Orange County Rabies Cases on the Rise in 2014

Rabies cases throughout Orange County were up sharply for 2014 when compared to previous years.

Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto says the number of confirmed rabies cases nearly doubled.

“We had our final laboratory-confirmed rabies case on December 30, in Hillsborough,” he says. “That was the 23 laboratory-confirmed rabies case we had in 2014.”

There were 12 confirmed rabies cases in both 2012 and 2013.

Marotto says there is no exact science to predicting how many cases a given area may see each year, but there are data points that reveal certain trends.

“The historical data that we have indicates that there is a cycling in these numbers,” he says. “We saw, in 2014, the beginning of an upswing.”

He says these trends typically run in one-to-three-year cycles. Marotto also points out there were 23 confirmed cases, meaning the possibility exists the number of rabid animals was even higher – those cases just were not confirmed by the state lab.

Marotto says residents need to be prepared for increased cases in the future.

“There is rabies here,” he says. “It probably will never go away in our lifetime. Therefore, we need to be prepared individually, as households, as pet owners, and as a community.”

That includes taking steps to ensure the safety of our pets, and Marotto says monitoring your surroundings, as well as your pet’s environment, is vital.

“We’re all better off without having our animal outside unattended,” he says. “If we are with our animal, the likelihood that there is going to be an encounter is reduced because we can remove our pet and ourselves from the situation.”

Staying current with the law is also a way to help protect you and your animals from rabies. North Carolina law states that all cats and dogs over 4 months must be current with their rabies vaccine at all times. And the Orange County ordinance calls for pets to wear a rabies vaccination tag.

If your vaccinated pet has an encounter with a rabid animal, they are required to receive a rabies booster shot within five days, or they will be treated as an unvaccinated animal. In the case of an unvaccinated pet, the choice is between euthanasia and having the animal quarantined for up to 6 months.

Marotto says the best thing is to make sure your pet is vaccinated, and you can do that through Orange County Animal Service’s low-cost vaccination clinics.

“Legacy Care” Pet Facility Opens In Mebane

Paws4Ever in Mebane is launching a program called “Legacy Care,” helping pet owners make sure their pets will be cared for when they’re no longer able to care for them.

Often when pet owners die or become ill or disabled – or even simply when they age – they become unable to take care of their pets; and in the absence of a plan, those pets often wind up abandoned or in shelters. Legacy Care, says Paws4Ever executive director Laura Griest, is a better alternative – and it’s also a good backup, in case you do have a plan in place that falls through.

Legacy Care is a home-based program: Paws4Ever has constructed a 2000-square-foot home for pets on its facility in Mebane, large enough to fit eight animals, with a full-time caregiver on site. The animals are cared for there while staff members search for a permanent adoptive home for them.

There’s no other program like it in the Southeast, Griest says – and very few like it anywhere in the country.

Griest joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on “Aaron in the Afternoon” this week to discuss Legacy Care.

Paws4Ever is holding an open house on Saturday from 2-4 pm to show off the newly-built Legacy Care facility. It’s located at 6311 Nicks Road in Mebane. For more information on the facility, visit

Orange County Animal Services Advise Coyote Safety

Orange County Animal Services has released a media advisory about what citizens can do to stay safe and stay smart when it comes to coexisting with wild coyotes in the county and throughout North Carolina.

The Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, says that while advisories about coexisting with coyotes have been issued for several years now, what prompted the latest alert was the recent surge in reports from the Hillsborough area involving missing outside cats and other small pets that are kept outdoors, which Animal Services has connected to the presence of coyotes preying on these pets.

“They are virtually everywhere,” says Marotto, “not only in all 100 counties in North Carolina, but in all of the different areas of Orange County as well.”

He says there has been a rise in coyote presence in more urban areas as well, such as one case earlier this summer in which Animal Services impounded a coyote that was found in an alley on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Marotto says that the three greatest “attractants” for coyotes to invade areas in which they normally are not found are food, water, and shelter, which he says can come from a number of different sources.

Food sources can come from spills when feeding dogs or wild birds.

