By Zach Armstrong

PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- Public health officials are urging pet owners in Prince George to vaccinate their pets against rabies after a young black and white skunk had tested positive for rabies after it had bit a dog in an unprovoked attack on May 7. The animal was found near 14737 Alden Rd.

“Please notify public health officials or animal control immediately if you live near Alden Road and think that you or your pet(s) had contact with the infected skunk. The community’s safety is our priority. Make sure your pets are vaccinated, especially against rabies,” said Crater District Health Departments Director Alton Hart, Jr., MD, MPH in a release.

“Rabies is a preventable disease. We encourage all pet owners to vaccinate their animals to protect them and the community,” said Toinette Waldon, Environmental Health Manager at the Crater Health District in the same release.

The Health Department is advising people to take steps to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies, including to vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep them up to date, avoid contact with wild animals or stray pets, don’t feed wild animals or stray pets, report stray animals to their local animal control agency, eliminate outdoor food sources near their home, keep pets confined to their property or walk them on a leash, report a stray or suspicious animal to the Prince George Animal Control at 804-991-3200.

Those with concerns about exposure to rabies are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider immediately. For more information on protecting against rabies, call 804-863-1652 or visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or www.cdc.gov/rabies/.