Dog owners in the area of Harrell Road and Day Road in north Upson County are being urged to have their pets vaccinated for rabies and to keep an eye on them. The warning from the Upson County Animal Control comes after a raccoon killed by two dogs on Day Road this past weekend tested positive for rabies.
According to Upson County Animal Control Director Corey Releford, on July 23-24, the raccoon bit a dog at a house on Harrell Road, then was killed by the dogs at a house on Day Road.
“We can’t be 100 percent sure, but according to people in the area, it may have been the same raccoon at both locations,” Releford said. “It appears that as soon as he left the house on Harrell Road, he went back through the woods and he came out on the other side and some people called and said a dog had killed one over there. We had traps out around there over the weekend, trying to trap any other raccoons in the area, and we hadn’t caught anything.”
Releford said once it was confirmed Tuesday morning that the raccoon had rabies, Animal Control put a public service announcement out on WTGA, and also handed out flyers and put flyers in mailboxes at homes in the Harrell and Day roads area.
Releford said that it is important that all pets in Upson County be vaccinated.
“We ask that all residents in Upson County have their pets vaccinated yearly,” he said. “It’s mandatory in the State of Georgia to keep a valid rabies vaccine on your pets.”
As for residents in the affected area, Releford advises them to watch their pets carefully.
“Definitely keep an eye on your pets if you live in the vicinity of Harrell Road and Day Road, because there is no way to know how many other animals may have contacted this raccoon before it expired. The local veterinarians offer the rabies vaccine for $12 and there are also clinics that are held at Tractor Supply and PetSense. The rabies vaccine has to be administered by a licensed vet and can’t be bought at a feed store. Remember to keep your paperwork and tags up to date so you know when it is time to do your boosters. Keep an eye on your pets and report all suspicious behavior to Animal Control and 911.”
Georgia averages about 370 rabies cases a year, and is ranked sixth in the nation in rabies reports. Only Texas (683), Virginia (597), North Carolina (434), Pennsylvania (433), and New York (425) rank higher.
Most reports are of raccoon rabies, although fox rabies have also been reported. According to animal experts, raccoon rabies spreads more quickly because the communal animals scavenge together and more often mix with humans, who find them cute and approach them.
Releford said in the two years he has been with Upson County Animal Control, this is the first case of rabies reported in the county. But neighboring counties have not been so lucky. Henry County has already had 10 rabies alerts this year. Usually they have four to six.
On average, Georgia is also ranked sixth in the nation for people treated for rabies, with an average of 1,197 treated annually. The top five states are New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and California. The cost of a series of rabies shots runs from $6,000 to $12,000.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.