Marotto suggests that in order to prevent coyotes from becoming too habituated, or generally comfortable around human populated areas, people need to give the coyotes reasons to stay far away.

“People should haze coyotes if and when there is contact,” says Marotto. “People should make loud noises and do things that make the coyote turn around and go away from us. If we don’t do that, what happens is that coyotes become more and more comfortable or tolerant and habituated, and eventually then we do have some incidents that we really don’t want to have.”

In addition to likely food sources for coyotes coming from loose pet food, Marotto says that local wildlife biologists are certain that some cats and even small dogs have become part of the food chain for coyotes. In order to prevent outdoor pets from being taken by coyotes, Marotto offers a few recommendations as to what pet owners can do when it comes to allowing their beloved pets outdoors.

“One of them is not just leaving your cat or your dog outside, and leaving it outside, because in those circumstances there is not a person present to fend off or haze and deflect any approaches by a coyote,” says Marotto. “In addition to being present with our dogs or cats when they are outside, if there is some consideration of leaving them outside unattended, they must really be in a secure enclosure.”

Citizens are encouraged to contact Orange County Animal Services if they encounter coyotes engaging in threatening behavior or becoming habituated in residential areas, they can access the Coyote Incident Reporting Form here, or call Animal Services at (919) 942-7387.

Accidental Alarm Registration; “Better Back Care”; August Pet Adoption

If you’re in Chapel Hill and you haven’t registered your alarm yet, now is the time to do it.

Chapel Hill’s Accidental Alarm Program went into effect on July 1 – and since then, more than 1600 residents and more than 650 businesses have registered their alarms, as required.

The program is designed to cut down on the costs associated with emergency workers having to respond to false alarms. The town will issue a fine for any unregistered alarm system or any alarm that accidentally activates more than three times in a 12-month period.

There’s no cost to register your alarm. You can do it online by visiting

UNC’s School of Medicine has won a $6 million award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Innovation Center for a program called “Better Back Care.”

The program is still in development, but the purpose is to create a “medical neighborhood” connecting 60 primary care providers with UNC’s spine program to improve care for people with back pain. It will be directed by Dr. Brian Casazza and Dr. Amy Shaheen.

UNC is one of only 39 awardees nationally – and this is the only spine-care program to be selected as an award recipient.

If you’re thinking about adopting a pet, August might be the perfect time.

As part of a “Back to School” promotion, Orange County Animal Services is reducing adoption fees by nearly 50% for cats and dogs. Cat adoptions will be $50 and dog adoptions will be $60 – and as always, all the animals are fully vaccinated, vet checked, and spayed or neutered.

The Animal Services office is on Eubanks Road in northern Chapel Hill. To see photos of the animals, visit

New OC Economic Development Specialist; Microchips For Pets; Cervical Cancer Screening

CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Economic Development Department announced Ellen Tai will join the team as the new Economic Development Specialist.

Tai has previous work experience at the NC Department of Commerce where she managed the NC certified Sites Program.  She will be tasked to further economic development by communicating with stakeholders, assisting business retention, developing a County brand moniker, and maintaining information on commercial properties.

Director of Economic Development, Steve Brantley, believes that Tai “will be beneficial for Orange County.”  Tai starts on July 15 and says she’s looking forward to working with Orange County.


Orange County Animal Services will offer a Microchip Clinic for dogs and cats from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. next Thursday.  This clinic will take place at the Animal Services Center on Eubanks Road.

Along with Microchips for your pets, the clinic will offer one-year rabies vaccinations. Rabies vaccinations will cost $10 and include a tag with rabies certificate.  The microchip will cost $25 per pet and includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database.

For more information you can click here.


Practice of annual cervical-cancer screenings may cause more harm than good. A UNC News release states that in 2009, accumulating scientific evidence led major guideline groups to agree that women should be screened less frequently: every three years rather than annually.

The practice of annual screenings remains popular as many doctors were concerned that patients might not come for annual check-ups unless they include a Pap-test.

The newest cervical-cancer and HPV screening recommendations say women should start at 21 and get screenings every three years and women between 30 and 65 can even wait five years between screenings.