By Patty Montagno
Several hundred dogs and cats are now protected against some diseases thanks to the annual pet shot clinic at the Sachse Animal Shelter.
The clinic was held May 3 in the shelter.
Volunteer veterinarians from Animal Allies, a rescue organization based out of Garland, were on site and provided vaccines at greatly reduced rates as a public service in order to support responsible pet ownership within the area.
“Animal Allies was able to raise quite a bit of money for their rescue group,” Animal Control Supervisor Terri O’Neal said. “It was a good day. There were no bites or scratches, and everything went pretty smooth.”
The vaccines were offered at cost to give people a way to protect their pets when they otherwise could not afford to do so.
Volunteers and board members from the Sachse Animal Shelter were on hand all day to make sure that all the animals and visitors were given proper care.
Microchipping services were also provided to help identify lost pets and return them to their homes.
The hundreds of people who attended the clinic had access to animal medical displays and helpful information, including proper pet nutrition and facts regarding the potential harm of parasites, fleas, heartworms and how they can be prevented.
“We were all pretty excited that so many of our local dogs now have some protection from deadly diseases,” O’Neal said. “Some of the people told us that their dogs had never had shots before. We always encourage pet owners to take their pets for regular veterinarian care, but this is at least a start. A pet’s general good health can be ensured by routine vaccinations, regular checkups by a veterinarian, and by avoiding exposure to animals infected by common diseases.”
O’Neal said unless properly vaccinated, a dog is at risk of contracting one of several, possibly fatal, infectious diseases.
“Most common infectious diseases can be prevented by routine vaccination,” she said. “Routinely vaccinating your pet is often cheaper than paying for treating your sick pet later and reduces virus transmission in the pet population.”
O’Neal stressed that an annual visit to a veterinarian provides an opportunity for a routine health check as well as any re-vaccinations that are necessary.
“It is always a good idea to make a copy of your pet’s medical record each time you visit a clinic,” she said. “This is especially important if you are traveling with a pet and need to have the pet treated by a new veterinarian.”
Some of the topics discussed during the clinic were the rabies virus, heartworms and microchipping.
O’Neal said rabies is a fatal virus that affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans.
“The virus is most common in dogs, bats, cats and raccoons,” she said. “It is spread by contact with saliva on an open wound of the skin. The virus causes behavior changes, seizures and death. A rabies vaccination is required by law. Rabies vaccinations should be given at 12 or 16 weeks (according to state law), boostered in one year, then boostered every one or three years depending on the vaccine used.
O’Neal said when a rabid animal bites another animal or a human, the virus particles are injected by the teeth through the skin. Once inside, the virus travels toward the brain through the nerves and spinal cord. From the brain, the virus spreads to other parts of the body and gets into the saliva by entering the salivary glands.
Another crucial test is the heartworm test which is needed before a veterinarian can prescribe monthly heartworm medication. The test for canine heartworm simply involves collecting a blood sample.
Heartworm is a condition in dogs caused by a certain type of parasite. Those parasites are transmitted through mosquitoes.
“Heartworm is a very dangerous disease,” O’Neal said. “All dogs must be tested annually to renew their prescription for heartworm preventative. Clients whose pets were tested at another facility must show proof of a negative heartworm test within the past year to fill a prescription from another veterinarian.”
O’Neal stressed that microchipping is a simple and effective way to make sure that pets can be easily identified.
“A small microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, is inserted under the loose skin on the back of your pet’s neck,” she said. “This coded inserted chip remains a permanent means of identification of your pet. It provides your pet with a secure proof of identity unlike collar tags, which can get lost or be taken off.”
O’Neal said once a pet is registered on a national database, a hand-held scanner at the nearest veterinary surgery or dog facility can easily read the chip when the pet is found.
Encoded on the chip is a specific code number unique to the pet that is registered along with details of its breed, sex and age along with the owner’s name, address and telephone numbers.
“The main benefit of having them is that, should your pet ever be lost or a dispute over ownership arise, there is a quick and reliable way to establish the rightful owner,” she said. “An identity disc or tag can do the same job, but a collar or disc can fall off or be removed, and over years the writing or engraving tends to wear and become difficult to read. Information on the microchip can only be read with a special scanner which most shelters and vets are equipped with. It is standard procedure to check every lost animal for the presence of a microchip. A combination of a microchip and an identity tag is probably the best solution.”