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Monroeville police: When animals attack, call 911

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By Kyle Lawson
Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 2:42 p.m.

If a raccoon attacks someone in Monroeville, police want to know about it before TV news viewers do.

Last week, a Monroeville woman who said she was attacked by a raccoon was featured on a television news broadcast. She told the reporter she was attacked by a raccoon at a Dumpster outside of Cambridge Square Apartments.

Monroeville police Chief Doug Cole said the Monroeville dispatch center had no record of a call for police or medical service for a raccoon attack. Officials said the woman should have notified them, and they encourage people to call 911 for animal attacks.

“If (a resident) is ever bit by an animal, they should call the authorities,” Monroeville Animal Control officer Mike Strom said Tuesday. “We'd like to try to get the animal and not have someone else get bit.”

The Cambridge Square resident who said she was attacked by the raccoon couldn't be reached for comment.

An unnamed woman who said she was the property manager of Cambridge Square Apartments said Tuesday she would not comment, except to say that it was the first she had heard of the incident.

Strom said he typically removes about 10 raccoons from the Dumpster area outside of the Cambridge Square apartments each summer. He cited a nearby wooded area and the open trash bins as reasons for the high call volume.

“The best thing would be to keep the doors closed on the dumpster,” Strom said.

When animal control officers catch a wild animal that might be infected with rabies, they are instructed to deliver the animal to the Allegheny County Health Department for testing, Strom said.

The health department reported 18 wild animals with rabies in 2013, which included six raccoons, 10 bats, a skunk and a stray cat, spokesman Guillermo Cole said.

Cole cautioned that it's never a good idea to approach a wild animal, especially a raccoon.

“Raccoons are a high-risk species for rabies,” he said. “You can't always know by looking at an animal if it is rabid.”

He said that if someone is bitten by any wild animal, they should clean the contact area with soap and water, seek immediate medical treatment and call the health department at 412-687-2243.

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