(SUN PHOTO/ William Thompson) Dr. Jean Corey gives
Area veterinarians want pet owners to get their animals vaccinated against rabies. Upcoming rabies clinics in Quay County will provide the opportunity.
Dr. Jim Alexander, director of the Texas Public Health office in Canyon, said there has been an increase in rabies-infected animals in the Texas panhandle.
“Right now on the Texas-New Mexico border we’ve had 21 cases of rabies,” Alexander said. “We’ve seen the rabies cases move west across the panhandle. We can’t predict that the increase in rabies will move into Quay County, but a rabies outbreak could flare up at anytime in Quay County.”
Alexander said rabid skunks spread the disease to pets and farm animals. He said dogs and cats need vaccinations and he also encourages owners of horses, cows, sheep and goats to have those animals vaccinated.
“We’ve recently had two calves and two horses in the panhandle with rabies,” he said.
Dr. Jean Corey of the Tucumcari Animal Hospital said a rabid skunk found earlier this year in San Jon may be just the tip of the iceberg.
She said indoor pets and cats are just as susceptible to rabies as dogs.
“A lot of skunks out there move around at night. Cats go out at night and skunks can get into the same places cats can,” Corey said. “Some people think pets that live indoors are protected but the one time that pet gets out could be the one time it gets bitten by a skunk.”
Mike Martinez, animal control officer for Tucumcari said he has captured a number of skunks within the city limits.
“Since January I’ve picked up nine skunks,” Martinez said. “In 2004 I picked up 48 skunks.”
Martinez said the skunks he captures are often found in residents’ yards and underneath their houses.
Ron Jones, a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, said there are ways to try to prevent skunks from coming onto property. He said pet owners should keep pet food out of reach of skunks.
"Pet owners should not leave pet food in a bowl on a porch where a skunk can reach it,” Jones said. “A cat can jump pretty high, so for cats you can put a food bowl up high and the cat can jump up to it.”
Vets and Pets<./b>
Quay County Rabies Clinics
When: April 16
Where: Tucumcari clinic: City Warehouse 302 W. Center Street.
9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Nara Visa clinic: Fire station 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT.
Logan clinic: Fire station 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. MDT.
San Jon clinic: Fire station 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. MDT.
Rabies shots for cats and dogs are $6 each. Dogs must be leashed and cats must be in carriers.