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Police Urge Caution With Wild Animals

Sleepy Hollow police are urging residents to be vigilant when they go outside because there is concern wild animals in the area may be infected with rabies, which can be spread to humans. The warning comes after one resident reported being bitten by a skunk last week while gardening.

If you see a wild animal approaching, Veterinarian Brian J. Green recommends going the other way.

“In this area, almost all the forms of wildlife tend to be shy of people,” he said. “So any animal that would tend to approach you should be held with extreme caution.”

Green works for the Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital and says almost all mammals are susceptible to rabies. And, he says, rabies can cause animals to be overly friendly or overly aggressive.

“Children that like to pet nice little furry critters should not be allowed anywhere near a wild animal that is appearing to be friendly,” he said. "The fact that a wild animal is overly friendly may mean that it’s rabid as well.”

Although there is rabies in the area, Green says it's not currently at high levels and most people and pets in Westchester should be fine with some precautions.

“We are actually proud of what I think has been a pretty good educational venture in that we make sure that our clients know that their animals must be kept up on rabies [vaccines],” he said. “Even indoor cats are susceptible because bats in the area can carry rabies. Bats can get into the house, and if a cat spots a bat, it’s basically a mouse that flies. The cat would have thought he had died and gone to heaven.”

If you are bitten by a wild animal, Green says the first thing you should do is seek medical attention. The second thing to do is contact authorities so that the animal can be found and euthanized or shot. The animal should then be taken to a veterinarian or the health department for evaluation and disposal, Green says.

But the best way to protect yourself from wildlife rabies is to keep your pets vaccinated.

“Our pets are the major barrier between us and wildlife rabies and that’s the reason they need to be vaccinated,” Green said, “because it’s much more likely that a dog or a cat that’s playing in the yard is going to get bitten by a rabid animal than you are.”

“By keeping them vaccinated, it’s a barrier that prevents wildlife rabies from being transmitted to you.”

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