Keeping You Safe: Distemper on the rise

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Hamilton County SPCA reports there is a rise in distemper cases in wild animals this year.

Some wild raccoons certainly turned FOX19 reporter Stefano DiPietrantonio's day upside down.

He went to Newtown to shoot a story on reaction to the Anderson Mine. Part of his shoe broke off and got lost somewhere on the side of the road and then he gained two stubborn baby raccoons.

The raccoons were cooing and making chirping sounds inside the SPCA's cage. They sounded happier now that they'd been rescued from the engine of the FOX19 car.

They too were having "one of those days" and somehow got up inside the underbelly of the FOX19 newscar and took a ride to Newtown with Stef.

He had already wrapped his interview and had done his part on-camera. He "thought" he was ready to roll out of there, until he looked underneath the car and saw tails dangling from the under-carriage.

Little Miami Fire-Rescue Lt. Rick Himmelhaver came to the rescue first.

"I know it's nice n' roasty in there but you gotta come out," he joked to the raccoon. "Now c'mon, I ain't gonna hurt ya'. Come on outta there!," he bellowed as he reached in with all sorts of tools.

Finally, success. The first one came out screaming. One down and one to go, but not without a fight.

"Right there," another firefighter said, pointing up under the steering column. The SPCA showed-up and went in with a small noose, hoping to grab the second one, who had wedged himself securely in there.

Firefighters tried soaking him out using a garden hose and dousing the engine and after some serious coaxing, another hard-fought success.

"There he is, see that patch of hair right there? I see his foot," Himmelhaver said.

There was plenty of screeching from the second raccoon.

"Oh Rocky," the animal control officer called the wily raccoon. "Calm down," as he carried it over to put it together with the first capture, they'd kept secure in a large garbage can.

"How are you doing in there baby?" they asked looking down at the quiet baby raccoon. He was not happy to be taken from his dark, quiet confines in the garbage can, but as soon as it was placed in the pen with his pal, they began cooing and making happy chirping sounds.

"They look like they might be old enough to get by on their own as opposed to nursing, so probably out on their own," said David Jones, Hamilton County Animal Control Officer.

We asked if there was any danger of rabies here in the tri-state.

"Rabies is very rare in this area," Jones said. "But we are seeing a lot of distemper among wild raccoons."

Jones said if you see a raccoon out in daylight that is a bad sign.

"They're a nocturnal animal so being out in the daytime is something unusual for them and can be an indication that they're sick," he said. "Especially if it's walking in circles, staggering, had goopy eyes or nose, those are signs of distemper."

The bottom line here the SPCA said, is never, ever try to handle a wild animal yourself. Even the smallest scratch or bite from a wild animal could send you to the ER. When in doubt call 911 or your local SPCA.

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