In the past few weeks, Trumbull residents have reported increasing numbers of sick skunks in town, prompting Animal Control Officer Lynn Dellabianca to remind residents to make sure their dogs and cats are vaccinated against rabies.
“Something’s running through the skunk population now,” Dellabianca said. “With the number of sick skunks that have been reported, people need to watch out for their pets, and make sure their vaccinations are up to date.”
When pet owners license their dogs, their are required to show proof of an up-to-date vaccination. According to state law, cats also must be vaccinated. But cat owners are currently not required to license their animals, and a proposed cat licensing bill appears unlikely to pass the Connecticut General Assembly this year. This makes it more difficult to ensure domestic felines are vaccinated against rabies Dellabianca said.
“Cats are the pets that are more likely to come into contact with wildlife, because they spend more time roaming than dogs do,” Dellabianca said. “But even cats that are kept indoors should be vaccinated because they can get out, or they can come into contact with animals that get into the house.”
So far this year one dog in Connecticut had to be euthanized after testing positive for rabies. The owner told state officials that the dog had tangled with a skunk a few weeks before, and was not vaccinated.
“That’s why it’s so important,” Dellabianca said. “It could be the difference between life and death for your pet.”
This time of year wild animals are becoming more active, and interactions with people and pets are on the rise. Wildlife is emerging from winter dens, and many are looking for a place to mate and give birth to their young, Dellabianca said.
“Most of the time animals like foxes and raccoons are not aggressive,” she said. Animal control will not remove healthy wild animals, so Dellabianca recommends shouting or throwing a stick or other small object at them.
“These animals have been living around us for a while, and they’ve really gotten used to people,” Dellabianca said. “They know we aren’t going to do anything to them so you need to scare them off.”
If an animal is acting strangely, though, a call to Animal Control is in order, she said.
“Just because an animal is out during the day doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sick,” Dellabianca said. “It could be out looking for food to feed its babies. But if you see it stumbling or walking in circles, having seizures, or just lying out in the open, definitely call.”