By Margie Plunkett
County and town officials urged residents to keep pets up-to-date on rabies vaccinations after a rabid raccoon attacked a miniature Doberman at 9 E. Ocean Ave. early in December. Two family members were expected to undergo precautionary treatment for rabies and the dog is required to be in double-cage quarantine for six months, according to Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Health Department.
Rabies is deadly for animals and humans, according to the Health Department, which said anyone who has come in contact with a raccoon in the area should call 561-840-4500. The raccoon was confirmed rabid by the Florida State Laboratory in Lantana.
The dog’s owners and a veterinarian were evaluated by the Health Department to determine whether they should be given a series of shots used to treat rabies because they had come into contact with the raccoon’s saliva on the dog, O’Connor said. Michael Dubose, listed as owner of 9 E. Ocean Ave. along with Sharon Dubose, declined to comment, although he confirmed the pet, Rusty, is quarantined. Dr. Rob Martin of Colonial Animal Hospital, where Rusty is being cared for, said the dog’s vaccine was four or five months overdue when the incident occurred. “He’ s doing fine,” said the veterinarian, calling Rusty a well-loved pet.
The threat of exposure is probably over, Dr. Martin said, but “the potential exposure from this dog to the family could come for up to six months in the eyes of the law. Everybody’s desire is to keep the family healthy.” Other animals and staff at Colonial are at zero risk, Dr. Martin said, explaining that Rusty is in a separate room. Dr. Jim Weege of Colonial, who saw Rusty initially, wasn’t required to be treated for rabies, he said.
Ocean Ridge alerted residents to the attack on its Web site and warned them not to approach animals such as raccoons or attempt to feed them. It reminded residents that all dogs and cats must be confined inside the home or in a fenced yard, currently vaccinated against rabies and wearing a rabies tag.
Health Department spokesman O’Connor said this has been an average season for detected incidence of rabies. Residents have no reason to panic, he said, but warned that they should always keep pets up-to-date with rabies vaccines to protect both pets and family.
Animals that are not current on shots automatically must go into isolated quarantine when bitten by wildlife, whether rabies is confirmed in the attacker or not, O’Connor said.
Capt. Dave Walesky of Palm Beach County Animal Control said residents can have their pets vaccinated at either private veterinarian offices or by Animal Control. Call 561-233-1215 for vaccinations, to report sick wildlife or strays, or to report a person or pet has been bitten by wildlife or stray animals.
In separate news, Ocean Ridge commissioners voted at their December meeting to:
• Draft an ordinance increasing penalties for people failing to obtain building permits. For work under $5,000, the penalty will be two times the cost of a building permit plus $200; for work more than $5,000, it will be four times the cost of a permit. The previous penalty was two times the price of a permit.
• Pay remaining $1,000 health insurance deductible in 2010 for town employees using $26,000 from last year’s budget surplus.
• Approve placement of eight pedestrian signs in the middle of the road in crosswalks on A1A. The signs tell motorists to stop for pedestrians.
• Pay town employees a $500 year-end bonus from the contingency account.
• Give retiring Police Officer Gene Rosenberg an $800 outstanding bonus and his service weapon. Rosenberg will continue to work as a reserve police officer.