ALACHUA COUNTY, Fl - Around the world, rabies kills at least 55,000 people every year, or 1 person every 10 minutes. The death rate is highest in Africa and Asia where rabies in common in unvaccinated dogs. Human deaths in the United States are rare and are usually associated with exposure to native wildlife such as infected bats or exposure to rabid dogs in other countries. Rabies is endemic in Florida wildlife and occasionally spreads to our domestic animals, especially the cat. A total of 174 rabies cases were diagnosed in Florida in 2006, including 109 raccoons, 27 foxes, 20 bats, 10 cats, 3 horses, 2 dogs, and a bobcat, an otter, and a skunk.
Rabies is preventable and could potentially be eliminated by wide-spread vaccination of dogs, cats, and wildlife. In a call to action, international animal welfare and public health organizations have joined hands to raise awareness about this deadly virus. Next week, World Rabies Day will be commemorated with rabies vaccination clinics and educational programs around the world.
Alachua County Animal Services will participate in World Rabies Day on Saturday, September 8, 2007. Companions animals (dogs, cats, and ferrets) can be receive rabies vaccinations and be licensed at the John M. Snyder Animal Shelter located at 3400 NE 53rd Avenue in Gainesville, Florida between the hours of 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM. The cost of the rabies vaccine and license will be: Dogs: $21.00 Cats and Ferrets: $14.00
For more information, please contact Animal Services at 264-6870.
Homeless cats in Alachua County will not be left out. On September 9, Operation Catnip will provide free rabies boosters for any cat that has "graduated" from the program. All cats that have been ear-tipped as a sign that they have been sterilized and vaccinated at Operation Catnip are eligible for free rabies booster shots that will last for 3 years. Alachua County homeless stray and feral cats that have not yet been sterilized are also eligible for free spay and neuter surgery at the September 9 clinic.
Operation Catnip is a nonprofit volunteer organization with the mission to reduce the number of homeless cats in Alachua County by spaying and neutering as many as possible. With an estimated 36,000 unowned cats living in the county's backyards, porches, barns, businesses, and neighborhoods, the group has its work cut out for it. So far almost 20,000 cats have passed over Operation Catnip's operating tables since the first surgery was performed in 1998. In addition to kitty birth control, all cats admitted for care also receive vaccinations to keep them healthy. The first rabies vaccination lasts only one year and requires a booster vaccine 12 months later. Subsequent rabies vaccines are good for three years.
Reservations for the clinic are required for all cats, and all cats must be brought in humane wire traps. Traps are available for loan from Operation Catnip.
For more information about Operation Catnip contact John Friary at (352) 380-0940 firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about World Rabies Day see www.worldrabiesday.org