Puppy tests positive for rabies in Dothan

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DOTHAN, AL. (WTVY) - A four-month-old stray puppy that had recently been taken in by the Dothan Animal Shelter has tested positive for rabies.

Bill Banks, Animal Service Manager at the Dothan Animal Shelter, says "We took in four, little lab puppies that were apparently strays...brought them in here. We treated them as we do all. We vaccinated them coming in for the Parvovirus and Bordetella."

However, the puppies stay at the shelter was short lived.

"We subsequently transferred the dogs over to another facility, a transport rescue facility," replied Banks.

At the rescue facility, one of the puppies began to show signs of respiratory problems.

"They took the puppy to the veterinarian to have it checked and the puppy passed at the vet's office. So they had the puppy tested to see why it passed and it came back that it was positive for the rabies virus," said Banks.

Rabies is a virus that travels to the brain, attacks the brain, and then completely alters the animal's mentality.

"While we had them here, none of them showed any signs of any kind of neurological problems. They just appeared to be healthy, little lab puppies while we had them," replied Banks.

The rabies virus is transmitted by saliva, however the Dothan Animal Shelter says this is the first time in over 20 years that they've encountered this problem.

"You don't know where they've came from, what they've been around...it's very important for people to vaccinate your pets against rabies," says Banks.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, multiple people have been exposed to the puppy have been identified and they are receiving the standard rabies prevention treatment.

"We don't know what animals are coming in to us. We have to take what comes in and then use our best judgement on the health of the animal coming in. We can't intake an animal that appears to be diseased beyond," replied Banks.

Alabama state law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older be current with rabies vaccination.

None of the animals at the Dothan Animal Shelter were exposed to the puppy that tested positive for rabies besides the other three that came in with it.