A raccoon that walked into a Scarborough bus shelter and caused a commotion early Sunday has been caught by Toronto Animal Services.

Tammy Robbinson, spokesperson for Toronto Animal Services, said in an email on Sunday that a man encountered the raccoon in the bus shelter.

"Residents should always be cautious around any type of wildlife and contact 311 if they see sick or injured wildlife," Robbinson said in the email.

Tests that take a few days will determine whether the animal is suffering from canine distemper. 


The Scarborough bus shelter raccoon, not this one, will undergo tests to determine if it is suffering from canine distemper. (CBC)

"Over the last few years, there have been hundreds of cases of distemper in raccoons — in all parts of Toronto," she said.

"Raccoons with distemper often appear sick or display unusual behaviour, but there is no harm to humans. They may behave aggressively if they are sick, disturbed from their den, are being protective or feel threatened."

It is not known how the raccoon behaved in the bus shelter, but its presence was enough to prompt a call to police.

Police received animal complaint

Const. David Hopkinson, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said on Sunday that police received a call about an animal complaint near St. Clair Avenue East and Danforth Road shortly after 10:15 a.m.

Police dispatched Toronto Animal Services to the call. 

Initially, police were told that a man had been bitten by the raccoon after being chased, but Toronto Animal Services would not confirm that was the case.

Hopkinson said there were reports that the raccoon sank its teeth into the man's shoe, biting a toe, but Toronto Animal Services would not confirm that either.

In a second call to police, Hopkinson said there was a report that one person was struck by a vehicle while running away from the raccoon, but that also could not be confirmed. 

Raccoon rabies

Don't feed or approach raccoons, the city says. (Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control)

Robbinson declined to comment on whether the raccoon was rabid and would not confirm whether animal services officers have picked up "numerous" raccoons over the last few days.

Vaccinate pets, animal services advises

Robbinson said dogs can suffer from canine distemper and dog owners are advised to ensure their pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations to avoid the virus.

Canine distemper is a virus that is present in the raccoon population but generally at low levels.

According to the city, raccoons with canine distemper may approach people and curl up to sleep in open areas near people. They may act disoriented or lethargic, but can become aggressive if cornered and they could have seizures. 

Canine distemper doesn't pose a threat to humans.

The city urges its residents not to approach or feed raccoons.

With files from Muriel Draaisma