A raccoon attacked a jogger early Thursday morning, Jan. 28, in the Jasper City Park near the duck pond.
The small raccoon died after the jogger choked the animal to remove it from his pants leg and then held the animal to the ground using a broken umbrella a fellow jogger retrieved from a nearby trash can. A city police officer called to the scene noted the animal was dead when he arrived.
The incident left the jogger unscratched and city officials seeking more information on any other raccoon encounters in the city.
Jasper Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters asked anyone that may have had contact with a raccoon in the park or the densely populated area around the park call Jasper City Hall at 706-253-9100.
Waters and Mayor John Weaver expressed disappointment that the state lab would not test the dead raccoon for rabies because the animal did not break the jogger's skin. City employee Gary Poole said the animal exhibited every symptom of a rabid animal.
But Waters said this is not a prime season for rabies cases. He said it’s possible this animal had become docile because of regular food handouts from people in the park, but city employees said they had never seen a raccoon in the park during daylight hours.
Waters said there is no reason to panic but that pet owners or anyone who had contact with a raccoon should consider that contact a cause for concern. Waters said he would like to discuss any other raccoon encounters inside the city limits.
Mayor Weaver said he wants the public to be aware of the raccoon incident so that anyone in contact with the animal can take needed precautions. Weaver said the city is working to see if they can have the animal tested. Weaver indicated he also wants the public to know the basic facts of the story to quell rumors that might blow the incident out of proportion. “Before long you’ll be hearing that the raccoon ate someone alive,” he said. He asked the public to take sensible precautions, such as avoiding a raccoon if they see one in the park, but there is no reason to believe there would be others.
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Above, Animal Control Officer Waters with the raccoon.