As pets enjoy being outside in the warmer weather of summer, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services wants to ensure domesticated animals are protected from diseases found in wildlife. Along with the North Fork Animal Shelter, Suffolk County is offering a free clinic providing rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets of all county residents.
On Sunday, June 22, free vaccinations will be available at the Riverhead Animal Shelter from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. All county residents are welcome. Dogs must be brought on leashes, and cats and ferrets in carriers.
New York State and Suffolk County law requires rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets.
County executive Steve Bellone said the free clinic is a positive partnership of the government and public to provide important services.
“We hope residents will take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that their pets are up to date with their immunization against rabies,” he said.
Any mammal can be infected with rabies, though the disease is most commonly found in wild animals. Pets can easily be infected and pass the rabies onto its owner.
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said the abundance of wildlife in Riverhead is reason to take extra precaution.
“We urge residents to be vigilant when outdoors, to report any contact with bats or other wildlife and to be sure to get their pets immunized against rabies, a preventable disease,” he said.
Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services, offered other steps pet owners and county residents can take to prevent the spread of rabies.
Precautions include avoiding contact with wild animals and strays, especially by keeping food that may attract such animals to one’s property. Additionally, Dr. Tomarken urged pet owners to keep pets indoors at night or whenever they are unattended.
More information about rabies can be found at the New York State Department of Health website at health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/rabies/rabies.htm or at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/.