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Animal Bites on the Rise in CR

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- A gorgeous day across the corridor brought people outside to enjoy the weather. Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control says the increase in outdoor activities means an increase in animal bites as well.

Whether it's a dog, a bat or a raccoon, a lot of these bites are happening to kids now that they're out of school and outdoors for summer break.

Even though there's no class, parents might want to take this opportunity to give their kids a refresher in Animal Etiquette 101.

"This is the time of year when bites are on the rise," Diane Webber with Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control.

The overall trend isn't too surprising.

"We are seeing more animal bites as the years go by," she says.

However, recent numbers are surprising. Last May, the city only saw 26 total animal bites. In May 2014, that number jumped to 44 bites - including 30 dogs, 11 cats, 2 raccoons, and 1 bat.

"As the community grows, more and more people come in, more and more have pets," Webber says.

And with any animal bite comes the threat of rabies, a threat not everyone knows to take seriously.

"Some people will think 'Oh it doesn't hurt that bad' I've had a laceration before," says Dr. Donnie Linder with St. Luke's Hospital. "Some people don't know the severity of an animal bite."

Dr. Linder sees that summer bite increase in the emergency room as well, and the consequences of infections and rabies.

"Rabies attacks the central nervous system, and it will decrease your body's ability to breathe," he says.

It's a disease that's usually fatal.

The best advice - be careful. With domesticated animals, ask the owner if you can pet it, and then approach it slowly. Don't bend over an animal - they may see it as a threat, Also don't run from an animal.

As for critters out in the wild -

"Stay away from them," Webber says. "You don't know what kind of diseases they could be carrying."

Another reason to take bites seriously - Cedar Rapids has no animal licensing program, meaning owners don't have to have a proof of rabies vaccination. However, if animal control does pick your dog up and it isn't vaccinated - you can be fined up to $262. 
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