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Spooky encounter rattles dog-walker
Raccoon may have been rapid
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Forsyth County News
Anthony Bruce was walking with his dog earlier this week in northeastern Forsyth County when something “spooky” happened.

“I looked up and there was a big raccoon,” he said. “It jumped up over my shoulder about a foot away.”

The animal was at the front of Bruce’s Shadewater Drive home and hopped onto a ledge when it saw his dog. Bruce threw sticks at it, but the animal wouldn’t go away.

“It was wobbling, so the first thing I thought was rabies,” he said.

Bruce may be right.

That’s just the kind of behavior authorities have been warning the public about in the three weeks since they announced the county’s first confirmed rabies case since 2007.

A camper at a creek along Cantrell Road, near the Dawson County line, killed a raccoon July 5 that tried to bite him.

The raccoon was sent for testing and on July 10 authorities announced the animal had rabies.

A lack of fear of humans, foaming at the mouth and being unsteady on its feet are some of the symptoms an animal has when it suffers from rabies.

Bruce said the raccoon he found on Wednesday wasn’t foaming at the mouth and didn’t attack, but kept coming toward him. Eventually, it went inside his garage.

Bruce locked the dog in his truck and went into the house, where he called 911.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Lt. David Waters said the raccoon was captured and taken to the Forsyth County Animal Shelter, where it was released to Lanier Orr’s staff.

Orr, a veterinarian, is president of the corporation that runs the shelter and owns Orr Animal Clinic.

A clinic employee confirmed that the raccoon had been euthanized, but did not provide further details.

Waters said when authorities arrived at the house, the raccoon “gave the appearance of some type of illness.”

He said the animal showed no fear and had laid down in the corner of Bruce’s garage.

When Animal Control Officer Rick Aldrich approached the raccoon, it didn’t try to run away.

“That’s telling me that this animal is sick,” Waters said. “That there’s something wrong with this animal.”

The rabies virus can be deadly and attacks the nervous system and brain.

Along with raccoons, it is commonly carried in Georgia by skunks, foxes and bats. The disease is transmitted through body fluids such as saliva or mucus.

Waters said it would be up to a veterinarian to decide if the raccoon caught Wednesday should be tested. The only way to confirm rabies, he explained, is by removing the animal’s brain and examining it.

“If in fact we locate an animal that appears to have some type of disease or sickness, we’ll automatically transport it to Dr. Orr’s facility,” Waters said. “That’s not saying that they’re going to be tested for rabies.”

He said if an animal has not come into physical contact with a human or another animal, it may not be tested for the disease.

He said a veterinarian may decide to put an animal down just simply because it’s sick.

Waters said animals that have had physical contact with humans or domesticated animals will be tested for the fatal disease.

He urged residents, especially in the area around Shady Grove Road, to keep their garages and doors closed and watch for animals that may show symptoms of rabies.

Bruce, who guessed the raccoon weighed between 8 to 10 pounds, said Aldrich told him about the confirmed case.

“It was spooky,” Bruce said.

E-mail Julie Arrington at