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Lewis County Public Health creates animal control officer position

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LOWVILLE — To assist with the investigation of rabies and potential rabies cases in the county, Lewis County Public Health has appointed an animal control officer, Heath L. Ash, to operate on an as-needed basis.

“It’s part of our rabies control program,” Penny A. Ingham, director of Public Health, said about the newly created position, which alleviates townships from burdening dog control officers with the follow-ups on dog bites.

Instead, Mr. Ash can focus on assisting Public Health with establishing the vaccination status of offending animals.

Ms. Ingham said Mr. Ash is not the rabies control officer, which is a role held by a veterinarian. She said the county is looking to fill the position of the late Dr. Harry P. O’Connor, who died earlier this month.

If the vaccination status of an animal cannot be determined, Mr. Ash will be called to locate or work with pet owners.

From July through September, 74 exposure reports came through Public Health. Since January, two specimens tested positive for rabies.

“We’ve had people who have needed post-exposure vaccinations because we didn’t have the animal’s vaccination status or the animal for testing,” Ms. Ingham said.

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