PEMBROKE — The Robeson County Veterinary Medical Association says a week-long clinic to keep rabies at bay received a lukewarm response from residents.
From Monday to Friday, the group offered discount rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets at all 32 fire departments across the county. Although an exact total wasn’t available Friday afternoon, Dr. David Brooks said that far fewer animals were vaccinated during the clinic than in previous installments of the biannual event.
“At the rate we’re going this year, I doubt we’ll do 750,” said Brooks, a member of the association and the owner of Pembroke Animal Hospital. “I’m not sure why it’s been so low, but it’s been a drastic drop.”
The association vaccinated 910 pets during last year’s clinic; 1,758 were vaccinated in 2013.
The association, which is made up of doctors from five area animal hospitals, offered rabies shots for $5 during this week’s clinic.
While prices are different at each practice, the standard cost of a rabies vaccination and examination at Pembroke Veterinary Hospital is $32. The discounted cost, which does not include examination, is normally $8, but the Robeson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to donate $3 for each vaccination performed during the clinic after hearing a presentation from Brooks during a recent meeting.
“We’re trying to mitigate the control of rabies at strategic sites and trying to be as flexible as we can,” Brooks said. “We’re not getting the response we hoped to receive, but we’re trying nonetheless. … I really think the population of vaccinated animals out there is at an all-time low.”
State law requires pets to be vaccinated as the deadly viral infection is mainly spread by infected animals — usually through biting or scratching.
Symptoms in humans include a tingling sensation around the infected wound, a fear of water, flu-like symptoms, loss of sight or partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, hallucinations and delirium. Rabies can cause death in two to 10 days after symptoms occur.
Michael Deese, a veterinarian at Baird’s Animal Hospital in Lumberton, say that hunting dogs are put at at a greater risk of being exposed to the virus as they are more likely to come in contact with infected animals.
“There are several raccoons that have attacked dogs in the woods and tested positive for rabies,” Deese said before vaccinating a pack of hunting dogs at Britt Fire Department on Thursday. “Rabies is a major concern in this area and we have to keep it from spreading.”
Following the underwhelming response to the clinic, the association hopes an upcoming program to reduce the county’s unwanted pet population will fare better. Its members will offer discount spay and neuter services to dogs and cats as part of its biannual SNIP initiative, which runs from Sept. 8 to Sept 18.
Veterinary clinics participating in SNIP include: Biard’s Animal Hospital in Lumberton; North End Veterinary Clinic in Lumberton; Southeastern Veterinary Hospital in Lumberton; South Robeson Veterinary Hospital in Fairmont; North Star Veterinary Hospital in Parkton; and Pembroke Veterinary Hospital in Pembroke.
For information, call Brooks at 910-521-3431.
Reporter Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5771 or by email at [email protected]