Pet owners warned over rise of 'zombie' raccoons

Dozens of calls have been made to police in Ohio after residents reported an invasion of “zombie” raccoons.

Officers in the city of Youngstown are investigating reports of the animals acting strangely in the daytime.

The usually nocturnal creatures have been seen standing on their hind legs, baring their teeth and then falling over backwards.

Photographer Robert Coggeshall said he was playing with his dogs outside his home last week when one of the raccoons approached them.

“He would stand up on his hind legs, which I’ve never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition,” Mr Coggeshall told the news agency WKBN.

That raccoon, along with 14 others that police responded to, have been euthanised.

Local officials say the animals were likely suffering from distemper – a viral disease that causes coughing, tremors, seizures and leads raccoons to lose their fear of humans.

The disease can be contracted by dogs, so owners are being advised to get their pets vaccinated.

Authorities are asking residents to report raccoons behaving unusually to their local police station.

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