VERNAL (ABC4 News) – A 5-year-old boy had to receive emergency surgery after he was injured by his family’s pet raccoon, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The raccoon “significantly scratched” the boy back on December 11, prompting a warning from DWR officials Thursday.
In a press release, the DWR reminded the public that keeping a wild animal as a pet could be not only dangerous but illegal.
Wild animals, like raccoons, require a state-issued permit in order to house them in captivity.
Other animals on that list include striped skunks, coyotes and red foxes.
If you’re caught keeping one of those animals as a pet without a permit, you could be cited for illegally possessing these animals, a Class B misdemeanor.
“It’s important to protect the health, welfare and safety of the public, as well as other terrestrial wildlife,” said Tonya Kieffer-Selby, DWR Outreach Manager. “We do not want the public to avoid supporting wildlife, but we do want people to do it legally and safely.”
The DWR also warned that taking animals like raccoons home can facilitate the spread of diseases such as rabies and canine distemper; raccoons can also carry and transmit Leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be deadly for unborn babies.
The graphic nature of the 5-year-old Vernal boy’s injuries illustrated the importance of safety.
If you find a baby animal in the wild, the DWR said not to take it home because its mother is usually nearby. The DWR recommended instead to leave the animal where you found it and to not touch it, and if you do have concerns to contact the nearest DWR office.
WHAT OTHERS ARE READING: