Henrico officials urge pet vaccinations after first rabies case of 2020

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico Police Animal Protection Lieutenant Shawn Sears confirmed that the county has identified its first case of rabies of 2020 after a dog got into a fight with a rabid raccoon. He tells pet owners to stay up-to-date with their pets’ vaccinations.

Lt. Sears told 8News that Henrico Police Animal Protection received a call for service for a dog attacking a raccoon in its owners’ yard. When officers arrived at the home along Meherrin Rd., they found the raccoon nearby. The raccoon later died from injuries incurred while quarreling with the pet dog.

“Officers collected the remains of the raccoon, submitted it to consolidated laboratories where it was tested for rabies,” Lt. Sears said. “A positive test result was received from that rabies test.”

The unit normally responds to calls of care for domestic animals and nuisance or problem wildlife. Henrico Police Animal Protection officers are certified law enforcement officers and address other criminal issues as encountered.

Henrico Police Animal Protection unit is assisting the family in preventing the disease from spreading. The dog was given rabies boosters and will be quarantined for a ten-day period at the owners’ home. Lt. Sears says if the dog is alive after the quarantine window, then he does not have rabies. The only way to know if an animal is infected with rabies is to test the brain matter of an already dead animal.

Lt. Sears says that rabies can show many signs in wildlife, but often forces animals to either be very docile or hyper-aggressive. Any abnormal wildlife behavior or rabies exposure should be reported to Henrico non-emergency communications center at (804)-501-5000.

“The biggest takeaway, for these types of incidents…,” Lt. Sears says, “…is to make sure that your pets’ rabies vaccinations remain current. It is imperative not only to your pet but to your community because rabies is a very serious disease.”

If you are looking for a career as a Henrico Police Animal Protection officer, the program is hiring through Feb. 3.

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