ARLINGTON, Va. - Animal control officials said there have been two raccoon attacks that have occurred within a week at a condominium complex in the Fairlington neighborhood of Arlington.
The first incident happened at the Fairlington Villages complex on the night of July 12 in the 2000 block of S Abingdon Street. Animal control officers responded to the area at around 10 p.m. for a call about a female victim bitten by a raccoon. Officers were unable to find the raccoon after the attack.
One week later at around 7 a.m., animal control responded to the 4800 block of 28th Street S after a male victim was reportedly attacked by two raccoons. Gregory Purcell told FOX 5 he was stepping outside onto his front porch when he spotted the two raccoons.
"I didn't know what was going on and then they started clawing at me and biting my leg,” he described. “So I was knocking them away, trying to get them away and kicking them away. Trying to back into my house and close the door."
Purcell said the larger raccoon bit him on the right inner thigh. He also suffered several claw marks on both of his legs. He was treated right away and tested for rabies.
"There are a lot of folks in the community that are kind of fearful right now so it is getting to the point where people are probably going to be afraid to leave their houses,” said Mark Wojciechiwski, who witnessed the raccoon attack.
Officers were also unable to locate the two raccoons involved in this attack.
“We are actively working on a multifaceted approach to reducing the risk to the public as well as preventing future incidents as quickly as possible,” said Arlington County Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint in a statement. “We have reached out to the neighboring animal control agency to quicken potential response times to future incidents. We have contacted a biologist with the VA State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to access raccoon population management and discuss the most recent incidents and attacks.”
Animal control said because they have not been able to locate the wild animals and test them, they do not know if they are rabid.
Trash appears to be an issue at Fairlington Villages as many people say residents leave their trash bags out when they are not supposed to and is contributing to the problem. Chief Toussaint said Arlington County Animal Control recommended changes to Fairlington Villages' trash policy to help prevent these incidents from happening.
The property managers at the complex told FOX 5 that due to these recent attacks, they are going to look into changing their policy. As of right now, residents leave their trash outside in bags for pickup.
“It is important that the community stay alert, and that they remove any attractants around their properties including--standing water, trash, and bird feeders,” said Toussaint. “Dogs and domestic pets should be kept inside or on leash at all times. Do not feed or approach any wild, stray, or feral animals, even if they appear friendly or injured. Please make sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.”
Last year, there were several raccoon sightings in Fairlington with at least two violent attacks by the animals on people.
Arlington County Animal Control said residents should report any raccoon sightings on their property or in their neighborhood immediately by calling 703-931-9241.