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Warning issued in Cheshire after rabid skunk found in yard

CHESHIRE - It was an ordeal for the whole family after two dogs in Cheshire came into contact with a rabid skunk. Now, Cheshire Animal Control is reminding residents to protect their pets and make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

On Monday night, Liz Linehan noticed her two dogs making a lot of noise in their backyard on Sycamore Lane.

"I opened the door to call them in, and they were covered in blood," said Linehan, who said her dogs Newman and Mack are hunting dogs.

She and her husband cleaned up their pets, and discovered the skunk outside. They called Animal Control that night, but the skunk wasn't visible when officers arrived.

The next day, Linehan's three children found the skunk under their back deck.

"Being that we are kind of a family of explorers, my kids went and took a little too close of a look and touched the skunk," she said.

Officers took the skunk to the state virology laboratory for testing on Wednesday morning, and it did test positive for rabies. So the whole family, five humans and two dogs, are receiving treatment.

The dogs were current with rabies vaccinations and were re-boostered against rabies Wednesday afternoon in accordance with the Department of Agriculture rabies protocol.

The family spent four and a half hours at Yale New Haven Hospital Wednesday night getting their own shots. They'll need several more over the next two weeks.

Linehan said, "The children just went for their first rounds of shots and they're painful shots. I'm going to say it how it is because we need people to know that prevention is important."

Linehan, who is also in the final stretch of her campaign for state representative, is using this as a teaching moment. She hopes her story will show others the importance of vaccinations and watching pets when they're outside.

Even with their up-to-date vaccines and booster shots, her dogs are required to be confined to their home for 45 days.

If a dog is "out-of-date for its vaccine, it's 6 months off property in the dog pound," explained Animal Control Officer April Leiler. "That's expensive and that's stressful on the pet and on the family. Or the other option is to euthanize your pet and who wants to face that decision?"

Leiler said this situation is not rare, and that it could happen to anyone.

Cheshire Animal Control stresses the importance of vaccinating your pets against rabies to protect your pets and your family from this fatal virus. Please call them at 203- 271-5590 if you have any questions.

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