The RSPCA is appealing for the owner of a stray raccoon dog to come forward after the animal appeared in a school playground as the morning bell rang.
The animal, a native of Asia which is also known as a tanuki, surprised schoolchildren and staff at Woodhouse Primary Academy in Quinton, Birmingham, this morning (Thursday).
It was reported to the RSPCA, who rescued the animal. The raccoon dog is now at the RSPCA’s Birmingham Animal Hospital while arrangements are being made for the animal to be transferred to a specialist wildlife facility.
Unfortunately the raccoon dog isn’t microchipped so the RSPCA is unable to reunite them with their owner, if an escaped pet.
There is also the possibility that the animal was abandoned by his owner if they decided they could no longer look after him.
Dave Williams, an RSPCA animal collection officer who rescued the raccoon dog from the playground, said: “He was found shaking in a corner of the playground – he was clearly scared. Staff at the school managed to confine him so I was able to safely take him to our animal hospital in Birmingham.”
The RSPCA is urging the raccoon dog’s owner to get in touch, however if he is not claimed the RSPCA will look for a suitable home. The charity has rehomed all of the raccoon dogs that have come into its care, to wildlife parks or zoos where there is the adequate space and expertise required to keep these animals.
Nicola White, the RSPCA’s exotics senior scientific officer, said: “The RSPCA is very concerned about the trend of keeping raccoon dogs as pets as we have in recent years dealt with a number of call-outs to stray pet raccoon dogs that have escaped, or been deliberately released to the wild.
“Raccoon dogs don’t make good pets. They are wild animals and while they sadly seem to have become more popular as pets in the UK, we would strongly discourage people from buying or keeping one as a pet.
“They need a great deal of space and their needs cannot be met in a typical domestic environment.
“It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) to release these animals, or allow them to escape, into the wild because they are not a native species to the UK.
“Unfortunately it is currently legal to keep and sell raccoon dogs as pets in England and Wales without a license. However, raccoon dogs have recently been listed under Invasive Species Regulations so it should become illegal to sell them in a few years and we would welcome this move.”
Anyone who comes across an injured or sick animal, or an animal who has been abandoned, should contact our 24-hour emergency line on 0300 1234 999.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).