Thursday, June 01, 2023

Rabies clinic in Libby becomes spring ritual

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| April 23, 2009 12:00 AM

For pet owners that have been putting off getting those rabies shots for the dog or cat, take note of an event coming up in Libby over the week of May 4-8.

In conjunction with National Pet Week, a rabies clinic will be available in town with local veterinarian Doug Griffiths on hand to tend to animals. The event has been an annual springtime event for nearly 30 years.

“People come out of the woodwork, people I don’t see at any other time,” Griffiths said about the event. “It’s pretty popular.”

Rabies remains a major concern of veterinarians and public health officials. Almost all warm-blooded species of animals can become infected with the rabies virus. With virus reservoirs in wildlife populations, immunization of pets serves to create an immune barrier between wildlife and humans.

Griffiths said a community-wide vaccination of pets is the most important means of preventing exposure of people to rabies.

Nationwide, rabies cases in cats currently outnumber those in dogs. In this area, bats and cats should not mix.

“The state veterinarian told me a number of years ago that one in 10 bats on the ground is rabid,” Griffiths said.

A bat found on the ground most likely has rabies because the disease affected its muscles and could no longer fly. As a result, the bats can be found easily by cats – a household animal that tends to roam more freely than dogs.

“In this area, rabies in bats is most common,” Griffiths said. “Raccoons have been moving in the last 10-15 years but they don’t represent any major threat.”

Griffiths said rabies in skunks is more of a problem in the central and eastern parts of the state.

Although rabies is not a problem on a scale compared to yesteryear, it is still a force to keep a handle on.

“The rabies problem is much less than it used to be but it is still a concern,” Griffiths said. “It doesn’t take much for an animal to expose a large population of humans.”

Reducing unwanted and unexpected births in pets improves the public health situation should rabies gain a future foothold in the indigenous wildlife of any region. Griffiths credits Kootenai Pets for Life, through their spay and neuter efforts, with significantly decreasing Lincoln County’s pet overpopulation.

Make an appointment

Vaccination is by appointment only at the weeklong rabies clinic.

Rabies vaccinations will be given Monday through Friday at a cost of $8. Pets must be at least four months of age. There is also a rabies vaccine approved for pet ferrets.

Call Treasure Valley Veterinary Clinic, 293-7410, for an appointment or for those with questions about a pet’s eligibility or current vaccination status.