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      Protect pets from rabies during warmer weather

      A raccoon thought by the Buck Hills community near Surfside Beach to have rabies has killed two cats and has left the entire community on edge.

      Residents say the large raccoon appears to be living in an empty home, but comes out during the day onto properties. Many people living in the area said they're afraid to leave their homes.

      "I've seen him more times than I care to. And he doesn't appear to be afraid of humans, and that also gives me a reason to pause. He's not running from us, and he's already caused enough damage to property as it is," said Lisa Simon-Smith, a Buck Hill resident.

      Simon-Smith's neighbors also said the raccoon hasn't just been in empty houses.

      "He tried to go into our kitchen in the morning. And we saw him attack a cat right off of our back porch. He's even come into our back porch before," Randilyn Moxhet said.

      Gabrielle Fernandez of Meadowlawn Animal Services in Conway said wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes are most likely to transmit the rabies virus. She also said with the warmer weather ahead, now is the perfect time to vaccinate your pet.

      "The dangers of rabies is it's pretty much fatal. Plain and simple. If your animal gets rabies, the prognosis is that it's going to be fatal," Fernandez said.

      Fernandez added that anyone who notices strange behavior in wild animals should keep their cats and dogs inside and know the warning signs of rabies.

      "It could be kind like a person that's been drinking. They can act a little wobbly, unsteady, be falling over, can actually be paralyzed, and have a hard time eating or swallowing," Fernandez said.

      Medowlawn Animal Services will be holding discounted rabies vaccination clinics every Wednesday during the month of April from noon until 2 p.m.

      Click here for more information on rabies clinics being held throughout the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee.