Lately the issue of rabies shots has been cropping up at the shelter almost every day. Most that are reclaimed are not up to date. It’s mandated by law and very important to protect your pet from rabies. The disease is fatal for dogs and other animals and transmittable to humans. Rabies has not been eradicated. Every year, a number of wildlife tests yield positive results; mostly raccoons and skunks but there are other species as well.
A line I hear most frequently is, “Well, my dog is a housedog or my cat is an indoor cat so it never comes in contact with wildlife." That may or may not be true. There have been cases where bats have managed to make it into a home and go unnoticed because they are so small. The likelihood of you noticing a bat bite on your pet is pretty low. Once an animal has contracted rabies, they usually don't last very long but they can transmit the virus to other animals and humans during the last stage.
That doesn't mean that every wild animal you come across is carrying rabies and a fox or raccoon out during the day doesn't necessarily mean it is infected. Sometimes they are just hungry and scavenging for food. Raccoons in trees are also not abnormal. Signs to watch out for are neurological symptoms, animals off balance or staggering, walking in circles or bumping into things, and unusual sociability toward humans or extreme aggression.
Do not feed wildlife.
If you are feeding them or leaving food available, like open trash cans or pet food on the porch, they become comfortable rather than running when they see us. In fact, there is an ordinance in this city that prohibits feeding wildlife. It is not in the wild animal's best interest to depend on humans and they can pose a health risk for pets and people. That's why state law mandates that any cat, dog and ferret—indoor or outdoor—must be inoculated against rabies. Keep in mind that, if your pet nips or bites another pet or person and is not up to date then it will be impounded at your expense for 10 days. If your pet is up to date, they can be quarantined at home. The first vaccine a pet gets is good for one year but as long as you booster your pet before the expiration date, the new shot will be good for three years. If you are overdue for vaccinating, the new shot will only be good for one year again. So, revaccinate before the current shot expires. If finances are tight, there are several low cost options in the Warwick area. Call the shelter and we will be happy to give you the information. Not having money is not an excuse for not having your pet current. It's your pet and your responsibility. A rabies shot is not expensive; do what you have to do and prioritize to pay for it before it’s too late. It's the law.