Dog, raccoon hunter
November 24, 2012 6:35 PM Subscribe
Our dog killed a raccoon last night. What (if anything) should we be worried about?
posted by bjrubble to Pets & Animals (26 answers total)
Our dog was whining and agitated at the back door last night. She likes to chase squirrels and other small animals, and I figured from her behavior that there was some animal in the back yard. But she's not too fast, it was late, and she needed to go out before bedtime, so (and yes, I realize this was really stupid) I let her out.
She raced out the door, followed about three seconds later by an explosion of hissing and scrabbling and the muffled growling of a dog with her mouth around something. I raced to grab a flashlight (again, something I later kicked myself for not having thought of beforehand), which revealed the dog pinning a huge raccoon to the ground, with her jaws around its throat.
We didn't really know what to do. My wife got a shovel that I might use to pry them apart, but the dog wouldn't budge and the raccoon was thrashing furiously. And by this point (probably 3-4 minutes after the start) it seemed clear the fight would be over soon -- the dog had started picking up the raccoon and shaking it like a rag doll. So I took the shovel and hit the raccoon in the head until it stopped moving, and I could pull the dog off.
Our first concern is for the dog herself. She was plenty bloody, but after wiping her down we found only a few cuts. She saw the vet today and got antibiotics, but on the whole the vet seemed oddly sanguine. We live in Seattle, which supposedly doesn't have an issue with rabies in raccoons, and she had her rabies shots 2 years ago when we adopted her, but I still feel like this should be a bigger deal. Is this really something we shouldn't worry too much about?
Then there is our own risk. We didn't touch the raccoon (except with nitrile gloves this morning to wrangle the body into trash bags) but we did get its blood (and presumably saliva, which I guess is more dangerous) on us when cleaning the dog. We don't have any obvious cuts on our hands, but I keep thinking about how people supposedly have small cuts on their hands and fingers all the time. Again, I'm hoping someone can contribute some advice/anecdotes on this.
(Part of the problem here, I think, is distributed responsibility. Animal control said they pick up dead animals but don't do testing. The vet said they could give antibiotics but don't really deal with disease transmission. The state fish and wildlife department apparently does look at disease vectors but they're closed for the weekend and haven't responded to our voicemail. It's left us feeling like we could easily miss some vital bit of information because we didn't talk to the right people.)
Finally, I'm wondering what this might mean for the dog psychologically. Around people she's a total marshmallow -- in fact, earlier in the day we had a bunch of people over, including a small toddler, and the worst thing she did was snout her way between two chairs to give sad beggy eyes to someone with a plate of food. But she does have an issue with dog/animal aggression -- we've had to get between her and other dogs at the dog park a few times, although she's never done more than snap and growl and has always been easy to divert -- and seeing her in attack mode was sobering: she's a 95 pound rottie mix, the raccoon was at least 20 pounds (it barely fit into a 13 gallon garbage bag), and the vet was "impressed" that she took it down with just a few scratches. It's really scary to think of her turning that aggression on a person. Is there such a thing as "tasting blood" that can change a dog's temperament after an incident like this?