Raccoon Attacks Woman in Central Park Amid Distemper Fears

Eighty-five Central Park raccoons have fallen sick or died this summer in an outbreak of canine distemper virus

What to Know

  • A woman says she was attacked by a raccoon in Central Park while walking her two dogs off-leash there
  • The city has warned dog owners not to take their pets off the leash in Central Park in light of a distemper outbreak
  • Eighty-five Central Park raccoons have fallen suck or succumbed to canine distemper virus this summer

A New York City woman was attacked by a raccoon in Central Park amid warnings of a distemper outbreak there. 

Tracy Wargo was walking through the park with her two dogs, off-leash, when the pooches spotted a raccoon. The animals tussled, and the raccoon sunk its teeth into Wargo's left foot. 

"All of a sudden I felt it on my foot, and I was like, 'Oh, boy, this is not a good situation,'" she said. "I shook it off and that was kind of the end. It went up the tree."

The wound left deep cuts on her foot, still bandaged a day after the attack.

Later Thursday, her alarmed neighbors sent out an alert, as did the city's parks and health departments, warning that there have been two raccoon attacks in recent days. Now they want pet owners to keep their dogs on leash at all times. 

So far this year, city workers have collected 85 sick or dead raccoons in Central Park; while none have tested positive for rabies, some have had distemper. 

Wargo said her dogs are fine; she's also gotten a rabies shot. 

"I basically took the brunt," she said. "I took them to the vet yesterday. They got additional rabies and distemper shots." 

Anyone who sees a sick or injured raccoon in Central Park should call 311 and report the creature to the NYC Park Rangers, the departments added.

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