When wild animals attack people and dogs, it can be a sign that they are rabid. Rabies affects the behavior of animals including raccoons, skunks and foxes. One of the signs of rabies across species is a tendency to bite without provocation. A couple in Georgia found out for themselves how scary an attack by a potentially rabid animal can be when a raccoon attacked them and their puppy. The man knocked the raccoon out with a stick when it grabbed their puppy’s head. The woman has now gone through the painful rabies treatment and their dog had to be quarantined for 10 days.
Where I live, in Flagstaff, Ariz., efforts are underway to vaccinate wild animals against rabies with edible packets of vaccine. In order to make sure that these vaccines are consumed by wild animals rather than by pets, there is a pet quarantine in effect for the next couple of weeks. Dogs and cats are required to be either confined indoors or kept on a leash of six feet or less.
Have you or your dogs had a run-in with a wild animal acting in an unusual way?
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.