The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is making the public aware this week of important information regarding rabies testing in light of recent dog attacks in the county.

Sheriff Jim Brown says the Sheriff’s Office has had a total of 26 reports of dog bites since the beginning of the year.

“In several cases, the dog responsible for the attack was destroyed prior to arrival of law enforcement officers,” said Brown. “By law, a dog whose bite breaks the skin of the victim must be quarantined for a period of 10 days so that its health may be documented, or the animal must be put down and its head removed to be sent to Austin for testing, at the owners expense.”

In animals, rabies is diagnosed using a direct fluorescent antibody test, which looks for the presence of rabies in brain tissue. According to the CDC website, the test requires the animal to be euthanized as testing must be done on tissue from at least two different parts of the brain.

“In the event that circumstances dictate an animal be put down at the scene of an attack, such as continued aggression, it is imperative the brain remain intact,” Brown said.

Because there is currently no cure for rabies, when testing of the animal is not possible due to the destruction of the brain, a series of rabies shots must be given over a period of 28 days as a precautionary measure. Brown says is rabies goes untreated death will most certainly occur.

“There are currently dog bite victims in Wood County undergoing such injections because the proper precautions were not taken to preserve the dog’s brain for testing,” Brown said.

Sheriff Brown urges all dog owners to take precautions to prevent bites from occurring, such as keeping small children away from dogs, even family pets.

“Many of the dogs who are the subject of the 26 dog bite cases so far this year showed no signs of aggression prior to, or after, the victim was bitten,” said Brown. “And please remember, if it becomes necessary to shoot a dog following a bite or attack, take care not to shoot the animal in the head. And whenever possible, allow the dog to be quarantined or euthanized.”