For the second time in as many weeks, yesterday brought us a very sick raccoon. We live in far west suburban Houston, but right on the edge of a large reservoir. Wild critters of all kinds are commonly seen here, but most are nocturnal.
My husband was forced to shoot the first one after the dogs announced it's presence late on a Sunday afternoon. We spoke to a wildlife rehabber who said distemper is running rampant throughout the coon population in East and Southeast Texas this Spring. This particular racoon was in end-stange distemper and was having seizures about every 10 minutes. Saddest thing we've ever seen. Dave hates to kill anything, but I'm so glad he put that poor animal out of its misery.
I left the house yesterday morning and noticed a racoon sitting on a neighbor's driveway. Any time a coon sits and stares at you in broad daylight, you know there's a big problem. I called Dave and asked him if he could deal with it while I headed to my doctor appointment. This coon was another juvenile, and he just sat there sneezing and shaking his head. Obviously ill, but not as bad as the first one.
By the time Dave checked it out, the homeowner had called the police who had called Animal Control, so Dave was spared having to get out the .22. He managed to get the raccoon into a live trap with food and water, so the little guy got a last meal. Animal Control said they would have to euthanize as there is no treatment for distemper. He also had a really bad case of mange and must have been living in absolute misery for quite some time.
The reason I post all this is that too many people neglect keeping their pets' vaccinations updated. Oh, they may at least keep up with state-mandated rabies vaccinations, but not the rest of them. It's far more likely for a dog to contract distemper rather than rabies from a wild animal, and death is just as horrific. Raccoons can get both the feline and canine flavors of distemper, but humans cannot.
In the 16 years we've lived in this house, we have never once seen a sick raccoon. Plenty of West Nile-infected birds in the last 5 years, but nothing else. You just never know what your dog may come into contact with, so if your dog is overdue for vaccine boosters, please take this opportunity to call your vet.
[End of Public Service Announcement] Beeeeeeeeeeep!
The distemper shot is included as a matter of course with the yearly booster shots in the UK.
My late husband had a puppy when he was a young boy, and the puppy contracted distemper and died. The experience of witnessing what that puppy went through stayed with him for the rest of his life. He could never even mention it without filling up with tears.
There is no excuse for not keeping up a pets vaccinations. There are now 3 year boosters available, too.
And even when we were in the worst of our bankruptcy difficulties, we went to the local feed store and bought vaccines to administer at home a couple of times. Not ideal, but you cannot let your pet go unvaccinated. And the vaccines are not expensive if you have to buy your own.
There are also low cost vaccine clinics in nearly every city.
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