Douglas County Animal Control recently impounded a sick raccoon from the Campbellton area that tested positive for the rabies virus, and are taking the opportunity to remind residents that wild animals, some possibly with the rabies virus, still roam Douglas County.
The raccoon did not interact with any domesticated animals or humans.
Even though Douglas County is mainly residential and commercial, there are large land areas where wild animals live in the county, including Sweetwater State Conservation Park (2,549 acres), Boundary Waters Recreational Park (500 acres), and the Dog River Park (900 acres). Wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks are prevalent in Douglas County and frequently carry the rabies virus, which exists naturally in the environment. These wild animals try to associate with domesticated animals, such as dogs and cats and therefore, and transfer the virus to them.
Residents are advised to never have contact with wildlife, and to especially not try to feed wild animals that they might find friendly, such as raccoons. Raccoons are the most likely animal to carry the rabies virus. Rabies can be transferred to humans and unless rapidly treated, could cause disease in the brain and death. Transfer of the rabies virus is through the animal’s saliva. The saliva travels the central nervous system and causes paralysis.
Residents are also advised to keep their pets secured to their premises, either indoors or inside a substantial fence, to reduce the possibility of exposure to wildlife and disease. Over the past decade, there was an average of two rabid animals per year identified in Douglas County. However, these were only the ones that were caught and tested.
All domesticated pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) must be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian at three months of age. It is a violation of the Douglas County Animal Control Ordinance to own an animal over three months old that isn’t vaccinated.
Residents are requested to call Douglas County Animal Control at (770) 942-5961 if they observe a sick animal. Residents may dial 911 as an alternative. Animal Control officers will be dispatched to try to find and apprehend the wild animal. The rabies vaccine can be administered by any local veterinarian, and must be reinforced annually. The vaccine is given as a shot that is not painful to the pet.