County health officials are warning pet owners of the threat of rabies in the area.
A report issued by the Richmond County Health Department on Tuesday said that Richmond County Animal Control Officer Kevin Bowman was called to a residence on Grassy Island Road in Ellerbe on Sunday.
While at the residence, Bowman observed a medium-sized dog that was acting in an extremely odd manner. Bowman took possession of the dog. The dog was then processed and sent to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health to be tested for rabies. The results were sent back to the Health Department on Tuesday afternoon, and the results showed that the animal tested positive for rabies.
According to witnesses, a second dog was spotted in the company of the dog that tested positive. The second dog was also reported to have been behaving strangely, but the dog was not captured by animal control. The dog was reported to have been medium-sized, with dark reddish fur and brindle stripes and of an undetermined breed.
“We suspect there is at least one wild animal in the area with rabies, and this is cause for concern,” said Health Director of the RCHD Tommy Jarrell. “This is the first case of a dog being confirmed as testing positive for rabies that I’ve seen in the 21 years I’ve been here.”
Jarrell said that it’s unknown whether the second dog was rabid, but stressed the importance of residents in the area taking caution to protect themselves and their animals from wild and domestic animals that could be carrying the disease.
“Rabies is a deadly disease for animals and humans,” said Jarrell. “For animals the result is always death, unless they have been vaccinated against it.”
The Richmond County Health Department is encouraging all citizens in that particular section of the county to stay away from any animals, domestic or wild, acting in a strange manner. All residents are encouraged to report any animals acting strangely to Richmond County Animal Control.
As a reminder, all dogs, cats, and ferrets over the age of 4-months-old must have a current rabies vaccination. Any animal that does not have a current vaccine should be vaccinated immediately by their veterinarian.
Gandy Animal Hospital will be offering the rabies vaccine at a reduced price this Thursday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m and 3 to 5:30 p.m.
Also, anyone in that section of the county that has come in direct contact with any animal that has been acting in an extremely strange manner in the past 15 days is encouraged to visit their medical provider to determine if they have been exposed.
Any questions or concerns related to this issue can be directed to Richmond County Animal Control at 910-997-8320.