There was a story published a while back of an incident in Monmouth, a town in Kennebec County, Maine. It was rather alarming because it involved a rabid raccoon who snuck into a person’s home through a pet entry installed in a screen door.
As the story goes, the rabid raccoon entered the home around 4 p.m. and got into a fight with the homeowner’s cat, which did not survive the attack. The homeowner was able to call police who arrived at the scene and were able to taser the animal and later kill it. You can read the full story here.
The takeaway from this story is if you choose to use a pet entry, you must be aware that other animals might wander inside and could be rabid. Most pet entries are just a flap or opening that people leave open for pets to go in and out as they please.
At the very least, close the pet entry and lock it in the evenings, and keep it locked all night. When the sun goes down and we go to sleep, the raccoons, skunks and feral cats come out and explore the area for food and breeding purposes. If they have rabies, beware because they are relentless in attacking and biting whatever is in their path. The disease is then spread to whomever they see and make contact with.
There are electronic pet doors available that will either open or unlock automatically when they detect a sensor on your pet’s collar as it approaches the door. This would be a more expensive alternative, but it does eliminate the possibility of unwanted animals entering into your home, and perhaps it is worth checking into.
With the recent case of the rabid otter reported at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, people must be diligent in their efforts to protect their homes from unwanted guests and vaccinate their pets. The fact is, we live in a hugely rabies endemic area, and people should be aware of the dangers.
If you see a fox, skunk or raccoon in the daytime at all, and especially unusually close to your home, please stay indoors and call the police. The animal probably is dying of rabies. Remember to keep your garbage cans in a shed, in a garage or far from your house because garbage attracts these animals with and without rabies.
You can learn more in our earlier blog about rabies and the procedures to take if bitten as published by the Somerset County Department of Health.
Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital