Going to the dogs, and cats




Keep Fido and Fluffy safe from rabid skunks by taking them to a rabies vaccination clinic from 1 to 5 p.m. April 24 at the Big R in Falcon. It's at 14155 U.S. Highway 24.

Shots are only $5 each or a maximum of $20 per family, and a "brief wellness exam" is included, according to a press release from the El Paso County Health Department.

The release says the clinic was triggered by an "an unprecedented rise in rabies among skunks in El Paso County and statewide, and by the critical nature of rabies—almost always fatal once symptoms begin."

The clinic also is sponsored by the Colorado Springs Area Veterinary Society and is being staffed by vets and their workers as volunteers.

Here are the rules:

· Dogs and cats must be on leashes or in carriers.
· Bring shot records if you have them—no requirement.
· The clinic will accept cash only—please bring small bills.

In 2009, 13 rabid animals were recorded in El Paso County, including eight skunks, a fox, a horse, a mountain lion and two bats. Already in 2010, El Paso County has recorded three rabid skunks; the 25 rabid animals statewide so far in 2010 include skunks and a cat, the release says.

The rabid skunks and other animals in El Paso County have been found mostly in northern and eastern areas, but some rabid animals have been found within Colorado Springs city limits, and the Health Department cautions the public that the threat is present anywhere in the county.

“Our goal of the one-day clinic is to raise awareness about the importance of rabies vaccination in pets and livestock,” Dr. Cor VanderWel, D.V.M., president of the Colorado Springs Area Veterinary Society, says in the release. “Rabies vaccinations must be given regularly, every year or every three years, depending on the vaccine used and should be administered by a licensed veterinarian.”

The Health Department offers these prevention steps:

· Ensure that dogs, cats and ferrets are vaccinated properly against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Also, discuss vaccinating equines and other livestock with your veterinarian.
· Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Teach children to stay away from wild mammals. Do not keep pet food outside as that may attract wild animals.
· Protect all pets, particularly animals too young to be vaccinated, from contact with wild animals. Puppies and kittens can be vaccinated for rabies as early as 4 months old.
· Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by wild animals, such as skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
· If you or a family member has been bitten by a wild animal or a domestic animal unknown to you, contact your physician and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region without delay.
· If you see a skunk during daylight hours that is acting abnormally, such as stumbling or acting overly aggressive, make sure you keep children and pets away from the animal and call the Division of Wildlife to report the location.
· To remove a dead skunk on your property, do not touch the animal. Remove the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double bag it for the trash.
· Take steps to bat proof your home.

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