According to Bladen County Animal Control Officer Ted Carter, he was called to a residence in the community at about 12:40 p.m. on Sunday. The homeowner reported that his two dogs had been fighting with a raccoon in the yard of the home.
Carter said that when he arrived at the house, the two dogs were in the yard and the raccoon was in the ditch in front of the home, but was still alive.
"I euthanized the raccoon and sent his head to the state laboratory to be tested for rabies," said Carter. "Early Tuesday morning the lab notified me that the animal was infected with rabies.
"The rabies shots of the two dogs involved in the incident had expired, so I had to return to the residence and get them," Carter said. "They had to be destroyed."
Carter said this incident underlines the importance of keeping rabies vaccinations up to date.
"If the shots are expired, we have no choice but to destroy animals who come into contact with rabies-infected animals," Carter explained. "The only exception is if the owner is willing to foot the bill for quarantining them for six months-a very expensive proposition," Carter said.
Carter said it is obvious from the number of cases that have been found in Bladen and surrounding counties that rabies is still very active in the wild animal population in the area. Most confirmed cases have been in the raccoon population; however, other species such as foxes are very susceptible to the disease as well.
"Residents should be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior of wild animals in the area, especially if they come in contact with domestic animals or humans," Carter said. "Chances are they are rabid. Wild animals usually steer clear of confrontations with domestic animals unless they are rabid."
Carter also advised against attempting to play with or handle domestic animals with which they are not familiar. They animals may have been exposed to rabies.