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Skunk attack should be 'serious reminder' to pet owners about rabies: expert

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An attack on a dog that led to a rabies scare is a reminder for Winnipeggers to vaccinate their pets.

The skunk attack on a Labrador mix happened in the city’s south end recently, though Animal Services Agency Chief Leland Gordon didn’t specify the part of the city where the attack took place or whether it transpired this month. City workers responded after a Labrador was injured in an attack, and found the skunk.

The skunk was killed, and testing showed the animal had rabies.

"This is incredibly rare," said Gordon. It’s the first time there’s been a case of rabies in the city since 2006.

The dog was injured, but didn’t die and is now in quarantine.

He said skunks and raccoons are "primary carriers" of rabies.

"People who live in every part of Winnipeg need to take this as a serious reminder to be responsible pet owners," said Gordon.

"Part of responsible pet ownership is vaccinating your pets and visiting a veterinarian regularly."

A city press release said there are 45 clinics where Winnipeggers can take their animals for vaccinations.

Gordon said Winnipeggers who live in the outskirts of the city, near big parks or rivers, should be "wildlife-proofing their homes."

He said food sources – such as food for dogs, cats or birds – should be removed from yards because they can lure wildlife.

People with big decks or storage sheds with crawlspaces should put beams of wood underneath them, he said.

"If you have no food, and you have no shelter outside for wildlife, you’re likely not going to have much of a problem with wildlife hanging out in your yard," he said.

Gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

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