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Can You Give a Wild Raccoon a Rabies Vaccination?

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Here's an email that I got on the subject:

I live on Staten Island on the edge of a wetland about a block from South Beach. I have a small colony of feral cats I’m in the process of TNRing, and of course I get raccoons, possums and probably others visiting the feeding station. I don’t mind this, but the neighbors raise hell—and I do mean HELL—about the raccoons especially, since they can carry rabies (tho there have been no cases on SI for over a year) and of course, they love the occasional B&E caper. In fact, some neighbors keep garbage cans on their back balconies, and that probably attracts the raccoons as much as my feeder, but be that as it may, I get blamed, which puts me AND my little colony at risk of guerrilla tactics (poisonings, large marauding people when I am not home, lobbing large objects at peacefully feeding felines, etc.).

Perhaps as a cautionary event, a sick or injured raccoon showed up at my feeder in full sunlight Saturday. Fearing rabies, I called EVERYWHERE and did lots of research trying to figure out what his symptoms meant. I emailed a cop/TNR person, Best Friends, called rehabbers, and finally concluded it was either the final phases of distemper or (what I suspect) he’d been hit by a car, injured, and knocked silly. He came for breakfast, and slurped in a lot of food, then returned at dinnertime to repeat. He seemed blind and had limited hearing, had a left rear leg that was stiff and painful, and when he showed up in the a.m. was trembling, but not in the evening. He has apparently disappeared, and I hope he’s getting better. But be that as it may, I will be doing some cat trapping in the near future (I hope), and when I put out those traps, I WILL get raccoons. They come for the food and I always release them. This time, though, I would like to get them to a willing vet and get them rabies shots (and distemper as well if I could) then bring them back and release them.

I was told by one rehabber that I couldn’t do this. That vets won’t give rabies shots to wild raccoons who get caught in a cat trap, because the laws or protocol or ethics won’t permit that. This seems kind of nonsensical to me, as it would bring peace of mind to everybody involved, protect a vector animal, and cover my behind. I was reading the blog of a Dr. Plotnick this afternoon, and he noted that there had been a mass trapping of raccoons in Central Park last year in order to give them rabies vaccine, and then release them back into the park. If they can be vaccinated, why can’t these little guys on the South Beach Wetland?

So my questions are: 1) Do you know why it would NOT be possible for me to try and get a vet who would vaccinate a feral raccoon through the mesh in the trap? And 2) Do you know what office in the State DOH or the city DOH would be responsible for these vaccinations? And finally 3) Do you have any idea how I could get these guys vaccinated?

Raccoons coming up into the traps is a very common occurrence in TNRing. The people in the online NYC Feral Cat Initiative group are very sympathetic toward the raccoons and other animals who come up to feed, and I suspect if there were a way to protect them by getting them vaccinated, there would be generalized interest in doing just that. So this is possibly/probably information that others would be able to use to advantage as well.

I REALLY will look forward to your response. And thanks so much in advance.

I also got an email about a raccoon in the attic giving the resident raccoon fleas, and another about the concern of raccoon roundworm.

If you have raccoons living in the attic, you can't just put a cage trap on the ground, because there might be a nest of baby raccoons in the attic. They must be removed by hand.

More in-detail how-to raccoon removal articles:
Information about raccoon trapping - analysis and methods for how to trap.
Information about how to keep raccoons away - prevention techniques.
Information about how to catch a raccoon - remove one stuck in the house.
Information about raccoon repellent - analysis of types and effectiveness.

This site is intended to provide raccoon education and information about how to kill raccoons with poison, so that you can make an informed decision if you need to deal with a raccoon problem. This site provides many raccoon control articles and strategies, if you wish to attempt to solve the problem yourself. If you are unable to do so, which is likely with many cases of raccoon removal, please go to the home page and click the USA map, where I have wildlife removal experts listed in over 500 cites and towns, who can properly help you with your nuisance raccoon. Click here to read more about how to get rid of raccoons.

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