City Of Philly Says You're On Your Own Against Rabid Street Animals

Eliza writes us about her boss and others who who were stalked by a rabid groundhog in Philadelphia like something out of Predator. They called the city’s animal control department and were juggled around and dismissed.

She writes:

This morning, my boss was walking his dog in the park across the street from our office. A groundhog came out of the brush and started to follow them, eventually chasing them across the street, back towards our building. We watched the animal from the window as it wandered into the street and started to walk in circles. Then it would go sit under some cars for a while, lunge at stray cats who were approaching it with curiosity, and then go back to walking in circles in the street. I’m no vet, but it sure looked like rabies to me, or at the very least a condition that could be dangerous to people and pets. And this was a pretty substantial animal– maybe not quite as big as raccoon or an opossum, but certainly a good 7 or 8 lbs. This was in a highly populated area, specifically at a spot where people walk their dogs and right next to the neighborhood corner store. Needless to say, the groundhog started attracting some attention. After a while it didn’t seem to be going anywhere, so I decided to call Animal Control.

I called the PSPCA’s main number and told the operator the problem. She said that I needed to call pest control and gave me a different phone number. I called the new phone number and reiterated my problem, only to discover that I had called a private pest control company that charges $150 to trap an animal. Shocked, I said that I had gotten the phone number from the PSPCA, and the woman at the pest control company said she had no idea why the PSPCA had given me their number. I hung up and called 911, figuring enough was enough. The operator proceeded to tell me that this was the number to call if I needed the police, and the police aren’t equipped to trap animals. She told me that I would need to call the PSPCA. “What’s the number?” I asked, and sure enough, it was the same number that I had called in the first place. Frustrated, I called the PSPCA again and spoke with the operator. Once again, I explained the situation, and she said that they don’t come out to trap wild animals either. If we wanted it taken care of, we would need to call a private pest control company.

I still can’t believe that the city does nothing to protect people from wild animals. I kind of took that service as a given. Nobody really knew what to do, so eventually the groundhog got, er, run over, if you catch my drift. There really wasn’t any reasonable alternative.

So sorry, Philly residents — the man ain’t gonna help you out in your battle against rabid animals, so it’s time to invest in a Taser.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.