A Spring Hill boy is recovering with family after Hernando County Health Officials say he and his dog were bitten and scratched by a rabid raccoon.
"The owner was a teenage boy walking near his home in front of a vacant wooded lot," said Albert Gray of the Hernando County Health Department. "He could hear and I guess could see his dog get into a fight with a raccoon so he tried to separate and rescue his dog."
Both the boy and the dog were injured by the raccoon.
The dog had its rabies vaccinations, so it will be okay; the raccoon died from its injuries.
It all happened Monday in a wooded area near his home in a Spring Hill neighborhood.
"It worries me for my neighbors and my grandchildren, because I have young grandchildren that come here," said neighbor Diane Galinski.
Galinski lives down the street from the young man who was bit. She's a dog owner who says she keeps them indoors but worries for her neighbors.
"Everybody in this neighborhood trust me, has dogs all over the place," Galinski said.
The health department says the best way to prevent rabies exposure is to vaccinate your pets.
"If your pet is vaccinated, that creates a barrier from transmission of rabies between the wild animals and humans," Gray said.
It's believed the rabid raccoon only came in contact with the boy and his dog, but health officials say people who live near Tanner Road in Spring Hill should be careful.
"There's a possibility that there are other rabid raccoons out there, so again, that's why we want to advise people to be very cautious around any stray animals, especially raccoons," Gray said.
Galinski says she'll take that advice and is thankful this didn't end in tragedy.
"I'm glad he's okay. He just should have maybe thought, but who knows? When that adrenaline flies and someone is hurting your dog, what are you gonna do?" Gray said.
If rabies isn't treated, it can be fatal. The Hernando County Health Department is urging people to report any stray animals in the area.
They also say you should not leave food for your pets outside unattended. That could bring stray and wild animals right to your home.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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