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updated 05.06.2009

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Rabies vaccination enforcement to be stepped up

by Tom Chillemi

The fourth case of rabies in Middlesex County since March 21 was confirmed on May 6, said Middlesex Chief Animal Control Officer Ricky Warren.

Warren said animal control officers will be stepping up enforcement of rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats. Warren reminds pet owners to please check vaccination records for pet dogs and cats. “It can be a matter of life and death; and it’s the law.” The maximum fine is $250.

In the most recent rabies case, on May 5 a rabid raccoon wandered into a yard on Mill Creek Road in Wake during daylight.

A witness heard a commotion and looked to see the raccoon trying to be aggressive towards a dog.

A neighbor shot the raccoon that tested positive for rabies, which is 100% fatal once symptoms are present.

Raccoons are normally nocturnal, but when they become infected with rabies they lose their fear of humans and dogs and are often seen during daylight. They also move slowly and are unsteady.

Warren said the dog that encountered the raccoon had a valid rabies vaccination. All the dog needed was a booster shot, and he will be observed for 45 days.

Had the dog not had a current rabies vaccination, it would need to be in strict quarantine for six months with no human contact; or the dog would be humanely euthanized, said Warren.

Warren is predicting an increase in rabies as the weather warms. Rabies is a virus that develops better in warm weather, he said.

Warren pleads with pet owners to check pet records for rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats, which can be done by calling your veterinarian’s office.

posted 05.06.2009

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