County, Virginia Animal Control / Animal Shelter Policy
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Due to the risk of rabies infected animals coming into contact
with humans in Wise County, all citizens are advised to learn
to recognize rabid animal behavior, to protect themselves and
to have their pets inoculated against the disease. Humans
are susceptible to the disease through animal bites or other contact
with a rabid animal's saliva through a break in the skin.
general, wildlife most commonly infected with rabies are raccoons,
foxes, skunks and bats. Among domestic animals, cats are
most likely to contract the disease because of their nocturnal
roaming and the fact that more cats than dogs have not received
rabies immunization. Dogs and ferrets, however, are also
susceptible to rabies.
is caused by a virus that attacks the spinal cord and brain in
warm blooded animals. Animals with rabies can survive for
up to six months in an infected state and can endanger other animals.
During the infectious stage, the rabies virus is present in the
animal's saliva and can be transmitted through any open wound
in the skin or in the membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth.
Once clinical signs--or overt symptoms--appear the animal will
die within a week. A pet, when bitten by a rabid animal,
may develop symptoms within two to 24 weeks, but the usual period
is within three to eight weeks. Initially, the pet would
show abrupt changes in behavior, such as increased anxiety, depression,
irritability or even more displays of affection than usual.
In the most common form of rabies, clinical symptoms include convulsions,
muscular incoordination, extreme irritability, frenzied behavior
and foaming at the mouth. In a less common form, the animal becomes
depressed and may hide. Finally, the animal develops paralysis
of the jaw, followed by general paralysis and death. Once
clinical symptoms appear, there is no cure for rabies.
nature from a distance. As the County has grown, wildlife
habitat has become residential areas. Even healthy wildlife
can become aggressive and attack either pets or humans during
breeding, nesting and denning seasons.
should warn their children of the dangers of approaching wildlife
of any kind and should take precautions to protect small children
from any contact with wild animals. Make sure they are
encouraged to report any potentially infectious contact they
may have with animals.
- Be wary
of any domestic or wild animals displaying unusual or suspect
behavior. Report animals acting strangely or altercations
between animals to the Wise County Department of Animal Control,
(276) 679-6750, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays or 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of each month. After hours call the Emergency Dispatch Center
at (276) 328-3756.
- If bitten
by a wild or stray animal or a pet that is acting strangely,
wash the wound immediately and thoroughly with soap and water
-- preferably soaking the affected area for 10 minutes -- and
apply antiseptic, seek medical attention and report the incident
to Animal Control, (276) 679-6750, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays
or 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of each month. After hours call the
Emergency Dispatch Center at (276) 328-3756.
- If someone
is bitten by a wild animal or any animal for which the owner
is unknown, make a reasonable attempt to confine the animal.
If confinement is not safely possible, try to watch the animal
until the animal warden arrives. Notify Animal Control
at (276) 679-6750 immediately so the animal can be captured
for necessary rabies tests. If after hours, contact the
Emergency Dispatch Center at (276) 328-3756.
contact between domestic and wild animals. Pet owners
can take precautions such as having pets sleep indoors, walking
pets on a leash and feeding cats and dogs inside.
- If a cat,
dog or other mammal is bitten by or exposed to a potentially
rabid animal, contact the Department of Animal Control, (276)
679-6750, and the Health Department, (276) 328-8000, for follow-up and information.
contact with wild or stray animals by keeping trash in closed
trash cans and sealing off openings into your house that might
provide entry for wildlife, including open areas under decks
and houses, chimneys and pet doors. Do not feed stray
- Don't keep
wild animals as pets. Even a baby skunk or raccoon born
in captivity can be a rabies carrier.
- Last but
not least, have your pets inoculated against rabies.
Both state law and County ordinance require that dogs and cats
four months of age and older be inoculated. Inoculation
against rabies is not a one-time shot. The vaccine must
be administered every one or three years, depending on the vaccine
used and the age of the animal. For more information,
call the Animal Shelter at (276) 679-6750.