A positive case of rabies was found at a home in The Colony where a dog and five people were sent to treatment for exposure to the virus.
The pet, whose owner is still unknown, lived on the 6800 block of Curry Drive.
In the week leading up to the positive test, the dog bit three family members – two adults and a child. It wasn’t until after the third bite that the dog became ill and was taken to the vet.
City Animal Services Division Manager Patricia Barrington says they were contacted by the vet immediately. A rabies test came back positive for the animal and the dog was put down.
All three family members, along with two others, exposed to the virus received treatment.
“We’ll see it occasionally in our wildlife here in The Colony, but I have yet to see it in a domestic animal in my tenure here,” said Barrington.
Animal Control believes it was wildlife that likely got the dog sick. They believe the dog contracted the virus from a feral cat – likely eating from the dog’s dish outside.
Barrington says all it takes is saliva contact to spread the illness.
“It’s very easy to contract if there’s an active virus in one of the animals involved,” she said.
Neighbors didn’t know which household the dog belonged to. NBC 5 could not locate the owners for comment.
Several neighbors say they’re not surprised to hear about illness spread from the feral cats. They say there are many in the neighborhood.
“There’s a lot of cats around here,” said Summer Galles, “a lot of skinny cats.”
“It looks kind of like they got skinned with a knife,” added her brother Bailey, “like it’s getting eaten like by fleas or something.”
The Galles report having trash cans knocked over by wild animals and say they have even been chased by some lose in the neighborhood.
“It kind of scares me,” Bailey said. “I’m definitely staying away from the animals around here.”
The city said in a statement that they plan to increase patrol for stray/at-large animals, check for up-to-date rabies vaccinations when they come across pets and will continue to offer reduced-fee vaccine clinics. They say the vaccine is really the best way to prevent these kinds of issues.
“Any pet four months old or older in the state of Texas is required by state law to be vaccinated against rabies,” said Barrington.
Barrington also recommends feeding pets inside and never feeding feral animals to keep them out of neighborhoods.