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Raccoon attacks prompt officials to urge residents to get their pets rabies shots

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    HIGHLANDS, New Jersey (WCBS) — A raccoon with rabies recently attacked a small dog in a Monmouth County town and now officials are warning residents to vaccinate their pets.

CBS2’s Meg Baker spoke to the dog’s owner on Tuesday.

Twelve-year-old Tilly has a cast on his leg after a terrifying attack last week during the day on Waterwitch Avenue in Highlands.

“I heard screams of pain,” Elizabeth Dellapietro said.

Dellapietro said she ran outside to see her 10-pound dog with a raccoon attached to it. A neighbor behind her witnessed it, too.

“I peeked my head over. There is a raccoon with a full grip on the dog’s arm, wouldn’t let go for about 30 seconds. We were all screaming,” Kali Owens said.

Her 3-year-old daughter was only a few feet away.

“It was a horrifying experience,” Owens said.

“I’m just upset anybody else could get hurt because this is the second incident of a raccoon attack in under a month,” Dellapietro said.

Feral cats have also been attacked. Monmouth County regional health officer David Henry said that increases the rabies risk in the area.

“Basically run the risk of having more animals, and potentially more people in contact,” Henry said.

Neighbors say the raccoons live under a house that has been abandoned since Superstorm Sandy. It’s on private property, but the borough administrator said he is contacting Animal Control to get in there. Two raccoons have been caught and tested positive for rabies.

Dellapietro is going through a series of rabies shots because of possible exposure to her dogs and a cut on her hand. Both of her dogs also got booster shots.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry because it’s deadly. Rabies will kill you in what? Two weeks?” Dellapietro said.

The Highlands municipal Facebook page is reminding people to keep their pets’ vaccinations up to date, offering a free rabies clinic May 8.

Officials say keep garbage cans covered. Do not approach an animal that looks lethargic, aggressive and drooling.

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