A raccoon attack on a woman and her dog in Alameda Sunday night has made officials worry that aggressive animals might be a growing trend in urban areas.
Rachel Campos de Ivanov, 33, was walking her 20-pound Yorkshire terrier at about 11 p.m. Sunday night near Washington Park when a raccoon approached her.
"She first saw glowing eyes in the dark," said Daniel Wilson, community relations coordinator for Alameda County Vector Control Services District, which responded to the report of the attack.
After seeing the raccoon, Ivanov ran away as her dog started barking at it. Several other raccoons joined in pursuit of Ivanov, who then tripped, fell onto the pavement, and was bitten by one of them.
"She felt really threatened for her and her dog," Wilson said.
Ivanov stumbled back to her feet and fled the scene. She was given a round of post-exposure rabies injections.
"If we're able to locate the specific animal, it would be trapped and euthanized and tested for rabies," Wilson said, adding that testing a euthanized raccoon would be cheaper than giving injections to Ivanov.
Officials have debated how to deal with the number of raccoons, possums and skunks in urban cities, Wilson said.
"As far as trapping nuisance animals -- and raccoons fall under that category -- they can be trapped and humanely euthanized," he said. "But people don't think just because they're going through their trash can and tearing up your lawn that there should be a death sentence."
Vector control investigators found numerous trash cans and Dumpsters left open where Ivanov was attacked.
"People have gotten really careless with handling their refuse. It's a human problem, and it's affecting the wildlife," Wilson said.
Nine raccoon attacks have been reported since this summer.
"I really don't think you should be in fear of something happening to you from walking your dog at night, but it's just a new phenomenon," Wilson said.