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Pet vaccinations urged after rabid dog attacks Warren man

Posted July 10, 2015
Updated July 11, 2015

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— As a Macon man recovers from a rabid dog attack, Warren County Animal Control is urging area pet owners to get their animals vaccinated.

Fred Heisler, 56, was attacked by three dogs on July 1. He had finished walking his puppy and left the dog on the screened front porch, only to hear a commotion outside a few minutes later and find three dogs had come on to the porch.

"I opened the door and hollered, 'Get out of here.' The one that was right there, he just latched onto my leg," Heisler said Friday. "I grabbed him by his face and hit him, and he yelped and ran off the porch."

A second dog, which was attacking the puppy, then put up much more of a fight, however.

"He jumped on me, jumped for my face," he said. "When he did that, I ducked, and he grabbed me on top of my head. I threw the dog the half-length of the porch. I thought he would run off, but he didn't. He just kept coming.

"Every time I let loose of him, he kept biting me. I said I can’t keep staying right here. I've got to kill the dog," he continued.

Heisler's wife tossed a knife to him, and he stabbed the dog to death. Officials said it later tested positive for rabies.

Warren County Animal Control Director Elma Rae Green said the other two dogs, which got away, most likely were rabid as well but have probably died of the virus by now.

"We don’t have that many rabid dogs being tested in North Carolina," Green said. "We usually see under a dozen dogs that are rabid. They are usually coming in contact with rabid wildlife."

Warren County had its sixth rabies case of the year on Thursday. Two dogs killed a rabid skunk, and both dogs had to be euthanized because they weren't up to date on their rabies vaccines and the county couldn't find a place to quarantine them for six months.

Green said her concern now is to protect the community, so her department is urging all Warren County pet owners to get their animals vaccinated against rabies and other diseases.

"We have a strong rabies control program here. We held a low-cost rabies clinic at the local fire department and had several people come to that," she said.

Heisler, who is undergoing a series of rabies shots and had to receive 40 stitches to close bite wounds, echoed Green's call for vaccinating pets.

"You got to do it. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it," he said. "You don’t want a child to get attacked by one of these dogs or any dog that has rabies."

Heisler's puppy wasn't hurt in the July 1 attack. It was quarantined briefly and is now doing fine.

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