BATAVIA — If you see a stray dog, as a Le Roy resident did earlier this week, don’t go near it, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments recommend.
In the Le Roy case, authorities had to issue a search warrant for the dog’s owner so they could determine the dog’s rabies vaccination status.
“GO Health would not recommend that residents approach a stray animal as they are often scared and their rabies vaccination is unknown,” public health educator/public information officer Kaitlin Pettine said Wednesday. “We recommend that residents contact Animal Control.”
In dog bite cases, this can increase a person’s risk of needing rabies treatment as a precaution.
How long does the Health Department wait to try to identify the dog’s medical condition before offering a victim rabies shots after an exposure?
“It depends on where an individual is bitten,” Pettine said. “If they were bitten in the upper body/head area, we would like to offer post-exposure rabies prophylaxis as soon as possible. Post-exposure prophylaxis should be administered within 10 days of exposure to rabies.
The County Health Department is still seeking information on the whereabouts of a dog and its owner(s) following a dog bite incident at 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Lake Street in Le Roy. Someone was trying to identify a stray dog in his yard so he could contact the dog’s owner, when the dog approached the person and bit him on the right index finger.
The dog was described as an adult male, a yellow Labrador with a white chest and a black collar with a tag.
It is important to locate the dog to determine if it is being vaccinated against rabies, the department said. If the medical condition is not identified, post-exposure rabies vaccines will be offered to the victim.
If you have information on the location of the dog and its owner(s), contact the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580 ext. 5555.
“Most often we are able to locate the owner,” Pettine said. “However, there are instances where the owner of the dog is not found or does not come forward, so we are unable to determine if the dog is up to date on their rabies vaccination. In this case, post-exposure prophylaxis would be offered.
Pettine said that in 2021, Genesee County investigated 217 animal bite and rabies incidents and Orleans County investigated 112.
“If the rabies vaccination status of a pet is unknown, the animal is subject to confinement for 10 days,” she said. “The animal’s health and behavior are monitored for 10 days to determine if rabies may be present and if further action is needed. A physician, in consultation with the health department, will determine who should be vaccinated with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. The cost of treating an individual varies greatly depending on weight, number of doses and insurance.
In 2021, treatment costs ranged from $2,000 to $9,000, she said. Genesee-Orleans Health will work with the patient’s insurance company, but what is not covered by insurance is ultimately the responsibility of taxpayers.
Genesee County treated 22 people and Orleans County treated 13 people last year.