Protect your pets and family from rabies for free

Residents of Onondaga and Oswego counties can take advantage of free rabies shots for their pets this week.

New York State public health law requires rabies shots for puppies and kittens by the time they are three months of age, with booster shots when they are one year old. After the the booster shot, all cats and dogs require a new rabies shot every three years. Domesticated ferrets are required to have their first rabies vaccine no later than four months of age. A second vaccination is required within one year of the first, and every three years and pet ferrets are required by New York State law to have their first rabies vaccine no later than four months of age and every year after that.

County residents are reminded that any time a person or pet comes in physical contact with a wild animal, the incident should be reported to the Health Department as soon as possible. If a person receives a bite or scratch on the skin, it should be washed immediately with soap and water. If a pet is wounded in an encounter with another animal, the wound should be washed with soap and water if feasible. Pet owners should avoid having direct contact with the wound and wear rubber or latex gloves and eye protection (regular or safety glasses) while cleaning the pet's wound.

As of April of this year two confirmed cases of rabies have been reported in Onondaga County, including a rabid skunk and bat. A total of 15 animals in Onondaga County were tested for rabies in April. Last year there were 12 confirmed rabies cases in Onondaga County and 45 cases in surrounding counties.

The Oswego County Health Department will hold a rabies clinic for dogs, cats and pet ferrets from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 9, at the Hannibal Town Highway Garage. Onondaga County residents will get a chance to protect their pets from rabies on Thursday, June 10, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Camillus Town Hall.