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Rabid bat found on NW Side, dogs may have been exposed

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Rabid bat found on NW Side, dogs may have been exposed

Pet owners urged to vaccinate animals, avoid wildlife

  • A California leaf-nosed bat flying at night, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona.
    Bat Conservation International via BLMA California leaf-nosed bat flying at night, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona.

A pair of "small, scruffy brown dogs" may have been exposed to a rabid bat near Oracle and Magee roads this week, and county officials are trying to track them down.

A woman who lives in an apartment complex near that intersection said she heard a commotion outside Tuesday, opened her door and saw someone with two unleashed dogs.

She then spotted an injured bat on the ground, a county spokeswoman said.

The woman "took it to the Tucson Wildlife Center where it was humanely euthanized," said Nikki Reck of Pima County. Bats that are injured or found on the ground are typically euthanized because of the high prevalence of rabies in the animals, she said.

Pima Animal Care Center staffers picked up the bat and submitted it for testing. Friday, the Arizona Public Health Laboratory alerted Health Department and PACC officials that the bat had tested positive for rabies.

Animal protection officers are working with the apartment complex office to notify residents of the potential exposure to the bat. PACC is asking the community for help identifying the two dogs. If anyone has information, please contact the shelter at 520-724-5900 and press 4, Reck said.

Kristen Hassen-Auerbach, PACC's director, urged pet owners to make sure their animals have up-to-date rabies vaccines. "It's important to keep those rabies shots current whether your pet lives inside or outside your home," she said. "Even inside pets occasionally make their way outside."

"Rabies is commonly found and naturally circulates in animals like bats, skunks, and other wildlife in the Sonoran Desert," says Paula Mandel, deputy director of the county Health Department. "It is important for people to always avoid contact with wildlife and only observe from a safe distance when we encounter wild animals."

People and mammals can get the disease from contact with saliva delivered into a bite or scratch from an infected animal. The Health Department recommends taking the following steps to help people reduce the risk of rabies when outdoors:

  • Do not approach wild animals. Wild animals with rabies may seem unafraid of people. It's not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid.
  • Protect your pets. If your cat or dog is not current on their rabies vaccinations, be sure to vaccinate them as soon as possible.
  • Always walk pets on a leash. Leashes give owners a tool to prevent potentially dangerous situations and contact with other animals.
  • If you see an animal acting oddly or on the ground, do not touch it. Stay away and immediately call the PACC at 520-724-5900.
  • If you have contact with an unknown animal, especially a wild animal, call the Health Department at 520-724-7797.

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bats, dogs, nikki reck, pacc, pchd, pets, rabies

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