MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - One Monroe family is concerned for their safety, and the well-being of their pets after a raccoon attacked them this weekend. Now, they’re speaking out so others know of the danger.
Ruth Ulrich never expected to spend her Saturday afternoon warding off a diseased raccoon.
"It was during the daylight, it's laying around as though it were a cat or something, all stretched out. Then it would wake up from that state and would have something that appeared to be like seizures," said Ulrich.
Ulrich says it was hissing and charging at her. She wasn't sure what to do, so she called the police.
"The policeman said if there's any problems, call me back, but he needed to go on and do other things," said Ulrich.
At that point she hit the raccoon in the face 3 times with a shovel--and that still didn't stop it.
"When it did not get scared off when it got hit that hard with a shovel. There was a problem,” said Ulrich.
If you see an animal like a raccoon out at a strange time of day, and it doesn't run away, don't go near it.
"If that animal does not run from you or try and hide or try and get in a position that it can't be seen or try to get away. Then there's an issue," said Joe Clawson, director of Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo.
The raccoon Ulrich was dealing with tested positive for distemper when Wildlife and Fisheries was finally able to pick it up. No area is off limits for a raccoon, or any other wild animal.
"Even the most densely populated areas of the City of Monroe and the City of West Monroe. There are raccoons," said Clawson.
Ulrich says this seems to be a problem in the Garden District. Her neighbor dealt with a similar situation last week. They want people to be aware of the threat.
"So many have been picked up lately with the same actions that they're doing, that apparently distemper is going through the raccoon population very fast," said Ulrich.
The disease is very contagious and can infect your pets. So, how can you keep them and yourself safe? Make sure they're fully vaccinated, don't leave your pet's food outdoors, and make sure it’s stored so other animals can't get into it.
Ouachita Parish Animal Control is the only organization that should be handling diseased animals. More information can be found on http://oppj.org/departments/animal_control/index.php