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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The Purpose of Pet License Tags

Pet license tags for dog and cat

Some dog and cat owners sometimes wonder why their animal needs to wear a pet license tag (also called a pet I.D.) all the time. This is especially true of the owners of strictly indoor cats, or of dogs restricted to secure, fenced-in backyard enclosures. The answer can be summed up in three words: safety, safety, and safety.

The fact is, with incentive enough (e.g., a squirrel on the run), most pets are smart and determined enough to thwart the most secure enclosure. A fence can be leapt over or dug under, or your careless teenager can leave the front door ajar—and then, before you know it, your pet is outside and in the wind.

Dog Running with Pet ID Tag

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Does My Dog Have to Wear a Tag?

Black Lab with rabies tag

At one year and two months old, Daisy, a sleek, majestic Black Labrador, looks rather intimidating. Though floppy most of the time, her ears are always alert, her eyes lock on target like lasers, and her stance is akin to that of a predator poised to pounce. She often scares the socks off unsuspecting passersby with a ferocious bark. But Daisy’s paw-pals and human friends know the reality behind her seemingly aggressive demeanor. Daisy is a scaredy-cat! The slightest sound and snap startle her. Her body tenses, and the hair on her back rises to resemble porcupine needle quills. She recoils in fear and barks like a holy terror.

Yet Daisy has never attacked anyone nor bitten a human. Her parents ensured that she was trained by a certified dog trainer and passed her “doggie exam” (though her report card recommends more practice in some areas). More to the point, the bright red rabies tag on her collar reassures neighbors and friends—old and new—that on the off-chance playful Daisy nibbles on anyone’s toe or accidentally sinks an eager tooth while extracting a doggie treat from a generous hand, she will not infect them with the deadly rabies virus.

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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.

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