A baby raccoon was euthanized after an unidentified woman took it for a nail trimming service last week to a Petco store in Maine where the animal was handled and even kissed by other people.
The incident prompted fears that many had been exposed to rabies, because raccoons are one of the most common carriers of the virus in Maine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said Thursday on Facebook.
The animal tested negative for the deadly virus, which required it to be euthanized under Maine’s rabies testing guidelines.
The woman walked into the Petco on Mount Auburn Avenue in Auburn on Tuesday afternoon with the raccoon and requested nail trimming services.
The wildlife agency shared pictures of the woman, whom it is still looking for.
“It is illegal to possess wildlife in Maine, and Petco does not trim raccoon nails,” the wildlife department said in a news release.
Many people handled the animal while they waited for service, and some kissed it.
Raccoons are common carriers of rabies, which can be spread to humans if their saliva or neural tissue comes into contact with a bite, a scratch or a cut or gets in the mouth, the nose or the eyes. The virus can be lethal unless it is treated.
“Once the store manager was alerted to the raccoon, the manager asked the woman with the racoon to leave the store, and contacted the Maine CDC and the Maine Warden Service,” the agency said.
The agency confirmed in an update that the animal tested negative for rabies and that those who came into contact with it did not need treatment.
Under Maine’s testing guidelines, “animals submitted for testing must be euthanized.”
The wildlife department asks anyone with information about the woman to come forward.
The agency is also reminding residents that it is illegal to possess wildlife in Maine and that they should never try to handle, feed or move a wild animal.
“If you care, leave them there,” the agency said.