SPCA offers free rabies shots in Islip

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Free rabies shots, which can usually cost upward of $25 each, will be available to cats, dogs and ferrets during the Suffolk County SPCA's annual vaccination clinic Saturday in Islip.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the front lawn of Islip Town hall, 655 Main Street. It's open to everyone, including pet owners, shelter officials, pet foster parents and residents outside Suffolk, but the animals must be at least 4 months old.

SPCA chief Roy Gross said about 1,000 to 2,000 people come each year to use the clinic, which has been held at the Islip Town hall for more than 25 years.

The vaccinations are one-year rabies shots.

"Most of the people that come, they come every year," Gross said. Many are trying to save money, he said, including some on welfare and others in their Mercedes.

In some years, people have brought goats and even horses for shots, Gross said, and they were vaccinated. Veterinarians will decide whether non-household pets will be able to get the rabies shots, he said.

The shots are funded by the Suffolk County health department, he said, while the SPCA foots the bill for everything else. Veterinarians, some paid and others volunteers, will be at hand.

Cats should be in crates and dogs leashed and also muzzled if aggressive, Gross said.

Dog licensing and microchipping services are also available for a fee.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted from infected mammals to humans or pets. If untreated, rabies invariably leads to a painful death. People and pets can get rabies if they are exposed to the saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal through a bite.

It is also possible, although rare, for people to get rabies if infectious material, such as a rabid animal's saliva, gets into their eyes, nose, mouth or a wound.

Gross said donations to SPCA will be appreciated but not required.

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