One of my neighbors was going for a walk last week when a large, scruffy, very pregnant dog came out of nowhere and bit her leg.
She reported the incident to Animal Control and warned her neighbors, who compared notes to see if they could determine where the dog lived.
There were conflicting reports:
“She belongs to the people who live three houses down and they let her roam.”
“She’s a stray who’s been wandering the neighborhood.”
The inability to pinpoint whether the dog belongs to someone or is a stray raised the question:
Has the dog been vaccinated for rabies?
It’s a valid question, since dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to rabies – a deadly virus that can also be passed to humans.
Vaccination against the virus is the best way to protect your pet and those around them from this potentially fatal disease.
5 Reasons Your Pet Should Receive a Rabies Vaccine
1. Rabies is Serious and Potentially Fatal
Rabies is one of the deadliest viruses known to humankind. A single bite or scratch from an infected animal can cause severe neurological symptoms that can be fatal if left untreated.
In Washington State, 400-to-600 animals per year are tested for rabies, mostly bats. “Bats are the only animal in Washington known to carry rabies,” according to the Washington State Department of Health website. “We find rabid bats in Washington every year.”
Related article on our blog: Why Indoor Pets Should Be Vaccinated for Rabies
Vaccinating your pet helps protect them from the virus, and, if your pet is exposed, it can help reduce the severity of the disease.
2. It’s the Law
In most states, including Washington, it is illegal to own a pet without a current rabies vaccination.
In Washington, WAC 246-100-197 was put into place to help protect both pets and people from the dangerous virus. Failure to vaccinate your pet could result in fines or other legal repercussions.
We typically recommend puppies and kittens receive their first rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age.
A booster vaccine should be administered one year later, and then every 3 years for dogs and annually for cats (who receive the gentler modified live rabies vaccine).
3. It’s Affordable
Rabies vaccines are typically available at low cost through your veterinarian or through local health departments, making it easy to keep your pet up to date.
The cost of the vaccine is far less than the costs you would be faced with if your pet were to contract the disease.
4. It’s Easy
Rabies vaccines can be administered by your veterinarian or other qualified health professional – typically through a single injection. The entire process is quick, easy, and relatively painless for your pet.
5. It Prevents the Spread of the Virus
Vaccinating your cat or dog not only helps protect them from the virus if they are exposed, but it also helps prevent the spread of the virus to other animals and humans. This is especially important if you live in an area where rabies is more common.
Visit the Washington State Department of Health for the latest information on rabies activity in Washington.
Be sure to keep your pet up to date on their rabies vaccine to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.
“Bat Positive for Rabies Found in King County,” Public Health Insider