March 6, 2013

Pets take on rabid skunk

March 6, 2013 Staff Writer Susan Wagoner

Susan Wagoner

Staff Writer

One local woman is encouraging pet owners to be responsible about updated vaccinations after her beloved dogs took on a trespassing skunk.

The woman, who lives within the city limits of Pryor, said her dogs had an encounter with a skunk on March 3, in her backyard.

“My dogs, Meka and Nettie, were making a commotion and when I checked it out, they had attacked a skunk that had come into the yard,” she said.

Because the dogs had bitten the skunk during the incident, she knew she had to capture the skunk.

She got the dogs secured in the garage and contacted the police.

“The skunk was still alive and the officers spent some time figuring out the best way to handle the situation,” she said. “The officers were awesome.”

With the incident occurring in a residential area, with children nearby, the officers ultimately blocked off the area surrounding the home before shooting the animal.

The skunk tested positive for rabies.

Lacey Kovar, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health said this time of year things start kicking up.

“Skunks and bats are the main rabies carriers in the state of Oklahoma,” Kovar said. “We recognize the one-year and the three-year vaccine, but it’s important to check local ordinances to see what they require.”

Kovar said that it takes 28 days after a vaccination is given before an animal is considered currently immunized.

“If it’s the first shot of their lives, no matter if it’s the one-year or three-year, a booster shot is required in one year,” Kovar said, adding that shots have to be administered by a licensed vet in order to be recognized by health department officials.

While one dog had yearly documentation, the other was missing a year.

“I had 2009, 10 and 12, but somehow I missed 2011,” the pet owner said.

If documentation can’t be given, the pets are often put down, or subjected to 45 days of veterinary quarantine. The cost of housing the pet during quarantine is the responsibility of the pet owner.

“Forty-five days at $15 per day per pet adds up,” she said.

With household pets considered members of the family by many, it’s a costly life or death decision to make.

“This time of year is mating season for skunks and they are out and about,” she said, adding that outdoor pets will be especially vulnerable.

“There is a risk of rabies contact to outdoor pets,” she said. “To ignore that fact would be irresponsible.”

Kovar agreed, stressing to keep pet immunizations up to date as well as keep good records.

“It’s such a preventable disease. It’s not only heartbreaking to the owners when their pet has to be put down, but it’s heartbreaking to us.”

For information on rabies, log onto www.health.ok.gov and do a search for rabies.

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