No reason to risk it

Published 6:18 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Two recent incidents involving rabid foxes point out the importance of getting rabies vaccinations for your pets and then keeping them up to date.

Both incidents took place in the Pughsville area of Suffolk and involved dogs that tangled with the foxes. In the first one, a fox bit a young girl and a teenage boy before getting in a fight the following day with a neighborhood dog. The dog killed the fox, but it received scratches in the fracas. In the second incident, a man and his dog both were bitten by a different rabid fox.

The difference between the two incidents was that the first dog was up to date on its rabies vaccination and therefore was protected against the disease. That dog has been subjected to a mandatory quarantine, but it is expected to live and to be rabies-free at the end of that quarantine. The second dog had not been vaccinated against the disease and had to be put to sleep immediately.

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Exposure of an unvaccinated animal to another with rabies is always fatal. But the vaccine against the disease is almost 100 percent effective. It’s cheap, simple, relatively painless for the animal — and it’s required by law for all animals kept as pets. There’s no good reason for a pet owner not to have his pets vaccinated.

As the recent incidents prove, rabid wild animals sometimes wander into populated areas that they would avoid if not for the brain infection that occurs with rabies. So even if your pets stay in your yard, they could be at risk if there are rabid animals nearby. There’s no good reason to subject them to that risk.

Get your pets vaccinated, and then make sure to keep them up to date on their booster shots. The life of a family friend could be at stake.