Originally created 07/11/01

Rabid raccoon sends officials to find exposed dogs' owners



The fate of three dogs exposed to a rabid raccoon last week is in limbo as Richmond County officials look for their owners.

Test results Tuesday from a raccoon that was found dead July 4 in a yard near Butler High School showed the animal was rabid, said Rudy Morris, county manager for Richmond County Health Department.

A neighbor called Augusta-Richmond County Animal Control to report the raccoon was in a nearby yard with three dogs, said Animal Control Director Bonnie Bragdon.

Animal control officers took the raccoon to the shelter, where a tissue sample was sent off for rabies testing, which came back positive, Dr. Bragdon said. Unfortunately, the dogs' owners could not provide proof their animals had been vaccinated, Dr. Bragdon said. It was unclear whether the dogs had fought with the raccoon, but they had been exposed to it.

Such dogs may be dealt with in one of two ways, Dr. Bragdon said: be strictly isolated for six months and vaccinated a month before release, or be put to sleep, Dr. Bragdon said.

It is up to the health department to enforce that, she said. But Mr. Morris said his department can't force owners to comply.

Fliers were distributed in the neighborhood Tuesday morning warning residents a rabid animal had been found, but as of Tuesday afternoon messages at the house went unanswered, Mr. Morris said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com.