Brenda at the Bedford County Health Department knows what I am about to discuss. After working with me through several phone calls this afternoon she commented that if I wrote something, I should emphasize the importance of pet owners keeping their pet's rabies shots up-to-date and taking rabies seriously. Even in the city.
Why talk about it now? Well, our dogs had a second close encounter with a local skunk and this time all of us came out on the losing end. Two weeks ago, at night, the girls had a run in and we were reminded every day with 'essence of skunk', but today they had their run-in at about 1:30 in the afternoon and that is unusual for a nocturnal animal like a skunk.
What was it doing out in the day? Was it rabid?
The skunk paid for it with his life, but the payment is not over yet. Our dogs may or may not have been bitten in the encounter. We see no signs but even saliva can transmit the disease so we had to be on immediate alert.
Fortunately, their shots were up-to-date but just barely. They were due for boosters this month. That is not a sure thing, so we are going to have to watch them for 45 days to see of they get lethargic, moody, or lose their appetite. If so, it is almost a sure death sentence.
We took them for booster shots immediately. Have you ever taken a ride with three dogs who have been sprayed by a skunk in the cab of a truck? We did not look forward to it, but luckily they just had residual odor. None had been hit directly. The bulk of the spray hit the side of our house. Oh joy!
In addition, we wanted to get the skunk tested for rabies soooo, the head had to be sent to the lab in Nashville. Our vet was extremely busy so he asked if we could detach he head and bring it in. Cut off the head? No problem, Deb cuts up steak all the time.
Yeah, right! You KNOW who got that job. Since I used to hunt, fish and trap, it really wasn't a big deal but still not one of my high points (nor the skunk's but he was already gone). It had to be bagged in four separate bags before Deb would allow it in an ice cooler for the trip, but all worked out.
By the way, if you ever have to do it, don't get blood on you and put it on ice as soon as possible. The brain is what they test, so don't get carried away with an axe, or at least be accurate. Sorry about the details, but it might save you $40 if the vet does not have to do it for you. (Guess it is not one of their favorite things either)
A repeat of the main points of this post? Keep your pets rabies shots up-to-date and avoid nocturnal animals that are out in the day, or any animals that are acting unusual, slobbering or unusually aggressive.
I had to dispatch a coon who was at our goldfish pond a few years ago. He was obviously rabid and only had a day or two left, so it was more humane to end his life swiftly. He got to be buried in our pet cemetery, if that is any consolation.