These are tips from Animal Services about rabies avoidance and response:
- Ensure that all pets: dogs, cats and ferrets, are current on their rabies vaccinations. Livestock owners are also encouraged to vaccinate horses and other livestock. Any animal that has frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.
- Don’t let pets roam free.
- Stay away from all wild animals and unknown dogs and cats.
- Avoid wild animals-even if they appear friendly.
- Never coax a wild animal to eat from your hand.
- If you encounter a bat, do not handle it. Bats have extremely small teeth and you may not realize that you have been bitten.
- Teach your children to report all bites, scratches and encounters with a wild or unknown animal.
- Don’t feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
- Keep your garbage securely covered. Open garbage will attract wild or stray animals.
- Wild animals should not be kept as pets.
- Enjoy all wild animals from a distance and teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals – even if they appear friendly.
- If you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control officials.
Any exposure to wild animals, alive or dead, in particularly, bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes and foxes (which are the top five carriers of the virus in Texas) should be avoided.
Children and pets should be watched closely while outdoors to ensure that they do not come in contact with or touch wild animals. If a wild animal strays onto your property bring children and pets indoors, alert anyone else who may be in the vicinity and let the animal wander away.
Animal Services urges anyone who observes a wild or domestic animal, active during the day and also appearing sick, fearless or aggressive to contact Animal Service immediately. Do not attempt to capture or shoot the animal; it cannot be tested if shot in the head. Be aware that rabies can only be transmitted by saliva. Exposure may occur if scratched by an infected animal or whenever saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane (nose, mouth, eyes).
Animal Services also recommends to never breakup a dog fight by sticking your own hands in the middle of two fighting dogs. Even grabbing a collar puts your hands too close to the dogs’ mouths. A few techniques to stop a dog fight are to spray them water, make loud startling noises, put a large solid object in between them or use some type of citronella spray.
Animal Services also discourages pet owners from purchasing or taking “free” animals, especially puppies and kittens, from people trying to sell or give them away on the side of the road or in parking lots.
Domesticated animals can be quarantined for a period of time for rabies observation and wildlife will be euthanized and sent to the Department of State Health Services for rabies testing.
Any concerns with possible contact with a potential rabies exposure can be directed to Animal Control.