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Protect Your Pets: Westchester To Offer Free Rabies Vaccines

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — Westchester County residents can bring their pets for free rabies vaccinations next month.

The clinic at the Stamen Animal Hospital on 61 Quaker Ridge Road in New Rochelle will be open to dogs, cats and even ferrets on Sunday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The shots to protect our furry friends are free, but advance registration is required.

Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, M.D. said that the rabies vaccines are essential for the health and safety of both pets and pet owners in case your pet has contact with a rabid or potentially rabid animal. “Rabies causes terrible symptoms in animals and humans. Because we don’t have a treatment for this fatal disease, there’s no way to save cats’ and dogs’ lives if they become infected. But the good news is, rabies is entirely preventable through vaccination! Don’t forget to schedule an appointment for your pet…now,” the department wrote on social media.

In fact, a rabies alert was issued March 18, when a stray, gray tabby cat was captured on Sybil Street and Waldo Ave. in White Plains and tested positive for rabies. If you, a family member or pet may have had contact with this cat, on or before March 18, you are requested to call the Health Department at 914-813-5000.

No examinations will be offered at the free vaccine clinic at Stamen Animal Hospital. All pets must be supervised at all times while at the clinic. Cats and ferrets must be in carriers and dogs must be on a leash. Aggressive dogs must be muzzled.

Recently tightened New York State laws require dogs and cats to receive their first rabies vaccine no later than four months after birth. A second rabies booster must be given within one year of the initial vaccine. Rules require additional booster shots every one or three years after that, depending on which vaccine is used. Pet owners who do not have their pets vaccinated or keep the animals’ booster shots current can be fined as much as $2000 for violations.

According to the Health Department, the animals most commonly infected with rabies include raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Pets are also considered at high risk because they can easily contract rabies through the bites and saliva of wild or stray animals they may come in contact with.

Health officials say a pet that is up-to-date with its rabies vaccinations would only need a booster dose of vaccine within five days of exposure to a known or suspected rabid animal. Family pets not current with rabies vaccinations could be quarantined or even euthanized following contact with a rabid animal.

Pet owners can call 914-632-1269 for more information about April’s free rabies vaccination clinic. Animal lovers can find the latest news and alerts about rabies incidents in Westchester County at the Health Department’s website.