Authorities first became aware that a rabid skunk was roaming Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood after it tried to confront a dog last week.
Lt. Joe Schroeder of the Wichita Police Department said the skunk was in the 1100 block of North Perry, which is east of Sim Park and not far from the Arkansas River, when it started chasing the pooch.
“The dog was trying to avoid it” but couldn’t get away, so the dog’s owner “whacked the skunk with a shovel,” Schroeder said.
The owner then called Animal Control, which responded and picked up the skunk.
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It was euthanized and sent to Kansas State University for testing. The university confirmed that it had been infected with rabies, Schroeder said.
The case is the first reported in Wichita in 2017. The city sees a few infected animals each year, Schroeder said; most are skunks.
Schroeder said the dog is under a 90-day quarantine with its owner as a precaution. It didn’t appear to have been bitten, but if it displays any signs of rabies, it will be taken to a veterinarian, he said.
The dog had received a rabies vaccination in the past, Schroeder said. It had just expired “but was still good,” he added.
Police are urging pet owners to make sure their dogs and cats have up-to-date rabies vaccinations. The public is also asked to avoid approaching or capturing any animals acting ill, aggressively or strangely and to report them to Animal Control at 316-350-3360.
Symptoms include changes in an animal’s usual behavior, weakness, loss of appetite or coordination, atypical biting or snapping and strange vocalizations. Wild animals also may lose their fear of people.