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News Release    

March 16, 2006      

For Further Information Contact:
Richard Robbins, Associate Public Health Sanitarian at (845) 486-3404
Monique Jones, Public Health Education Coordinator at (845) 838-4817

County Announces Free Rabies Shots for Pets

County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today a clinic for vaccinating pets against rabies.  Hosted by the Dutchess County Department of Health, in partnership with the Dutchess County SPCA, will hold a Rabies Clinic on Sunday, April 2nd, 2006, at the Beacon Community Center located at 23 West Center Street, Beacon from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.   Dutchess County residents will be able to obtain rabies shots free of charge for their dogs and cats, as well as domestic ferrets, at least 3 months of age.  Non-Residents will be charged $10 for each pet they have vaccinated.

In order to ensure the safety of pets, owners, and clinic staff, all dogs must be on leashes.  Additionally, cats and domestic ferrets must be in a carrier.   This vaccination will be good for three years for pets with proof of a prior immunization.  For those pets without proof of previous vaccination, it will be good for one year.

In New York State rabies shots are now required for all cats, dogs, and domestic ferrets by the age of four months.  Owners can be fined up to $200 if they fail to get their pets vaccinated and keep them up-to-date.

If a pet is found to not be up-to-date on its rabies vaccinations and it bites someone, the law requires the owner to either have the pet destroyed and tested for rabies; or confine the pet at the owner’s expense at an appropriate facility such as a veterinary hospital, kennel, or shelter for a ten-day observation period to ensure that it is healthy and does not have rabies.  Currently vaccinated pets that bite someone may be confined and observed from home in most cases.

As in the past, if a rabid or suspect-rabid animal fights with a pet that is not up-to-date on its rabies immunizations, the pet must be promptly destroyed or placed in quarantine for six months to protect other animals and people in case the pet develops rabies.  Neither of these is required for a vaccinated pet in the same situation, which requires only a booster dose of vaccine within 5 days.

As always, the Dutchess County Department of Health is available around the clock to help anyone who may have been exposed to rabies or who has questions about the disease.  Residents with urgent inquiries may call (845) 431-6465 if an incident occurs after business hours, and (845) 486-3404 during normal business hours.

If you would like to find out more about pet vaccination clinic schedules or other rabies-related information, you may call (845) 486-3404 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm or email the Department at


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Last Updated: 3/16/2006