Standing Up to a Viral Monster—with Rabies Tags

Werewolf attacking woman

Rabies is a contagious and fatal malady, infecting only mammals, and transmitted primarily through the saliva of the infected animal. It causes madness and convulsions in dogs and other afflicted creatures. Some of us learned at an early age about the tragedy of rabies through Fred Gipson’s classic novel, Old Yeller. Other novels and films have used the terror of rabies as a plot point, and to good effect. Stephen King’s Cujo and Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant come to mind. Harper Lee’s award-winning To Kill a Mockingbird touches on the inherent danger of a rabid dog when it wanders into town; and Atticus Fitch, though hesitant, uses his skill with a rifle to put the dog down. Being mammals, humans too can become infected if bitten by a rabid bat, dog, or other infected animal. What can be done to prevent this disease? Following (most) state regulations, pet owners should have their dogs and cats (and ferrets!) vaccinated against rabies. The vaccination status should be easily visible on a durable rabies tag affixed to a collar worn around the neck of the pet.
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Prudence Is a Virtue

Cute dog with blue rosette rabies license tag

Owners of domesticated pets, such as dogs, cats, and even ferrets, wonder about the necessity of getting their animals inoculated against rabies in this day and age and—to add insult to injury—making them indefinitely wear visible rabies license tags to show they’ve been vaccinated. The short answer is Yes, it is necessary! Unlike smallpox (the only microbe-caused disease known, as of 1980, to be effectively eradicated globally), rabies still thrives in parts of the world. Because they are mammals, your furry pets are vulnerable.

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Rabies Tags: Your Pet’s Health Passport

Dog with rabies tag

Everyone around the world is witnessing the effectiveness of vaccines in preserving precious lives. The swift development and remarkable efficacy of the three COVID-19 vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J—administered in the United States today is a stellar example of the power and prowess of modern medicine.

New York State Excelsior Pass
New York State Excelsior Pass

Soon we will be able to come out of lockdown and travel again. But to keep everyone safe, a type of “passport” may be required, showing your status as a vaccinated person. For example, New York State has initiated an Excelsior Pass program designed to facilitate travel and event attendance after residents have received one of the aforementioned vaccines.

A few other states are also considering similar “passport” measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Whatever the outcome of such passport schemes, the success of these vaccines warrants a quick look back in time to appreciate the origin story of this life-saving invention.

Continue reading “Rabies Tags: Your Pet’s Health Passport”

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Getting a Pet Goat: What You Need to Know

Pet Pygmy Goat

Oh gentle friend, I know not what
Your age may be,
But of my years I’d give the lot
Yet left to me,
To chew a thistle and not choke,
But bright of eye
Gaze at the old world-weary bloke
Who hobbles by.

Alas! though bards make verse sublime,
And lines to quote,
It takes a fool like me to rhyme
About a goat.

— Robert William Service, “The Goat and I”


For thousands of years humans around the world have kept domesticated goats as livestock for many practical uses, primarily for their meat, milk, wool, and hides. We typically think of them strictly as farm creatures, best suited for animal husbandry and agricultural production. In developed countries like the United States, however, there is a growing trend among non-farmers to keep goats as family pets.

This concept is not as crazy as it sounds. Keeping a pet goat has often been compared to having a dog. And while it is true that goats are fun, funny, affectionate, highly intelligent, and even trainable to leash—not to mention possessing distinct and appealing personalities—there are a number of major differences to consider before taking the leap and purchasing a goat as a pet.

If you have been contemplating adding a new hircine member to your family menagerie, here are a few things you need to know. Continue reading “Getting a Pet Goat: What You Need to Know”

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Beware Winter Pet Perils

Snowy winter scene

There are strange and mysterious sounds
When the winds of winter blow,
The long nights are crystal clear and cold,
And the fields and meadows are covered with snow.

~ Joseph T. Renaldi (from “Winter Wonderland”)


Even for those who don’t much like the season, winter does have its charms. Is there anything more serene than the sight of newly fallen snow on a frozen meadow, or more enticing than festive holiday lights illuminating a city street? Yet behind all that beauty lie dangers, hidden and unhidden, that every pet owner must be aware of once the winter months roll around. Now, with daily temperatures dipping below zero in New York, New England and other northern states, we will end the year with cautionary advice for pet owners keen to protect their animals from these perils and keep them safe, healthy, and happy. Continue reading “Beware Winter Pet Perils”

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