The City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center has confirmed the first confirmed rabies case for the year and encourages all pet owners and citizens to be on the alert.

Someone reported a skunk fighting with their three dogs on the South side of Wichita Falls recently and alerted Animal Services. The skunk was captured, euthanized, and sent for testing. Those results came back positive for rabies.

It is important to note that most wild animals are not infected with rabies but are often unpredictable and can carry diseases. Any exposure to wild animals, whether they are alive or dead should be avoided. This is especially true regarding bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and foxes which are the top rabies carriers in Texas.

If a wild animal does stray onto your property bring children and pets indoors, alert others in the vicinity, and let the animal wander away or call the Animal Services Center.

Animal Services urges anyone who observes a wild or domestic animal during the day that appears sick, fearless, or aggressive to contact them immediately at 940-761-7824. Do not attempt to capture or shoot the animal. An animal that is shot in the head cannot be tested for rabies.

It is important to know that rabies can only be transmitted through saliva. Exposure may occur if a person or pet is scratched by an infected animal or whenever saliva enters an open cut or mucous membrane such as mouth, nose, or eyes.

Rabies is 100% preventable by following a few simple but important guidelines. Make sure that all of your pets are current on their rabies vaccination. Don't let your pets roam free. Avoid wild animals even if they appear friendly. Do not handle bats, they have extremely small teeth and it is possible to be bitten and not even realize it. It is also important to teach your children to report all bites, scratches and encounters with wild or unknown animals.

To reduce the risk of exposure to rabies from wildlife, the City of Wichita Falls Animal Services Center recommends not feeding or watering your pets outside as even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals. Keep your garbage securely covered. Enjoy wild animals from a distance but do not try to keep them as pets. And if you see a wild animal acting strangely, report it to city or county animal control officials.

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