Keeping your animals vaccinated during COVID-19

Warrior and Alaska, two rescue dogs now in forever homes, get their rabies, distemper and parvo vaccinations from Dr. Michael John with High Desert Veterinary in Douglas.

DOUGLAS — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for people and their pets to keep up to date on their shots continues.

It’s been over a year since High Desert Veterinary held its last discount vaccination clinic.

The last clinic that was hosted by the city of Douglas and High Desert Veterinary Service was scheduled to last five hours. It ended up being extended two additional hours due to the large number of animals that showed up that day.

Little did anyone know at the time that would be the last public vaccination clinic High Desert Veterinary would host in 2020. COVID-19 forced the February and March clinics, along with the ones that were scheduled during the summer and fall to be canceled.

Dr. Michael John of High Desert Veterinary has sent out notices to those who attended the January clinic reminding them of the importance of keeping your pets vaccinations up to date.

“There are a lot of people here who can’t afford a normal exam to have their animals examined, and with the vaccination clinics we were offering, people had the opportunity to have their animals examined and vaccinated at a discounted price,” he said. “COVID has impacted our business but more than anything, it’s going to affect those animals who don’t get vaccinated. With COVID or without COVID animals are still exposed to viruses and diseases. They need to be vaccinated routinely.”

John said it’s a state law that all dogs and cats must have a rabies vaccination.

“The law is if they’re a day behind on their rabies vaccination they’re considered unvaccinated,” he said. “It’s important because of that, all animals that are due for their rabies vaccination, be vaccinated. Skunks and foxes, which we do have here in Douglas, have been known to be carriers of rabies. It’s very important people understand they have their animal vaccinated against rabies so if they get bit by a skunk or a fox, there is a better chance of recovery than if they weren’t vaccinated.”

John noted that last year there were a number of skunk bites inside the city limits.

“No matter where you live the chance of getting rabies is high,” he said.

The Tractor Supply Company on Ninth Street hosted a 90-minute vaccination clinic this last weekend. Another is scheduled for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, followed by another Feb. 28.

“As much as I would like to have people come here to get their animals vaccinated, but if there is an opportunity to go somewhere else (by a licensed veterinarian in the United States) I would recommend they do so,” John said. “I just want them to be sure to get those animals vaccinated.”

Dr. John has been a veterinarian in Douglas for 37 years. He, like many others, describes this past year as being pretty difficult.

“Because of COVID my ranch and house calls have been extremely limited,” he said. “I’ve been unable to do a lot of what I’ve been doing for the past 37 years because of COVID,” he said. “The positive thing about it is that people are home more because of COVID and doing a better job of observing their pets a lot more than they did before. We have seen a slight increase in visits from people who have picked up on other signs of illness their pet may be experiencing because they are home more.”

Pets are a source of comfort to many people and are considered extended members of the family. Because of that and the effects the death of a pet can have on a family or a child who is close to that pet, John is encouraging people to keep an eye on their pets, make sure they are vaccinated and if they show any signs of illness get them treated as soon as possible.

“So much can be diagnosed with just a normal exam,” he said. “It’s important that if you have animals you take care of them. Animals should come to the veterinarian at least once a year.”

For those families that have pets and have had family members come down with COVID, John encourages them to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after touching their animal because sometimes the germ can remain on the pets’ fur.

“There have been questions about if the fur can act like a carrier,” the vet said. “There is a greater risk of picking it up from another surface.”

John encourages anyone with questions or whose animal may be experiencing signs of illness to please call his office at 520-364-3268. Because of COVID and the precautions he and his wife, Sally, are taking, they will be asked a series of questions regarding their health and what is going on with their animal before being instructed what to do next.

If they are instructed to show up to his office at 2555 Ninth St., face coverings are required and that the animal and no more than two people at a time show up. They will remain outside by their vehicle until someone comes out to get them.

The city recently sent out license renewal notices to all registered dog owners inside the city limits.

Enrique Hurtado with Douglas Animal Control office encourages those renewing their pet licenses to call 520-417-7567 and make an appointment between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to go to the shelter on Rogers Avenue or they can mail their statement along with a check or money order and a current copy of their rabies vaccination to the Douglas Animal Shelter, 2017 Rogers Ave., Douglas, AZ 85607.