If you’ve seen Old Yeller, you are familiar with the ravages of rabies. A virus that affects the brain and central nervous system, rabies can be transmitted from animal to human and is fatal if not treated.
One of the most common questions technicians and doctors hear is, “Why does my strictly indoor pet need to be vaccinated for rabies?” We all understand not wanting to vaccinate your pet unnecessarily, but rabies is a serious enough threat to warrant vaccination. Even for strictly indoor pets. The following list explains why.
It is state law. Maryland requires that all dogs and cats over four months of age be vaccinated for rabies by a veterinarian.
It is a public health issue. Rabies can be transmitted from infected animals by either being bitten or from contact with infected saliva. Rabies has been found in 49 states; only Hawaii is rabies free. In Maryland, rabies is most often found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, cats, bats, and groundhogs. Most recent cases of rabies in humans in the United States have been from contact with or bites from bats. The number one way to prevent the spread of rabies is vaccination.
Living in the city doesn’t mean your pets are safe. Baltimore City, in particular, has a huge feral cat population. Groundhogs are sometimes seen within Canton, and there are foxes and raccoons in the industrial section of Canton south of Boston Street.
Your indoor pets might not stay that way. What happens if your indoor pet gets outside and is gone for a day or more? What do you do if your pet comes back with a bite wound? Making sure your pet is vaccinated ensures that they are protected, just in case.
Your pets might be strictly indoor…but the rabies threat can come inside. Bats sometimes end up inside, via chimneys, unscreened windows or open doors. The Health Department takes rabies very seriously and recommends vaccination for all humans when a bat accidentally ends up indoors.
A rabies vaccine is cheaper and more convenient than the alternative should there be a bite incident. If your unvaccinated pet bites a person and Animal Control gets involved, they reserve the right to seize your pet and quarantine it on their premises. In certain cases, they may require testing for rabies. Rabies exams can only be carried out on a pet that has been euthanized. Quarantining a pet on your own can be difficult to achieve too. In addition, should your unvaccinated pet bite a person, the legal ramifications are huge. In comparison, an office visit and vaccine requires less time and money than a possible lawsuit.
The incidence of rabies in human and companion animals has declined in recent years because of widespread vaccination of all pets. Protect your pet and your family today. Vaccinate your indoor pet.