Rabies scare prompts Fairbanks vaccination clinic

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The recent discovery of two rabid wolves has prompted Fairbanks North Star Borough animal control officials to offer nightly rabies vaccines next week at the shelter.

The $5 vaccines will be available 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Friday.

The shelter has received calls from pet owners asking if they should be concerned since the discovery of rabid wolves killed by trappers in the Chandalar Lake area about 185 miles north of Fairbanks, animal control manager Sandy Besser said.

“I believe this is an appropriate response and hope we are able to reach folks whose animals have not been vaccinated,” Besser wrote in an email announcing the clinics.

It’s the first time the disease has been detected in interior wild animals.

“We want to do whatever we can do to encourage people to get their animals vaccinated, especially with the number of people who let their animals run loose,” Besser said. “You can’t control what happens when a loose dog has an encounter with wildlife or comes upon a carcass in the woods.”

Besser said next week’s clinic is a way to address community concerns and encourage people to get their pets vaccinated. State law requires pet owners to have their animals vaccinated.

“Prevention is the only thing you can do,” Besser said. “Once (rabies) is contracted, it’s not curable. Having animals immunized is the best thing all the way around.”

The trapper who killed one of the wolves fed the carcass to his sled dogs before heading back to Fairbanks. The dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations but were given booster shots and ordered under quarantine by state veterinarian Robert Gerlach.

The vaccines are scheduled for evenings and for a week to accommodate as many people as possible, Besser said.

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