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Rabies vaccination important for pets

McMinnville Animal Control is reminding pet owners to vaccinate their animals against rabies. 

“It’s the law, and it’s the right thing to do for the safety of the animal and everyone it comes in contact with,” said David Denton of McMinnville Animal Control. 

Vaccination of dogs and cats is required by Tennessee law. It is unlawful for any person to own, keep or harbor any dog or cat 6 months of age or older that has not been vaccinated against rabies as required by law. Dogs and cats may be vaccinated as early as 3 months. 

“I’m finding that a lot of pet owners are not educated about the Tennessee Anti-Rabies Law,” said Denton. “They’ll get the do-it-yourself rabies vaccination shots and that does not meet state law. If requested by an animal control officer or a law enforcement officer, you must have the proper documentation and tags from a licensed veterinarian.”

State law requires that rabies vaccinations of dogs and cats must be administered by, or under the supervision, of a veterinarian.

Rabies is a fatal, but preventable, viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. 

“It doesn’t take a bite,” said Denton. “You can contract it through a scratch, as long as it brings blood. Vaccinating pets against rabies protects everyone the animal comes in contact with against rabies.”

According to the World Health Organization, once clinical symptoms appear, there’s no effective treatment and rabies is virtually 100% fatal. 

In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans.

Every year, according to WHO, more than 29 million people worldwide receive a post-bite vaccination. This is estimated to prevent hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths annually. 

Another misconception, said Denton, is one vaccination is all an animal will ever need in its lifetime.

“Depending on which vaccine your vet uses, re-vaccination should happen every one to three years,” said Denton.