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Raccoon brought to North Dakota bar tests negative for rabies

North Dakota Health and Human Services said the raccoon, which was killed after his visit to Maddock Bar, did not have rabies.

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FILE - California raccoon. WikiMedia Commons.
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MADDOCK, N.D. — The raccoon that was put down after a woman brought him into the Maddock city bar has tested negative for rabies, the North Dakota Department of Health announced Friday, Sept. 16.

The raccoon was put down to test him for rabies on Sept. 14 by the Benson County Sheriff's Office after the owner, Erin Christensen, was arrested on suspicion of providing false information to law enforcement, tampering with evidence and North Dakota Game & Fish violations, according to a statement from the Benson County Sheriff's Office.

It is important to test raccoons for rabies immediately after they come into contact with humans, the Department of Health said in a release.

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 the Department of Health.

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Erin Christensen.
Lake Region Correctional Facility photo

Christensen, 38, of Maddock, reportedly brought the raccoon into the Maddock Bar late Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Bar management immediately told the woman that she had to leave, and she proceeded to show a few bar patrons the raccoon before bar manager Cindy Smith was able to corral her out the door, Smith said.

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

It is illegal to own a raccoon in North Dakota because of the risk of rabies, according to North Dakota Game & Fish.

Christensen believes that the Benson County police needlessly killed the raccoon, she said in a GoFundMe.

Despite it being illegal, Christensen's family maintains in the GoFundMe that they intended to rehabilitate the raccoon.

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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