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Health department to host rabies vaccination clinics

Harford County Health Department will sponsor a series of rabies vaccination clinics later this month and early next month for dogs, cats and ferrets that are three months and older.

Recognizing the very important public health value of low cost rabies vaccination of companion pets to prevent the spread of rabies, the health department has kept the fee for the vaccination at the very low cost of $5 per animal.

"We are delighted to once again offer these $5 pet rabies vaccinations to the public. We receive many positive comments from pet owners who have attended past clinics and who have expressed their appreciation that the low fee helps keep the rising cost of pet ownership down," Harford County Health Officer Susan Kelly said.

Most Maryland counties experience cyclical trends in the numbers of rabies positive animals. In Harford County after a low 11 positive animals in 2010, the number has gradually increased to 22 positive animals in 2013. About 75 percent of these positive animals were raccoons, which typically provide the highest risk and most common exposure route to domesticated animals.

"We currently are experiencing an upward trend in the number of rabies positive cases. Four rabies positive raccoons have been identified early this winter, which is somewhat unusual when considering the extremely cold temperatures. The numbers of rabies positive animals is likely to increase this year. Pet owners must remain vigilant about vaccinating all of their pets, since this is our best defense against rabies," Kelly said.

Health Department pet rabies vaccination clinics will be conducted from 2 until 4 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

Sunday, April 27

•Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company, 3308 Abingdon Road, Abingdon;

•Harford County Equestrian Center (parking at 702 N. Tollgate Road);

•Susquehanna Hose Company, intersection of Revolution Street and Bloomsbury Avenue; and

•Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company, Route 165, Whiteford.

Sunday, May 4

•Aberdeen Fire Department, corner of Rogers and Franklin streets;

•Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company, 3825 Federal Hill Road;

•Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, Route 7 and Mountain Road (Route 152), Joppa; and

•Darlington Volunteer Fire Company, 1209 Castleton Road (near intersection of Routes 1 and 623).

Pet owners wishing to take advantage of the clinics and to save time 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 along with the pet to the clinic. For pets to be vaccinated at the clinic sites, dogs must be on a leash while cats and ferrets should be secured in cages. No animals other than dogs, cats and ferrets will be vaccinated.

Rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets are required by Maryland law. Certificates given at the clinics provide necessary proof of vaccination for dog licensing in Harford County. For more information about the clinics, please contact the Health Department, 410-877-2300 or http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com.

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