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Dogs Can Get Licenses at Clinic

Pet owners will have an opportunity to do more than get their furry wards medically protected this year at the Westport Weston Health District’s low-cost rabies vaccination clinic. Town Clerk Patricia Strauss will be available to make sure canines are also legal.

“This is the first year we’ve done dog licensing at the clinic,” said Strauss. She said it is difficult to know how many dogs in town are not properly licensed, but she suspects there are plenty. She hopes the clinic will encourage locals who haven’t swung by her office in Town Hall to fill out the paperwork and pay the fee to legalize their dog. It costs $8 for a spayed or neutered dog. Otherwise it is $19.

Monica Wheeler, a registered nurse with the WWHD, said rabies is active in the region and it isn’t worth the risk to pets or their owners themselves not to get their dogs and cats vaccinated. An infection doesn’t  have to come from a bite. If infected saliva comes in contact with an open wound, the virus can spread,  and it could take several weeks for symptoms to show up.

“Unfortunately, once the symptoms are there, it is too late,” said Wheeler. To her knowledge there has  been only one case of a person surviving rabies without receiving a vaccination. Jeanna Giese, of Fond du Lac, Wis., was placed in a medically induced coma and kept on antiviral medications. The virus was defeated, but she had to relearn how to talk and walk.

The clinic will be held in conjunction with the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. at the Westport Weston Health District, 180 Bayberry Lane, Westport. Vaccinations are $20, cash only. There is no residency requirement. All dogs must be on leashes, and cats must be in carriers. Owners who have a State Public Assistance Identification Card can have one pet vaccinated at no charge.

Bring the animal’s vaccination records, if available. Written proof, either a valid rabies certificate or dog license showing a prior vaccination, must be presented to qualify for a three-year vaccination.  Otherwise, a one-year vaccination will be given.  Collar tags and certificates of vaccination will be provided.  Connecticut law requires all dogs and cats 3 months or older to be vaccinated against rabies.

For more information on the clinic, contact Wheeler at 227-9571, ext. 242, or visit the health department’s website .

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