2016-06-23 / Front Page

Make sure pets are vaccinated after rabid fox killed in Tyrone

If you see a nocturnal animal during the daytime, chances are the animal is rabid and should be reported. If you see a nocturnal animal during the daytime, chances are the animal is rabid and should be reported. The Wilkes County Health Department is warning residents to be aware of rabid wild animals after a fox that was killed by a dog in the Tyrone community tested positive for rabies last week. The dog, a family pet, had to be euthanized.

“This shows why it’s so important to have your pets up-to-date on their rabies immunizations,” said Johnny Wasson, environmental health specialist with the Wilkes County Health Department, in confirming the incident. The incident should serve as a warning to pet owners all over the county, he said.

“I just want to make people aware that rabies is active here in Wilkes County,” he said. “We live in an agricultural, rural community, and it’s not just foxes, but skunks and raccoons, especially. It just costs $10 or $12 to have your dog or cat vaccinated for rabies, so if you love your pet, make sure they’re up to date on their rabies shots.”

He also cautions residents to avoid stray animals, even cats and dogs. “I know we have some good-hearted people who want to take in strays, but if you don’t know their vaccination status, you’re taking a chance.”

After the fox was killed in a confrontation with a family dog, the dog’s owner said, and the fox tested rabid, the dog had to be put down. “Our family is brokenhearted,” the owner said, asking to be kept anonymous. “Please be aware with your animals and tell children to never approach wild animals, especially those that may approach them. Only rabid raccoons, foxes, skunks, etc. would approach a dog or a person.”

Rabid animals are reported with disturbing regularity, and summer weather often allows more contact between humans, pets, and wild animals. “It’s important to keep all your domestic mammals up-to-date on their vaccinations,” said Dr. Thomas McNair, DVM, “and avoid any wild animals, especially if they’re acting abnormally, approaching people or other animals, or just lying in the woods.”

Most wild animals are nocturnal, he said, “so seeing a nighttime animal during the daytime is definitely abnormal behavior.”

Wasson asked residents to report wild animals behaving abnormally to the Wilkes County Health Department at 706-678-2622 or the Washington-Wilkes Animal Shelter at 706-678-2287.

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