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 free rabies 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 potentially 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 and never unsupervised outdoors.
  • 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.
  • Keep your pets rabies vaccinations up-to-date.

Keeping the Public Informed
To prevent deaths from rabies, the Health Department issues health alerts to the public about rabies and its prevention, offers free 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 2014, 35 animals were confirmed rabid out of 611 tested (5.7%).
  • In 2015, 41 animals were confirmed rabid out of 605 tested (6.7%).
  • In 2016, 22 animals were confirmed rabid out of 448 tested (5%).
  • In 2017, 18 animals were confirmed rabid out of 419 tested (4%).
  • In 2018, 18 animals were confirmed rabid out of 424 tested (4%).
  • In 2019, 16 animals were confirmed rabid out of 318 tested (5%).

In each of the above years, less than 7 percent of the animals submitted for testing were positive for rabies. Each year more than 1,200 animal bites are reported to the Westchester County Department of Health.

Animal Bite/Contact Forms (Rabies)