Remember Old Yeller?

Remember Old Yeller? I remember crying like a baby when I saw it. And that was last week.

Well that story has hit home for local families over the years since we started our clinic. A barn cat located between Bernville and Strausstown bit two family members. A year ago a stray cat bit my friend’s dog. A couple months ago a stray cat he was feeding on his porch bit one of our clients. The scary thing is that when we submitted these cats for testing they tested positive for Rabies. There were many other exposures of people and pets over the years to various positive animals. So far in 2011 cats have been the most common tested rabid critters with skunks, raccoons, & foxes rounding out the list. My Cletus was trying to play with a skunk on our early morning walk a couple weeks ago.

Scientists are making some strides in the extremely difficult task of eradicating the disease in wildlife but exposure to domestic animals is something that is much easier to avoid. Vaccination is the key to eliminate the risk for most humans. Vaccinations are available for dogs, cats, livestock & some exotic pets. We do not recommend that anyone (who is not a rehabilitator) own any wildlife pets.

Pennsylvania state law requires all dogs and cats over 12 weeks to be vaccinated for Rabies. The first vaccine a pet receives, or a vaccine given at less than a year of age, must be boosted in 1 year. After that, boosters are determined by the license of the vaccine.

Remember that Rabies can look like anything, not just the classic mad foaming at the mouth. The animal may also be dull and docile or exhibit a wide range of neurologic signs. Therefore, always avoid close contact with wildlife and be wary of unknown domestic animals especially if acting abnormal. Also make sure your pets are kept up to date with their vaccinations and strays are examined and vaccinated as soon as possible. Don’t let this deadly disease or state mandated quarantines or fines be part of your life.

– Dr. Stephan