A recent incident in the Finger Lakes region is reminding residents of the dangers of rabies exposure even when it comes to someone's pet.

The Tompkins County Health Department was looking for a dog that bit a person in the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve in Ithaca.

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Officials say the dog bit a person Wednesday, August 24 at around 2:30 p.m. halfway between the first and second dam. The site is located off Giles Street.

In a Health Alert issued by the Health Department on August 29, the dog in question is described as being one of two medium-to-large black dogs that were being walked on leashes.  The person in control of the canines was described as a white man with dreadlocks. He was accompanied by a woman on the walk.

Kathy Whyte/WNBF News
Kathy Whyte/WNBF News
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Health Department officials say they needed to verify the vaccination status of the dogs. The health officials say in addition to determining whether the dog that bit the victim is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations, they wanted to verify the overall health of the biting dog through an at-home observation over a ten-day period.

The statement said If the dog can be located and is observed to be health by the Tompkins County Department of Health, the risk of rabies infection can be ruled out and rabies post-exposure treatment for the person who was bitten may not be necessary.

Concerns about rabies in Tompkins County can be directed to the Environmental Health Division at (607) 274-6688.  Staff is on-call 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week at the number to take calls related to rabies and bites.

Health officials remind the public of the importance of getting bites checked as soon as possible to determine if rabies post-exposure treatment is needed.  Pet owners are urged to keep their animals up-to-date on the shots. People should not approach animals they don’t know and never approach wildlife.

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