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Department of Agriculture, PA Veterinary Medical Association Remind Pennsylvania Pet Owners to Maintain Up-to-Date Rabies Vaccinations

Added 06/02/20

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Kate Harnish today reminded Pennsylvanians of the importance of getting back on track with regularly scheduled pet vaccinations and boosters. Maintaining up-to-date vaccines is not only important for the health and well-being of cats and dogs, but for the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.

"As we work to safely reopen Pennsylvania and counties move from red to yellow and green phases, it's important for Pennsylvanians to schedule well visits for their four-legged companions to keep them up to date with necessary vaccines and boosters, especially rabies," said Agriculture Secretary Redding. "Because of its ability to be transmitted from animals to humans and its fatality rate, rabies vaccines and boosters are incredibly important to be maintained."

By Pennsylvania law, all cats and dogs three months of age and older are required to have current rabies vaccinations. Even pets that are indoors only are required to be vaccinated. Each year, dog wardens visit neighborhoods across Pennsylvania to conduct dog license and rabies compliance checks. Owners of pets without current rabies vaccines can face fines of up to $300.

"Veterinarians cannot express enough how important it is to keep your pets up to date on vaccination, especially rabies. When dogs and cats are not vaccinated, it puts them, you, and us at risk. Treating a sick pet without a current rabies vaccine can be problematic, as even the friendliest pets will bite and scratch when they are stressed and do not feel well," said PVMA president Dr. Kate Harnish. "Vets may have to report these incidents to the PA Bureau of Animal Health, recommend quarantine, or even take more drastic measures such as euthanasia. This is the time of year when potentially rabid wildlife could interact with your pet. Vaccination results in overall improved health."

Rabies is a virus of the central nervous system that can affect any mammal, it is widespread throughout Pennsylvania. It is of great public health concern because it can be transmitted to humans and is nearly 100 percent fatal without post-exposure treatment. Since 2000, between 350 and 500 animals in Pennsylvania annually are confirmed in a laboratory to have rabies. The most commonly affected animals are raccoons, bats, skunks, and cats. The last diagnosed human case of rabies in Pennsylvania was in 1984. The best way to prevent the spread of rabies and protect human health is vaccination of domestic mammals.

For more about Rabies in Pennsylvania visit For a current map of rabies cases in Pennsylvania, visit

For information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit


Two House Cats in NY Test Positive for COVID-19, but PVMA’s Immediate Past-President States It is Not a Reason to Become Alarmed or Start Testing All Pets

With the news being released on April 22, 2020, of two house cats from NY having their tests for COVID-19 being confirmed as positive from the National Veterinary Science Laboratory the concern of cats being a source of infection for humans and other cats has once again ramped up. "There is no need to become concerned or consider having all pets tested for the virus," states Pet Pantry Medical Director and Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association's Immediate-Past President, Dr. Bryan Langlois.

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National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition Offers Tips for Safely Sheltering at Home With Pets During the COVID-19 Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has introduced a good deal of uncertainty into our lives, as well as the lives of our pets. As people shelter at home, adopt new pets or foster dogs for sick family and friends, now is the time to reinforce safety and responsible pet ownership.

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CDC Information Regarding COVID-19 & Pets

The CDC has an entire page devoted to COVID-19 and pet related information and questions.

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Can Ticks or Mosquitos Spread the Virus That Causes COVID-19?

At this time, CDC has no data to suggest that this new coronavirus or other similar coronaviruses are spread by mosquitoes or ticks. The main way that COVID-19 spreads is from person to person. See How Coronavirus Spreads for more information.


Dog tested positive for COVID-19 has died. This DOES NOT mean the virus can infect & kill your pets.


Should I Take My Pet to the Vet During This Pandemic?


COVID-19 Pet Health Tips

Penn Vet Doctors Shelley Rankin, Professor of Microbiology and Stephen Cole, Assistant Professor of Clinical Microbiology provide some great information and tips on COVID-19.

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COVID-19 and Your Pet – Penn Vet Tips

Get facts and tips to keep regarding COVID-19 and your pets. These tips were developed by our microbiology experts: Doctors Shelley Rankin, Professor of Microbiology and Stephen Cole, Assistant Professor of Clinical Microbiology.

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Can My Pet Get Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Pet owners, are you asking yourself, " Can My Pet Get Coronavirus (COVID-19)"? Check out our recent blog post.

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Shelters and Rescues

This pandemic has the potential to negatively impact shelters and rescues due to temporary loss of staff and volunteers, limited resources and space, and more pets being surrendered. The Humane Society of the United States provides protocol and guidance for animal shelters to navigate the COVID-19 situation. This website is updated by animal sheltering experts on a daily basis. This link details important steps to expand foster networks during this critical time.

Pennsylvania Animal Response Team (PART)

The Pennsylvania Animal Response Team (PART) is working with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to prepare for the needs of pets should COVID-19 affect shelters or render pets in need. We encourage businesses and agricultural installations that have animals to create a plan for their care should employees become sick or access to supplies limited. The Pennsylvania State Animal Response Teams are also on standby for emergency services, and their webpage is being updated with info here.

Crisis Planning

Pets are an important part of our families, and Pennsylvania law requires us to have a plan in place to care for them. This situation is evolving quickly so pet resources may or may not be available and pet related businesses, organizations, etc. will have to evaluate whether or not to restrict opening to the public. Pennsylvania families should properly prepare and care for their pets in the midst of this crisis. Please maintain adequate supplies of food, water, and medications for all family members including pets.