Neighborhood on alert after skunk tests positive for rabies in Gaston County

Neighborhood on alert after skunk tests positive for rabies in Gaston County

DALLAS, N.C. (WBTV) - Officers from Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement are asking pet owners in one neighborhood to make sure their animals are vaccinated for rabies.

Officers passed out warning fliers to homes along Texas Trail in Dallas this week. Officials from the Gaston County Police Department say a skunk that was killed by a dog on Texas Trail tested positive for rabies.

Brendon Surber, a resident of Texas Trail, said his husky is responsible for killing the skunk. He said it happened Sunday afternoon in the backyard of his home.

“I was worried about getting bit by the skunk and she wasn’t so she just went ahead and killed it,” explained Surber.

Other neighbors said they had also spotted the skunk wandering near homes Sunday afternoon. They said it wasn’t being shy about running around with neighborhood dogs.

“He was running towards the dogs and the kids so he was definitely acting funny,” said neighbor Ashton Daugherty.

Surber said he called Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement after his dog killed the skunk. He said an officer came out and picked up the skunk. The dog owner was not expecting the skunk to test positive for rabies.

“You’d think it’d be foaming at the mouth and aggressive, well apparently it’s not always that way. Some times they’re a little more woozy and disoriented and in this case, she didn’t look anything like that. She was just kind of roaming around,” said Surber.

He said his dog had been vaccinated for rabies, but he still has had to keep her temporarily away from other pets and people because of the skunk incident.

“Now we have to watch her for 45 days. She has to be isolated from the other dogs. We have to keep her in a kennel overnight instead of letting her sleep on the floor and it’s almost like watching your family member go to jail for 45 days,” explained Surber.

According to Gaston County Police, the skunk marks the 15th animal to test positive for rabies in Gaston County this year. Records from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services show there were only four confirmed rabies cases in the county in all of 2018.

GCPD said they spoke to an epidemiologist who said the increase in cases could be due to a combination of several factors including an population increase, land development, lack of space for animals, and a domino effect. GCPD said the epidemiologist noted that there is a correlation between waterways and the rabies virus.

The GCPD encourages all pet owners to make sure their pets receive rabies vaccines.

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