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Pet owners warned to use leashes in Central Park after dog, raccoon fights

85 sick or dead raccoons have been found since June amid a distemper outbreak.

More than 80 raccoons have been found dead

More than 80 raccoons have been found dead or sick in Central Park since June, according to the Parks Department. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Sam Greenwood

The city is advising dog owners to keep their furry friends on a leash in Central Park after two incidents involving pooches and raccoons were reported this week.

Park rangers have found 85 sick or dead raccoons since June in the sprawling park where a distemper outbreak has been reported in recent weeks. Distemper is a viral infection that is not dangerous to humans but can impact unvaccinated dogs and other wildlife, the city said.

On Wednesday, a dog attacked a raccoon and the owner sustained scratches and possibly bites while trying to separate the two animals. A similar incident occurred on Thursday in the park, officials said.

The raccoons involved are being tested for rabies. Parks Department officials did not have any information about the condition of the owners nor the two dogs.

None of the raccoons found dead in the park have tested positive for rabies to-date.

Raccoons with distemper may appear disoriented, emaciated and look as if they are wandering aimlessly.

Dog owners are allowed to let their pets run off the leash in designated areas from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., however the Parks Department is encouraging owners to use leashes at all times.

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