rabies

Henrico County’s first rabies case of 2020 was confirmed last month. On Jan. 24, animal protection responded to a call in the 7800 block of Meherrin Road in the Tuckahoe District. The officers found a dead raccoon that had been in a fight with a dog. The carcass was sent to the state lab, where it tested positive for rabies. Fido was given a rabies booster shot and put under home quarantine.

This week a second rabies case was confirmed only about a half-mile away from the first. According to an RTD news story, animal protection officers responded to a call on Monday in the 9200 block of University Boulevard and found another dead raccoon. A dog was discovered nearby. Again, the state lab confirmed that raccoon was rabid. And as for the combative canine, he too was given a rabies booster shot and quarantined at home.

Henrico police tell us that two confirmed rabies cases within the first two months of the year is not out of the ordinary. The fatal viral disease, which affects the central nervous system and the brain, is fairly common in the wild. While any warm blooded mammal can carry or contract the disease, thanks to rabies vaccinations, only 10% of discovered cases occur in pets. In the eastern United States, the most common carriers are raccoons.

Both Henrico and Chesterfield counties are home to their fair share of the nocturnal varmints. If your pet does come into contact with a raccoon and is bitten or scratched, contact your veterinarian immediately. And if you see any animal acting strangely, contact your locality’s animal protection unit. And please remember to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Local counties and the city of Richmond all hold regular rabies clinics, and the shots are only $10. Check your locality’s website for dates. Usually all that’s required for the shot is a valid pet license.

Speaking of licenses, did you know the majority of pets in the U.S. are not registered? Americans own about 145 million dogs and cats — most are not licensed. The numbers are higher in most cities, including Richmond. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly 6.5 million dogs enter U.S. shelters every year. A pet license can be a lost pup’s ticket home. Local animal control officials say finding a dog with a license on his collar makes it easier on everyone to get Rover home safe and sound, and it sure beats having to take him to a shelter.

— Robin Beres

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