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Home » Valentine's Day » Ontario County Public Health to residents: “Don’t feed the wildlife”

Ontario County Public Health to residents: “Don’t feed the wildlife”

Editor’s Note: The following is a message from the Ontario County Health Department. It was not written by any member of the News team. If you have questions or submissions for consideration send them to [email protected].

We have received many calls in the last few weeks about baby animals (raccoons, particularly) being “rescued” by well-meaning residents. Regardless of your intentions, if you are bitten or otherwise exposed to the saliva of a wild animal (immature or full-grown), it will be necessary to euthanize it and test it for rabies. This is the last thing most people want to happen.

If you encounter wild animals in your yard, while hiking, or at the side of the road, please leave them alone. If they’re “babies,” their mothers may be nearby. Do not handle them or take them home with you. You are at risk for exposure to rabies if you feed, touch, cuddle, or adopt wild animals or stray dogs or cats.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies virus is in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals. It is most common in wildlife – raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes – but occasionally occurs in other species (wood chucks, deer, etc.). Cats, dogs, ferrets, and livestock can get rabies if they are exposed. Humans can, too.

Be sure your dog, cat, or ferret is up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Even if they are indoor pets they still need (and are required in NY State) to receive rabies vaccine. Pets that are too young to be vaccinated should never be outside unsupervised by their owner. Keep them on a leash until they’ve received their rabies vaccine.

If you or your pet have contact with a wild animal call your local health department. If you have contact with a bat or find one in your sleeping area, near a child, or with an unconscious or impaired adult; don’t let it out! Catch it! Keep it! and Call! your local health department. They will give you further instructions.

To help keep you and your pets safe, Ontario County Public Health has free rabies clinics several times during the year. Check out our website at Ontario-County for more information on rabies and upcoming clinics.