Four rabies cases have been confirmed in raccoons so far this year, which Bob Marotto, Director of Orange County Animal Services, says is above the number of cases recorded at this point in recent years.
In 2012 and 2013, twelve cases of rabies were confirmed. Marotto adds that those figures were at the lower end of the range of yearly cases the county has recorded in the past two decades.
In 2005-2007, there were more than 20 confirmed cases per year.
“Twelve is actually low by historical standards. If you go back into the 1990s when raccoon rabies first erupted in our region, in our state and in our county, I believe that there were upwards of 90 confirmed cases each year,” Marotto says.
The fourth rabies case in 2014 was reported around February 27 when a Chapel Hill resident spotted his dog near a raccoon that appeared to be almost dead. The resident removed his dog from the area and called Animal Control to remove the rabid raccoon for testing.
Marotto explains that dog was not believed to have had direct contact with the raccoon, but the possibility of exposure before the owner’s arrival couldn’t be ruled out.
Unfortunately, the dog was not currently vaccinated against rabies. North Carolina law requires that it must be either destroyed or quarantined for a period of six months, which is very costly for the pet owner.
“It is not often that we have a case where there’s been an exposure of a dog or cat to rabies and the dog or cat is not vaccinated, but when that happens, the choices that face the owner are dreadful choices.”
Marotto reminds residents to have their pets vaccinated. Dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months are legally required to be up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
“It is prevention and reporting—I think that is really true. The prevention is that we always want to insure that our animals are vaccinated against rabies.”
If you or your pet encounters an animal believed to be rabid, you should report it to Animal Services immediately by calling 919.942.7387.
It is also advised that pets not be allowed to roam free where they can be exposed to wildlife.
The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year. Their next one will be held on Thursday, March 20, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market in Hillsborough. The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10, and only cash will be accepted at this clinic.
Click here for a complete list of 2014 clinic dates.
CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services is warning pet owners about several cases involving injured, killed or missing pets. Two of the incidents are believed to be the result of wildlife attacks on pets, possibly coyotes.
“In both of these situations, the dogs died. One dog apparently died of an attack from another animal. In the other situation, the dog was apparently very seriously injured as a result of attacks from other animals,” said Bob Marotto, Director Orange County Animal Services.
The first dog death was believed to have occurred as a result of a wildlife attack, but Animal Services couldn’t make an absolute determination because of a lack of communication with the dog’s owner. He cannot confirm that either of the attacks were from coyotes, but Animal Services is not ruling out the possibility.
In 2013, there were complaints about coyotes following people in southern Orange County, though Marotto said there haven’t been any attacks on animals or humans reported recently.
“I would really underscore that because we don’t want to fuel the sense on the part of people that anything has changed with coyotes,” he said.
If your pets have sustained injuries of an unknown origin or have disappeared from a setting that could potentially involve wildlife, Maratto said it is imperative to contact Animal Services immediately. Reporting these incidents allows the department to track and collect data regarding possible wildlife attacks.
“We can assess these situations to assure that people are doing what it is that needs to be done and to avert any unwanted contact with wildlife and to be able to co-exist.”
Marotto said these recent attacks also show the importance of vaccinating your pet against rabies.
Rabies is typically transmitted from the bite of a rabies-infected animal. Raccoons and bats are the main carriers of rabies in the mid-Atlantic states, but coyotes can also be carriers. Any physical contact with raccoons or bats should be reported to Animal Services, Marotto explained.
To report a physical encounter between a pet and a wild animal or between a person and a wild animal, you can call 919.942.7387.
For questions about a potential human exposure, contact a communicable disease nurse at the Orange County Health Department at 919.245.2400.
For more information about wildlife, please visit the Animal Services website.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/animals-services-warns-possible-wildlife-attacks-pets/
**UPDATE: The OWASA Board meeting scheduled for Thursday night (see below) has been cancelled. The Board will accept public comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at their meeting Thursday, February 27. (To read the plan, again, see below.)
ORANGE COUNTY – UNC will test its emergency sirens today, Tuesday, February 11, between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
The test was originally set to take place in late January, but got postponed because of the snow that hit the area.
