robesonian.com

Rabies returns

August 6, 2013

When it comes to Robeson County, we don’t see too many curve balls.


But we were surprised to hear that, according to Dr. David Brooks, a veterinarian who spoke Monday night to the county Board of Commissioners, about 80 percent of the dogs and cats in our neighborhoods remain vulnerable to rabies, an always deadly virus, because they have not been vaccinated.


Shame on us.


Pet owners who continue to fail in their duty to have their dogs and cats vaccinated against the disease not only put those animals at risk, but also imperil themselves, their families — and even their neighbors.


There have been 11 confirmed cases of rabies during the last year, and most have been clustered in the last few months. The problem, according to Bill Smith, director of the Health Department, is that all the rain in June flushed animals that are most vulnerable to rabies such as foxes and raccoons out of swamp land and closer to people and their pets.


The risk continues.


It’s not the fault of our local veterinarians that an estimated four out of five pets in this county are not protected against the disease. They frequently hold clinics during which the vaccinations are discounted — and plans are coming together for more of those clinics. We will report when and where the clinics will be held when that information is available.


The cost of a rabies shot — $8 to $12 — is not prohibitive, equal to lunch for two at Burger King. Yes, ours is a poor county, but if you have a dog or cat, which is an expense, then there is simply no excuse for not paying to have the animal vaccinated.


That leaves a couple of explanations for our sorry rate of vaccinations.


Ignorance, which hopefully today’s Our View will relieve some readers of: State law requires the animals be vaccinated at age 4 months and that they receive booster shots every three years going forward.


There then is irresponsibility, for which there might not be a cure. But we will try anyway.


That cat or dog that you love so much, the one that is like a member of the family, should it come in contact with a rabid animal, the options are not friendly: Your pet will either be euthanized immediately, or it will be seized by the county and quarantined — at your expense — for as many as six months, until it either dies from rabies or the threat has passed.


There is an obligation that comes with pet ownership, and it includes having the animal vaccinated against rabies. If that bar is too high for the owner of a pet to clear, then that person has no business with a dog or cat.