April 10, 2024

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds the public to protect themselves and their pets by keeping a safe distance from wildlife, especially animals that may be behaving abnormally, such as those that appear overly aggressive and/or lacking a fear of humans.

The reminder comes after a gray fox, suspected of being rabid, bit three people in two separate attacks in early April at Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona. The animal was killed as it approached a park service officer. Another gray fox was located and killed in March after it bit a person in a picnic area on Mount Lemmon near Tucson. 

Pets such as dogs and cats, as well as livestock such as horses, should be vaccinated regularly against rabies. In addition, dogs should be on leashes when outdoors and a veterinarian consulted if any domestic animals are injured by wildlife. Unvaccinated animals exposed to wildlife with rabies must undergo a four-month quarantine, and vaccinated animals need to be quarantined for 45 days.

“In Arizona, the principal rabies hosts are bats, skunks and foxes,” said Dr. Anne Justice-Allen, AZGFD wildlife veterinarian. “These animals carry their own distinct strains of the rabies virus. When rabies activity within these animal groups increases, rabies can impact other mammals, such as bobcats, coyotes, javelina, cats, dogs, horses, or cows.”

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