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Westchester Pets Receive Free Rabies Vaccines

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – People began lining up with their pets early Sunday morning to receive free rabies shots at Stamen Animal Hospital in New Rochelle.

By the time the clinic opened at 10 a.m. the line was out the door and the parking lot was packed with people waiting to see the vet. As time went on, people continued to pile into the small parking lot, which caused others to park down the street and walk.

“It’s like $70 if you are going to a regular vet,” said Gloria Castaneda of Port Chester, who stood in line with her Chihuahua. “I’m so glad the health department offers this.”

Rabies is a fatal disease to people and animals, and is spread through the bite or saliva of infected animals.  Raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes can all carry the disease and transfer it to domesticated animals, such as dogs, cats and ferrets.

“Clinics like this keep rabies incidents lower,” said Melissa Shure of Scarsdale, who attended the clinic to vaccinate her cat Smokey.

According to the Westchester County Health Department, which sponsored the free clinic, a pet that is up-to-date with its rabies vaccinations only requires a booster dose of vaccine within five days of the pet’s exposure to a known or suspect rabid animal. Animals not up-to-date with rabies vaccinations need to be quarantined or potentially euthanized following contact with a rabid or suspect-rabid animal.

But veterinary visits can add up quickly, especially when someone is caring for more than one animal. Tina Coleman, a New Rochelle woman who has spent her life rescuing animals, is commonly in possession of three or more animal at a time while she finds them new homes. On Sunday she brought three cats and two dogs to be vaccinated.

“The vet is taking the time to come in on a Sunday to vaccinate, like, a ‘bazillion’ animals,” she said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Sara Palmer of Pelham brought her Jack Russell Terrier, Tassie, to the clinic because she is operating on a tight college budget.

"A lot of people can't afford this kind of stuff for their animals, so this is good," she said.

As the cost of animal care continues to rise, free and low-cost clinics provide an opportunity for people to stay current with their pets’ vaccinations as well as their overall health.

“She has surgery on July 4 and it was $3,000. So anything that is free right now is good,” Shadai Bansey of Port Chester said about her pit bull Tundra.

For more information about rabies, contact the health department rabies hotline at (914) 813-5010 or visit its website .

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