High number of skunk attacks seen

  • Mary Lou Sikich, left, a groomer at Tail Waggers in Naperville, sprays 8-year-old Dakota with a finishing perfume while dog owner Maureen Strong of Naperville watches.

      Mary Lou Sikich, left, a groomer at Tail Waggers in Naperville, sprays 8-year-old Dakota with a finishing perfume while dog owner Maureen Strong of Naperville watches. Marcelle Bright | Staff Photographer

 
By Hafsa Naz Mahmood
Daily Herald Staff
Published10/1/2007 6:23 AM

Dakota was peacefully running around in his backyard when he let out a strange bark.

His owner, Maureen Strong of Naperville, ran to the back door recalling that Dakota usually made that noise when he encountered another animal.

 

After opening the door to check on her 8-year-old golden retriever, she witnessed a skunk spraying Dakota.

"I was overwhelmed by the smell," she said.

Dakota was rushed to the garage, bathed in special home-remedy ingredients and spent the night with the cars.

Dakota is just one victim of this skunk season's aggressive crowd.

Joyce Daly, office manager at Ad Park Pet Clinic in Villa Park, said it's the busiest skunk season the clinic's seen since it opened 15 years ago.

"We probably didn't start getting real busy until about a month or so ago," she said. "Since then we've been kind of flooded with it."

For years, the clinic has offered skunk baths, but it's the first time employees have actually bathed dogs that have been skunked.

"I'm thinking that maybe skunks had a very prolific year this year," Daly joked.

John Vermillion, owner of trapping company On Target Wildlife Control, said the skunk population is definitely up this year.

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His company's been catching about three skunks daily in DuPage, Cook and Kane counties. And even though skunks go through cycles, he said, there are more this year when compared to the last five years.

"In the last few weeks I've been catching a lot of skunks," he said. "They are up a little bit more this year, so people are noticing them a little more."

Katie Bosco, a veterinarian with Glendale Animal Hospital in Glendale Heights, said she's treated a lot of injured dogs recently that have been sprayed by skunks.

"We've had a whole rash of skunkings come in the past couple of weeks," she said.

She often treats dogs with eye problems, bacterial infections and itching. Many times the itching causes the dogs to scratch themselves, ultimately leading to cuts and sores.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

To help the four-legged animals, Bosco's been prescribing antibiotics, steroids, eye ointment and prescription shampoo for medicated baths.

Kerry Vinkler, executive director of animal care and control for DuPage County, said officials are always concerned about the skunks in the area, mainly because they carry rabies.

"They're absolutely a threat for rabies," Vinkler said.

For that reason, she said it's important to have domestic animals up-to-date with compliance on shots and vaccinations.

She also said that if a wild animal is acting like a domestic animal, kids often think the animal's being nice and pet it. However, kids should stay away because the animal is probably sick or injured, and most likely carries rabies.

Have you been skunked?

Area professionals offered a few suggestions for obliterating the odor and keeping skunks away from the house. However, Mary Lou Sikich of Tail Waggers, cautions: "Sometimes one bath doesn't do it.

How to shampoo your pet

• Mix 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap with a quart of water. Rub and scrub til' you're tired.

• Shampoo your pet in tomato juice or anything acidic.

Keep the skunks away

• Play music at a low volume

• Place a Mylar balloon in the yard, which will make the skunks want to leave.

Source: Daily Herald interviews

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