EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 21, 2013

Letter: It’s important to vaccinate pets against rabies

To the editor:

Spring is here and it is time to make sure that all your pets are vaccinated against rabies.

According to Massachusetts state law all dogs and cats, including indoor only cats, are required to have a valid and current rabies vaccination and all pet owners must be able to provide proof of rabies vaccination. Not only is this the law and failure to comply with the law may result in a fine, but more importantly, keeping your pets vaccinated against rabies will help protect you and your family from this deadly disease.

Since the early 1900s, United States Animal Control has fought a hard battle to control the rabies virus. According to federal statistics, human deaths from rabies have dropped from more than 100 per year to an average of two to three per year as a result of implementing a strict rabies vaccination program within the United States. Worldwide, 30,000-50,000 people die annually from rabies. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons, foxes, woodchucks, and bats and it is a constant threat in our wildlife population.

The current guidelines for rabies vaccinations are as follows: The first rabies shot is given at 3-6 months of age (ideally at 3-4 months of age); the second rabies vaccine must be given exactly 9-12 months later to receive a three-year rabies vaccination. To have a valid three-year rabies vaccination for your dog or cat you must have proof of two vaccinations exactly 9-12 months apart and your certificate must have a valid date. If your pet has not been vaccinated according to these regulations, or if your pet is one day or more overdue for its rabies booster, your pet is considered unvaccinated. Unvaccinated animals exposed (or potentially exposed) to any suspect animal will need to be quarantined for six months or put to sleep in accordance with state guidelines.

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