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Sep. 28, 2020 | Monday
Local News
NOTL samaritans stop to help blind raccoon
A raccoon with distemper was found on Mississagua Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Sunday. The virus is fatal for raccoons. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

Some good samaritans stopped Sunday on their way into town to help a raccoon that was walking around on Mississagua Street.

The raccoon appeared to be blind, with its eyes crusted shut, and was walking around in circles.

Nicolle Lalonde, a St. Catharines resident, was the first to stop to help.

“I was driving into town and the car ahead of me stopped, so I stopped behind him and he went around the little guy. And he was sitting in the middle of the lane, so I honked my horn to see if he would move and he didn’t seem to be moving very well, so I threw on my hazard lights and tried to shoo him off the road,” said Lalonde.

“He appears to be blind, and even his sense of smell seems to be not very good, so myself and this other couple tried to coax him onto the side (of the road).”

Lalonde called the Humane Society, which said somebody had already reported it and someone was on the way.

Matthew Wilson, of Virgil, was one of the others to try and help.

He said him and his mother were travelling from Virgil to Niagara-on-the-Lake to enjoy the nice day and get a coffee when they spotted Lalonde out of her car trying to help the raccoon.

“We saw her guiding a little raccoon to the side of the street … she couldn’t get it off the road, so we got out and I just got a little stick and tried to guide it off the street.”

He said the raccoon was acting “really weird and strange” and thought maybe it had been hit by a car or had an eye infection.

An Ontario SPCA worker named Kaitlin arrived on scene to take the raccoon shortly after Lalonde and Wilson got it off of the road.

She said the raccoon had a virus called distemper, which infects the animal’s respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, the spinal cord and the brain. The only thing that can be done, she said, is humane euthanasia.

Distemper is fatal and is the second leading cause of death for raccoons, according to the Humane Society.

“Unfortunately there is no cure for it,” the worker said. “It slowly just infects them, like you see here, he can’t see through his eyes.”

She said some signs of distemper are eye discharge and if the raccoon is wandering in circles.

According to the Humane Society, distemper is highly contagious and is transferred through inhalation.

“Distemper is a canine virus that affects raccoons, it is also known as Panleukopenia in cats. Raccoons typically carry the strain that can be transferred to canine species including companion pets such as dogs and ferrets. Puppies between the ages of three to six months are at greater risk of infection. Wildlife in our area that is at risk of getting infected includes raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes and weasels,”  said the Humane Society website.

Information from the Humane Society says pets with up-to-date vaccinations should be protected from the virus, but if you’re not sure you can check with your veterinarian.

Lalonde said she had been headed into town to support local businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reason I’m coming to town is, we were supposed to leave for Mont-Tremblant this morning, and I was looking forward to the ‘Snowshoe and Fondue Tour,’ so I called Cheese Secrets and I said ‘I was planning to have a fondue dinner tonight, and that’s not going to happen. Can you help me out?’ And they said ‘of course, come down and see us,’ so that’s where I’m on my way to.”

Lalonde said it’s important right now with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support local businesses.

“I try to shop local on a normal day, but this week I particularly want to make sure I’m coming out and supporting whoever I can still support while they’re still open.”

“My first stop was the cupcake place, my second stop will be the cheese place, my third stop will be Southbrook winery, and any of the little farmer stands in between to pick up some fresh vegetables. That’s my plan today.”

“You gotta support your independent stores,” added Wilson.

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