A raccoon suspected of being rabid was shot and killed by a D.C. police captain last night as the animal appeared on the verge of attacking a dog in an upper Northwest Washington neighborhood near Rock Creek Park, police said.

Capt. Eddy Sims, watch commander in the 4th District, fired two shots from his service revolver to kill the raccoon about 8 p.m. in the 1500 block of Underwood Street NW.

Sims said he fired as the raccoon, which had earlier exhibited behavior that aroused the suspicions of neighborhood residents, approached the dog. "The raccoon was spitting and snapping and biting," Sims said. "The dog was barking and biting." It was unclear last night if the dog, a collie, was bitten.

The incident came as the Washington area is experiencing its severest outbreak in years of rabies among raccoons and other animals. In the past year, more than 40 rabid raccoons have been found in the city alone.

Earlier this month a man in the Mount Pleasant area who tried to capture a raccoon suspected of being rabid was bitten by the animal. Health authorities said the incident was believed the first such attack in the District in recent years. They said the man was receiving anti-rabies inoculations. The bite of a rabid animal is generally fatal if such treatment is not begun promptly.

The raccoon killed last night was picked up by city animal control employes and is to be tested for rabies. The dog is also to be examined.

Neighbors reportedly complained last night about delay in the response of animal-control workers called after the raccoon was first spotted. An animal-control employe said initial reports lacked sufficient details about the animal's behavior.