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Raccoon Attack Worries Fairlington Residents

A raccoon in a backyard (photo by Bastique via Wikipedia)This past weekend a woman and her dog were just minding their own business, sitting on the patio of their Fairlington home, when a raccoon and its two babies climbed over the patio fence.

The dog, naturally, went after the critters. The raccoon mom fought back. The woman tried to intervene to protect her dog. Her screams alerted neighbors, who found her bloodied with big gashes on her arm. Medics, police and animal control were called, and the woman was taken to the hospital for treatment and rabies shots.

“Our Animal Control officers were called about this situation, and responded to the location with the Police Department,” confirmed Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Chelsea Lindsey. “They searched but could not find the raccoon. We think the raccoon may have had babies with her, and become protective when she was confronted by the dog and then the dog’s owner.”

The incident has some Fairlington residents on edge, wondering if such an attack could happen to them or their pets. The raccoon, after all, is still on the loose.

On Tuesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. AWLA will be holding a community meeting “to discuss and advise residents on interaction and conflicts with wildlife.” The meeting is being held at the Fairlington Villages Community Center (3005 S. Abingdon Street).

“This meeting is being held in light of the injury recently suffered by a resident resulting from an encounter with a raccoon,” says the event’s Facebook page.

Lindsey said that it’s somewhat rare for raccoons to attack dogs or humans, but it does happen.

In September 2013, ARLnow.com reported on a pregnant woman who was repeatedly bitten by an aggressive raccoon in her East Falls Church backyard, as her daughter watched in horror.

“We get reports of raccoons in altercations with dogs somewhat regularly, but contact with people is rare,” she said. “In the last 12 months we have had one other report of a raccoon bite to a person in Fairlington, and it was in August 2015.”

“Healthy raccoons are unlikely to pick a fight with a dog, but dogs sometimes chase them, and sick/injured raccoons and mothers protecting their young may fight back to defend itself,” Lindsey said. “AWLA highly recommends making sure to feed your dog inside (as food left outdoors can attract raccoons) and not to allow your dog in your yard or outdoors without immediate supervision. We also recommend that all dogs (and cats) have an up-to-date rabies vaccine, as is required by state law.”

“While raccoons are primarily nocturnal and residents won’t typically see them during the day, it is not that unusual for them to roam outside during the day looking for food or sunning themselves,” Lindsey added. “It is best to simply leave raccoons alone if you see them outside. However, if one appears to be sick (staggering, walking in circles, falling, biting itself, salivating heavily), injured or if you find a deceased raccoon on your property, we recommend calling Animal Control immediately so they can investigate.”

Photo by Bastique via Wikipedia

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