Caddo animal owners turn out for free clinic offering rabies shots

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The Caddo Parish Animal Shelter (CPAS) offered free rabies shots to pets with owners that reside in the parish Saturday in an effort to help those who otherwise can't afford the vaccination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies is almost always lethal for humans if untreated before symptoms begin.

Shreveport dog owner Ed Hughens took advantage of the free clinic on Saturday, bringing his beloved rat terrier, T-Beaux, in for the shot.

It will protect T-Beaux from possible exposure to the virus from a bite or scratch from the wild animals approaching his property - the most likely way to get it.

"I've seen possums and raccoons in my yard that I've had to chase off," said Hughens.

"Raccoons and bats and skunks have the highest incidence," explained veterinarian Donna Bishop. She helped administer the rabies shots to well over a hundred pets in just the first hour of the clinic.

She and others compare rabies to the measles in that sometimes the public can become a bit complacent when it comes to vaccinations. They warn that's when an outbreak can happen. Other times, it's not complacency but the cost that's the problem.

That's the case for Shreveport dog owner Cynthia McClure, who brought her 3 dogs into the free clinic on Saturday.

"We want them to have good health. But with heartworm and flea and tick prevention and then on top of that charging for a(n) office visit of $42, plus $10 for the injection, it added up to too much."

Experts say the best idea to limit the threat of rabies is to avoid any contact with wild or stray animals.

The CDC reports that thanks to vaccinations, human rabies cases are rare, with only 1-to-3 cases in the U.S. a year. The last one in Louisiana was reported in 2010 after the victim was bitten by a bat in Mexico.

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