Residents of a Chicago suburb were alarmed to hear reports of “zombie dogs” roaming the streets, but it isn’t what you think.
After numerous calls about seriously neglected stray dogs, the Hanover Park Police Department announced on Facebook last week that the “dogs” people are seeing are actually coyotes.
Normally nocturnal animals that roam the areas around Chicago at night, the sick-looking coyotes are suffering from sarcoptic mange. The disease is extremely contagious and caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin and leave behind serious skin irritation and itching. Hanover Park Police Department describes the “mangy” animals as having visible hair loss and secondary skin infections. They said they end up “eventually looking like some sort of ‘zombie dog.'”
The disease also affects their vision by impairing their ability to see at night. As a result, they’re abandoning their usual day-time sleep schedule to hunt when the sun is out.
While coyotes in the area are not normally aggressive, police warn residents to keep a safe distance from the infected animals. Humans can also contract mange, and coming in contact with one of the coyotes could pass on the disease. It’s also important to keep pets from getting too close. Police advise homeowners to not leave food outside overnight and to secure garbage cans to deter hungry coyotes from coming on to their properties.
Sarcoptic mange is a serious, life-threatening condition, and while animal lovers want to help the local coyote population, it’s best to leave the work to the professionals.
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