not comment on the situation. However, a representative has referred a request to the company’s San Diego corporate office.
Currently, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is looking for the woman who brought the animal to the pet shop. The agency also reminded individuals that it is illegal to keep wildlife such as raccoons as pets and that they should never move, feed, or handle a wild animal.