New York duo face fines after bringing raccoon into pet store

ATTICA, N.Y. — Some pet stores allow owners to bring their animals into their businesses, but a New York duo may have gone a step too far.

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The man and woman face fines of $500 each after they brought a raccoon into an upstate New York pet store to shop for food earlier this month, authorities said.

According to a news release from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the Erie County Department of Health on June 2 requested assistance locating a potentially rabid raccoon.

The Erie County agency reported that a man and his girlfriend walked into an unidentified store to get food and supplies, WKBW-TV reported.

“Using store surveillance cameras, a store-issued rewards card, and license plate information,” Environmental Conservation Officer Don Damrath tailed the raccoon’s owner to Attica in neighboring Wyoming County and convinced him to surrender the animal for testing, the DEC stated in its release.

Raccoons are considered dangerous wild animals because they are known to carry and transmit the rabies virus, according to The Associated Press.

Damrath transported the animal to a veterinary hospital for testing, the state agency said in its release. He also charged the two persons for illegally owning the raccoon.

The raccoon was euthanized and tested for rabies -- a test that can only be performed on an animal after it has died, according to the AP. The test was negative, according to the DEC.

“DEC urges the public to leave wild animals alone. Possessing wild animals is not only unlawful, doing so can be deadly. Once a rabies infection is established, there’s no effective treatment,” the agency’s release stated.

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