Residents warned to be cautious after rabid skunk attacked caged dog

By WKTV News

WEST WINFIELD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Residents are being warned to be cautious after a rabid skunk attacked a caged dog during the daylight hours in West Winfield.

According to Herkimer County Health Officials, the skunk attacked the dog, sticking its head into the kennel, and the resident's dog placed its mouth around the skunk's head. When the resident witnessed the attack, they killed the skunk, and using gloves and a shovel, carefully double-bagged the dead skunk.

The West Winfield veterinarian gave all the dogs booster rabies shots, and removed the skunk's brain.

The brain was sent to the New York State Wadsworth Laboratory, where rabies was confirmed on October 26, 2011.

Health officials said all the dogs had been properly vaccinated against rabies, and all received booster rabies shots. The dogs will be carefully observed by the owner and the resident owner had no unprotected contact with the skunk, health officials stated.

"All residents of Herkimer County should assume that any bat or wild animal, acting strangely, is rabid until proven otherwise," health officials stated. "Rabies has been diagnosed in a fox, heifer cow, skunks, raccoons and bats this year in all regions of Herkimer County. An exposure to rabies can be fatal for a human, a pet, or other domestic animals. Residents should vaccinate their pets and domestic animals. Municipalities should assure that pets are being vaccinated and licensed. Local veterinarians provide Rabies vaccinations year-round."

Herkimer County Public Health is providing one more free rabies clinic in 2011. Animal owners can pre-register their pets by following links from, or by going directly to www.ehealthscheduling/Herkimer

On-line pre-registration will save pet-owners time at the clinic in completing paperwork and pet certificates. The last free Rabies Clinic is scheduled for Saturday, November 5, 2011, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the East Herkimer Fire Department, 133 Main Road, in East Herkimer.

The complete Rabies Clinics Schedule for 2011 is posted at Local veterinarians provide Rabies vaccinations year-round.

Strict laws of New York State hold owners responsible for keeping dogs, cats and ferrets up-to-date in their rabies vaccination, and assign them responsibility for confinement of any unvaccinated pet at the owner's expense. Animals kept or fed by a homeowner are the responsibility of the homeowner. Residents must check and be sure that all their animals are up-to-date with their rabies vaccinations.

Dogs, cats and ferrets that are three months or older must be vaccinated, even if they stay indoors. Every dog and cat needs two rabies vaccinations one year apart, and then every three years needs a revaccination. A certificate of vaccination allows licensure of a pet.

These cases of animal and bat rabies and exposure risk to humans in Herkimer County heighten the importance of caution in any exposure to wild animals or bats, and for animal vaccination for rabies. An exposure to rabies can be fatal for a human, a pet, or other domestic animals, and vaccination of pets and other animals represents the best preventive measure available.

Health officials ask resident that they carefully double-bag a dead or killed bat or wild animal to allow laboratory examination for presence of rabies. Always call Herkimer County Public Health for assistance, advice, and testing of possibly rabid animals, and on safe handling of dead animals.

You are asked to call 315-867-1176 for questions at any hour of the day.

Regular hours for the Herkimer County Health Department are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

What's On