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Base veterinarian stresses need for pet vaccinations, tags

By David DeKunder | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | March 18, 2015

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — A Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph veterinarian is stressing the need for base residents to get their pets vaccinated against rabies, as instances of the disease could increase with spring approaching.

Richard Avery, a veterinarian at the JBSA-Randolph Veterinary Clinic, said base pet owners need to make sure their dogs or cats are up to date on their rabies shots.

Residents moving onto base with pets must show proof of rabies vaccination at the veterinary clinic and with base housing. Also, pets are required to wear identification and rabies tags.

In Texas, dogs and cats must get their rabies vaccination by four months of age. A second vaccination is recommended after the first year, then booster shots every three years.

Base residents can get their pets vaccinated or up to date on their booster shots at the veterinary clinic, located in Building 216, by scheduling an appointment. To make an appointment, call the clinic at 652-3190.

Dogs and cats are exposed to rabies if they come in contact with or are bitten by wild animals who are susceptible in carrying the disease - skunks, bats, coyotes and foxes.

Avery said dogs and cats who are infected with rabies have several symptoms, including a change in behavior, drooling, trembling, irrational barking, salivating and biting at people and things.

Humans are exposed to rabies if they are bitten by an animal with the disease, or if saliva from the animal gets in their eyes, nose or mouth, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Airman 1st Class Cerina Roberts, 359th Public Health Aerospace Medicine Squadron technician, warned base residents not to touch any wild animals they find in their yards, whether they are alive or dead, and instead contact the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management division at 652-4299.

Roberts said in 2014, bats and skunks in Texas were the most likely to carry rabies, as 407 bats and 402 skunks tested positive for the disease.

Any base resident or service member, Roberts said, who gets bitten or scratched by an animal or pet should report to the JBSA-Randolph clinic. The report is then referred to the veterinary clinic and the owner of the pet is contacted to make sure the pet is up to date on its rabies vaccine.

Avery said any pet that has bitten someone is put under quarantine for at least 10 days for rabies observation. If the animal dies and tests are positive for rabies, the person who is bitten will be required to take anti-rabies treatment to prevent the disease from spreading into the body.

Prevention, Avery stressed, is the key in stopping rabies. He said this can be done if pet vaccines are kept up to date by their owners and if humans take caution in staying away from stray, sick or wild animals.