Muskrat Jack: Unvaccinated Dogs at Risk As Infected Raccoon Population Increases

Baby raccoon washing food before eating it.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH-Something is killing off raccoons by the dozen in northeastern Ocean County and “Muskrat” Jack Neary, the animal control officer for Point Pleasant Boro says he knows what it is.

Muskrat Jack said over the past week, he has had to euthanize between 35 and 40 raccoons in Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant Boro and Bay Head.   He said the raccoons were most likely infected by a dog with canine distemper. He also warned that dogs that do not have their distemper shots are at risk for getting the infection from the raccoons.

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“All the raccoon would have to be doing is hanging around an outside food or water bowl,” he said in a Star-Ledger interview. “All the dog needs to do to get it is to inhale it.”

Raccoons have no immunity to the disease and must be put down after contracting it, he added.  The disease is spread through the air, making it more contagious than rabies for dogs and other raccoons.  Humans cannot contract the disease.

“We received a call from Muskrat Jack this morning reporting a k-9 distemper epidemic in raccoons. He has picked up and euthanized 5 raccoons in Point Pleasant Beach, in the last week with k-9 distemper, and indicated that it has spread to the Boro and Bay Head,” Point Pleasant Boro’s municipal government said. “He said the symptoms mimic rabies; raccoons acting strange during daylight hours. His concerns are that distemper is highly contagious, and spread airborne. He asked that anyone encountering a raccoon exhibiting this behavior, call the police immediately so they can dispatch him asap. Also, as a precaution, make sure your pets are up to date on all their vaccinations.”

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