Today marks World Rabies Day, a day to raise awareness about the public health impacts of human and animal rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease that can affect all mammals, including humans, and kills nearly 60,000 worldwide annually.

The virus attacks the central nervous system and can be secreted in saliva. Infected animals show no fear of humans, drool and act in an agitated fashion.

While we mostly associate rabies to wild animals – mainly skunks, raccoons, bats, coyotes, and foxes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cats have become the most common domestic animal infected with rabies.


Rabies vaccines are approved for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses, cattle, and sheep – and vaccination is the best measure to prevent rabies.

Every dog, cat, and ferret adopted from the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is vaccinated for rabies, however, it’s important to remember that after receiving an initial vaccination, your pet will need boosters.

Boosters are administered every year, or every 3 years, depending on which vaccine your pet receives.

It’s also important to remember that rabies vaccination in Massachusetts is the law!

To help ensure your pets are vaccinated, ARL’s Dedham and Brewster locations host rabies clinics annually, and for clients of either ARL’s Spay Waggin’ or Wellness Waggin’, rabies vaccines, if needed, are included for every pet seen.

ARL vaccinates thousands of animals annually!

Additional Prevention

Along with having your pet vaccinated, some other measures to prevent rabies exposure include:

  • Do not let your pets roam free. Keep cats indoors, and keep an eye on your pup when they are outside
  • Do not leave exposed garbage or pet food outside – it may attract wild or stray animals
  • Observe wild animals from a distance, and never handle unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly
  • If you see a wild animal acting strangely, contact your local animal control officer

Take a moment today to see if your pet’s rabies vaccine is up-to-date, and help us spread the word about World Rabies Day to ensure you, your family, and your pets stay safe from the rabies virus.