A few weeks ago we received a call for a cat in a tree in a southern Mass. town. For us this is certainly not unusual, as we get several cat in tree calls per week. Each call presents its own set of technical challenges, and no call is ever classified as routine.
When my team and I arrived on scene we assessed the tree and where the cat was, put on our gear and got to work. The rescue went as smoothly as they can and the cat was lowered to the ground safely.When I reached the ground, I looked the cat over to determine what medical care if any the cat would need.
This particular cat had an open and oozing sore on it and was in need of veterinary care. As I was assessing the cat, I was bitten. Being bit comes with the job, and though it doesn’t happen often, it does eventually happen.
We told the owners that the cat needed immediate veterinary care, and we requested the cat’s vaccination history so I could be sure I was not potentially exposed to rabies.
A vaccination history is needed to get a cat or dog licensed in each town and is no big deal...Except in this case.
The cat was not and had not been vaccinated in years and the owners refused to take the cat to the veterinarian. As a matter of state law we were required to contact animal control and the board of health to report the bite, the wound on the cat and the fact the cat was not vaccinated.
Generally what happens is if the cat was vaccinated and bit someone, the cat is quarantined in the owner’s home for ten days as a precaution. In the case of an unvaccinated cat with a wound of unknown origin the quarantine is 6 months. The cat then was required to go to the veterinarian to be checked, vaccinated and there was a ticket issued for not having the cat vaccinated.
The owner’s cost themselves hundreds of dollars when this all could have been avoided with a simple vaccination.
Vaccinations are inexpensive and most last for two years or more. If it were not bad enough for the owners, I now had to go through a rabies vaccination shot series to protect myself. This series of shots is not fun…At All!!
Each shot has to be done a set number of days apart from each other. If you miss a day, the series needs to be started all over again. The shot series is day one, day three, day seven, day fourteen and day thirty. These shots are very expensive.
Worse yet, this took me out of the animal rescue game for a few weeks as well.
Animal licensing is not a revenue generating mechanism for municipalities, but a public safety mechanism. This licensing allows the board of health and animal control to know what animals are where and that they are of no danger to the people around them. Rabies is a nasty thing to get and is highly deadly. Once you contract rabies, there is a slim chance of survival.
What started out as a cat in tree rescue became a long and expensive ordeal for the cat owner, and the rescuers. This could have all been avoided if the owner’s were responsible.
Animal ownership is a responsibility to the life of the animal and to the people around the animal. Most animal owners are responsible, loving, caring, compassionate people who truly care for the life of their furry friend.
So from the guy, who goes 80 feet up to get "Fluffy" down for you, please get your animal licensed and vaccinated.