County Rabies Clinics Get Under Way

SCRIBA, NY – The county DPW garage in Scriba went to the dogs Wednesday night – with a few felines thrown in for good measure.

It was the Oswego County Health Department’s first rabies clinic of season.

Kylee Hetherington holds onto 'Jackson' as they make theri way toward thje front of the line at Wednesday's rabies clinic in Scriba.
Kylee Hetherington holds onto 'Jackson' as they make their way toward the front of the line at Wednesday's rabies clinic in Scriba.

“We’ve seen probably more than 100 animals already,” Evan Walsh, associate public health sanitarian, noted at about 6:30 p.m.

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 clinic was slated for 6-8 p.m., but got under way about a half hour earlier.

The first clinic of the year is usually well attended, Walsh explained. Scriba is also rather centrally located so people from surrounding towns attend.

“We’ll probably have more than 300 by the end of the night. Maybe more, I don’t know. It’s been rather steady all night tonight,” Walsh said.

By around 7:30 approximately 425 animals had climbed the ramps (or were carried) to the table in front of the two attending veterinarians.

A couple of stray kittens that were adopted were brought in for their shots so they could be spayed next week, their new owner said.

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

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.

Pet owners made a $5 donation (sometimes more) for each pet they brought to help cover the cost of the vaccination; but no one is turned away.

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.

“Quick and painless,” Walsh said. “All the animals have been very good tonight. Things are going well. This is a good service for the community.”

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 pointed out.

The next clinic the health department will conduct will be from 6 to 8 p.m. April 13, at the County Highway Garage, Dill Pickle Alley, Parish.

Other clinics are scheduled around the county throughout the spring and summer.

Dogs should be leashed and cats and pet ferrets should be in a cage.

There haven’t been a lot of positive tests for rabies recently. But don’t let that fool anyone into thinking rabies isn’t an issue in the county, Walsh stressed.

“Just because the number of positives was low doesn’t necessarily mean there is no rabies in the county,” he said. “We had a few positives (last year). But, I think we’ve done a really good job in years past of getting so many (domestic) animals vaccinated; and the rest goes as the wild animal population goes.”

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.

Any person or pet coming in contact with a suspicious-acting animal should be reported to the county health department.

Any person suffering a bite or scratch from a suspicious-acting animal should 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 say.

Fran Hoefer looks on as the vet gives his dog its shot.
Fran Hoefer looks on as the vet gives his dog its shot.

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.