Department of Health & Human Services

Posted on: May 9, 2014

Pet owners urged to vaccinate animals against rabies

The Humboldt-Del Norte Veterinary Medical Association is sponsoring low-cost canine rabies vaccination clinics throughout the county in May and June.

Dog vaccinations are $6 each. Other canine and feline vaccinations will be available. The cost of these vaccines will vary with each clinic. A complete clinic schedule follows below.

“We vaccinate our pets for the protection of our families, neighbors and pets,” said Melissa Martel, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Environmental Health (DEH). “The rabies virus is endemic in Humboldt County. This means it is always present in the wildlife population throughout our county.

“Rabies is especially found in skunks, bats and foxes in Humboldt County,” Martel said. “We have very little control over wildlife. What we can do is vaccinate our pets, because rabies is always fatal in animals.”

Martel said dogs are required by state law to be vaccinated at 4 months, with a booster one year later and then every three years thereafter. Cats aren’t required by law to be vaccinated. However, it is highly recommended as they frequently interact with wildlife.

Martel said pet owners are often unaware of the consequences of not vaccinating their pets.

“If an unvaccinated pet comes in contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, the owner has two options,” she said. “They can confine the pet in a ‘no touch’ double enclosure for six months to determine if the pet is infected with rabies or have the pet euthanized. Nobody wants that.”
People exposed to a rabid animal or potentially rabid animal must undergo multiple medical treatments costing several thousand dollars.

“Always report animal bites to the animal control agency in your jurisdiction,” Martel said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 55,000 people die of rabies worldwide each year, primarily in countries where pets are not vaccinated. WHO says that dog bites are the source of 99 percent of these cases. WHO credits widespread vaccination of domestic animals for preventing these deaths in the United States.

Questions about rabies can be directed to DEH at 707-445-6215 or toll-free at 800-963-9241.

The Humboldt-Del Norte Veterinary Medical Association rabies clinic schedule for 2014 is:

May 14: Petrolia Grange from 10 a.m. to noon
May 17: Fortuna Animal Hospital from 10 a.m. to noon
May 31: Broadway Animal Hospital in Eureka from 10 a.m. to noon
June 3: Eureka Veterinary Hospital from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
June 7: Riverwalk Veterinary Hospital in Fortuna from 11 a.m. to noon
June 14: Redwood Animal Hospital in McKinleyville from 10 to 11 a.m., Garberville/Redway Veterinary Clinic from 2 to 3 p.m., and Animal Medical Center in Fortuna from 11 a.m. to noon
June 25: Arcata Animal Hospital from 2 to 4 p.m.
June 28: Myrtle Avenue Veterinary Hospital in Eureka from noon to 1 p.m.
June 29: Sunny Brae Animal Clinic in Arcata from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Many veterinary providers offer at-cost vaccination clinics year round in addition to the low-cost clinics.

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