To the editor:

This is a letter to everyone who owns animals, especially dogs and cats.

As the warm weather comes and everyone is out and about more, let us not forget that wild animals are out and about, too. Raccoons and skunks continue to pose a rabies threat. Raccoon rabies is here to stay in New England; rabid raccoons and skunks continue to pose a risk to both pets and humans.

Vaccinating pets protects them against rabies and provides a barrier between wildlife and humans. There is no treatment for rabies, only prevention, and rabies is 100 percent fatal.

In March 2003, the first human death from raccoon rabies occurred in Virginia. In 2002 and 2003, 97 pets were put to sleep in Massachusetts because they were exposed to rabies and they were not current on their rabies vaccination. Don't let this happen to your pet.

Rabies vaccination clinics will be held on Wednesday, May 5, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the following locations: McKay School, Beverly; Central Fire Station, Danvers; Central Fire Station, Marblehead; Fuller Meadow School, Middleton; Central Fire Station, Peabody; and the Salem police station. The cost will be $10 per pet, dogs and cats only. All net proceeds are donated for veterinary student scholarships.

Dogs must be on leashes; cats need to be in carriers; and all animals must be properly restrained. Bring proof of previous valid rabies certificates to receive a three-year rabies vaccine.

Holly E. Willard, DVM

Georgetown Animal Inspector

Georgetown

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