A northwest Iowa family is getting a lesson in the dangers of trying to make wild animals pets. The family found a baby skunk and brought it home to raise as a pet. Iowa Department of Public Health state medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says the animal became sick and tested positive for rabies, and now the family has to be treated.

Quinlisk says all five members of the family have to get rabies shots, and the family dog, which was not vaccinated for rabies, will have to be put down or quarantined for six months. Some visitors to the family will also have to get rabies shots.

Quinlisk says this case is a lesson for everyone. She says the family tried to do the right thing by taking care of the baby skunk, but now probably regret it. “And we just want to warn other people around the state of Iowa that you just don’t want to bring wild animals into your homes, because the can often carry rabies which is a very deadly disease and we have to give shots to try and prevent it if you’ve been exposed,” Quinlisk says.

Skunks are one of the highest risk animals for spreading rabies. Quinlisk says bats are the other animal that are at high risk for rabies, but she says you should not bring any wild animal into your home. Quinlisk says if you find an injured animal, call your local animal control officer and let them handle it. She says they are trained to safely take care of the situation.