You’ll hear the sirens if you’re on campus, downtown, or near the Friday Center or Carolina North. The purpose is to test the Alert Carolina system; UNC will also send a text message to about 50,000 cell phones registered by students, faculty and staff.
Carrboro town manager David Andrews has named Carol Anderson Dorsey as the town’s new human resources director. Dorsey has spent the last five years as human resources director for the city of Oxford, NC; her prior jobs included serving as director of human resources for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
A total of 85 candidates applied for the position, representing 16 different states.
The Orange Community Players will open their 2014 season in February with “Steel Magnolias,” the acclaimed story of six very different Southern women whose tight friendship carries them through joys and tragedies.
“Steel Magnolias” runs from February 13-16 at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. You can purchase tickets at the Senior Center, or online at OCPNC.com.
The OWASA Board is inviting you to come ask questions and comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at a meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA Building on Jones Ferry Road.
You can also send your comments and questions via email or by letter or fax. Send an e-mail to email@example.com; send a letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510; or send a fax to 919-968-4464.
Chapel Hill town government is moving out of Town Hall! (Part of it, at least.)
Renovations are about to begin at Town Hall, to repair the damage from last year’s flood and make some other layout changes to improve customer service. In the meantime, the mayor’s office has moved to the Chapel Hill Public Library, along with the office of the town manager and seven other Town staffers.
Everyone will move back into Town Hall when the renovations are finished. Town Council chambers are expected to reopen in September; other building areas will be addressed in phases after that.
Other town officials who are temporarily moving to the library: mayoral aide Mark McCurry, Assistant to the Town Manager Jason Damweber, Policy and Strategic Initiatives director Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Sustainability Officer John Richardson, Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett, Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator Rae Buckley, and Administrative Assistant Peggy Paumer.
This weekend, the campus organization VDAY Carolina is staging a bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to benefit the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.
Shows run from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16 at Hanes Auditorium, with two shows each on Friday and Saturday–one in English and one in Spanish.
You can buy tickets at Union Box Office, over the phone or online. For ticket information, visit VDAYCarolina.web.unc.edu.
Thursday, February 13, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center will host the world premiere of “Ice Music,” a multimedia creation by the artist Brooks de Wetter-Smith. “Ice Music” examines the beauty and the importance of ice in our world, featuring de Wetter-Smith’s videography and photography, a new musical composition by Lowell Liebermann, and dance choreographed by Carey McKinley.
“Ice Music” will premiere at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Center as part of UNC’s Process Series. On Friday the 14th, there will be a workshop presentation and discussion at 4:00 p.m., also in the Mandela Auditorium.
You’re invited to a public information meeting on Thursday, February 13, to discuss Orange County’s “Agricultural Support Enterprises” program.
The program is designed to help farmers generate additional income by expanding the types of activities they may pursue on their farms. It’s been in development since 2001; Orange County is currently considering amending the Unified Development Ordinance to adopt it.
The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Food Lab of the Environmental and Agricultural Center, located at 306 Revere Road in Hillsborough.
Protect your cats and dogs by coming to a Microchip Clinic on Thursday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Services Department on Eubanks Road.
Microchips will cost $25 per pet, which includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database. The Department will also offer one-year rabies vaccinations as well, for $10 per pet.
For more information, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/week-orange-county-weather-permitting/
ORANGE COUNTY – Carolina has offered admission to 6,036 of the 16,987 students who applied by the first deadline. Counting the first and second deadlines together, a total of 31,209 students sought admission to UNC this year, also a new record for the ninth straight year.
The applicants represent 94 North Carolina counties, 48 states and 27 countries including the U.S. Their average ACT score is 31; their average SAT score is 2044; and 85 percent are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class.
UNC will make its second-deadline admissions decisions in March. The University expects about 4,000 new first-year students to enroll in August.
February is Valentine’s Month, and to mark the occasion, the Orange County Animal Services Center is reducing adoption fees by nearly half for adult cats and dogs as well as select kittens and puppies.
