Pet owners can have their animals vaccinated against rabies at a discounted rate Saturday as part of Rabies Awareness Day.
Several local clinics will be giving rabies vaccinations for $12. The fee is set by and made possible through the State of Alabama Department of Public Health.
And animal lovers do not have to go to a clinic either as Dr. John Caldwell of Animal Care Center is taking his services on the road for two stops in northern Tallapoosa County, something he has done since 1983.
Caldwell will be at Daviston Fire Department from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. and at Hall’s Propane in New Site from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. for a drive-thru vaccination.
“Rabies is endemic,” Caldwell said. “There is a real push to get all dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated.”
Over the years, Caldwell has learned to vaccinate cats inside owners’ vehicles.
“We had a cat get away,” Caldwell said. “The lady tried to bring it to us but it got away. It took a couple days to get it back.”
With the lesson learned, Caldwell wants cat lovers to leave the cat in the car for the mobile rabies clinic.
“Don’t try to bring it to the truck where I’m at,” Caldwell said. “I’ll come to the car. I will give the vaccination like you are going through Sonic.”
Rabies is a fatal viral infection that usually infects wild animals, but it can also infect domesticated animals and humans. Caldwell said it is recommended to get all animals vaccinated.
“I have seen a horse with rabies,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell says the $12 fee is minor compared to if a human is bitten by suspected rabid animal and the treatment for humans has changed.
“It is serious if a human contracts rabies,” Caldwell said. “It causes an inflammation of the brain. It is treatable, but it will hit you in the pocketbook as treating a suspected rabid bite. It cost monstrous amounts. The vaccination is a good investment.”
If a human is bitten, the treatment has to start before it can be confirmed an animal has rabies.
Caldwell wanted to remind everyone of the importance of rabies vaccination in pets and awareness of the disease in humans.
“There is no cure for it once symptoms start,” Caldwell said. “Treatment has to start right away.”
Rabies vaccinations are usually given in one- and three-year doses. The clinics participating in Rabies Awareness Day in Tallapoosa County will give one-year vaccinations.
The State of Alabama requires all pet owners to have their cat or dog vaccinated for rabies by the time the animal is 3 months old.
Caldwell said non-domestic animals infected with rabies often do not show any of the normal symptoms.
“You don’t typically see what people most associate with rabies, which is foaming at the mouth,” Caldwell said. “Growling is not written in stone. They could be sensitive to light.”
Caldwell said seeing a wild animal, such as a raccoon or a fox, out in the daytime that isn’t afraid of humans is usually a good sign the animal is rabid.
Caldwell said the first thing someone who suspects a rabid animal should do is stay away from it.
“You should call law enforcement and they’ll get in contact with the rabies inspector for the county,” Caldwell said.