Photo by Michael Buckelew
COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office has announced that charges have been brought against the father of the 9-month-old baby who was mauled by raccoons while sleeping in her crib in early November.
"Newton County Sheriff's Office investigators along with the Department of Natural Resources conducted a thorough investigation and it revealed the father, Michael Wayne Cannon, 35, had brought these two raccoons home sometime in June," stated Lt. Tyrone Oliver in a press release issued late Thursday.
The release stated investigators learned the raccoons were bottle-fed and cared for as pets up until a month prior to the attack. They were then placed outside in the backyard.
"It was told to investigators the raccoons would often gain access into the residence through open windows and side panels of window air conditioning units," the release states.
Cannon was charged with holding and possessing game species without a game holding permit and unlawful possession or use of wildlife. He was booked into the Newton County Detention Center and posted a $2,000 bond, Oliver said.
The attack occurred around 3:45 a.m. Nov. 4 at 125 Brookhollow Way, a rural area south of Mansfield off Ga. Highway 11 and Loyd Road. Two raccoons 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.
The child was transported to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston for treatment and is now recovering from her injuries at home.
When deputies arrived at the home 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."