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New York couple faces fines after bringing pet raccoon to pet store for food

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said it is illegal and dangerous to have raccoons as pets.

A New York man and his girlfriend each face a $500 fine after they brought a pet raccoon to an Erie County pet store for food, officials said.

The unidentified couple was charged for unlawfully possessing a wild animal, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a news release. The agency noted that it is not only illegal to have wild animals as pets but also dangerous.

A man and his girlfriend took a raccoon to a pet store to get food and supplies in Eerie County, N.Y.,  before one of the store's employees contacted authorities.
A man and his girlfriend took a raccoon to a pet store to get food and supplies in Eerie County, N.Y., before one of the store's employees contacted authorities.ny.gov

"Rabies test results for the raccoon were negative. DEC urges the public to leave wild animals alone," the release states. "Once a rabies infection is established, there’s no effective treatment."The pair brought the animal to the store on June 2 so they could pick up food and supplies, according to the agency.

A store employee called the authorities. The same day, Environmental Conservation police officers got an "urgent call" to help locate a "potentially rabid raccoon." They were able to track the couple back to a location in Attica in Wyoming County. The couple handed over the raccoon, and the animal was taken to a veterinary hospital for testing.

Raccoons are protected by law and people are not allowed to possess raccoons, hunt them or trap them without a license, according to the agency. Licenses are not issued for pet wildlife.