An unidentified woman caused a bit of a scare last week when she brought a baby raccoon into a Petco for a nail trimming service, leaving state officials worried about possible rabies exposure.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife shared on Thursday that several people in the store were seen interacting with the animal, which it says is one of the most common carriers of the virus in the state.
Humans can have the virus spread to them through an animal’s saliva or if its neural tissues come into contact with a bite, scratch, cut, or gets in the mouth, nose, or eyes.
The incident resulted in the department euthanizing the raccoon, which is required when testing for rabies, Maine’s rabies testing guidelines state. The test has since come back negative, the department shared, meaning treatment was not needed for anyone at the store.
The wildlife agency shared photos of the woman inside the Mt. Auburn Avenue store as she looked to get the animal’s nails trimmed. The agency shared that several people were seen handling and even kissing the animal.
Although the animal may seem cute and cuddly, the wildlife agency shared that the woman was breaking the law, and they are currently looking for her.
“It is illegal to possess wildlife in Maine, and Petco does not trim raccoon nails,” the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said in a news release.
The agency stressed the importance of taking rabies seriously, noting that the virus can be lethal if not treated after exposure promptly.
“Once the store manager was alerted to the raccoon, the manager asked the woman with the raccoon to leave the store and contacted the Maine CDC and the Maine Warden Service,” the agency said.
An investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Anyone with information about the unknown woman is being asked to contact the wildlife agency.