CLEVELAND — This time of year, your backyard can resemble wild kingdom with skunks and raccoons out and about.
That could mean trouble for your dog, because the uninvited critters can be carriers of canine distemper.
From their masked faces to their striped tails, raccoons may look cute. Skunks too, for that matter. It's not uncommon to see them, but pay attention to how they act.
Becca Britton runs the Neighborhood Pets Outreach Center in Slavic Village. She had a recent raccoon encounter
"It just started hissing and growling. It was terrified," she told us.
After getting her dogs to safety, she called animal control and was told it was probably distemper and that they see it all over the city.
It's everywhere raccoons and skunks live. They're carriers of the disease and can pass it to dogs. All they have to do is come in contact with fluids or waste from an infected animal.
Distemper is fatal, but can be prevented
"Make sure your dog is up to date on its distemper vaccination and if it's not, I would go get your dog vaccinated as soon as possible," Becca advises.
Neighborhood Pets is a non-profit providing low cost pet care for those in need. They even have a pet food food bank.
"There are so many people who love their animals like family members and they just can't afford to go to a traditional health clinic," says Becca.
If you meet the clinic's guidelines, you can get anything from flea meds to that distemper vaccination at a discounted rate.
"Everyone wants to be able to care for their pets and making it accessible and affordable is very important," Becca adds.
If you see any raccoons in your yard behaving strangely, call animal control immediately. And if you have any questions about your dog and distemper, give your vet a call.