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Officials Say Attacks Against Domestic Pets Are Up
For the first time in many years, Orange County is under a countywide rabies alert, partly because raccoons, foxes and other animals that can carry rabies are attacking dogs, cats and other domestic pets.
Officials are also capturing animals that have become too comfortable around people. Experts said raccoons will attack if they feel threatened or if they feel their young are threatened.
Earlier this week, a pack of five raccoons mauled a 74-year-old Lakeland woman who was trying to shoo them out of her yard. She suffered severe gashes that required staples and stitches and is currently undergoing rabies treatments.
Corey Hicks, of animal-capturing company Critter Control, said he was stunned by the attack, but added that raccoons can be vicious.
"They're pretty quick animals," Hicks said. "They're a lot faster than we are, and they can bite, several times before you're able to get control of them, if at all possible."
Officials said attacks by raccoons and other wild animals on dogs and cats is up in Orange county. Currently, 16 domestic pets are under quarantine, because they might have rabies. Since the start of the year, nine animals have tested positive for rabies.
"And if you come in contact with your pet, and your pet happens to nip you or scratch you, then you might also be at risk of getting the virus," Vanessa Bouffard of Orange County Animal Services said.
The county is offering free rabies vaccinations for your pets at Veterans Memorial Park in Winter Garden this Saturday.