A family's dog from Shawnee tested positive for rabies, prompting officials to remind pet owners to make sure their pets are up-to-date with vaccinations.

A family’s dog from Shawnee tested positive for rabies, prompting officials to remind pet owners to make sure their pets are up-to-date with vaccinations.

The case was confirmed Wednesday through the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which reports there have been four confirmed cases in Pottawatomie County this year.

Dr. Mike Steward, a Shawnee veterinarian, said he’s seen three cases recently — two dogs and one calf — with exposure during initial treatment of those animals requiring two members of his staff to go through the painful rabies vaccines.

He said the latest confirmed case involved a family dog that became sick.

“It was an older mixed-breed dog that had been vaccinated in the past but the shot was not current,” Steward said, adding the dog hadn’t had its rabies vaccine in the last three to four years.

The dog apparently got out of its yard and returned home covered with ticks so the family took it to the vet. The dog was showing signs of tick fever with tremors upon initial treatment, Steward said, but that progressed to seizures.

Testing for rabies is done on the brain of an animal after it is deceased. The dog involved had to be euthanized and sent for testing, with rabies confirmed on Wednesday. Steward said they believe the dog had an encounter with a skunk when it got out of the yard.

Steward said the dog’s family members had to go through the rabies vaccine and all of it could have been avoided with prevention.

“A $12 shot” could have prevented that and the dog’s illness, the veterinarian said, as he encourages area families to check their pets’ vaccination records to make sure they are current with rabies shots. Steward said veterinarians recommend yearly rabies vaccinations.

Steward said another rabies case he’s seen in recent weeks was a Jack Russell terrier. That dog’s family also was exposed and had to go through the shots.

Family pets, such as dogs and cats, along with other animals like horses and cows, are susceptible to rabies.

Skunks are the culprits for passing rabies “99 percent of the time,” Steward said, but bats and other animals also can carry the disease.

“It’s a pretty hot spot here in Shawnee,” Steward said of the recent rabies activity. He said any pets showing signs of neurological problems should be checked by a veterinarian.

Randy Newton, who is the supervisor with the Shawnee Animal Shelter, also reported a rabies case earlier this year and urges caution with this latest confirmation.

He advises residents not to leave feed or scraps out for pets as those items can draw wild animals into a yard.

“Skunks and raccoons can come into contact with your pets as they scavenge through garbage and yards and can bite your pets,” said Shawnee Police Sgt. Dan Shumaker. “Some of the signs people should be wary of are animals that are walking in circles, lethargy and aggressive behavior.”

Shawnee police and animal control urge residents to vaccinate their pets.

“The cost of vaccinating your pets is minimal compared to losing your family pet or medical bills if you or family members are bitten,” Shumaker said.

Steward agrees and said he’s already spent thousands to vaccinate the two members of his veterinary staff who were exposed during recent interactions with their animal patients.

Rabies shots for humans are a series of six shots that cost about $1,500 per person, Steward said, adding shots are needed depending on the level of exposure.

“Very few people survive rabies,” he said.

“Skunks can carry rabies and not die,” Steward said. “Most other animals will die within 10 days.”