Haywood County Animal Services officers are canvassing around the Beaverdam community in search of stray animals, after hikers discovered a rabid raccoon in the area on Sunday, Jan. 30.


According to Amy Patrick, a communicable disease nurse with the Haywood County Health Department, the incident occurred when several family members were hiking on their property with their six dogs.  Four of the six dogs became involved in a fight with the raccoon, which was later destroyed by other family members. The raccoon tested positive for rabies.   


The four dogs were all up to date on their rabies vaccines, but they all received a booster dose on Wednesday. None of the family members were bitten by the raccoon, but two adults who attempted to get the dogs away from the raccoon received a rabies Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) assessment due to possible exposure through saliva and both were advised by the State Veterinarian to begin treatment for rabies exposure.


As a result of the rabies incident, Animal Services staff members are spending the next few days canvassing an area from I-40 to the head of the Beaverdam community in search of stray animals.


“Since we can’t trace the movements of the raccoon, we are taking a proactive approach to try and limit any human and animal exposure to rabies by picking up any stray animals we find,” said Animal Services Director Jean Hazzard.


Hazzard said any stray animals picked up during the canvas will be held the mandatory five days at the Animal Shelter. If an animal does not have owner ID, they will be available for adoption and the new owners will be advised to get the animal vaccinated for rabies within 72 hours. Any animals not claimed after five days may be euthanized in accordance with Animal Services policy.


Health Director Carmine Rocco said that rabies is a fatal disease in humans, and he urged residents in the Beaverdam area to take steps to limit their exposure.


“Animals like this raccoon can travel over great distances, so we urge residents in the area to stay away from

wild animals and to limit their pets’ exposure,” Rocco said. “The best safeguard for pets is to make sure rabies vaccines remain current at all times.”


Rocco complimented the family involved in the incident for having current rabies vaccines on all of their dogs.


“By doing the responsible thing and keeping their pets’ rabies vaccinations current, this family kept a bad situation from becoming a tragic situation,” Rocco said. “When animals aren’t vaccinated, it results in quarantine for the animals and treatment for the exposed person, both of which are expensive, and it often results in putting the animals to sleep for testing. Prevention is always a better option.”


For questions on rabies in Haywood County, please contact Animal Services at 456-5338 or the Health Department at 452-6675. There is also a wealth of information on rabies available on the web from the Epidemiology Division of North Carolina Public Health at www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/rabies/, or from the federal Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/ .


For more information, contact:
David Teague,
Public Information Officer
Haywood County
828-452-7305; 828-400-9691 or
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