Search on for dogs potentially exposed to rabid bat in Pima County

Rabies vaccine vials. [Photo provided courtesy Pima County]

Two dogs seen near a bat that later tested positive for Rabies are being sought by Pima County Animal Protection officers. The dogs, described as “small, scruffy,” and “brown” happened upon the bat at an apartment complex near Oracle Road and Magee Road.

According to the County, a woman said she heard a commotion, opened her door and saw someone with two dogs off leash on June 18. She then saw a bat on the ground that was not deceased. She took it to the Tucson Wildlife Center where it was euthanized. PACC picked the bat up from the Wildlife Center the same day and submitted it for testing.

On Friday, June 21 the Arizona Public Health Laboratory alerted the Pima County Health Department and PACC officials that the bat tested positive for Rabies.

The Director of Animal Services Kristen Hassen-Auerbach is urging pet owners to make sure their pets have up-to-date rabies vaccines. “It’s important to keep those rabies shots current whether your pet lives inside or outside your home,” she said. “Even inside pets occasionally make their way outside.”

In addition, Animal Protection Officers are working with the apartment complex office to notify residents of the potential exposure to the bat. PACC is asking the community for help identifying the two dogs. If anyone has information, contact the shelter at (520) 724-5900 and press 4.

“Rabies is commonly found and naturally circulates in animals like bats, skunks, and other wildlife in the Sonoran Desert,” says Paula Mandel, Deputy Director of the Health Department. “It is important for people to always avoid contact with wildlife and only observe from a safe distance when we encounter wild animals.”

The Health Department recommends taking the following steps to help people reduce the risk of Rabies when outdoors:

• Do not approach wild animals. Wild animals with Rabies may seem unafraid of people. It’s not normal for a wild animal to be friendly with people, so stay away from any animal that seems unafraid.

• Protect your pets.  If your cat or dog is not current on their rabies vaccinations, be sure to vaccinate them as soon as possible.

• Always walk pets on a leash. Leashes give owners a tool to prevent potentially dangerous situations and contact with other animals.

• If you see an animal acting oddly or on the ground, do not touch it. Stay away and immediately call the PACC at (520) 724-5900.

• If you have contact with an unknown animal, especially a wild animal, call the Health Department at 520-724-7797.

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