DHEC, SCDNR urge residents to not keep wild animals as pets

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources urge South Carolinians not to keep wild animals as pets.
To protect people and wildlife, DHEC and SCDNR have teamed up to share information about the risks of keeping wild animals as pets. Wild animals live in nature and are not domesticated, meaning they’re not tame or kept as a pet or on a farm. Keeping wild animals as pets in some cases may be illegal, and puts the owner and others who encounter the animal at risk of injury or getting diseases such as rabies.
Rabies is a deadly disease for animals and people. If a person is exposed to the rabies virus, their health care provider can recommend a series of shots as a treatment that helps prevent the person from becoming sick with rabies. While this treatment can be life-saving, the cost for receiving these shots can be more than $10,000 per person. 
The best way to protect yourself is to do what you can to prevent possible rabies exposure. DHEC and SCDNR recommend that you protect yourself and others by: 
● Leaving wildlife alone and not keeping wild animals as “pets.” 
● Not approaching an animal in need. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator for the type of animal in need. Deer, fox, and coyote rehabilitators require a special permit issued by SCDNR. A registry of rehabilitators, maintained by SCDNR, is available at bit.ly/3IQhqKG. 
● Contact your local animal control for stray and feral cats and dogs, a wildlife control operator for nuisance wildlife, or a wildlife rehabilitator for sick and injured wildlife. 
● Never touching wild or stray animals with your bare hands. 
● Vaccinating pets and livestock against rabies. By law, all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated. You can find low-cost rabies vaccination clinics at bit.ly/3aNrSpz. It’s also recommended that livestock receive their rabies vaccinations as well.
In South Carolina, the most common animals to test positive for rabies are wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that a skunk, raccoon, fox, or bat that bites someone should be euthanized
and tested for rabies as soon as possible. While cats and dogs may be able to undergo quarantined observation for a specific time period to determine whether they contracted rabies, holding wild animals for observation isn’t a safe option because it’s not known how long it takes for rabies symptoms to appear in different types of wild animals. And since there is no approved rabies vaccine for wild animals kept as pets, even vaccinated wild animals will be treated as unvaccinated.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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