MADDOCK, N.D. — A woman who brought a wild raccoon into a North Dakota bar, prompting authorities to issue a warning about the possibility of rabies, is facing criminal charges.
Erin Christensen, 38, of Maddock, is charged with providing false information to law enforcement officers, tampering with physical evidence and illegal possession of fur animals.
Christensen was arrested last week after authorities executed multiple search warrants in and around Maddock.
Christensen said her family found the raccoon on the side of the road about three months ago and named it Rocky. She said they were taking care of the animal until they could return it to the wild.
Under North Dakota law it is illegal to keep a wild raccoon. Authorities euthanized the animal and conducted tests to determine if it carried rabies.
Christensen brought Rocky to the Maddock Bar on September 6 and showed him off to diners. Barista Cindy Smith said the animal did not bite anyone at the bar.
However, the North Dakota health department issued a warning asking anyone who had been bitten or had contact with raccoon saliva to see a doctor.
“It is unfair how much has been done to stop an innocent raccoon,” Christensen said in a statement Wednesday to the Bismarck Tribune. “They weren’t worried about us, whether we had rabies or not. They were concerned with finding and killing Rocky and putting me behind bars.”
The charges against Christensen carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $7,500 fine. Her initial court appearance was scheduled for Monday.