CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) – The Arkansas Department ofHealth confirmed that a rabid cat attacked its owner at a home in Fulton Countynear Cherokee Village.
State health officials said the cat's owner killed a rabidskunk just a month before the incident involving his cat. The unnamed man isnow receiving treatment for his exposure to the disease, but the state healthdepartment said the frequency of these incidents should send a clear message topet owners everywhere.
Dr. Susan Weinstein, the Arkansas public healthveterinarian, urged people to have all their cats and dogs vaccinated,especially any pets that live outside since they are more likely to come intocontact with rabid skunks or bats that usually transmit the disease.
She shared some troubling statistics that the state hascollected illustrating how much the problem has grown. The number of confirmedrabies cases climbed to 152 in 2013, which is an all-time high. According toDr. 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 monthinto the New Year, the state has already reported 11 cases of rabies.
News of the two recent rabies cases has spread quickly amongpet owners in the Cherokee Village area. Kathy Born, who owns three cats, saideven though all her pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations, she does notfeel safe letting them outside anymore.
"I don't let them outside because of the rabies that aregoing around and the ticks and any other critters that could get them," Bornsaid. "I'd just rather have them stay in the house."
Not long after moving into their home, Born and her husbandscreened in their back porch so that the cats could safely go outdoors but nothave to deal with any of the other wildlife.
"I'm the type of person if you have a pet, it should be yourpet, and it should be in your house," she explained.
Since there are still some pet owners who don't have their catsand dogs vaccinated, the Jonesboro Police Department's Animal Control Divisionwould like to help. The agency will hold a low-cost rabies vaccination clinicon 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. Theclinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. No appointments are necessary.