PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. -- A Prescott Valley woman was bitten by a raccoon-type animal that she had been illegally keeping as a pet, according to wildlife officials.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department said the coati (kuh-WHA'-tee) attacked the woman Monday, biting and slicing her finger when she tried to take something away from it.
It is illegal in Arizona to take animals out of the wild or to possess restricted wildlife without a permit.
Officials said the coati had been improperly cared for and was about the size of a large house cat. The tips of the animal's toes had been amputated at or near the last joint to intentionally de-claw it. The coati had also been neutered.
The coati had been living on an unnatural diet of cold cereal, human baby food and a milk-based protein drink for domestic pets.
When the woman voluntarily surrendered the animal to Game and Fish officials, they said it was wearing a tight red pet harness device that had left marks from what appeared to be nearly constant wear and constriction.
Because the coati had not been vaccinated against rabies and its bite had broken the woman's skin, wildlife officials had to euthanize the animal and test it for rabies. Results are expected later this week.
Officials remind the public that wild animals may look tame enough to be pets, but they are still wild and unpredictable.
“Eventually a wild animal's natural instincts will surface,” said Jim Paxon, information branch chief for Game and Fish. “Keep wildlife wild. Don't feed them. Don't take them out of the wild. Let them live the lives they were meant to live.”
An investigation by Game and Fish is ongoing.