EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - A recent case of a child being bitten by a pet raccoon is evidence of what East Texas game wardens say is the clear danger of humans trying to interact with wildlife.
Fortunately, the raccoon tested negative for rabies.
Gregg County Game Warden Todd Long says he got the call that a captive raccoon had bitten a child at an undisclosed location in Harrison County last weekend.
"The owner of this pet raccoon had had it in the home for a number of months and the raccoon got a little bit aggressive and bit a little girl," Long says.
Working with Harrison county sheriffs, Long tracked down the location and confiscated the animal, knowing that time was of the essence.
"There is a timing situation after you are bitten or exposed to the rabies virus. If we were unable to collect that animal, the young lady bitten was subject to getting those rabies shots. Thank goodness for Harrison county officers being vigilant and helping to locate the raccoon but seizing taking possession of the raccoon," Todd says.
According to the CDC, the first dose of rabies vaccine should be given as soon as possible after exposure.
Additional doses should be given on days 3, 7, and 14. Long says a common mistake is people taking wildlife out of its natural habitat.
Even if raised as a pet, it's natural wild instincts will kick in at some point. The animal tested negative, and the child did not have to take the shots.
Keeping wildlife is not an arrestable offense.
The person keeping the raccoon was ticketed for illegal possession of wildlife. "Don't take them into your home, there's too many risks," says Long.
Game Wardens says wild animals carry a number of diseases that can affect humans and pets, such as distemper, hepto-spir-osis, and salmonella.