Rabies reemergence prompts animal control reminder | SteamboatToday.com

Rabies reemergence prompts animal control reminder

The Steamboat Springs Police Department is urging residents to vaccinate and license their pets. The reminder comes after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed two confirmed cases of rabies in dogs May 15. The infected dogs in Weld and Yuma Counties have been contained and are not a threat to public health.

"The rabies vaccination is usually given once every three years, and sometimes, pet owners lose track," Steamboat Springs Police Commander Annette Dopplick said.

"I want to encourage all pet owners to be diligent in assuring vaccination against this deadly virus. We love our pets, so let's protect our pets."

The city of Steamboat Springs requires a current license for all cats and dogs. Pet owners may purchase a Routt County license directly from the Animal Shelter or through a local veterinarian. The cost is $5 for a spayed or neutered cat or dog and $25 for an unaltered cat or dog.

Rabies spreads primarily through the bite of rabid animals. It is usually fatal in humans once symptoms appear. People who have been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal should contact their health care provider immediately to prevent the disease. Those who see animals acting strangely are encouraged to report it to the state or local health department.

The following tips will help avoid rabies.

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• Never touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don't leave pet food outdoors. If help is needed with a sick or orphaned animal, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Contact a nearby animal shelter when a lost or stray dog or cat are encountered.

• Vaccinate pets using a licensed veterinarian, and keep up with pets' booster shots.

• Leash dogs while walking or hiking.

• Keep cats and other pets inside at night, and keep dogs within your sight, in a fenced yard or on leash when they are outside during the day.

• Call a veterinarian if a pet has been exposed to a wild animal.

• Vaccinate pastured animals annually.

• Bat-proof homes according to recommendations on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page.
The following tips will help with the identification of rabid animals.

• Many healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans, however, sick animals often do not run away when they're near people.

• Wildlife with rabies often act aggressively or violently approach humans or pets.

• Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. Don't bother them.

• Rabid wildlife may have trouble walking, flying, eating or drinking.
For more information about rabies, see the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment webpage.