Mariah Petrea, 19, of Stanley, N.C. told the Gaston Gazette that she bought the baby Raccoon from a local breeder. However, she added that she “cried a lot” when she was forced to surrender her pet to Mecklenburg County animal care and Control. She told the newspaper that the baby raccoon was affectionate and would sit on her and cuddle up. After he had eaten, he would always climb on her shoulder and nestle into her neck.

Baby raccoon bought as fifth pet for the North Carolina woman

According to a report by the Charlotte Observer, Petrea bought the baby raccoon – which she named Riker – as a fifth pet, as she already has a cat and three dogs in her home.

However, things went wrong for her when she and her boyfriend went to a pet shop in Charlotte to buy some milk for the tiny raccoon. Petrea said it was chilly, so she took the raccoon into the shop to keep him warm.

Baby raccoon’s owner mentioned ‘rabies’ in the pet shop

Her big mistake was to tell customers in the shop not to mess with her pet, as she knows raccoons have a reputation for carrying rabies. Having done this, someone immediately alerted the Mecklenburg County Animal Care and Control. Officials then asked for the identification of the couple in question, as it is illegal to own a raccoon without a permit in North Carolina.

Petrea was then forced to surrender her pet on Tuesday, knowing what would happen to poor Riker. Reportedly a rabies test would require the baby animal to be euthanized and beheaded before testing.

Reportedly the Health Department had warned previously that raccoons are “major reservoirs” for rabies and that anyone who came into contact with the animals may need shots.

They now say shots are not necessary in Petrea’s case.

Petrea says she cried a lot on Thursday, when Animal Care reported the test for rabies had come back negative. However, now that it’s over, Petrea says knows exactly what she will not do next time, adding that this will not stop her from getting another baby raccoon.

Petrea went on to say that Riker was a friendly animal during the short time she owned him, always cuddling up to her and climbing on her shoulder.

She went on to add that she hasn’t yet been able to explain the tiny animal’s death to her three-year-old son, who has noticed that something has changed. Petrea went on to say that her son doesn’t really understand what has happened yet, but that he knew Riker wasn’t where it normally was.