County Rabies Clinics Get Under Way

Shila, a two-year-old Siberian Husky gets her shot Wednesday evening.

Shila, a two-year-old Siberian Husky gets her shot Wednesday evening.

SCRIBA, NY – The county DPW garage in Scriba went to the dogs Wednesday – with a few felines thrown in for good measure. It was the Oswego County Health Department’s first rabies clinic of season.

Shila, a two-year-old Siberian Husky gets her shot Wednesday evening.
Shila, a two-year-old Siberian Husky gets her shot Wednesday evening.

County health officials said they’d like to see a lot of people take advantage of the rabies clinics.

Rabies is still out there, they warn.

Some people arrived clinging to a couple of dogs’ leashes with one hand and carrying a cat in a pet carrier with the other.

The first clinic of the year is usually well-attended; Scriba is rather centrally located so people from surrounding towns attend.

Pets started receiving their shots around 5:30, a half hour before the clinic’s posted start time. By 7, the rush was over and a few more dogs and cats were vaccinated in the last hour of the clinic.

Pet owners were supposed to bring their pet’s last rabies certificate to the clinic.

“The rabies virus continues to be active across Oswego County,” said Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director. “We haven’t had a human case, but we still need to be protected. It is still out there.”

Rabies can infect any mammal, including dogs, cats, livestock, wildlife and humans, he said.

The vast majority of rabies cases reported each year occur with wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes, Huang said, adding that is why immunizing pets is an effective way to reduce the risk of human exposures to rabies.

New York State law requires that all cats, dogs and pet ferrets be vaccinated against rabies.

The first rabies vaccine should be given at three months of age. A second vaccination is required within one year of the first and every three years thereafter.

In order for pets to receive the three-year booster shot, owners need to show that the pet was previously vaccinated and should bring their pet’s last rabies vaccination certificate to the clinic.

Dogs and cats that haven’t received a rabies shot, or that didn’t have shot records, received a rabies shot that is good for one year.

“If we protect our pets, we are also protecting ourselves,” Huang explained. “That’s the whole point of these clinics.”

Pet owners made a $7 donation (sometimes more) for each pet they brought to help cover the cost of the vaccination; but no one was turned away.

It’s the first time since the 1994 that the suggested fee has been increased, Huang told Oswego County Today.

“But really, we’re not trying to make money here. It’s all about the service. The fee is just a suggestion; we hope the residents will help us be able to protect them.”

There were several barks, howls, and cat calls echoing off the concrete floor and hard walls of the garage. However, there were very few yelps of pain as the vaccination was administered.

“All the animals have been very good tonight. (Despite a computer glitch), things are going well. This is a good service for the community,” Huang said. “Getting your pet vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of rabies – and protect your pets.”

It helps, if somewhere down the road, a dog or cat gets in a fight with another animal, authorities will  be able to know the vaccinations were up to date, he explained.

The health director praised the effort of the health department workers.

“They live in the community. They work in the community. And, they’re giving back to their community,” he told Oswego County Today. “They are community minded. They go above and beyond to help other people.”

Other clinics will be held at these locations during the spring, summer and fall:

• Pulaski: May 6, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
• West Monroe: June 3, 6 to 8 p.m., Town Highway Garage, 46 County Route 11.
• Parish: July 8, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 24 Dill Pickle Alley.
• Volney: Aug. 5, 6 to 8 p.m., Bristol Hill Landfill, state Route 3.
• Location to be announced: Sept. 9, 6 to 8 p.m.
• Pulaski:  Oct. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 957 Centerville Road.
• Scriba: Nov. 4, 6 to 8 p.m., County Highway Garage, 31 Schaad Drive.

Any person or pet coming in contact with a suspicious-acting animal should be reported to the county health department. If you suffer a bite or scratch from a suspicious-acting animal, wash the area of contact immediately with soap and water.

If your pet has been in contact with a wild animal or strange-acting animal avoid touching your pet with bare skin. Handle your pet only after you have put on gloves, health officials recommend.

Take care to protect your eyes, nose and mouth and any break (wound) in your skin from contact with any saliva.

Your pet should be isolated from other animals and people for several hours.

Dispose of the gloves used to handle the pet; put them in a plastic bag.

Wash your hand thoroughly with soap and water.

Contact the Oswego County Health Department.

County health officials also recommend that you call your veterinarian.

Your pet must receive a rabies booster shot within five days of the possible exposure, even if your pet has already been vaccinated.

Unvaccinated pets exposed to a known or suspected rabid animal must be quarantined for six months or humanely destroyed.

People usually get exposed to the rabies virus when an infected animal bites them.

However, exposure may also occur if scratched by an infected animal, or if saliva enters an open cut, the nose, the mouth or eyes.

Many pet owners have been exposed to the rabies virus by handling their pets after an attack and getting the saliva of the rabid animal on their hands.

Oswego County residents who have questions or need more information about rabies prevention should call the health department, weekdays at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564.

In an emergency during evenings, weekends, or holidays, call the health department’s answering service at 341-0086.