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KENDALL (CBSMiami) — A day after a rabies alert was issued in Miami-Dade County, health officials are informing the public on how to keep their pets safe.

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It’s the first time in more than 15 years that an animal has tested positive in Miami-Dade County.

Lin Roth is not taking any chances when it comes to her collie, Michael.

“I protect him as much as I can, he’s very valuable to me,” she said.

Veterinarian Ian Kupkee says no pet owner should take a chance.

“To not vaccinate your dog against rabies is almost criminally negligent because you’re putting yourself and every body at risk by having an unvaccinated dog,” said Dr. Kupkee.

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The Florida Department of Health issued the rabies alert for the Kendall area after a raccoon tested positive on Tuesday. This is the first confirmed rabid animal this year in the county and the first rabid raccoon identified in Miami-Dade since 2001.

The rabies alert will last for 60 days and includes the following boundaries:

• SW 88th Street to the North;
• SW 95th Street to the South;
• SW 107th Avenue to the East; and
• SW 117th Avenue to the West.

“Around here, the wooded areas, the opossums, you never know, it might end up biting him,” said Roth.

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system and is fatal to warm-blooded animals and humans. Officials urge everyone to never feed stray or wild animals — and make sure to keep your pets close.

“Don’t let loose without a leash and make sure your dog is properly vaccinated,” said Roberta, who vaccinated her dogs Zoe and Sissy. “Rabies is a horrible disease.”

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The DOH recommends if you haven’t already, vaccinate your pets and keep them up to date.