HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) – While health leaders have pushed for Virginians to stay up to date on their vaccines during the pandemic, local animal shelters are reminding pet owners to do the same for their furry family members.
On Wednesday, the Chickahominy Health District pushed out an alert to notify residents living in the Brookshire Subdivision or in the Windsor Drive area of Mechanicsville (Hanover County) about a positive rabies case.
The case is an example of why local shelters are warning all pet owners to get their animals vaccinated.
The rabies vaccine is required by law in Virginia. Some are good for a year, while others can last three years. Regardless, the vaccine is crucial.
“It is 100% deadly if not caught in time,” said Henrico County Animal Protection Officer Alex Dickinson.
Dickinson has encountered animals that tested positive for rabies. While the situation can be scary at times, the last thing she wants is for your pets to go through something like that.
“Rabies is a neurological virus that can be spread through saliva through a bite,” she said.
So far this year, Henrico County has had no cases, but on average they see about five to six annually.
In Richmond, the animal shelter director said they have had two cases so far. The director believes the pandemic may have prevented pet owners from moving forward with their pets’ routine vaccines.
“During COVID the opportunities for people to either afford vet care or to be able to get pets into vet clinics that are overwhelmed with a number of people who have new pets, has stopped what would normally be a vaccination time frame,” said Richmond Animal Care and Control Director Christie Chipps Peters.
Meanwhile, the Chickahominy Health District reported a rabies case on Wednesday. This would make it the third case in Hanover County with a fox testing positive and dying.
“Anyone having information regarding any exposure to this animal in the days leading up to April 22, 2022 (bite, scratch or contact with saliva by open wound or eyes, nose, mouth) should contact the Hanover Health Department: 804-365-4313,” the health department press release said. “Exposures also include direct contact between your pet and the rabid animal. After hours, please contact the Hanover County Animal Control at 804-365-6140.”
The Chesterfield Health District reported two rabies cases so far in 2022; one in Powhatan County and one in Chesterfield County.
Health districts also released the following information:
- Vaccinate your pets
- Report all exposures to animals (usually bites and scratches) to your doctor and the local health department
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance – do not feed or encourage wild animals such as raccoons, skunks or foxes to visit your premises
There are several upcoming opportunities for pet owners to get their cats and dogs vaccinated at upcoming clinics.
“We have free rabies and distemper clinics every Friday [from noon to 1p.m.],” Chipps Peters said. “We’re going to continue that through the end of August.”
Richmond’s vaccination site is located at 1600 Chamberlayne Ave, Richmond, VA 23222.
In Henrico, the Animal Protection Unit has a vaccine clinic scheduled for Saturday, May 21 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. at the county’s Western Government Center (4301 E. Parham Road). Vaccinations cost $10.
Chesterfield County has its rabies vaccination clinic scheduled for Saturday, May 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds. Vaccinations cost $10 and must be paid in cash.
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