The Suffolk County Department of Health Services and the Town of Brookhaven will offer free rabies vaccinations for dogs, cats and ferrets on Saturday, May 13, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Brookhaven Animal Shelter located at 200 Horseblock Road in Brookhaven. The clinic is available to all county residents; however, the quantity of vaccine is limited and available only while supplies last. All dogs must be on leashes and all cats and ferrets must be in carriers. For more information on the rabies vaccination clinic information contact the Brookhaven Animal Shelter at (631) 451-6950.
Rabies, a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system, is most often seen among wild animals such as raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes, but any mammal can be infected with rabies. Pets and livestock can get rabies if they are not vaccinated to protect them against infection.
New York State and Suffolk County laws require that all dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against rabies. Vaccinating pets not only provides protection for the animals but also acts as a barrier to keep the rabies virus from spreading between wild animals and people.
Although no raccoons have tested positive for the rabies virus in Suffolk County since 2009, three to six percent of the bats that are tested annually are positive for rabies.
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services recommends the following precautions to protect your pets and your family from possible exposure to rabies:
- Do not feed, touch or approach wild animals, or stray dogs or cats.
- Be sure your pet dogs, cats and ferrets as well as horses and other livestock animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
- Pets too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors and allowed outside only under direct observation.
- Keep family pets indoors at night. Do not leave pets outside unattended, and don’t let them roam free.
- Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored birdseed or other foods that may attract wild animals. Feed pets indoors. Tightly cover or put away garbage cans. Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage. Cap your chimney with screens.
- Do not transport or relocate any wild animals.
- Teach children not to touch any animal they don’t know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by any animal.
To keep bats from getting into buildings:
- Do not leave unscreened doors open to the outside.
- Do not leave unscreened windows open to the outside.
- Make sure windows have screens, chimneys are capped, and electrical and plumbing openings are plugged.
- Seal all openings larger than 1/2 inch.
- Use materials such as expanding spray-on foam, caulk, wire mesh, wood that fits tightly, steel wool (around pipes that enter buildings), or polypropylene bird netting, to seal or cover gaps and holes
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services at (631) 853-0333 weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Outside normal business hours, animal bites or contact with wild animals should be reported to the department at (631) 852-4820.
If possible, try to contain the animal so that it can be tested for rabies.
For more information on rabies, visit the New York State Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/rabies/fact_sheet.htm, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/.