Veterinarians work extra to vaccinate local pets

Veterinarians work extra to vaccinate local pets
By: Carly O'Keefe
JACKSON, COUNTY, Ill. - It's easy to forget to take your dog to the vet to get that annual rabies shot, but it's the most important vaccine to protect your animal and your family. If not treated shortly after infection, rabies is almost always fatal to humans.
If a pet is not vaccinated and living in rural area, they're more likely to bring the disease into your home. That's why several southern Illinois veterinarians spent the weekend in small towns around Jackson County vaccinating as many pets as possible.
Once a year, Jackson County pet owners don't have to drive to a vet's office, or pay for an office visit. Folks can just line up with their pets in their rural town, and pay $16 for a one year rabies shot and $34 for three years.
"This is so handy for us, it's really nice thing for them to come out here so we don't have to haul the dogs to town," said Pomona pet owner Mark Hutchinson.
Betty Sanders of Pomona brings her dog "fannie" every year to get her rabies shot. Sanders says she feels safer in her community knowing so many others in Jackson County do the same.
"I think a lot of people wouldn't get their dogs vaccinated if it wasn't this convenient. And I think it's very necessary," said Sanders.
Dr. Ray Heinrichs was among the veterinarians volunteering his weekend to vaccinate Jackson County pets. He is also the new Animal Control Administrator in Union County, and would like to revive Union County's rabies clinic; but he says in the past, folks just haven't shown up.
"The problem is attendance. If veterinarians come out and do only three or four, it's not worth their time or effort," said Heinrichs.
That means folks in Union County have to pay the vet for an office visit to get the rabies shot as required by law. Heinrich hopes to create as successful a traveling discount rabies shot program in Union County as the one that already exists in Jackson County.
"People come here (Jackson County) year after year, and once you get a program started, then (Union County's) will be successful like this one. We vaccinated more than 20 dogs today, it's good to get that done," said Heinrichs.
The annual rabies clinics are sponsored by the Jackson County Office of Animal Control.