Proud owners of eight dogs, Phillip and Julie Tippens sit on the porch of their home with some of the dogs which killed the rabid raccoon.Damon Howell / Photo
It was one of the “good stories” said Jan Stephens of the county Environmental Health Department.
A beloved group of family dogs killed a rabid raccoon without suffering injury. All the dogs were up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, so booster shots were given, and all the animals are still running around the Townsend Road home of Phillip and Julie Tippens.
According to Ms. Tippens, her eight family dogs are a “wide variety” of rescue animals. Some were likely dumped at their residence. Others appear to have just shown up.
All the “funny mixed-up family” have been spayed/neutered and, most importantly in this case, properly vaccinated against rabies.
Ms. Tippens said, from her work in an emergency room, she knows rabies is a threat to humans and pets. She has always made a point to have her animals vaccinated.
“We live in the woods and have never had a close call, but we’ve always gotten them their shots,” she said.
Ms. Tippens said she and her husband heard a commotion about 6:30 one evening and ran outside to find the dogs with the raccoon. While the dogs already had the upper hand, the Tippens were able to separate the animals and shoot the raccoon.
Ms. Tippens said they then stored the wrapped-up raccoon in their refrigerator as instructed by 911, which “was pretty gross,” she said. Stephens sent off the animal’s head for testing, and it was confirmed as rabid earlier this week.
Tippens said they were pretty sure the raccoon would test positive for rabies, as they believe the animal had walked up onto the porch in daylight with the dogs present.
Health experts say seeing nocturnal animals like raccoons in daylight is a possible indication of rabies. Seeing wild animals approach people or pets is another sign.
Ms. Tippens said one dog suffered a scratch on its leg, possibly as a result of the raccoon encounter, but the other dogs appeared unharmed. All were given booster shots for rabies.
If the dogs had not been up to date on their rabies vaccination, contact with the rabid raccoon would have resulted in their having to be destroyed.
Stephens commended pet owners like the Tippens “who do everything right” - rescue animals; spayed-neutered; proper vaccinations.
Stephens said summer months usually see the most rabies cases. She urges all pet owners to have their animals vaccinated now.