Apr 5, 2011 7:40 PM by Elaine Sheridan
A pair of dogs in Calhan have been bitten by a rabid skunk and may have been exposed to the fatal disease.
The two small dogs got into a scuffle with the skunk over the weekend and were wounded by the wild animal. The dogs were brought to their veterinarian for treatment; the wounds were minor, but unfortunately the dogs were not vaccinated to protect against rabies.
The skunk was captured and tested; it came back positive for rabies today.
Now the owners have a tough decision to make.
"Rabies is very contagious, with no vaccinations it is likely that these animals will contract the disease," says Dr Bernadette Albanese with the El Paso County Health Department. "Due to the high risk with rabies the law says the dogs have to be euthanized or under a strict six-month quarantine."
The first three months of the quarantine has to be at a secured facility approved by the health department, such as a veterinary clinic. If there is no sign of illness the animal can go home for the remainder of the quarantine.
This means the owner will have a choice of spending thousands of dollars in boarding fees or have to make the heartbreaking decision to put their dogs down. Something the dogs' vet says could have been prevented.
"We really recommend getting your pets vaccinated," says Dr. Genevieve Grammar at the Calhan Veterinary Clinic. "It prevents owners from having to make these kinds of decisions."
The El Paso County Health department adds that not reporting a wild animal bite is a very dangerous decision because humans can contract rabies and once symptoms appear there is no cure.