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Rabies and PetsKeep your pets immunized against rabies. In New York State and Westchester County, the law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets receive their first rabies vaccination by the time they are four months old. A second rabies shot must be given within one year of the first vaccination with additional booster shots given every one or three years after that, depending on the vaccine that was used. Owners who fail to get their pets vaccinated and keep the vaccinations up-to-date may be fined up to $2,000. The Heath Department sponsors rabies pet vaccination clinics to assist in having pets immunized.

Wear gloves when handling your pet during and after an encounter with a wild or suspect animal. If you or your pet is exposed to a potential rabid animal, if possible keep that animal in sight until the police or a Licensed - Registered Trapper arrives. A vaccinated pet that is exposed to rabies must receive a rabies booster dose within 5 days of the event to be protected. An unvaccinated or overdue pet exposed to rabies must be placed in a strict quarantine for 6 months or euthanized.

Protect Your Pet:

  • Keep cats indoors and dogs on a leash
  • Spay and/or neuter your pets
  • Never feed your pet outdoors to avoid attracting strays and wild animals
  • Train your dog and avoid playing aggressive games to reduce the chance that he/she will bite someone.
  • If your pet bites or scratches someone, confine your animal and contact the Westchester County Department of Health immediately at (914) 813-5000
  • Contact your veterinarian for your pet’s rabies vaccination records

Keeping the Public Informed
To prevent deaths from rabies, the Health Department issues health alerts to the public about rabies and its prevention, offers  rabies vaccination clinics for cats and dogs three times a year, facilitates the testing of Ferretsuspect animals, and provides round-the-clock response and follow-up for every potential rabies incident in the county.

Rabies testing in Westchester County:

  • In 2012, 29 animals (5.7 percent) were confirmed rabid out of 507 tested.
  • In 2013, 20 animals (4 percent) were confirmed rabid out of 493 tested.
  • In 2014, 35 animals (5.7 percent) were confirmed rabid out of 611 tested.
  • In 2015, 41 animals (6.7 percent) were confirmed rabid out of 605 tested.
  • In 2016, 22 animals (5.0 percent) were confirmed rabid out of 448 tested.

Each year, more than 1,000 animal bites are reported to the Westchester County Health Department. Less than 10 percent of the animals submitted for testing were positive for rabies in each of the above years.


Other Resources

Animal Bite/Contact Forms (Rabies)