State health officials and prominent veterinarians will be part of a free rabies vaccination clinic Friday, Sept. 28, at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter in recognition of World Rabies Day.
Dr. Ray Powell, state Land Commissioner, Dr. Catherine Torres, cabinet secretary for the state Department of Health, Dr. Paul Ettestad, state Public Health Veterinarian, and Dr. Murt Byrne, president of the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association and owner of Eldorado Animal Clinic will attend the 10 a.m. clinic and discuss the importance of rabies vaccinations. They will be available for questions from the public and the media. The clinic runs until 11 a.m.
The World Health Organization estimates that more than 55,000 people die of rabies in the world each year, mainly in Asia and Africa. However, problems with rabies continue to persist in the nation. Last year, six people and several hundred dogs and cats died of rabies in the U.S. Just in the past few weeks, New Mexico has had several lab-confirmed rabies cases, including a bat from San Miguel County, a raccoon and a bat from Eddy County, a skunk from Curry County and a bat from Grant County. Because of the risk of rabies in those areas, several unvaccinated dogs had to be euthanized and several people were forced to undergo a series of shots to prevent them from developing rabies, a nearly 100 percent fatal disease.
Events like World Rabies Day help to underscore the importance of rabies vaccinations, state health officials said. That’s why the New Mexico Department of Health is coordinating efforts with the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association and the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service to promote the worldwide event.
“We are pleased to be working with the New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association and the Cooperative Extension Service to promote rabies education and vaccination of pets,” said Cabinet Secretary Torres. “Unvaccinated pets or pets not up-to-date on their rabies vaccination can be exposed to a rabid wild animal and put your family members at unnecessary risk and exposure to a very dangerous and fatal disease.”
Byrne said his statewide association is encouraging veterinarians around the state to give talks on rabies and pet health at local schools and to hold rabies vaccination clinics during the week of World Rabies Day.
“Protecting our animals from this deadly disease is simple and inexpensive,” said state Land Commissioner Powell, who has a doctorate in veterinary medicine. “In addition, it protects our families from contacting rabies.”
Cooperative Extension agents also will be giving talks on rabies to school children but will also use this as an opportunity to focus on all aspects of animal health, including pet health and responsible pet ownership, said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.
For more information about the rabies vaccination clinic, call the Shelter at 505-983-4309. The free clinic will be held only at the Shelter’s main facility, 100 Caja del Rio Road.
Since 1939, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society has served northern New Mexico’s animals. As the largest animal shelter and care facility in northern New Mexico, we serve more than 10,000 animals each year. SFAS&HS is a private, not-for-profit organization. www.sfhumanesociety.org