CHARLOTTE - A number of recent wildlife scares has the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Animal Control sounding the alarm.
People have picked up baby wild animals on at least four different occasions, potentially exposing themselves to rabies, officials said.
Lenny Adams and his family are animal lovers. They didn't think twice about bringing a tiny animal home after someone found it on the side of the road.
“It's adorable, and we love animals,” Adams said.
He didn't know what it was, so he called Animal Control. But while the family waited for officers, they took the pup out back and started to play.
“It was hopping all over my son and the girls were petting it and having fun with it,” Adams said.
When Animal Control officers showed up, the family learned it was a coyote and everyone who touched it could potentially have been exposed to rabies.
“It's happened probably four or five times since March of this year,” CMPD Animal Care and Control official Melissa Knicely said.
Knicely is trying to get the word out after she said people have picked up baby raccoons, foxes and coyotes.
“They are very cute little animals, and unfortunately I think that’s what the draw is,” Knicely said.
So far this year, three animals have tested positive for rabies. There were 16 last year.
Rabies is a disease that's almost always deadly if treated too late.
That's why Animal Control is taking this so seriously.
The baby coyote that Adams and his family found had to be put down and tested.
“It was stressful, because now I have the neighbor’s kids with my kids and we're all touching it not knowing. So we waited for over a week before we got a letter in the mail,” Adams said.
The test for rabies came back negative. But officials hope the story will have a positive result and a strong message.
“Leave it alone, (and) call Animal Control, and leave it where it’s at,” Adams said.
Animal Control officials are offering a free rabies clinic for pets on Saturday at the facility near the airport.