North Carolina

North Carolina family’s dogs euthanized after brawl with a rabid raccoon, police say

A North Carolina family had their two dogs euthanized after they fought a rabid raccoon to its death, police said.

The dogs killed the raccoon at about 7 p.m. Sunday on Wade Street in Belmont, Gaston County Police said in a news release. The street is off Wilkinson Boulevard. The raccoon was the eighth confirmed rabies case in the county this year, according to police.

A state lab in Raleigh confirmed Tuesday that a specimen taken from the raccoon revealed it had rabies, police said.

The dogs were not vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease, and, as a result, were euthanized, according to the release.

The deaths of the dogs highlighted “the importance of having a valid rabies vaccination for all of your pets’ health and safety as well as the health and safety of their owners and community,” officials with Gaston County Police Animal Care and Enforcement said in the release.

Last week, six dogs that fought with a rabid raccoon in Hope Mills, just south of Fayetteville, also had to be euthanized because they had not been vaccinated against rabies, McClatchy news group reported.

North Carolina law requires an unvaccinated pet that’s been exposed to a rabid animal be quarantined at a veterinary hospital for four months, or be euthanized, Cumberland County Animal Control Director Elaine Smith said in a release after the six dogs were euthanized. Housing animals that long can cost thousands of dollars, she said.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.