Head to OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices to view photos of some of the available cats and dogs, or visit them in person at the Animal Services office on Eubanks Road. The reduced fees are valid all month long.
A national professional touring theater company will be back in Chapel Hill this weekend, with a 45-minute show for kids to celebrate Black History Month.
Based out of Asheville, Bright Star Touring Theatre performs nearly a thousand shows a year. On Saturday, they’ll be in the Chapel Hill Public Library, putting on a play called “William’s Adventure in Black History.” It’s about a boy whose history book comes alive, giving him (and us) the chance to meet famous historical figures in person.
The show is designed from kids from grades from pre-K up to fifth grade. The curtain goes up at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 8, in Meeting Room B of the Chapel Hill Public Library.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/pet-adoption-black-history-theater-record-apps-unc/
HILLSBOROUGH- A second attempt to streamline Orange County’s animal control ordinance hit a roadblock Tuesday as commissioners, residents and animal services staffers wrangled over what it means to be a watchdog.
“I’m not sure that we need a definition of watchdog, per se, but I think we need a definition of an animal that’s on its own property, minding its own business, when a human being comes on the property who is not minding their own business,” said Board Chair Barry Jacobs.
The current ordinance defines a watchdog as any dog that barks or threatens to bite an intruder, but Staff Attorney Annette Moore said that’s too broad.
“It’s meaningless, because there’s no prohibition in the ordinance against anybody having a dog that barks at a person,” Moore told the board.
Animal Services Advisory Board Vice-Chair Michelle Walker said the inclusion of the term in the ordinance only causes confusion when someone gets bitten.
“That’s the public safety concern,” said Walker. “We want to identify dogs that have shown propensity to bite unprovoked by someone who is not on property with any ill intent.”
But commissioners including Mark Dorosin argued that the ordinance needs some added flexibility on the question of who’s liable when a dog bites a trespasser.
“Under the current ordinance there’s a blanket ‘no-liability’ for an owner if a person comes onto their land, and I think the concern of the dog owners is that they don’t want the thing turned 180 degrees so there’s strict liability if their dogs bites anyone,” said Dorosin. “So what we have is these two extreme positions being staked out, neither of which I think serves the interests of the county.”
The ordinance would have required a unanimous vote to pass on the first reading. Instead, the board tabled the item for discussion in two weeks. At that time, commissioners say they want Animal Services staffers to come back with new ideas.
“There’s some galaxy of issues dealing with ‘watchdog’ and ‘trespass’ that I think we’re all asking you to try and address,” said Jacobs. “I think we need more clarity.”
The board was largely in favor of other portions of the new ordinance, including a plan to create a formal appeal process for residents whose animals have been deemed dangerous or vicious.
Commissioners will revisit the animal control ordinance on October 15.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/county-commissioners-want-clarity-on-new-animal-control-rules/
HILLSBOROUGH- A laundry room full of bats lead to Orange County’s ninth confirmed rabies case this year. Officials from Orange County Animal Services say a Hillsborough homeowner reported that a house cat was bitten by a bat on Tuesday.
The owners then found half a dozen bats in the laundry room, which they sealed off from the rest of the house. Animal Services officers removed five of the bats; a sixth bat escaped outside. Tests confirmed the bat killed by the cat was infected with rabies.
The cat was up-to-date on its vaccinations and the family is being evaluated for possible exposure.
Bats and raccoons are the primary source of rabies in North Carolina, but bats pose a greater risk to humans because of their small, hard-to-detect bite marks.
Animal Services Director Bob Marrotto urges residents to contact authorities if a bat is found to have been in a home overnight, or if family pet has contact with a bat.
You can learn more about rabies in Orange County here.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/hillsborough-homeowner-reports-a-room-full-of-rabid-bats/
HILLSBOROUGH- Changing Orange County’s animal control ordinance on the first reading would have required a unanimous vote by the board, but Commissioner Earl McKee made it clear that wasn’t going to happen Tuesday night.
“I won’t be able to support adoption of this because I think the process was wrong, in that we are consolidating not only the various documents, we’re consolidating new recommendations and regulations within that document,” said McKee.
