Rabid cat concerns pet owners in Cherokee Village area - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Rabid cat concerns pet owners in Cherokee Village area

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Rabies virus (Source: CDC) Rabies virus (Source: CDC)

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) – The Arkansas Department of Health confirmed that a rabid cat attacked its owner at a home in Fulton County near Cherokee Village.

State health officials said the cat's owner killed a rabid skunk just a month before the incident involving his cat. The unnamed man is now receiving treatment for his exposure to the disease, but the state health department said the frequency of these incidents should send a clear message to pet owners everywhere.

Dr. Susan Weinstein, the Arkansas public health veterinarian, urged people to have all their cats and dogs vaccinated, especially any pets that live outside since they are more likely to come into contact with rabid skunks or bats that usually transmit the disease.

She shared some troubling statistics that the state has collected illustrating how much the problem has grown. The number of confirmed rabies cases climbed to 152 in 2013, which is an all-time high. According to Dr. Weinstein, none of the cats exposed to rabies last year were vaccinated, and just 19.7 percent of the dogs were current on their shots. Just a month into the New Year, the state has already reported 11 cases of rabies.

News of the two recent rabies cases has spread quickly among pet owners in the Cherokee Village area. Kathy Born, who owns three cats, said even though all her pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations, she does not feel safe letting them outside anymore.

"I don't let them outside because of the rabies that are going around and the ticks and any other critters that could get them," Born said. "I'd just rather have them stay in the house."

Not long after moving into their home, Born and her husband screened in their back porch so that the cats could safely go outdoors but not have to deal with any of the other wildlife.

"I'm the type of person if you have a pet, it should be your pet, and it should be in your house," she explained.

Since there are still some pet owners who don't have their cats and dogs vaccinated, the Jonesboro Police Department's Animal Control Division would like to help. The agency will hold a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, February 1. Anyone can stop by the Animal Control facility, located at 6119 E. Highland in Jonesboro, and pay $10 for the rabies shot. The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. No appointments are necessary.

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