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Old May 18th, 2003, 07:45 AM
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Don't let pets succumb to rabies

Don't let pets succumb to rabies
5/17/2003 9:43 PM
By: Tanya Martinez and Web Staff

Central Texas is known for its large population of bats.

Bats also carry rabies, and any animal that comes into contact with them risks infection of the deadly disease.

One Round Rock family found that out the hard way when their 2-year-old husky Sable died after eating a rabid Mexican free-tailed bat.

Sable's owner Kari Ramirez said Sable became very ill May 9. Two days later, Sable took a turn for the worse and had to be euthanized.

"They treated her for heat stroke cause they took her temperature and said it was over 108 degrees because that's all their thermometers read," she said.

Ramirez told veterinarians she found a bat in her backyard one week before. When she went back to dispose of it, it was gone. The family lives near the McNeil Road bridge, near millions of bats.

After Sable's death, veterinarians decided to test her for rabies. As a result, all 18 people who came in contact with Sable received rabies shots.

"That meant my children, myself, my husband, the friends we had over Friday evening, no one had come into contact with her prior to that. And all the vets and assistants at the clinic that handled her," Ramirez said.

Animal control officer Shelly Meeks said this incident proves pets aren't protected in homes or backyards. Vaccinations are a must.

"We're very animal friendly, tree friendly, so we do see a lot of wildlife here in Austin. Therefore, it's doubly important animals are vaccinated to protect our pets and family," Meeks said.

Although Ramirez did take Sable for annual vaccinations, she missed two appointments due to a hectic schedule. She wants others to learn from her situation. No one should lose their family pet in this way.

The Ramirez family will never get over losing Sable. Her doghouse still sits outside, and the trails she made in the backyard serve as a reminder of what can happen when pets aren't vaccinated.

The veterinarians who treated Sable believe she ate the bat her owner spotted in the yard. The Town Lake Animal Shelter said children and adults should never touch bats and other wild animals. If a bat is lying on the ground, it is probably ill. In this case, call animal control immediately.

March 2003 animal rabies cases:

Travis County 64
Williamson County 12
Caldwell County 0
Hays County 7
Bastrop County 11
Harris County 126

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the central nervous system. It only affects warm-blooded animals. It is primarily transmitted by a bite, or saliva that came in contact with a fresh wound. Rabies causes the throat to become paralysed, so the victim cannot drink water. Saliva is overproduced, and this causes the "foaming at the mouth" look that is identified with a rabid animal
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