Authorities in Nottinghamshire, England are warning residents in the small town of Clarborough to be on the lookout for a pair of "raccoon dogs" who reportedly escaped from their cages and are now on the loose. The owner of the animals, Sam Tune, has said he is focused on finding his pets and has asked for help using an imaging drone.
Referred to as "tanuki," the animal species is part of the Canidae biological family, comprised of wolves, dogs, foxes, coyotes, and more. The raccoon resemblance is due to the shape and pattern of the fur around the eyes, however, they do not possess bushy tails. The species is native to eastern Siberia, northern China, Japan, Korea, and North Vietnam.
"The best way to sort this is to get a thermal imaging drone," Tune said. "They have escaped and that is my mistake but it's important people don't think these animals are especially dangerous."
Dale and Mandy Marsh, who are residents of the area, told The Independent, one of the raccoon dogs attacked their goat and their pony, resulting in minor scratches on both. The husband and wife reportedly heard the animal screeching, woke up, and spent two hours chasing it away with planks of wood.
“The dog was barking like mad and my husband went out after her," Ms. Marsh said. "He came back and he said to me, ‘You are going to have to come and see this, there is something in the field attacking the pony and I have absolutely no idea what it is.'"
Per the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is illegal to keep, sell, rehome, and breed raccoon dogs in the UK as the species poses invasive risks to native animals of the region.
A spokesperson for the Nottinghamshire police sent out a warning for those based in the area. “Residents in the Clarborough area near Retford are being warned to be vigilant after two captive raccoon dogs escaped their enclosure… The animals, which are described as being the same size of a medium to small-sized dog, are potentially dangerous if approached as they are not domesticated.