By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)————————————–Oconee County Animal Control is reminding residents of the importance of making sure their pets are vaccinated against the rabies virus, which is an important public safety issue not only for pets but for their owners and the citizens of Oconee as well.
“State law says that a pet owner must have his pet inoculated against rabies at a frequency to provide continuous protection of the pet, from rabies, using a vaccine approved and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture. There are currently only two vaccines approved, a one year and a three year vaccine.” according to Animal Control Director Jaimee Paul. “If one of our Animal Control officers discovers that your pet has not been vaccinated against rabies, then the owner could be issued a ticket.”
Animal Control is able to check on vaccination records concerning animals that are brought into the shelter to complaints concerning pets that are abandoned, neglected, or simply running loose. Director Paul feels that part of the problem, besides not getting pets vaccinated, is owner’s misplacing paperwork or pet tags that are lost.
According to Director Paul, penalties for those who are charged can range from fines of up to $1,092.50 and/or 30 days in jail. A local veterinarian will provide paperwork for the owner stating that a pet has been vaccinated or can be called to verify that a pet is vaccinated, according to Director Paul, but a mobile vet is often difficult to track down to check on proper paperwork in case that is needed.
“Rabies is a public health issue and we want pets to be vaccinated not only to protect them but also their owners and the general public,” says Director Paul. “That is the purpose of a rabies shot. Rabies left untreated, whether it is a human or a pet, could prove fatal.
According to state law as it stands now, Director Paul says that only dogs, cats and ferrets are required to have rabies shots. However, owners of livestock may want to speak with a vet regarding livestock rabies vaccinations.
Director Paul also says that anytime an animal bites a human that the Department of Health and Environmental Control should be notified and that DHEC will issue a 10 day quarantine notice for offending pets. The Rabies Control Act defines “pet” as a cat, dog or ferret.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, so far in 2015 there have been seven reported rabies cases in Oconee County, compared with two in 2014, three in 2013 and 2012, one in 2011 and four in 2010. DHEC recommendations are for pets and humans that could have been exposed to the rabies virus to seek medical treatment immediately and to notify their local DHEC office as soon as possible.
For additional information on rabies, visit http://www.scdhec.gov/rabies, or contact your local DHEC BEHS office at http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/DHECLocations/.