A baby raccoon was euthanized in Maine after an unidentified woman brought it to a Petco for a nail trimming service on Tuesday where the animal was handled and even kissed by others.
The incident prompted fears that many had been exposed to rabies because raccoons are one of the most common carriers of the virus in Maine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said in a post published Thursday.
The animal has since tested negative for the deadly virus, a process which required it to be euthanized, per Maine’s rabies testing guidelines.
The woman walked into the Petco on Mt. Auburn Avenue on Tuesday afternoon with the raccoon and requested nail trimming services.
The wildlife agency shared pictures of the woman on Facebook, who they are still looking for.
“It is illegal to possess wildife in Maine, and Petco does not trim raccoon nails,” the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said in a news release.
While waiting to receive the service, many different people handled the animal, and some kissed it.
Raccoons are common carriers of rabies, which can be spread to humans if a rabid animal’s saliva or neural tissue comes into contact with a bite, scratch, cut or gets in the mouth, nose or eyes. The virus can be lethal unless treated after exposure.
“Once the store manager was alerted to the raccoon, the manager asked the woman with the racoon to leave the store, and contacted the Maine CDC and the Maine Warden Service,” the agency said.
In an update from the agency, they confirmed the animal tested negative for rabies and those who came into contact with it did not need treatment.
Per Maine’s testing guidelines, “animals submitted for testing must be euthanized.”
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife is asking anyone with information on the woman to come forward.
The agency is also reminding residents that it’s illegal to possess wildlife in Maine, and to never attempt handling, feeding or moving a wild animal.
“If you care, leave them there,” the agency said.