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GoFundMe created for woman arrested for bringing raccoon into North Dakota bar

Despite it being illegal, the family maintains in the GoFundMe that they intended to rehabilitate "Rocky."

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MADDOCK, N.D. — A family member of the woman arrested for reportedly bringing a raccoon into the Maddock city bar has created a GoFundMe page entitled, "Justice for Rocky and help for a family member."

Erin Christensen was arrested on Sept. 14 on suspicion of providing false information to law enforcement, tampering with evidence and North Dakota Game & Fish violations, according to a statement given by the Benson County Sheriff’s Office.

The 38-year-old woman had been drinking when she brought a raccoon into Maddock’s Bar on Sept. 6, according to bar manager Cindy Smith.

The raccoon never touched the floor or another customer, according to Smith. She said the animal "definitely didn't bite anyone."

Police reportedly told Christensen that they were going to quarantine the animal for 10 days and release him if he didn’t show any signs of rabies, according to the GoFundMe.

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The police shot the raccoon when they found him on Sept. 14, the GoFundMe said.

The raccoon was put down after the bar incident to test the animal for rabies, according to the Benson County Sheriff’s office.

Christensen believes that the Benson County police needlessly killed the raccoon. She alleges that they could have quarantined the raccoon for 10 days to see if he had rabies and then released him.

It is important to test raccoons for rabies immediately after they come into contact with humans, according to a statement released by North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS).

An observation period for animals like dogs, cats and ferrets is sufficient to rule out rabies exposure.

"Unfortunately, with most other mammals, the period of viral shedding is not understood well enough to allow for reliable observation periods," said Amanda Bakken, epidemiologist with HHS.

Christensen, Erin.JPG
Erin Christensen.
Lake Region Correctional Facility photo

Christensen rescued "Rocky" as a baby approximately three months ago. He was on the side of the road unable to move and fighting for his life, according to the GoFundMe. When he was still there the following morning, Christensen took him in.

Helping injured wildlife in North Dakota is illegal across the board, said Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian with North Dakota Game and Fish.

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Raccoons and skunks are listed as prohibited animals on the North Dakota Game and Fish’s website because they are the most well-known carriers of rabies, a disease that is 100% fatal, according to Bahnson. It is illegal in North Dakota to own a raccoon.

Despite it being illegal, the family maintains in the GoFundMe that they intended to rehabilitate Rocky themselves.

Christensen points out that there are no wildlife rehabilitation services available in North Dakota and that she was filling this roll in the absence of county and state resources.

North Dakota is the only state in the country without permitted wildlife/mammal rescue and rehabilitation facilities, according to the Wildlife Center of North Dakota, a nonprofit seeking to change that situation.

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