HYDE PARK — When Otsego County was forced to cancel its annual free rabies vaccination clinics in April because of the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order, the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offered to host them.

According to a media release, by scheduling appointments and conducting the clinics at the rear entrance of the shelter building, the SQSPCA addressed any social distancing concerns. The requirement of face masks or face coverings and thorough disinfection between appointments was designed to protect visitors and staff from COVID-19 and stop the spread of germs.

Working closely with the Otsego County Department of Health, the SQSPCA began rabies vaccination clinics on April 22. Since that time, almost 400 cats and dogs have reportedly been immunized.

“Otsego County is providing the vaccines and the tags,” SQSPCA Executive Director Stacie Haynes said in the release, adding, “The shelter is providing the service.”

Veterinarians who have donated their time include Julie Huntsman, Bret Meckel and Jenny Lukovsky.

The program is expected to continue at the shelter for the foreseeable future. Vaccination appointments for pet dogs, cats and ferrets are may be scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. on alternating Wednesdays by calling 607-547-8111, ext. 108. Appointments are required and are on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a limit of 15 pets per person.

The SQSPCA requirements for pet owners follow Otsego County guidelines. They include presenting a previous rabies vaccination certificate to receive a three-year booster. Dogs must be on a leash and under proper control. Cats and ferrets should be in a pillow case or carrying case.

According to the Otsego County Department of Health, the vaccine being used gives one-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving their first vaccination and three-year protection for domestic dogs and cats receiving a booster.

As further stated in the release, New York State law requires all dogs to be licensed. A license will not be issued for a time period extending beyond the date of the dog’s rabies certificate. It is also New York State law that any unvaccinated pet exposed to a rabid or suspected rabid animal be euthanized or quarantined for six months at the owner’s expense, and that any unvaccinated pet that bites be confined for 10 days at a facility at the owner’s expense.

The shelter is at 4841 State Highway 28 in Hyde Park.

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