Humane Society issues warning about rabid wild animals

local pet infected after tangling with skunk


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Skunks are primarily feared, and rightly so, because of their ability to spray a liquid with a strong odor that's unpleasant and difficult to remove.

But there is a bigger problem, especially for pets, with skunks and other wild creatures they may encounter.

"I think its important for people to know that there is a confirmed case of a rabid skunk

in our community and what are the ramifications of not having their pets current with their rabies vaccination," said Suzyn Barron, president of the Warwick Valley Humane Society.

Barron reported that a family dog recently had a fight with a skunk.

"Obviously, the skunk lost," said Barron, "but so did the dog in more ways than the obvious smelling one."

She reported that in this case the Orange County Health Department confirmed that the skunk tested positive for rabies. And if the family had attempted to intervene or later helped clean up their dog without wearing protective gloves, they would also have been exposed. But if that dog had been up to date on its rabies vaccination, he probably would

only need a booster shot.

"But sadly," said Barron, "the dog was not current. This means that the family must quarantine him for six months, which is the time period of the incubation period for rabies."

Barron added that the confinement is not just in the house or on a leash but it must be boarded at a facility willing to do this, such as a veterinary office or else the family must erect a double fenced pen and only one member can feed and clean the dog. The Orange County Health Department has printed requirements.

The bottom line is that any pet that has a chance of contracting rabies must be kept in solitary confinement.

Skunks are not the only danger.

Dogs and cats can also come in contact with rabid raccoons, woodchucks, fox, outside cats, possums or bats and other creatures that may be in your own backyard.

"I cannot stress the importance of keeping pets vaccinated against rabies," said Barron.

The Orange County Health Department is planning a free clinic and the Warwick Valley Humane Society offers bimonthly rabies clinics for $15.

For additional information call 986-2473.

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