SCDHEC orders Upstate woman to turn over pet raccoon

A Spartanburg woman is trying to keep her pet raccoon from being euthanized.She says SCDHEC is demanding she hand over her pet raccoon ‘Bandit’ after an incident last month where it reportedly nipped a child close to the family.Christy Mills says she’s had Bandit for two years. “I just want to love him,” Mills said. “He brings so much more happiness to our family.”In May, Mills says some people close to the family came to her house unexpectedly. She says that’s when Bandit nipped the child inside her home.“I have a Ring camera,” Mills said. “It alerts me if anybody pulls it, you know, it never went off. I didn’t open the door for them.”Mills claims the child has been around Bandit many times before.However, the incident was reported to DHEC, which is now ordering Mills to hand Bandit over to officials. “To have him euthanized and has head chopped open and tested for rabies,” she said.Mills argues, that she takes Bandit to the vet regularly and has medical records showing Bandit has been vaccinated. “The vaccine that the licensed vet administered him is not proven to work on raccoons,” she said.Mills says she was never made aware the vaccine did not protect raccoons. “I called everybody to see if there was some other option besides killing him,” she said.She says DHEC has left several notices at her door, ordering her to give Bandit to officials to be euthanized and tested for rabies.According to the notice, DHEC says south Carolina law says in some cases, an animal can go through a quarantine period after an incident to be monitored for rabies.However, the law appears to only apply to dogs, cats and ferrets. The notice says any animal other than that has to be euthanized immediately.“I want him to live a normal life that any animal deserves that,” Mills said. “He deserves that. He has brought a lot more happiness.”Mills says she refuses to comply with the notices, which DHEC says could result in legal action.“Or face 30 days in jail and pay a fine,” she said. “I told them I am not giving them my raccoon, to let me know when I need to turn myself in and I would go do that.”Mills says the child is okay and was taken to a doctor to get checked out.WYFF News 4 reached out to DHEC and it released the following statement.SCDNR says there’s no specific law prohibiting having a raccoon as a pet, however, it cannot be imported from another state or bought from someone in the same state. “We don’t see a lot of rabies because it really is pretty rare in the United States,” Dr. Nathaniel Mann said.Dr. Mann says when someone comes in with a concern about rabies after being bitten by an animal, they clean the wound and look at what kind of animal the person was bitten by.“Different animals are known to be vectors for rabies,” he said. “Raccoons are one of them. Most commonly in North America though we deal with bats.” Dr. Mann says they typically offer a person medication depending on the severity of the wound and what animal they were bitten by. He says they will then monitor the person over the next few weeks.“If they develop symptoms of rabies within the next two weeks, then we know that patient needs to come back for a rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin,” he said.If a person does contract rabies, he says there’s no set timeline on when they could start showing symptoms.“There are case reports or studies where people have been bitten by a rabid animal and didn’t develop signs of rabies until months and months later,’ Dr. Mann said. “In other instances, it can happen within 24 hours.”

A Spartanburg woman is trying to keep her pet raccoon from being euthanized.

She says SCDHEC is demanding she hand over her pet raccoon ‘Bandit’ after an incident last month where it reportedly nipped a child close to the family.

Christy Mills says she’s had Bandit for two years.

“I just want to love him,” Mills said. “He brings so much more happiness to our family.”

In May, Mills says some people close to the family came to her house unexpectedly. She says that’s when Bandit nipped the child inside her home.

“I have a Ring camera,” Mills said. “It alerts me if anybody pulls it, you know, it never went off. I didn’t open the door for them.”

Mills claims the child has been around Bandit many times before.

However, the incident was reported to DHEC, which is now ordering Mills to hand Bandit over to officials.

“To have him euthanized and has head chopped open and tested for rabies,” she said.

Mills argues, that she takes Bandit to the vet regularly and has medical records showing Bandit has been vaccinated.

“The vaccine that the licensed vet administered him is not proven to work on raccoons,” she said.

Mills says she was never made aware the vaccine did not protect raccoons.

“I called everybody to see if there was some other option besides killing him,” she said.

She says DHEC has left several notices at her door, ordering her to give Bandit to officials to be euthanized and tested for rabies.

According to the notice, DHEC says south Carolina law says in some cases, an animal can go through a quarantine period after an incident to be monitored for rabies.

However, the law appears to only apply to dogs, cats and ferrets. The notice says any animal other than that has to be euthanized immediately.

“I want him to live a normal life that any animal deserves that,” Mills said. “He deserves that. He has brought a lot more happiness.”

Mills says she refuses to comply with the notices, which DHEC says could result in legal action.

“Or face 30 days in jail and pay a fine,” she said. “I told them I am not giving them my raccoon, to let me know when I need to turn myself in and I would go do that.”

Mills says the child is okay and was taken to a doctor to get checked out.

WYFF News 4 reached out to DHEC and it released the following statement.

SCDNR says there’s no specific law prohibiting having a raccoon as a pet, however, it cannot be imported from another state or bought from someone in the same state.

“We don’t see a lot of rabies because it really is pretty rare in the United States,” Dr. Nathaniel Mann said.

Dr. Mann says when someone comes in with a concern about rabies after being bitten by an animal, they clean the wound and look at what kind of animal the person was bitten by.

“Different animals are known to be vectors for rabies,” he said. “Raccoons are one of them. Most commonly in North America though we deal with bats.”

Dr. Mann says they typically offer a person medication depending on the severity of the wound and what animal they were bitten by. He says they will then monitor the person over the next few weeks.

“If they develop symptoms of rabies within the next two weeks, then we know that patient needs to come back for a rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin,” he said.

If a person does contract rabies, he says there’s no set timeline on when they could start showing symptoms.

“There are case reports or studies where people have been bitten by a rabid animal and didn’t develop signs of rabies until months and months later,’ Dr. Mann said. “In other instances, it can happen within 24 hours.”

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