Rabies prevention clinics will be conducted in Ada in April and May for dogs, cats and ferrets. Watch the Ada Evening News for dates, times and places.

Cost is $8 per vaccination.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required by law to be vaccinated by 4 months of age, according to Vickie Clonch, Pontotoc County Health Department’s environmental technician. “In the majority of dog bites, the dog has not been vaccinated,” she said.

“If a dog or cat bites someone and their vaccinations are not up to date by a licensed veterinarian the animal must be quarantined for observation at a veterinarian’s clinic for 10 days,” Clonch said.

The cost of keeping an animal at the clinic for 10 days plus the cost of vaccination can be expensive, she said.

Clonch said many people are misguided in thinking animals that are not allowed to roam freely don’t need rabies vaccinations.

People who feed, and then continue to feed, a stray should have the animal vaccinated because they could be held financially responsible if the animal bites someone. “If a stray comes up to your house and you start feeding it you’re assuming ownership,” Clonch said. “Therefore you need to have it vaccinated.

She said one chance encounter with another animal could infect the “house” cat, dog or ferret.

She suggests the animals be vaccinated at 3 months of age and receive a booster shot at 1 year. If the animal is vaccinated at 4 months of age, it can wait one year before receiving a second shot.

However, during that one month between 3 and 4 months of age is a dangerous time, according to Clonch.

Animals exposed to rabies during that time are unprotected against the virus.

Another concern Clonch expressed was animals that are given away with assurances that they have had “all their shots.” Many people assume incorrectly that the animals have received rabies vaccinations, when they have only received distemper and parvo shots, according to Clonch.

Clonch handles all animal bite reports in Pontotoc County. By law, all dog, cat and ferret bites must be reported, Clonch said. “If the owners of the animal won’t cooperate (with what is required by law) they are turned over to the district attorney’s office,” she said.

Dates and times of rabies clinics will be published in the Ada Evening News in coming weeks. For more information on vaccinations, phone Pontotoc County Health Department at (580) 320-3325.

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