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Common Problems

Aren't wild animals both dangerous and potential carriers of disease?

Wildlife will rarely transfer disease to humans and pets. By taking the following precautions, you can minimize the possibility of serious problems.
  • Protect Yourself: Most wild animals are afraid of humans and will run away. If you find a sick, injured or orphaned animal, call the Inland Valley Humane Society & SPCA, or your local animal control agency.
  • Protect Young Children: Teach children to be safe around wildlife. Enjoy wildlife from a distance. These animals may look cute, but their teeth and claws can be dangerous.
  • Protect Your Pets: Keep your pets current on their vaccinations to minimize their risk of contracting diseases. Keep pets supervised, especially at night when wildlife is most active. Always walk your dog on a leash (it's the law!). If you or your pet is bitten, capture the animal if you can do it safely. Note your location and the type of animal that bit you or your pet and seek medical attention immediately.
My cat brings me dead birds, squirrels, moles, etc. How can I discourage this?

Almost half of the adult wild birds brought to our shelter are rescued from the jaws of a cat. Of these cat-caught birds, few survive to be released. Hunting is part of a cat's natural instinct; domestic cats will kill numerous wild animals even if they are well fed. Fledglings (young birds) just venturing out of their nest are unable to fly and cannot escape a pouncing cat. But birds are not the only victims; squirrels, moles and young opossums can also fall prey to hunting pets.

The only way to protect wild animals from your pet is to supervise the cat while it is outside or to keep it indoors. Putting a collar and bell on your cat does not necessarily help. Bells don't always ring when a cat is stalking prey—and wild animals do not associate the sound of a bell with danger. Remember, being indoors increases the safety for your pet too!

I have a rattlesnake in my backyard.

Rattlesnakes are common in the dry areas of our foothill communities. Residents living near the hills should be especially careful to check for these venomous snakes in their yards. Rattlers may be found basking in sunny spots during the day and around cool, shady areas during the hottest times of day (summer). Check the section on Movers and Shakers for rattlesnake deterrents.
An opossum followed my cat through the cat door last night.

Wildlife will take advantage of any area where food is available. Pet doors that are left open overnight are very inviting, especially if there is pet food on the other side. Opossums, raccoons and skunks are nocturnal and will let themselves in through your pet door. To minimize conflicts, bring pets inside and close your pet door before dark.

Be sure that all entrances into your house are secured. Cap chimneys and keep windows and pet doors shut.

There is a coyote in my area.

Coyotes, very adaptable predators resembling small German Shepherds, are attracted to areas that have available food, water and housing. If you live in an area with a known coyote presence, supervise your pets and young children while they are outside. Coyotes are most active early evening through early morning. For their protection, keep cats and small dogs inside during these hours. Always walk your dog on leash (it’s the law!). For more information, check the section on Predators.

My pet was sprayed by a skunk.

Unfortunately, curious outdoor pets may get too close to neighborhood skunks. The offensive odor from the disgruntled skunk is unmistakable and may stick with your pet for a while. To eliminate the smell, mix one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and one teaspoon liquid soap. Wet down your pet and lather the mixture into your pet’s hair for 3–4 minutes. Rinse. This homemade mixture is more effective than tomato juice or vinegar, but may fade your dog’s coat. There are several commercial products that help remove skunk odor too.

An animal has pulled away the screens and moved into my crawl space.

Your crawl space is the perfect spot to set up housekeeping! It meets the needs of wildlife looking for a den site to sleep in and care for their offspring. Avoid these invasions by making the area inaccessible to wild animals. Secure all entrances to the crawl spaces under your house, shed or garage. This is especially important in early spring, before "baby season," and in the fall when animals are planning for winter.