THE COLONY (CBS 11 NEWS) – A rabies scare in The Colony has pet owners worried—and animal control officers increasing patrols.  A four and a half month old puppy in the 6800 block of Curry Drive tested positive for rabies—but, only after several family members had been bitten.

“The dog bit a child in the household.  Two days later, it bit another person in the house, and two days later bit yet another person,” says Patricia Barrington, The Colony Animal Services Division Manager.  According to Barrington, state law requires that animal bites be reported to prevent such scenarios.  “Had this been reported to us, the animal would have been in custody, the other two bites wouldn’t have happened and we would have one exposure, instead of five.”

City staffers say the situation was caught in time and the family should be okay.  But, all five members of the household are being treated because the risk of rabies exposure is so high.  Left untreated, rabies in humans is almost always fatal once symptoms begin to appear.

Now, animal control officers are baiting traps and working to eliminate what they believe is the source of the rabies—feral cats in the neighborhood.

“Oh, yeah, I see them all of the time,” says Russell Hill.  Hill lives on Curry Drive and is a pet owner, as well.  “I don’t want my animals infected, and I certainly don’t want to get bit by a rabid dog.”

Animal control officers say they have spoken with those residents suspected of feeding the feral cats and asked them to stop.

“It’s all with good intentions; but, people don’t always understand the ramifications of what they’re doing,” says Barrington.  “These cats aren’t contained and confined and vaccinated, and they come in contact with multiple high risk carriers in the wildlife community and then they come into contact with people and pets in the neighborhood.”

According to the city’s Animal Services office, a number of feral cats were caught eating and drinking from the rabid dog’s dish.

City staffers say only one domestic dog has tested positive for rabies in the past five years.  “One is more than enough,” says Barrington.  “It’s a very serious situation so it needs to be treated seriously.”

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