Clinic set to fight rabies

Published 12:27 am Friday, May 18, 2012

Dallas County will be the site of several rabies vaccination clinics Saturday, as the Dallas County Health Department and Northside Animal Hospital seek to raise awareness of the disease and control its outbreaks.

For $10, dogs and cats, which are required to be vaccinated each year, can receive their shots. The group will travel throughout the county with the vaccinations, spending one hour in seven different locations throughout the day.

“It’s important to vaccinate them every single year because we always have raccoons and bats and skunks in Dallas County that carry these,” Mike Wells, doctor of veterinary medicine at Northside Animal Hospital, said. “You never know when you’re going to run into one of them around here.”

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Wells said he expects to treat between 200 and 250 animals.

“Some people have a hard time getting big dogs into town and some people, older people particularly, have a hard time getting all their dogs to go that far,” he said. “So really this is just a convenience to the community to get out and get as many dogs vaccinated as we can so if we ever do have an outbreak of rabies, at least we’ll have our buffers on so it won’t spread as rapidly.”

State law requires every owner of a dog or cat three months of age or older to have them vaccinated by a rabies inspector or a competent veterinarian. Owners of dogs and cats found not to be vaccinated are subject to fines, impoundment or destruction.

John Strother, state health department environmental supervisor for Dallas, Perry and Wilcox counties, said it’s important to have clinics such as Saturday’s to ensure everyone is in compliance with the law and so no outbreaks occur.

“We’re providing a barrier between people’s pets and most of the exposures they have,” Strother said. “Dogs come into contact with exposed wild animals — foxes, coyotes, skunks, raccoons and bats —and that’s why it’s important to vaccinate your domesticated animals.”

Stops on the tour around the county include: Burnsville VFD from 7:30-8:30 a.m., Lilly Grove Baptist Church from 8:30-9:30 a.m., T.H. Willis’ Store from 9:30-10:30 a.m., the corner of North Avenue and Old Montgomery Highway from 10-11:30 a.m., Selmont Community Baptist Church from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Brech Marine from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and Casey’s Church of Christ from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

“We make a profit, that’s why we do it, but we also get to make new clients doing this and suggest some other problems that their dogs may have that they need to take them to their regular vet and get them checked out for,” Wells said.