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Licensing safeguards health of dogs and people as a means to control rabies

Kim Cholodenko
Kim Cholodenko

By Kim Cholodenko, General Manager, Coastal Animal Services Authority (CASA), San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter

All dogs over the age of 4 months are required to be licensed in our cities of San Clemente and Dana Point. The question is: Do you know why?

Rabies vaccinations are required by the California State Health and Safety Code (121690) which requires that all dogs over the age of 4 months be vaccinated and have a current license tag issued by the local governing agency. A license is the only visible indicator that your dog is current on their rabies vaccination.

Rabies is one of the most well-known of all the viruses. It is spread when an infected animal scratches or bites another animal or human. Fortunately, animal control and active vaccination programs have decreased the risk of rabies in our local canine population. There is no treatment or cure for rabies once the symptoms appear in your pet. Infection is fatal.

If your animal is not vaccinated against rabies and incurs an injury through an encounter with wildlife, there is a mandatory six-month quarantine period with only one other option—euthanasia. Unfortunately, your pet will not be allowed to leave your property during the quarantine period. The animal cannot interact with other animals that do not also live in the home. This can become quite an inconvenience. It can limit their activity if exercising your dog on a daily basis off your property or having doggie play dates on a regular basis is part of your routine. It can also be costly, if pet sitters are needed in place of boarding facilities.

Vaccination is the key to protecting you and your pet against rabies. Due to the number of rabid bats being detected by Orange County, this area has been classified as a “rabies area” by the California Department of Public Health. As a result, all animal bites are reportable and biting animals must be quarantined (17CCR2606a). Any animal exposed to potentially rabid animals must also be quarantined (17CCR2606c).

Fortunately an animal that is current on their rabies vaccination is only required to receive a rabies booster shot within five days of an encounter and spend 30 days quarantined in your home.

There are numerous other advantages to licensing your dog. If your dog is lost, the license is a direct contact between you and your animal; the licensing fee supports the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter in finding homes for stray and surrendered pets, and the cost of the license is much less than the cost of a citation if caught without a current license.

For more information on rabies, licensing and/or general animal questions, please contact the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter at 949.492.1617.

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