Maine authorities euthanized a baby raccoon after a woman brought the potentially rabies-infested pet into a Petco for a nail trim and let several strangers kiss it.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife said Friday that the animal tested negative for rabies, a process that requires the animal to be put down.
The agency had been searching for the kit and its owner since Tuesday afternoon after suspecting it was carrying the deadly disease.
The woman — whose identity was not revealed — carried the baby critter into the Auburn store to have its nails trimmed, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
“While waiting, many different people handled the raccoon and some even kissed it,” the agency said.
Once the store manager realized the wild animal was inside the pet retailer, they kicked the woman out and immediately contacted state health and animal authorities.
“It is illegal to possess wildlife in Maine, and Petco does not trim raccoon nails, the department added.
The agency did not say whether the animal had shown any signs of the disease — characterized by excessive salivation and aggressive behavior — but worried it was a carrier because of its species.
Raccoons, along with skunks, bats and foxes, are the most common carriers of rabies in Maine, according to the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is spread through an infected animal’s saliva — worrying authorities that those who kissed the kit could have been exposed.
“The raccoon tested negative for rabies, so those who came in contact with the raccoon at Petco do not need to seek treatment,” the agency said in an update.
“Animals submitted for testing must be euthanized,” Maine’s testing guidelines state.
“(Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory) asks that animals be decapitated by a veterinarian or trained personnel.”
The DIFW did not immediately respond to requests for comment.