Bat found near puppies was rabid

Columbia County reported its sixth rabies case of 2009 on Thursday after a bat that came in contact with two unvaccinated puppies tested positive for the disease.

"Since January of this year, we have already had six confirmed cases of rabies in Columbia County: three raccoons, two foxes, and one bat," said Emergency Services director Pam Tucker. "The results for the bat just came back today."

The rabid bat was found dead beneath a toy that was being used by two puppies, whose owner was concerned enough to quarantine the animals at the county Animal Control office, Mrs. Tucker said.

The confirmation of rabies in the bat leaves the dogs' future in question.

"Since the puppies had not had their rabies shots, the owner is now considering her options regarding whether the puppies will be euthanized, quarantined at a veterinarian's office for six months, or building a special kennel to quarantine at her residence," Mrs. Tucker said.

During 2008, the county confirmed a record 12 rabies cases involving eight raccoons, two bats, one coyote and one fox.

Pet owners, she added, should make sure their pets are current on all vaccinations.

Local rescue groups are holding the following rabies clinics in May:

- Heartsong Animal Rescue, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, SuperPetz. Cost is $5.

- Heartsong Spay-Neuter Clinic, 9 a.m. to noon May 23. The cost is $5 per animal.

- Columbia County Humane Society, 1-2:30 p.m. May 30, Dogwood Park Spay-Neuter Clinic, 6100 Columbia Road. Two veterinarians will administer free vaccinations to the first 200 animals.

Reach Rob Pavey at 9706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.