Anywho, on top of that I made pittance in tips and I was thinking drinking an entire bottle of wine was in order when the phone rang. It was a regular customer explaining that she had a question and felt that since we have animals, perhaps we could answer it. Because having animals=a fountain of knowledge about all creatures of the Animalia persuasion. Turns out, her beloved dog was attacked by a raccoon and she had some concerns about how to care for the poor thing. I was like:
Luckily, as I informed her, she had called the right person. Ever since I was 8 years old, I wanted to be a veterinarian. It was this dream that prompted me to call my first employer at 16, Sno-Wood Veterinary Hospital. I worked there for the next four and a half years, even during my summer's off from college. I attended Washington State University and majored in Zoology, Pre-Vet and conducted my internship at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center where I worked in the medical room and mammal room. Basically, I was about to drop some diamonds on this lady.
After establishing that her dog's leg wasn't dangling precariously by a strand of tissue and there was no need for extensive stitching, I advised her on proper wound care and to keep the little dog hydrated until she could get in to see her vet in the morning. A wild animal attack, though perhaps not seriously damaging, requires a vet y'all. She hung up the phone a grateful and relieved woman and I felt I had made a difference. The day just got better from there. The conversation led me to think that perhaps this knowledge should be shared with others, so here are some fun facts everyone should know about raccoons:
#1: most important fact about raccoons in Washington State: they DO NOT carry rabies here! But, you should still vaccinate your pets and watch for signs of infection in case you're dealing with one that snuck a ride from another state.
#2: you don't have to worry about rabies, but those dirty bastards do carry other nasty diseases they can pass on to your pet and you. Most notably, Raccoon Roundworm (I did a paper on this one; the worms like to make nice homes for themselves in your brain) and the bacteria Leptospirosis that can be fatal for both people and pets. Most nastiness is passed on in raccoon feces. Which brings me to a good piece of advice.
#3: do not attract wildlife to your house! If a raccoon finds cat food on your porch, he'll eat it and hang around getting fatter and fatter and pooping in your kids' sandbox. They also like to use roofs as latrines. And what's more? He'll tell all his raccoon buddies. Yes, raccoons like to share. Pretty soon, what was once one cute little bandit is now 50. And it's baby season. They teach that shit. Less raccoons=less poop=less chance of infections/attacks.
#4: raccoons fight dirty. Sure, they might look cute and their hands are adorbs, but raccoons are vicious fighters that will bite and claw like a frenzied tasmanian devil. Do not mess with them, especially during baby season (like right now). If you or your pet is attacked, wash the area with a mild soap and hot water and get to a doctor/vet. Antibiotics is essential in any wild animal attack. If you suspect rabies, the animal will need to be captured and tested.
#5: make sure they can't get under your house or in your attic. Raccoons don't pay rent and they smell. Don't encourage them to move in.
The raccoons LOVED me because I brought them blood biscotti and grapes (the equivilent of raccoon candy), but don't let those cute masks and chortles fool you: they will cut a bitch. Their hands are dexterous enough to handle knives.
#6: don't let this rant fool you! I think raccoons are amazing creatures and have a special purpose on this planet. Did you know their hands are very sensitive and they can use them to detect edible material in low or no light? Sort of akin to a cat's whiskers. Water increases their sensitivity, thus the washing of food that we so frequently see. They aren't being cleanly. They are dirty rascals that will eat bread soaked in blood; trust me, they are not concerned about hygiene. This is just a reminder that they are called WILD for a reason!
This has been a Mandy's wildlife public service announcement, and this is why I have a four year degree. Next time, why oppossums might be the best garbage disposals ever.