You have probably heard a lot of stories in the media lately about the raccoon problem in Hamilton.
The Hamilton Public Health Department reports that 48 raccoons and 24 skunks have tested positive for rabies.
Your chances of encountering a raccoon or skunk are higher now that spring is here. You are advised to stay away from raccoons, skunks, other wildlife and unknown dogs and cats even though the overall risk to the general public is low.
No matter what part of the country you live in, wild animals pose a serious risk to dogs and other domesticated animals. Raccoons and skunks may attack if they believe your dog is threatening them or encroaching on their territory.
So how do you keep your pets safe? Here are a few tips.
1. Keep Your Dog Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
Even though your dog may already have his basic vaccines, you may want to talk to your vet about additional vaccines that may protect your dog or cat against diseases associated with wild animals in your area.
2. Don’t Leave Your Dog’s Food Outside
Your dog isn’t the only one who might enjoy the food you leave outside for him. Raccoons and skunks have a good sense of smell and may find their way into your yard if they think there is food available. Whenever possible, feed your dog inside. If not, be sure to remove any leftovers after your dog has finished.
3. Don’t Leave Your Dog Unsupervised Outside
If you suspect that there are wild animals in your area, keep an eye on your dog when he’s outside, even if your yard is fenced. Wild animals are agile and may be able to climb over or find a break in your fence. Also, don’t tie your dog outside as this will make him a target for wild animals.
4. Keep Your Family Away from Raccoons and Skunks
Rabies can make animals appear sick, sad, friendly or aggressive so your best advice is to stay away from them altogether.
5. Clean Up Your Yard
Raccoons and skunks can also smell dog feces so be sure to clean up your yard on a daily basis. When cleaning up your yard, look for low overhanging branches or other areas where a wild animal can set up residence. Make sure all outdoor garbage cans are sealed so you are not inviting raccoons into your yard.
6. Make Sure Your Dog is Wearing ID
Your dog should have at least one ID tag with up-to-date contact information securely attached to his collar as well as a current license. You should also consider getting your dog microchipped for extra security in case your dog is attacked and loses his collar.
Here are some additional problems that raccoons can cause around your home:
• Damage to attics and roofs
• Chewing through wires
• Causing problems under decks and porches
• Tipping over garbage cans
• Carrying fleas, ticks and other parasites
If you find a dead or sick animal on your property, call Hamilton Animal Services at 905-546-2489. If you or someone in your family are bitten by a wild animal, wash the wound with soap and water and seek immediate medical attention or call Public Health Services at 905-546-2489. If your pet comes into contact with a wild animal, get in touch with your vet or the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Affairs at 1-877-424-1300.
Have you or anyone you know had an experience with a raccoon or skunk? Please share your experience with us.