Last updated: June 25. 2014 3:06PM -
By - smatthews@civitasmedia.com

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Five unvaccinated dogs have been euthanized in two separate incidents involving confirmed cases of rabies in Sampson County.

The first case, which occurred on Shaun Lane near Beulah Road on June 21, was confirmed Monday, the same day a second rabid animal attacked a tethered dog on Corinth Church Road.

In both incidences, Sheriff’s Sgt. Jessica Kittrell said, the dogs that were attacked had not had their rabies vaccinations, forcing what she called preventable euthanizations.

“If they aren’t vaccinated and they are bitten by a rabid animal, we have no choice but to euthanize them,” Kittrell stressed. “It’s a situation that is easily avoided if owners will just get their dogs vaccinated.”

In the June 21 incident, Kittrell said a rabid fox came into a mobile home park on Shaun Lane, which is just off Boykin Drive near Clinton, and got into an altercation with several dogs roaming the park. The fox, the animal control officer said, also bit a man on the finger.

“A neighbor shot and killed the fox and we sent him to the lab.Those results came back positive for rabies Monday,” Kittrell said. As a result, the sergeant said, the four unvaccinated dogs had to be euthanized and the man had to receive post exposure shots.

Just as officers were dealing with the aftermath of the June 21 rabid animal attack, Kittrell said a second call came in reporting the raccoon incident.

The raccon, she said, came into the yard of a Corinth Church Road residence and attacked the dog, which was tethered outside.

“Again, the dog, a pit bull terrier, had not been vaccinated.”

On Tuesday, those results confirmed the second rabies case in less than a week, forcing the fifth euthanization.

The dog’s owner, Kittrell said, was referred to the emergency room to confirm whether they needed the post rabies shots. “Because the owner had handled the dog, they needed to be checked out,”Kittrell said.

This makes three confirmed rabies cases in Sampson so far this spring and summer, but Kittrell warned it likely wouldn’t be the last. “Animals are certainly out and about more this time of year, and many are breeding, so the chance of rabies is there. Of course, the reality is rabies is possible any time of year.”

And that’s why she said it was so important to have animals vaccinated.

“We have an animal control ordinance which requires all animals to be vaccinated. If we find one that isn’t, we will issue a civil fine of $50 for the first offense, and the owner has only an additional 72 hours to get them vaccinated. The easiest and the safest thing to do is get the vaccination. Locally it only costs $6 to $10 for the rabies vaccine, so why wouldn’t a pet owner want to spend a smaller amount versus the fee and, on top of that, still be required to get the vaccination.

“Plus it prevents the chance of your pet being euthanized because a rabid animal bit it. These five animals that were euthanized this week, that was preventable.”

Kittrell also cautioned those who choose to legally tether their animals outside to consider other options, stressing that a tethered has no protection from wildlife that comes into a person’s yard.

“The animal is unprotected. If someone thinks they have to tether their dog, please, please make sure they are vaccinated,” she implored.

In fact, she reiterated, since rabies vaccinations are required by state law, it’s a mandate everyone should heed.

“The cost is far less than the fine and, even more, it protects your family pet,” Kittrell said.

In an effort to help residents to meet the law’s requirement, the sergeant said she was working to provide mobile rabies clinics in the county.

“We’re trying to get that done now, and the dates for those clinics will be provided at a later date,” she said.

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