- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 21, 2003

RICHMOND (AP) — It was bad enough when Gov. Mark Warner’s wife and three daughters took off for a European vacation without him.

It only got worse two days later, when the other Warner boys left behind — 5-year-old Buster and 5-month-old Beau — had to be sent to a hospital for 45 days.

Buster and Beau, the first family’s dogs, are quarantined at a Richmond area veterinary clinic after a run-in with a rabid raccoon at the Warner farm in King George County.

Nicole Wright, caretaker at the 110-acre farm on the Rappahannock River, said the pets were in a screened-in patio at the back of the 6,000-square-foot house last Sunday when “a crazy little raccoon walked up and tried to dig through.”

The dogs vigorously objected to the intrusion.

“There was a lot of spit and saliva flying back and forth,” Mrs. Wright said.

Buster, a Portuguese water dog, popped open the door and gave chase, his cockapoo brother close behind, and all three animals disappeared into some bushes.

Mrs. Wright and her husband, Shane, found the dogs at the base of a tree inhabited by the sickly looking raccoon. Shane shot the raccoon, put it in a plastic bag and called King George animal control officers.

“We checked the dogs over right away and didn’t find any blood or swelling,” Mrs. Wright said.

The dogs’ rabies vaccinations are up to date, Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said. But after the raccoon tested positive for rabies, state health officials recommended “out of an abundance of caution” that the dogs be quarantined, he said.

They were brought to suburban Richmond to make family visitation more convenient.

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