Many said the changes didn’t take into account different conditions in the rural and urban areas. Others worried that the rules would scrap the unofficial designation of “watchdog” to categorize an animal that might protect property, instead recognizing only trained and registered sentry dogs.
“Persons who may roam around inside my fenced backyard, without invitation, especially at night, are trespassers, and they may expect to be barked at, chased and even bitten if they do not flee,” Bob Epting told the board
Commissioners agreed to bring the ordinance back on June 18 for further discussion.
Also delayed was a decision to hire a contractor to help redesign the Northern Human Services Center north of Hillsborough. The building has sat vacant since last year, in part because county staffers say it’s too expensive to heat and cool, and the septic system is too small to accommodate a wide range of uses.
County Manager Frank Clifton suggested an architect could help residents and the board decide how to best re-purpose the historic building into a community center.
“One of the problems that we have technically is as you start to look at those options, you do need an architect and engineer to tell you what will and will not work; what you can and cannot do,” said Clifton. “When you start doing a major renovation of an older structure, it gets into the issue of what do you have to do to meet today’s codes.”
However, residents of the area asked that the signing of the architect’s contract be delayed, saying there needs to be a more formal method for involving the public in the planning process.
“It just feels like we’re throwing a lot of money at something without a real plan,” said Jacqueline McConnell-Graf of Cedar Grove. “And that brings me to the design group. What exactly are they designing? Because I don’t really understand what our plan is. What do we see this facility doing, as a group, and for the north Orange community in particular?”
Commissioners will revisit the issue on June 18 at their last business meeting before summer break. In the meantime, the board will take up budget discussions at a work session on Thursday.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/bocc-puts-animal-ordinance-change-on-hold/
CHAPEL HILL – Orange County Animal Services is reporting another positive rabies test, the sixth in the county this year.
The most recent case originated on May 24, when a resident and her dog encountered an aggressive raccoon while walking on the Eno River Trail. The dog killed the raccoon; Animal Control removed the raccoon for testing and confirmed it was rabid this week.
Fortunately the dog was vaccinated for rabies, but it was injured in the attack.
This is the sixth confirmed rabies case in Orange County this year, about one per month. That’s on par with last year, when there were 12 confirmed cases in the county.
Orange County Animal Services is taking the opportunity to remind residents to have their pets vaccinated: dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months are legally required to be up to date on their rabies vaccine. The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year; their next one is on Saturday, June 15, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Animal Services Center on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.
For more information and future clinic dates, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/animalservices.http://chapelboro.com/news/health/ocas-reports-countys-sixth-rabies-case-in-2013/
ORANGE COUNTY – Lab results of a dead two-month-old goat were returned positive for the fifth case in 2013 of rabies in Orange County, according to Animal Services.
The goat lived on a small family farm in northern Orange County and was being treated for various possible illnesses in March and April. The animal was even bottle-fed in the attempt to nurse it back to health.
Post-exposure prophylaxis has been administered to at least three people in the family through the Orange County Health Department. The remaining six goats on the farm have been placed under a six-month quarantine for observation. The family’s dog and cat did not have to receive any treatment as they were not exposed to the animal.
In 2012, 12 positive rabies cases were reported.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/oc-reports-fifth-positive-rabies-case/
CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services announced Thursday that tests of a fox likely responsible for biting two people in southern Chapel Hill came back positive for rabies.
The fox was caught and killed when it was trying to attack a person’s car in the Dogwood Acres area of Chapel Hill on Wednesday.
While it can’t be certain, Animal Services is confident that this was the fox that bit two people, including one it had to scale part of a ladder to reach. No additional reports have been made since this fox was captured, but people are still advised to use caution until more time has passed.
Wild animals are naturally afraid of people and will likely run away. One with rabies or a similar disease will act friendly or aggressive. Anyone who witnesses a situation like that is urged to call 911 immediately. An Animal Control officer will then be dispatched.http://chapelboro.com/news/fox-suspected-of-biting-two-in-southern-chapel-hill-tested-positive-for-rabies/