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Baby home, recovering from raccoon attack

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

COVINGTON -- The 9-month-old baby who was mauled by raccoons last week is now recovering from her wounds at home, according to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

NCSO spokesman Lt. Tyrone Oliver said Friday afternoon that investigators have not yet determined what charges will be made in connection with the incident.

"There will be charges and they are pending at this time," Oliver said, declining to be more specific.

Investigators have been unraveling the mystery of how the raccoons got into the home and whether or not they were being kept as pets, as some witnesses have alleged.

The attack occurred around 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 4 at 125 Brookhollow Way, a rural area south of Mansfield off Ga. Highway 11 and Loyd Road. Two raccoons actually climbed inside the crib with the infant, biting her extensively.

The mother and four other children were in the house at the time of the incident, but were unharmed.

"It was an awful sight. I'm not sure about any other injuries, but there were extensive injuries to the face and head area," Oliver said the afternoon following the incident. "I've seen people bitten by animals, but never in my life have I seen a 9-month-old literally eaten alive by raccoons."

The child was transported to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston for treatment.

When deputies arrived at the scene following the mother's discovery of the injured child, the two raccoons were outside the home and one of them turned aggressively toward a deputy. Shots were fired, wounding one raccoon, but both animals were able to elude capture. Deputies called Newton County Animal Control and Newton County Public Works to the scene and were eventually able to capture one raccoon.

That raccoon tested negative for rabies. However, since the second raccoon got away, Newton County Animal Control Director Terry Key-Hooson said she felt the child would require treatment for possible exposure to rabies.

According to Georgia Department of Natural Resources Senior Wildlife Biologist Don McGowan, raccoons are prone to have rabies.

"You always treat them as if they have rabies until you know differently," he said. "In wildlife in the Southeast, they are the most prone to be rabid and are certainly highly suspect when they bite a person."

According to the DNR, it is against Georgia law to keep any native wildlife species as a pet.