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Health department raising rabies awareness

May is “Rabies Awareness Month” and Durham Region Health Department is encouraging the public to vaccinate their pets against rabies.

“A key component of rabies prevention and control is responsible pet ownership, including rabies vaccination for all dogs and cats over three-months old,” said Ross MacEachern, manager of health protection.

Pet owners can protect their family and their pets by ensuring that all dogs and cats have current vaccinations against rabies.

They can also call a local animal control agency to remove any stray animals, and make sure their pets are spayed or neutered to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or regularly vaccinated.

Finally, residents are asked to report all animal to human bites to the health department.

“Rabies is present in our wildlife population, most often associated with foxes, skunks and bats; and more recently with raccoons, in southwestern Ontario,” MacEachern said. “Recently, a dog tested positive for rabies in Niagara Region and in 2018, a bat tested positive for rabies in Durham Region.”

The health department also recommends taking the following precautions to avoid exposure to rabies: avoid all wild animals, especially bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons, avoid dead or sick animals, keep pets away from wild animals; pets should be kept indoors at night or should be supervised when outside.

Residents are also asked to not attempt to care for sick animals. Contact your local animal service and ask for assistance.

Anyone who has had rabies exposure, which could include a bite, scratch or contact with the saliva of an infected animal, or who has information on potential rabies exposure, should immediately report the incident to the health department at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

Throughout May and June, low-cost rabies vaccination and microchip clinics are being held at various locations across Durham Region. For a current list of vaccination and microchip clinics visit Pet owners should bring all cats in a carrier and dogs on a leash and are encouraged to check back regularly for updated clinic dates throughout the year.