BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The behavior of some raccoons in the area have people concerned about their own pets. You’ve seen the photos circulating the national and international news — raccoons on their hind legs, teeth bared.
Earlier this week, the strange raccoons tested positive for a disease called distemper.
Humans and cats can’t get it, but your dog might be at risk. It can spread through the air and by direct or indirect contact with an infected animal.
Dogs join a list of several animals that can be infected, including foxes, wolves, skunks, coyotes and yes — raccoons.
Symptoms include high fever, discharge from the nose and eyes, loss of appetite and sluggishness. When it gets bad enough, your dog could suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. At that point, your pet is very sick.
GOT RACCOONS IN BEE RIDGE?
“We’ve never really had this discussion about distemper prior to these raccoons having this,” said Mary Louk, with Animal Charity.
“It’s a frightening thought,” said dog owner Dolores Milstead. “I would certainly hope that the kind of work you’re doing would make people aware that they need to get the vaccination.”
Milstead and her energetic 2-year-old rescue, Jake, love stretching their legs at Boardman’s Pawstown Dog Park.
“When the weather’s nice. Almost on a daily basis,” she said.
Jake is protected against distemper because he got the vaccine. Milstead said it’s something every dog needs.
“That was part of the shot processes when I adopted him as a puppy, so he’s had the prevention he needs.”
Lou How said the vaccine is inexpensive — only $10.
“It’s just something that you really need to protect against.”
Not everyone is vigilant at keeping up with shots, though. Jake goes every year, but Louk said a lot of people don’t take their pets annually.
Animal Charity saw a case of distemper in a dog a few years ago.
“We were very, very lucky we were able to treat it,” Louk said. “However, the dog had a lasting neurological condition for the rest of its life.”
If your dog isn’t up to date on distemper or parvo, they need to be.
Animal Charity is holding a vaccination clinic on Sunday, April 29 at its Market Street location in Boardman.
GOT RACCOONS IN BEE RIDGE?
Note: Video below is a raccoon from Kalamazoo, Michigan, not Youngstown.
He attempted to scare the raccoon away, only to find the animal was not interested in leaving.
“He’d come out of it, walk around and then he’d do the same thing again. Get on his hind feet and show his teeth,” Coggeshall said.
Police were called to 14 similar situations in the past three weeks. The reports detail “particular behavior” and large noises or motions not scaring the animals away.
Those animals — including the one in Coggeshall’s yard — were ultimately put down.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said it doesn’t sound like rabies, but rather a disease called distemper.
“Raccoons are really prone to getting diseases that even amongst themselves can be devastating to the population,” Geoff Westerfield said.
He said diseases like this stay local and eventually die off.
“When you end up with just a couple of individuals left that aren’t as susceptible to it, then the disease kind of dies out for a while until the populations grow again.”
Westerfield said trapping is how to keep the sick population down. He warned against relocating the raccoons once they’re caught because, unfortunately, they need to be euthanized.
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