Cary, N.C. — A Garner man whose dog had to be euthanized earlier this week says he wishes he had kept his pet up to date on vaccinations.
Bernard Owens said he hopes his loss of an Akita named Sue will encourage other families to protect their pets.
"My wife bought her for me for my birthday four years ago," Owens said. "I am going to miss her, but it is a lesson learned. I promise you that the next dog is going to be vaccinated."
The family has a fenced in yard, but sometimes Sue would get out and go into a wooded area behind the house, Owens said.
"I guess she ran into the woods – maybe she jumped into a raccoon or a fox or something," he said.
Last week, Sue started acting strangely.
"She couldn't hold her balance and she was real dirty," he said. "When I went to wash her, she got fearful of the water."
That's when he knew something was wrong.
"I was shocked, but I knew I hadn't had her vaccinated," he said.
Sue was euthanized Monday and taken to the State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh for testing. Test results confirming rabies were returned Tuesday.
Wake County officials posted signs around the Hillington West subdivision, where the Owens family lives, to warn neighbors about the rabies case.
Pam Roy, who lives next door to the Owenses, said she is taking extra precautions when her four dogs are out in the yard.
"We have bobcats, black bears, coyote and fox," Roy said. "I am supervising (my dogs) in their fenced in back yard."
To protect animals in the neighborhood, the county is hosting a rabies clinic from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Quest Fellowship Church. Rabies vaccines will be $5.
County officials also said that any person or animal who had significant contact with Sue should call their physician or veterinarian right away.
Owens said he hopes other pet owners will take advantage of the clinic and get their animals vaccinated.
"I may not seem like a big thing, but in the end, it's going to save you and your animal a lot of pain and suffering," he said.