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Harford health department to hold rabies vaccination clinics

All dogs, cats and ferrets can get their rabies vaccinations in the coming weeks at clinics sponsored by the Harford County Health Department.

Four clinics will be offered 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 across the county, with four more scheduled the following weekend, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5.

The rabies vaccine costs $5 per animal, a fee maintained by the health department for more than 30 years and the lowest among any neighboring jurisdictions.

On Sunday, April 28, clinics will be at Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company, 3308 Abingdon Road, Abingdon; Harford County Equestrian Center (parking at 702 N. Tollgate Road); Susquehanna Hose Company House 4, at the intersection of Revolution Street and Bloomsbury Avenue in Havre de Grace; and Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company on Route 165 in Whiteford.

The clinics on Sunday, May 5 will be at Aberdeen Fire Department, at the corner of Rogers and Franklin streets in Aberdeen; Darlington Volunteer Fire Company, 1209 Castleton Road (near the intersection of Routes 1 and 623) in Darlington; Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company, 3825 Federal Hill Road in Jarrettsville; and Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, at the intersection of Route 7 and Mountain Road (Route 152) in Joppa.

For pets to be vaccinated at the clinics, dogs must be leashes and cats and ferrets must be in cages. No animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets will be vaccinated. Pets must be at least 3 months old. Certificates given at the clinics provide necessary proof of vaccination for dog licensing in Maryland.

Last year, the department vaccinated 2,678 dogs, cats and ferrets at its clinics.

"This was our highest total ever," states David Reiher, rabies coordinator for the Harford County Health Department. "We were very pleased that so many pet owners took advantage of low cost rabies vaccination and saved money. More importantly, our patrons realize that rabies is a deadly viral disease and that a rabies vaccination is required by Maryland law."

Most rabies exposures to pets are the result of exposures to raccoons, foxes and skunks. Potential human exposures to rabies are usually from bats found in living spaces, stray animals, particularly cats, and from contact with a pet after it has had contact with a potentially rabid animal.

So far this year, the health department has yet to identify a rabies-positive animal in Harford County, but that shouldn't deter pet owners from vaccinating their pets since that can quickly change.

"We have seen similar cyclical trends in the past. The trend can change and the number of positive animals can rapidly increase. Pet owners must remain vigilant about vaccinating all of their pets, even if they consider their pet an indoor pet that will never get exposed. The vaccination is the best defense against rabies," Health Officer Susan Kelly said in a press release.

Kelly said the health department also uses the rabies clinics as an opportunity to distribute very useful information to the public.

"This year, in addition to the tick identification cards provided by the Environmental Health division, the health department's Public Health and Emergency Preparedness Division will be providing an informative Emergency Preparedness for Pet Owners guide. This resource guide will assist pet owners in developing emergency plans, having a emergency kit and what to do before, during and after a disaster."

Pet owners wishing to save time and take advantage of the clinics are encouraged to download vaccination forms, available online at the health department's website, http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com. Forms must be completed using a ball-point pen and brought with the pet to the clinic.

For more information about the clinics, call the health department, 410-877-2300, or visit its website, http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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