NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The Westchester County Health Department will sponsor a one-day rabies vaccination clinic Sunday in New Rochelle.
Free vaccinations will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., by appointment, at Stamen Animal Hospital, 61 Quaker Ridge Road, for dogs, cats and ferrets owned by county residents. The hospital can be reached at 914-623-1269 for an appointment.
Cats and ferrets must be in carriers and dogs must be on a leash. Aggressive dogs must be muzzled. Additional vaccinations are available at a reduced rate on this date only. No examinations will be given.
Dogs and cats must receive their first rabies vaccine no later than four months after birth under New York state law, the department said. A second rabies shot must be given within one year of the first vaccine, with additional booster shots given every one or three years after that, depending on the vaccine used, the department said. Owners who fail to get their pets vaccinated and keep the vaccinations up-to-date may be fined up to $2,000, the department said.
Rabies is a fatal disease that is spread through the bite or saliva of infected animals. Those animals most commonly infected are raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. However, domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, also are at risk because they can easily contract rabies from wild or stray animals.
A pet that is up-to-date with its rabies vaccinations only requires a booster dose of vaccine within five days of the pet’s exposure to a known or suspect rabid animal, the department said. Animals not up-to-date with rabies vaccinations would need to be quarantined or potentially euthanized following contact with a rabid or suspect-rabid animal, the department said.
The department informs residents that a change in an animal’s behavior often is the first sign of rabies. A rabid animal may become either abnormally aggressive or unusually tame. It may lose fear of people and become docile or it may become particularly excited and irritable. Staggering, spitting and frothing at the mouth are sometimes noted in infected animals. Adults should encourage children to avoid touching unfamiliar animals and to immediately tell an adult if they have been bitten or scratched by an animal.
All animal bites or contacts with animals suspected of having rabies must be reported to the department at (914) 813-5000. After hours, callers should follow instructions in the recorded message.
Residents also can call the rabies hotline at (914) 813-5010 to hear a taped message or visit the department's website at www.westchestergov.com/health to learn more about rabies and how to prevent it.