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Not worried about rabies? You should be

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The basic facts about rabies:

■There are around 7,000 cases of animal rabies, mostly in wildlife species, reported in the U.S. every year.These animals can expose humans or pets to rabies.

■Cats are more likely to be infected with rabies than dogs! Probably because they are less likely to be vaccinated and may not be well supervised when outdoors.

Rabies prevention starts with the animal owner. All dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies.Consider vaccinating valuable livestock and horses.Animals that have frequent contact with humans should be vaccinated.

You can reduce the possibility of your pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free. Spaying and neutering your pets may decrease undesirable behavior; like aggression and roaming.

Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, whether domesticated or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.

It is important to make sure all domesticated dogs, cats and ferrets are immunized against rabies.Review your pet’s vaccination record and if a rabies vaccination is required, plan to visit your veterinarian or a local rabies clinic.

Three-year vaccinations are available but a current rabies certificate is required and is the only acceptable proof for an animal to receive a three-year vaccination certificate. Without this documentation, a one-year-vaccination will be given. According to state law, the rabies tag is not acceptable proof of a previous vaccination.

Other good things to know:

■Dogs and cats must be at least three months old to be vaccinated.

■Pregnant dogs and cats can be vaccinated.

■Ferrets need to be vaccinated yearly.

Rabies vaccination clinics are being held throughout April in various locations. To attend, all animals must have a collar and leash. Cats must be in an animal carrier or in a pillowcase. All animals must be under the control of an adult.

April 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the MacombTown Barn

April 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Dominic Zappia Community Center, Norfolk

April 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the ColtonTown Storage Building

April 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the LisbonFire Hall

April 24 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Parishville Fire Department

Clinics may change or be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. Please call 386-2325 for clinic confirmation or questions. A complete list is available online at: www.co.st-lawrence.ny.us/Departments/PublicHealth/RabiesControl .

Karen Cunningham is president of the St. Lawrence Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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