For Immediate Release - April 05, 2013

State Agricultural Officials Promote Spring Rabies Clinics

Residents urged to keep pets up-to-date on rabies shots

BOSTON – Friday, April 05, 2013 – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (DAR) Animal Health Division, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Animal Coalition, are encouraging residents to take advantage of low-cost rabies vaccination clinics being held across the Commonwealth this spring.

“The Division of Animal Health receives calls on a regular basis from people who are seeking affordable rabies vaccinations,” said DAR’s Director of Animal Health Michael Cahill. "Keeping your pet’s rabies vaccination up-to-date is the best way to protect your pet, yourself and your family from this virus.”

Massachusetts law requires all dogs, cats and ferrets living in Massachusetts to be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies vaccination clinics are offered to protect pets and the public at large against this potentially deadly disease and provide pet owners an affordable solution to remain in compliance with the law.

Clinics are open to any member of the public, regardless of residency. As a matter of convenience, pet owners may choose to attend any of the scheduled clinics to have their pet vaccinated for rabies. The costs for the vaccinations vary but are affordable, averaging around $12. Some clinics offer additional services such as other routine vaccinations, dog licensing and micro-chipping.

Click here for a list of participating communities.

Rabies is an infectious and contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. Transmission usually occurs through a bite or scratch from a rabid animal. The virus is considered to be fatal if untreated. To protect animal and public health, any pet owner who suspects that their pet may have been exposed to rabies should contact their veterinarian immediately.

In 2012, 73 terrestrial animals and 38 bats tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts. Consequently, 70 domestic animals were put at risk by known exposures to those rabid animals. In addition to the pets exposed to known positive animals, nearly 2,200 pets had exposure to animals that had the potential of being rabid but were not available for testing. Most potential exposures occur when there is contact between a pet and wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, woodchucks and bats.

This rabies awareness effort is co-sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Animal Coalition and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in cooperation with the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, and the Cape Cod Veterinary Association. The Division of Animal Health started the program in 2000 to raise awareness of rabies and increase compliance with state vaccination law.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community in order to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr and follow us on twitter at @MDARCommish and @massgrown.