SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — A Spartanburg woman is upset because she said DHEC considers her pet raccoon a public health risk.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control wants to test the raccoon for rabies, but Christy Mills has refused to hand over Bandit, which she said has been a part of her family since May 1, 2020.
“Let me know when I need to turn myself in,” she said. “You’re not getting my raccoon.”
Mills has acknowledged that Bandit bit someone on May 21 and that the incident was reported to DHEC.
Now, the Department of Health and Environmental Control wants him tested for rabies because raccoons are considered the primary carrier of rabies in South Carolina.
To test for rabies, an animal has to be killed, and Mills said she won’t let that happen.
“Never to this day will he be euthanized and tested for rabies,” Mills said.
Mills said the person bitten by Bandit entered her home without being invited inside. A DHEC statement said Bandit has bitten multiple people and could be a public health risk.
“He has been vaccinated,” Mills said. “Even though there’s no study yet that’s been proven that this vaccine works on raccoons.”
She said she has a court date in September for a rabies control violation. In the meantime, she said the fine is up to $1,000 for every day that she doesn’t comply.
“If he had rabies, we would all be dead,” Mills said. “My cat would be dead, the dog would be dead, my kids would be dead.”
She wants to ease the minds of people in Spartanburg.
“He has never just gone up and bit somebody randomly,” she said.
She said Bandit is no longer in her home.
“He’s in South Carolina, so Spartanburg people do not be looking for a rabid raccoon,” she said. “For he is not rabid, and he is not in Spartanburg.”
Overall, Mills said her main goal is to be able to bring Bandit back to live with her family.
“We want Bandit home,” she said. “I mean he’s not even eating his Scooby Snacks, I mean I’ve had to get a burner phone. I mean the craziest things to be able to check on this baby.”
DHEC says anyone who has been bitten by a raccoon should seek medical attention and contact the agency.