theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

April 23, 2014

Time to get pets rabies shots

Ada — Beginning May 1, it’ll only cost $10 to get your pets “leash legal” and safe at designated locations throughout Pontotoc County. (See list below for times and locations).

 Vickie Clonch, with Pontotoc County Health Department, shared with The Ada News earlier this week:

 • Horror story No. 1: A young man picks up a little stray dog who looks hungry. He takes the dog to a vet who treats it.

  A few days later the dog bites a child in the face.

 “They put the dog down, send the head in to the Oklahoma Department of Health in Oklahoma City to check for rabies.

 The dog has rabies, it turns out, and everyone who has had contact with this animal has to go through the series of rabies shots.

 Horror Story No. 2: Years ago, Clonch remembers a boy putting his hands in a dog’s mouth. That dog turned out to be rabid and had to be put down.

 Horror Story No. 3:  “Some people took some pups to a dog sale and were selling them when they discovered that one had been exposed to rabies,” Clonch said.

 “They had to track down the dog owner and have everyone in the family tested.  Only the one  puppy was rabid, but the family had to have the dog shot.”

 Horror Story No. 4:  A patient getting cornea transplants from a family which had donated a deceased member’s corneas didn’t know it, but the person had rabies and the recipient had to undergo the rabies shots.

 Horror Story No. 5: “We recently had a dog who was found walking around with a skunk in his mouth. The skunk was killed and evaluated.

 “The young dog had to be euthanized because it hadn’t received its first rabies shot.

People have this picture of Old Yeller foaming at the mouth from that movie when they think about rabies,” Clonch said.

 Not always the case she said. Apparently  a person can get rabies from an infected dog licking a person, especially if that person has a cut, a scratch or an open wound.

 Some pet owners, who are certain their pets have encountered rabies, are willing to take on the unpleasant task of putting down the animals they love.

 If that becomes necessary, Clonch said, the pet’s owner must kill the animal without doing damage to his brain. Otherwise, those in the lab in Oklahoma City may not have enough evidence to make a determination of rabies.

  If you put down the animal yourself, you must pack the head in dry ice (wet ice won’t do). You can mail it, or drive it to 1000 Northeast 10th St. in Oklahoma City where the State Health Department is located.

 Most would probably rather hand off this chore to a trusted vet and pay him, or her, to take care of it.

 The vet is not emotionally attached to the pet and, chances are, has a lot more experience with this unpleasant work than you.

 Regardless of how you choose to take care of this chore, do so quickly, Clonch says.

 The same goes for you, or any friend or family member who may have been exposed.

 “A human can’t wait until he’s showing signs,” she said. “By then, it’s also too late.”

Ms. Clonch has been fighting this battle for the last 23 years. She’s seen first hand the heartbreaks and tragedies caused by inattention to the dog owners’ basic responsibilities. She also knows a lot of these tragedies could be avoided.

 Rabies shots are very expensive, about $5,000 per human — not to mention the pain and misery.

“Whenever an animal bites a human being, according to Oklahoma law, it must be reported to the state health department in your county,” she said.

 “If they (the victims) go to Mercy (Hospital in Ada), Clonch will be called by hospital personnel so she can begin the recording  process of that animal.

 “The first thing I have to do is verify if it is “an owned dog (or pet).” Then I have to verify whether or not its is currently vaccinated.

 Owners of the pet may be able to watch the pet while he’s confined at home for 10 days.

 By then, if he’s symptomatic,  the animal will be showing signs of it and he’ll have to be destroyed in a way the animal’s head will be preserved.

 “If your animal is not vaccinated, you have two options,” she said. “Put the dog down that has been at the vet’s for 10 days, or have it ‘put to sleep’ for around  $85 to $90 by the vet.”

 If the pet survives the 10-day period with no signs of  rabies, the animal can be released back to the family. But only after the vet has given his a rabies shot.

   By now, $10 may be starting to sound better to you, your family and your pet.

 Why take a chance? Here’s a complete list of where you can take your pets, beginning April 30.

 Clonch took the opportunity this week to explode a few myths that are still common among some people regarding their pets.

  “To this day — and I’ve been doing this for 23 years —  some think when they get a pup, they’ve  had all their shots. All they have had is their puppy shots.”

 “Most people sell their puppies at six weeks, but they can’t get their rabies shots until they’re three months old. Then they should get a booster shot each year after that.”

  Pet dogs, cats and ferrets, according to Oklahoma law, have to be vaccinated.

“The vets are trying to help all the pets by doing these clinics twice a year, once in the spring, and once in the fall,” she said.

“Everyone needs to get the vaccination not just for pet protection but also for their family protection.”

Obeying the law is a lot cheaper than having their pets “put to sleep.” or to come up with the money to have them kept (for 10 days)  at the vet.

On the dogs that haven’t been vaccinated, she has to follow up later to make sure it has been done.

 If they haven’t?

 “We turn it over the district attorneys office,” she said. “Rabies is fatal.”

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