It’s the time of year when I need to remind pet owners that licenses for your dog and possibly your cat (according to what municipality you live in) need to be renewed. This also may mean that your pet’s rabies shots need updating before you can do that. If your dog is more than 6 months old, he must have a rabies vaccine and be licensed in your town. For cats, you can check your local ordinances either on your municipal website or by calling your municipal building.It is highly recommended that your pets see a veterinarian on an annual basis for a general checkup and whatever vaccines they may need. Animals are typically very stoic when it comes to pain or illness, and often owners are unaware that they may have issues that need to be addressed. If, however, you just need a rabies vaccine for your pet, the free clinics sponsored by the health department are happening between now and the end of March.The Vineland clinics are Feb. 25 at the South Vineland EMS Station on East Sherman Avenue, and March 18 at Third and Plum streets. Dogs can receive their vaccine from 9 to 11 a.m. and cats will be vaccinated from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. You cannot take cats during the hours designated for dogs or vice versa, so plan on two trips if you have both. The other clinics being held throughout Cumberland County don’t start until March 4, so for those of you outside of Vineland, we’ll remind you closer to the date. You also can check with the Cumberland County Health Department for a schedule of the clinics.
If your pet has a previous rabies vaccine and it’s within the proper time frame, you can take your old certificate with you in order to get a shot that’s good for three years instead of just one. You must have proof of the previous vaccine; otherwise, your pet can only get the shot that’s good for one year.Please keep safety in mind when attending these clinics. All dogs must be on a short leash. Do not allow your dog to approach other dogs; keep him close by your side and be aware of other animals around you at all times. If your dog is aggressive toward other animals or people, you will be required to muzzle him. If at all possible, don’t bring small children to the clinics. Finally, if you have a dog that is hard to handle, large, or just very strong, make sure you can control him or bring someone with you to help.With cats, they must be in a closed, secure container such as a carrier. If you have a plastic carrier, make sure all the screws and clamps are in place and tight. If you have a fabric carrier, make sure there are no tears and that the zipper is in good working order. Several times through the years of working at clinics, I have seen cats get loose from their owners and, unlike dogs, your chances of finding them again are slim. They get very spooked at clinics, and their panic can cause them to flee if they can escape their containers.
Whatever municipality you live in, your pets must be licensed by April 1, so make sure you have them up-to-date and either send in your renewal fee or get down to your town hall and get it done.