Do Raccoons Attack Dogs?

July 20, 2011

When your own warm, red blood literally runs down your arms and legs as the result of a raccoon attack, it’s a fear you will never forget. Yes, raccoons most definitely attack dogs and people.  About this time every year, I start thinking about one of the most horrific experiences of my life when both my Westie dog, Maddie, and myself were viciously and repeatedly attacked by a raccoon.  Yes, they growl.  Yes, they know how to go for your jugular.  No, your neighbor should not be feeding them.  No, that neighbor should not trust them. Yes, they are cute…..at a distance.   Can a hungry raccoon turn on you?  Absolutely.

Note:  This accounting ends in a very good way.  Read the last paragraph.

Here’s my personal accounting of an attack that changed my life & explains why all dogs boarding with us are highly supervised and safely inside as the evenings approach.  A few years ago in September, I had my Westie, Maddie, out with me for a last-call potty time and we were not in the safe compound but were out by the car getting something. Suddenly he plunged into an attack bark.  Instantaneously, a dark figure dashed out from the dark, brushing against my shin and jumped onto him.  He was on his back screaming with this thing trying to dig into his throat. The dog could not defend himself against this thing.

Without a thought, I grabbed the thing by the back & pulled it off him.  It was a big, very angry and aggressive raccoon.  Instantly it turned it’s attention on me.  Had I taken its dinner away?  I was shrieking at the top of my lungs but no one heard since it was cool and the windows were closed.  Where were the neighbors?  Why didn’t my husband hear me?  No one came to help as it lunged onto my chest & ripped its fangs into my flesh.  I could smell its breath almost in my face and it was growling.  I threw it off, backed up and three more times it jumped on me.  Yes, it had the ability to jump and climb right up me.  My chest, arms & legs were ripped.  Finally neighbors arrived with shovels as weapons but the attack was over.  They said I sounded like a wild animal & knew something really bad was happening.  My clothes were soaked in blood.

No, there isn’t a dog boarding with us ever taken outside the safe compound, not even my own dogs. A lesson learned.  I may be overly protective now, but I don’t think that safety instinct will ever leave me.  Raccoons are in the most populated areas.  Anyway, Maddie, my dog, was fine but I had to go for a series of five rabies shots.  At the Evergreen Hospital Emergency, there were no rabies anti-biotics or vaccine but the nurses found one at another hospital.  Usually the rabies treatments are only at Harborview Hospital.  Rabies is totally lethal; there’s no cure so time is of the essence & it’s a real emergency.  Two nurses at a time came at me at the same time in both the arms and the backside with shots.   But the thing I will never forget is the incredible pain of those long needles going two to six inches into my open bloody wounds in every direction to kill any spreading infections. You say to yourself, “I’m brave; I can take it”; but you can’t.  I’m sure the whole hospital heard my screams of pain.

Oddly, it’s not the rabies shots that cause the pain, it’s the anti-biotic shots that cause a burn & pain you can’t describe and you probably will never experience, hopefully.  Rabies shots are NOT painful and they are taken in the arm, not the stomach.  Of course, this was reported to the Health Dept. which said there hasn’t been a case of rabies in raccoons here in 60 years but one still has to have the five-shot rabies series just in case.  The East Coast Raccoons are full of rabies but not here. Rabies are in Coyotes and bats here in the Northwest Seattle area.  They said that raccoons here seem to be  turning more aggressive towards people and animals.   If you have them in your yard, you can capture them in a cage unharmed and release them in another location but be careful since when the cage door is opened, they are known to turn back on you and attack.  They are smart.

The only way you can tell if an animal has rabies is to cut open the brain.                                                                                                But first, you have to get the suspect animal that took the bite.

Sure, go ahead and feed those darling Raccoons, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Hungry mothers with babies are the ones you really need to watch.  When they have grown to expect food from you and you forget to put it out that one time is when they can get angry.    You’re always fine until in one split second you aren’t safe anymore.

Well, this has ended in a good way. The good news is that we haven’t even seen a Raccoon in our area for many years now.  Our neighbors own property running the whole length of our property and got a huge Labador Retriever named “Big Boy” who runs their entire property.  Not only are the Raccoons afraid to enter his territory, we don’t even see squirrels anymore.

 

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dona

Hi Norbert: Your response to animals with rabies is educational & appreciated. While the raccoons on the USA east coast have rabies, so far the raccoons here in the Bellevue & Seattle area do not have rabies; however, the worry here is that the raccoons at some point will contact it. Consequently, anyone currently getting bitten by a raccoon has to go through the terrifically horrible rabies shot series. Many people here including one of my neighbors feed raccoons not realizing they aren’t pets but are truly wild animals. Raccoons and especially females with babies are known to turn on humans or domestic animals, aggressively attack, bite and can kill a dog or cat. Often, they are hunting a meal since the biggest cause of death in raccoons is starvation. Does this mean you should feed them? Absolutely not. My own raccoon attack was traumatic, the series of anti-biotics excruciatingly and agonizingly painful beyond words plus the series of rabies shots cost about $6,800 not to mention the vet bills for my poor dog. The whole episode with emergency room expenses & all had a personal cost of more than $10,000. The medical was preventative so our health insurance company wouldn’t cover it, what’s new, right? If I had gotten rabies, the insurance company then would have paid some amount but, of course, I’d be dead because there’s no cure for rabies.
Just as your wild dogs in Bali have rabies, our Bellevue & Seattle area bats and coyotes now have rabies so it cannot be stressed enough that people need to be cautious when dealing with wild dogs or animals. Yes, rabies is fatal. Once symptoms appear; there’s no stopping it at that point, you will die. Subsequent to a bite, preventative anti-biotic measures are urgently needed. However, the rabies anti-biotics here aren’t plentiful and are generally kept at only one hospital, Harborview in Seattle. During my emergency, they were truly rushed to Evergreen Hospital and the ordeal was an unforgettable nightmare.
I would appreciate it if you would let me know how things are going there. Thanks, Dona

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dieta

Unfortunately the sight of a raccoon now generates a fear of contracting rabies. While raccoons are among the most common mammals of caring the disease not all raccoons have rabies..

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