ELIZABETHTOWN — The staff of Elizabethtown Veterinary Hospital have a passion for two things: animals and community, and it shows. For several months of each year, they are willing to donate their Saturdays to ensuring that animals in Bladen County are protected from rabies.
The idea for a rabies clinic was one that began with the tenure of the late Dr. Midyett in Elizabethtown.
Dr. Douglas Gensel, Elizabethtown Veterinarian Hospital veterinarian, related, “He couldn’t do it any more because of his health, and he wanted to go ahead and pass that baton.”
What began for him in 2007 has continued to this day, with some modifications.
“We expanded upon what he was doing as far as coverage. We took the Bladen County map and said, ‘We need to cover these areas,’ and (the clinic) pretty much covers five corners of the county so that we’re protecting all the animals,” said Gensel.
The clinic sites range from shopping centers to crossroads to mom and pop stores. Gensel and his team are taking rabies clinics to the people to make sure every animal has the opportunity to be vaccinated.
In addition to removing travelling barriers, the clinic’s team also wants to remove financial obstructions. What would normally cost $15 in the hospital office is offered via the clinic for only $6, a gesture that Gensel says stems from the goodwill of the staff.
“They don’t get paid. That’s why we can offer it at such a low cost, so kudos to the staff. And what we charge hasn’t gone up in four years. It pays for the vaccine, gasoline, syringes and needles. We break even on that,” said Gensel. “If I had to pay the staff to do it, we couldn’t offer it. They are willing to offer it for the good of the community.”
State law mandates that all owners of cats and dogs 4 months of age and above have the animal vaccinated against rabies.
“There’s a $200 fine for not vaccinating your animal (so) $6 versus $200. I don’t know how well they regulate it, but it makes good economic sense,” Gensel said.
He added that, while there are cases of rabies every year, he has not seen any domesticated animals with the disease, and there have not been any reports of rabies in humans.
“We still push for vaccination, because rabies is still in the wildlife,” Gensel said. “It doesn’t take much for it to go from wildlife to domesticated animals to humans.”
Owners are welcome to bring any animal to the clinic, but there will be another opportunity for horse owners to have their animals vaccinated. A rabies clinic will take place after a trail ride that is scheduled to be held in Clarkton. In addition to vaccinating against rabies, Gensel will be testing for equine infectious anemia at the location.
“Be patient,” Gensel said about the clinics. “We try to be very timely, but it depends on the volume of animals we have. And bring the last rabies certificate you have. That way, we can give a three-year rabies shot instead of a one-year shot and save some money.”
Rabies clinic dates, times and locations will be published in the Bladebn Journal’s community calendar.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.