SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Health department leaders want pet owners to listen up after a rabid raccoon is killed by several dogs in the Daffin Heights area of Savannah.
We learned last week the raccoon tested positive for rabies, and WTOC spoke to the Coastal Health District about what you need to do to keep your four-legged friends safe.
Fortunately, the dogs in Daffin Heights were all up to date on their vaccinations and are now under home observation for the next 45 days. But the health department says it serves as a good reminder to make sure your pets are up to date on their shots.
Rabies vaccinations are required by law in Georgia for good reason.
"Savannah is just a special environment because we have all the waterways and islands, so we have plenty of wildlife around us. We have tons of raccoons and tons of bats here, and it's just endemic in this area," said Beth Grubbs, an Environmentalist with the Chatham County Environmental Health Department.
Grubbs said rabies vaccinations should start at three months, followed by another round a year later. After that, pets can be on a three-year vaccination protocol.
Because of the constant threat of exposure, Maya Lopez made sure her 7-month-old English/American bulldog is up to date on those required vaccinations.
"To keep my dog safe of course, and not only him, but the other dogs that he's constantly playing with and the people that he just meets on the street. You never know, anything can happen," said Lopez.
The Department of Public Health recommends not handling, feeding or trying to nurse sick wild animals back to health.
If bitten by an animal you think has rabies, get medical treatment immediately.
The only place for post-bite treatment is at a hospital emergency room.
Here is a list of recommendations from the Coastal Health District to protect your family from rabies:
- Avoid contact with animals you don’t know.
- Make sure your pets receive the proper immunizations. Dogs and cats should get rabies vaccines after 12 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot within one year and vaccination every 1-3 years depending on veterinary recommendation and vaccine used.
- Do not handle, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or by leaving pet food out at night.
- Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick animals to health. Call animal control or a properly licensed animal rescue agency for assistance.
- Teach children to never handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn.
If an animal ever bites you, seek medical care immediately and contact Chatham County Animal Services at 912-652-6575 and the Chatham County Environmental Health office at 912-356-2160.