Beware of deadly rabies, parvo and distemper
These viruses are popping back up and are dangerous to humans and pets
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By Mickey Zeldes  February 8, 2013 12:00 am

If you’re like me, you think of polio, whooping cough and rabies as things of the past…or at least a rare occurrence in far-away, third world countries. Certainly not something that could affect me. What we are finding out, though, with children and animals, is when a majority of the population becomes lax about vaccinations to prevent disease, it can come back. These viruses haven’t fully been eradicated – we have just been successful in protecting ourselves against them.

What brings this up now are two things, which just recently occurred. One is a bulletin the shelter just received from the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, stating a domestic pet cat just was confirmed positive for rabies in Glen Ellen – not that far away from Rohnert Park. It was an unvaccinated pet that started acting sick, was taken to a vet clinic and post-euthanasia was found to be positive for the rabies virus. The whole family is being treated for exposure, which is expensive and uncomfortable and could have been avoided.

We know there is rabies in our wildlife in Sonoma County. Why cats are not required by law to be vaccinated for rabies is beyond me because they are more likely to be out at night (shouldn’t be, of course) and are better hunters than dogs. So, they are more likely to get exposed. Rohnert Park does require rabies vaccinations and licensing of both dogs and cats, so we are ahead of the game in protecting both our pets and citizens from this deadly disease.

The second thing that brings up the need to stay current with vaccinations is our third puppy (different litters) in the course of a couple months to break with parvo. We have not seen parvo for years in our shelter, and to have three cases in a short period of time indicates there is an active virus source in our community. Along with the growing popularity of dog parks and day care is the increasing risk for a widespread outbreak of a contagious disease like parvo, distemper or the new canine flu. Some viruses, like parvo, can remain active in the environment for months and is not affected by weather or sunlight like other less harmful viruses. In fact, the only thing that really kills parvo is a bleach solution or cleaners specifically formulated to target that virus.

The moral of the story is if you are one of the people who have put off updating your pet’s vaccinations, procrastinate no longer. If you can’t afford a full exam (always a good idea; it allows your veterinarian to catch other problems, like dental disease, in the early stages before they become a huge issue), there are vaccine clinics available at a very reasonable cost. La Plaza Vet Clinic holds a walk-in shot clinic every Wednesday evening from 5:30-7 p.m. and VIP, the mobile clinic, is at 49er Pet Store every Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. They are running a special through Feb. 17 – rabies shots for only $5. Treating disease is so much more expensive than preventing it in the first place. These incidents should be heeded as the wake-up call they are to remind us to bring our pets vaccines up to date. Do it today!

Upcoming events: Free microchips extended – until we do 500 animals. Come in during any of our open hours (Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1-5:30 p.m., and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.) with your dogs and cats – no appointment necessary. Offer for residents of Rohnert Park and the City of Cotati only (proof of residency required).

Bunny Day: Meet the Bunny Event, second Saturday of each month (next is Feb. 9), 1-5:30 p.m. Meet our adoptable rabbits, have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable rabbit volunteers, bring your rabbit for a free nail trim and support our small animals by shopping our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, treats and toys.

Animal Talk: Series of adult education programs – next is “Dealing with an Adolescent Dog” with Laurel Scarioni, certified professional dog trainer on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6:30-8 p.m., $10 per person. Is your teenage pup driving you crazy? Learn how to take control again. Register by calling 584-1582 during the shelter’s open hours – Wednesday 1-5:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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