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News from the Noteworthy from Susquehanna SPCA

SQSPCA Working Beyond Shelter Walls

At the Susquehanna Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, we pride ourselves on the work we are doing to extend our reach beyond the shelter walls. We are your animal resource center, with both a sheltering facility and a medical clinic. These last two weeks, our ability to reach beyond our brick-and-mortar shelter has really been on display.

On Friday, October 20, a cat was brought into our facility exhibiting symptoms of rabies. The kitty was sick and suffering and was humanely euthanized. Because it showed signs of rabies and had bitten someone, the cat was tested immediately for rabies. To our shock, on Tuesday, October 24, we received word that the cat was, indeed, positive for rabies. I have been with the SQSPCA since October 2015, and this is the first rabid animal we have seen come through our doors in all that time. This positive report is terrifying news, as the “rabies virus infection, regardless of the variant or animal reservoir, is fatal in over 99% of cases, making it one of the world’s most deadly diseases. There is no treatment once signs or symptoms of the disease begin, and the disease is fatal in humans and animals within 1–2 weeks of symptom onset.” This is according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Vital Signs: Trends in Human Rabies Deaths and Exposures” from June 2014 found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. The full report can be read here:

Because rabies is a public health issue, the Otsego County Department of Health has been the lead in controlling a potential outbreak of the disease. The cat that tested positive came from a very well-known feral cat colony in Cherry Valley, with as many as 70 cats. This means there could be up to 70 cats—plus an unknown number of various types of wildlife that come to the same colony center for food—who have been exposed to rabies. The day we found out the cat was positive, we mobilized to conduct a free rabies clinic at the Cherry Valley Fire Department. The Department of Health provided the vaccines—the SQSPCA organized and publicized the event on short notice, and vaccinated 48 animals. We are holding the next free rabies clinic for cats, dogs and ferrets this Thursday, November 2 at the Cherry Valley Fire Department from 3-6 p.m. Ensuring pets are vaccinated is one effective way in which we can assist in the prevention of a rabies spread. Folks who are concerned or have questions, should look to our county health department for details as to how to protect themselves and their loved ones—both two-legged and four-legged.

Despite exposing ourselves to dangerous diseases such as rabies, the SQSPCA staff is proud to do this work and can only continue to provide such services with the support of people in this region who care about animals and about keeping our communities safe. The SQSPCA is a private, nonprofit organization. We receive no county support for our operations. Please consider a meaningful contribution as you think about your holiday giving. A gift to the SQSPCA is a gift to help your community.

Stacie Haynes is the executive director of the Susquehanna SPCA.


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