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Jul 16, 2011 11:22 PM by Matt Stafford

Rabies becoming more of an issue in Colorado

"I came over here to trim up my daisies," Heidi Reagan says as she walks towards her garden, but she found a surprise in her east Colorado Springs backyard. It was a dead skunk, and it's concerning to her because she's hearing about more animals getting rabies.

"All of the sudden you find one in your garden," Reagan says. She doesn't know if the dead skunk in her yard had rabies, but she's worried because neighbors have seen more skunks coming from next door.

Michael Seraphin with the state Division of Parks and Wildlife says rabies really started showing up in Colorado about five years ago; it started in the southeast parts of the state and has spread ever since.

"At this point think it's probably here to stay," says veterinarian Cindy Blakesley.

So the push is on for more people to get their pets vaccinated; more clinics like this one in Peyton and more people using them.

"We just want to be cautious about the whole situation; we don't want anything bad to happen to her," says Aliya Granger talking about her dog Mortisha. They live in Colorado Springs and she's seen plenty of wild animals around. She brought Mortisha out for a $10 rabies vaccination.

Getting back to Heidi Reagan's dilemma; she had a dead animal in her yard and didn't know what diseases it may have. She called Animal Control as well as Parks and Wildlife trying to find answers.

"I never heard anything, so I don't know what to do," says Reagan.

Seraphin tells NF5 that no agency removes dead animals unless they're on the roads.

We asked a veterinarian what you should do if you find a dead animal in your yard.

"If you can confirm that no one has come in contact with it, whether it be your animals or your children or anyone else in the family, then you do want to dispose of that," explains Blakesley. But if it has been touched by a person or a pet, or you just aren't sure, Blakesley says you should call the health department right away to have the animal tested.

You can reach the El Paso County Health Department at (719) 578-3199. The number for the Pueblo County Health Department is (719) 583-4300.

"It's a fatal disease, and that's to your pet, that's to your children, and that's to you," says Blakesley.

When removing an animal that you know has not been touched, Blakesley says try not to make contact with the animal; wear thick gloves, use something like a shovel to move the animal, and put it into multiple trash bags.

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