Red Bank, SC (Paul Kirby) – Henry Dukes, a long-time Red Bank resident, knew something was wrong when he heard urgency in his dog Jeffrey’s bark. Although Henry’s small, constant companion barks often when he hears something in the yard, this time it seemed as if he knew things were seriously wrong and he was trying to let Henry know he wasn’t overreacting. Henry, a retired law enforcement officer who now owns Duke’s Investigation & Consulting, a private investigation and consulting company, knows not to ignore what might seem aggravating to others, something like a barking dog. When he heard the frantic alarm from Jeffrey, he immediately went to take a look.
Henry said Thursday that in a portion of his yard off Mac Circle he encountered a raccoon that was acting strangely. He said the animal had no fear of him or the barking dog. The raccoon also had a row of white foam, something Henry described as small bubbles, running around its mouth. Henry holds a concealed weapon permit and carries wherever he goes. He quickly drew his sidearm and put the animal down. He collected its body and transported it to Lexington County’s Animal Control the next day. From that point, the animal’s carcass was taken to the SC Department of Health & Environmental Control for testing. Thursday, Dukes received confirmation by telephone from the staff at DHEC that what he suspected was true, the raccoon tested positive for rabies.
Dukes said Thursday night that even though he’s been in many high-pressure situations including an on the job shooting, it’s still enough to rattle you a bit. He doesn’t’ know how long this sick animal had been wandering around his home. His beloved pet Jeffery is fully vaccinated, but he worries what might happen if the diseased animal interacted with neighbors less savvy in self-protection. “When we moved here years ago, this area was much more rural. All those original people that are still here, they can defend themselves,” Dukes said. “Now, there’s a large subdivision up on the corner of Old Barnwell filled with people who aren’t all familiar with country life and its perils.” Dukes said that because he is extremely proficient with a firearm, putting the animal down was easy. He wondered how long it would take someone from a county agency to respond if some of his neighbors who’ve moved from the north or even the nearby city would have encountered the same animal. “Many of these people that are filling homes in new subdivisions just aren’t familiar with the country life. We still have snakes and I have had to defend my chickens against coyotes several times,” Henry said. “I don’t advocate everyone going out and buying a gun, especially if they’ve never owned one. I’m just saying that you need to be aware of the perils and have a plan in case something like this happens to you.”
Henry said he asked the representative from DHEC if he needed to spray bleach or something else where the raccoon had drooled and bled in the yard. That person told him that once the disease comes out through saliva or blood, it quickly degrades and is harmless. Henry says he’ll be vigilant as always but will never ignore Jeffrey’s alarms knowing that he senses danger long before a human might.