Berlin Police Euthanize Rabid Groundhog After Aggressive Behavior

BERLIN — An aggressive groundhog who scratched at a Berlin doctor’s office window last week before focusing its attention on police officers had to be put down and has since tested positive for rabies.

Last Monday, Berlin Police responded to a doctor’s office on Old Ocean City Boulevard for a reported groundhog attempting to scratch at the window of the office. Berlin Police located the animal, which became aggressive toward the officers and ultimately had to be destroyed. The groundhog’s remains were secured by Worcester County Animal Control and were sent to the Worcester County Health Department for testing. The tests returned positive for rabies.

Thus far, there have been five recent investigations of rabies in the Berlin area including three within municipal limits. The investigations included three raccoons, two groundhogs and a fox, and two of the cases returned with a positive result for rabies. Berlin Police attributed the spike in cases of wild animals with rabies to a variety of factors including the high volume of rain recently and other factors forcing the animals out of their natural habitats.

Berlin Police are advising citizens to avoid any contact with possible wildlife that is found on their property. Anyone who encounters an animal they suspect might be rabid is urged to call the Berlin Police Department at 410-641-1333, or the Worcester County Health Department at 410-632-1340.

Last week’s rabid groundhog in Berlin was the second reported case in the area in recent weeks. In mid-June, a feral cat located at a townhouse community in West Ocean City tested positive for rabies. IN that case, the cat was found at the Ocean Village at Old Bridge townhouse community on Route 707, or Old Bridge Road.

The cat was being fed as part of a larger colony of feral cats at the property. Worcester County Health Department officials are warning anyone who suspects they may have been in contact with a rabid animal, wild or domesticated, could be at risk for rabies exposure. Rabies is a serious disease transmitted by an infected animal. If an individual has been bitten or scratched, he or she is urged to seek immediate medical care.

If an individual has been bitter or scratched, he or she is urged to seek immediate medical care. Post-exposure treatment is necessary to prevent rabies. If not treated, rabies can be fatal. In addition, if a pet has had contact with this infected cat or any cat from the colony, contact a veterinarian.

For more information on rabies, visit the county health department site at

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.