Wildwood Offers Free Rabies Clinic

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WILDWOOD — The city of Wildwood is offering a free rabies clinic April 12 from 1 until 2 p.m. at the Wildwood Public Works Building, 405 W. Cedar Ave. The clinic is open to all cats and dogs.

“This is an annual event that’s open to the community,” said Commissioner Pete Byron in a statement from the city. “It gives pet owners the opportunity to have their pet vaccinated for free. The free rabies clinic is just another way the city continues to champion the health and safety of our companion animals.”

According to veterinarian Dr. Nick Holland, director of Shore Animal Control, rabies is still a problem in Cape May County.

“We’ve had numerous rabies cases in the last five years throughout the county,” said Holland. According to Holland, due to the increase in the coyote and fox populations there is an increased chance of a dog or cat being exposed to the disease.

“Skunks and raccoons also carry rabies and those animals are also interacting with not just our dogs but also with household cats that go in and out.

“We’ve had dogs inside of fenced yards exposed to rabies-positive animals,” the veterinarian said. He added those dogs had to be euthanized because they hadn’t been vaccinated and they were exposed. “They were too old and debilitated to go through the process to see whether or not they were going to become positive.”

Animals over the age of 6 months are required by state law to have the rabies vaccine, however dogs and cats over the age of 3 months can receive the inoculation. A rabies vaccine is required for dog licensure.

“It’s an advantage, because they get the license and the rabies shot at the same time,” said Holland.

According to the veterinarian, there is no age limit for pets to receive the rabies vaccine. “They’re not too old to get the vaccine and not too old to get rabies,” he said.

If a non-rabid animal is exposed to a rabid animal and there is evidence of a bite wound, without the rabies vaccine, the non-rabid animal that was exposed will be quarantined for a significant amount of time, Holland said.

“Any time up until 6 months from a bite exposure from a rabid animal, the bitten animal could show signs of rabies and become positive,” explained the veterinarian. “It’s a long quarantine.”

For pet owners who feel their pet does not need to receive a rabies inoculation, the veterinarian offered several reasons to do so.

“If we have a registered animal, should that animal get out, it gets returned quickly because we can identify the animal by its rabies tag,” said Holland.

“It is a real public health issue by not having our animals vaccinated,” said Holland. He shared an example of an outbreak of rabies about a decade ago that lasted for several years. “People were exposed, people were being treated, animals were exposed and animals were being treated.” He said county officials did a wild baiting program that helped slow down the outbreak for several years. “We watched the rabies incidents drop off.”

A resurgence in the past three years caused the county to bait again. “I expect less rabies in the wildlife population and therefore less rabies in the animal population but that baiting does not do it all. We have to protect our animals so we can protect each other.”

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