We all should know how vitally important it is to keep our dogs current on rabies shots. Living close to the forest, we are aware of the many varieties of wild animals around our property. Those who allow their dogs to run loose while hiking through the forest do not always know what these inquisitive noses are discovering along the way.
Remember that animals with rabies do not live long. They die an agonizing death as their brain is destroyed. That is why we do not see lots of rabid animals. But it is the body fluids that transmit rabies and newly dead or dying animals in the woods can attract the attention of our dogs and cats and we might not even notice. If a wild animal is encountered and rabies is suspected, call the rabies control officer, Mike Spaulding, at (928) 474-1210.
Rabid bats are found throughout Arizona. ats love to bring bats into the house so they can show off their catch. A bat found out in daylight either on or near the ground should be suspected of being rabid. Extreme care should be taken to keep our pets away.
Cats are more often infected with rabies than any other domestic animal in the United States. Outdoor cats are very likely to roam and hunt and encounter wildlife. Any cat who is allowed to go outside should be vaccinated for rabies. For some unknown reason, it is not mandatory to vaccinate a cat for rabies in Arizona. However, it is strongly recommended.
Dog owners are required by Arizona Revised Statues (Appendix A. ARS Article 6. 11-1010) to vaccinate for rabies. There have been some tragic cases recently of dogs who were not vaccinated or whose vaccinations were not current who either had to be euthanized or kept in quarantine. These are not pleasant situations to deal with and they are totally preventable.
My own dog and my neighbor's dog were gored by javelina last November. It was a far too frightening experience for both of us. My Higgins' wounds were clean and easy to deal with once the initial trauma was behind us. Little Chipper was totally torn up and had to have staples from end to end and all around his small body, at great expense you can be sure. His rear leg is still not working properly and will probably stay as it is, but he gets around very well and it does not seem to bother him. His recovery has been amazing. The Stillers say that other than the leg, he is just like his former self. Fortunately, both these dogs were current with their vaccinations and you can be sure that both of us will be ever so diligent about keeping them current.
The Gila County Division of Health and Community Services/Rabies Control Section, is sponsoring a low cost rabies vaccination clinic in Payson on Saturday, Sept. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Main Street Animal Clinic, 411 West Main Street. The shots will be administered by Dr. Jacque Rosholm. The cost for the vaccination is $10 for dogs, cats and ferrets. Bring a copy of the animal's last rabies vaccination certificate and proof of spaying or neutering. Cats and ferrets must be in carriers.
Once the pet is vaccinated, he/she can be licensed. Gila County license is $7 for spayed and neutered dogs and $15 for an unaltered dog. Town of Payson licenses are $3 for neutered and $7 for unaltered dogs.
The recommended schedule for rabies vaccinations is as follows. Dogs, cats and ferrets should initially be immunized between 3 and 4 months of age. The second vaccination should be given 12 months after the first. That second vaccination is normally good for three years. It is important to note whether it is a three year or one year vaccine and schedule subsequent vaccinations accordingly. Vaccinations that are not given by a veterinarian are not valid. There are lots of bad and outdated vaccines available on line and elsewhere. In case of contact with a rabid or suspected rabid animal, any vaccine not approved and not administered by a licensed veterinarian will not be accepted. The animal would need to be euthanized or put in quarantine as if he were not vaccinated. Ferrets, horses and cattle should be vaccinated annually.
I just received a notice from Mike Spaulding that confirmation of a rabid bat was announced on September 10. This bat was found in Payson and due to the good judgment of the 11-year-old boy who found it, there was no contamination. There have been 72 cases of rabies confirmed in Arizona so far this year. There were four in Gila County, including one fox and three bats. Among the bats, one was a Mexican Free Tail, one was a Myotis and the third was a Big Brown.
Mike said, "Rabies is all around us. We just don't hear about it until there is contact with humans." Health and veterinary professionals agree that having the family pets vaccinated against rabies is the first line of defense against the rabies virus, a fatal disease.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.