Lives were at risk when a rabid skunk was brought to a veterinarian in West Hartford. However, none were more in jeopardy than the woman who dropped it off there, according to police.
Thursday, police issued a warning for the identified woman to get checked out by a doctor, just in case.
Police said the woman brought the skunk into the vet on North Main Street a week ago, never said who she was and left.
"You don't take a wild animal, which normally is extremely afraid of humans, wrap it up in a towel and bring it into a building," said Lt. Stephen Estes of the West Hartford Police Department.
Estes said it happened in the middle of the day.
"It exhibited signs that it wasn't well," Estes said. "It allowed a human to actually pick it up and it didn't spray, it didn't bite."
That should have been a clue that the animal was not OK, police said. However, it did not deter the woman. About a dozen people came into contact with the skunk before animal control was called.
"In keeping their staff safe, they didn't bother to get contact information for this woman," Estes said.
She had already gone by the time they wanted to ask for her identity, but police said the threat of rabies still lingered. They said while rare, the disease can be transferred by infected saliva that gets in the air.
YouTube videos show rabid skunks out in the middle of the day, another sign that the animal is not well, according to police.
"Once they emit that smell, I stay away from them in general," said Ben Ossont, who saw the rabid skunk.
He said he knew the warning signs.
"Kind of twitching around, behaving very strangely, kind of foaming at the mouth a little bit," Ossont said.
Police said the disease commonly spreads through bites. Flu-like symptoms follow, then itchiness at the spot of the bite. That is followed by delusion and confusion.
That's why police said it's a race against time to find the woman. They said all it takes is 10 days before it could end in death.
They wanted to stress that the woman will not be in trouble. They just want to make sure she is OK.
She's described as a woman in her 40s or 50s with dirty blonde hair.
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