ITHACA, N.Y. — Need a rabies vaccine for your dog, cat or ferret? The Tompkins County Health Department has announced several clinics across Tompkins County where people can take their pets to get a free rabies vaccine.

By state law, all dogs, cats and ferrets older than four months must have valid, current rabies vaccinations. Rabies is a virus transmitted through saliva of an infected animal and is fatal to humans. The health department says any mammal bite or scratch should be immediately and thoroughly washed with soap and water and reported to the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6688.

The risk of rabies is present locally. In 2018, there were 18 confirmed rabid animals in the county, according to the Tompkins County Health Department. The rabid animals included five raccoons, seven bats, three foxes, one skunk, one beaver and a woodchuck.

Clinics will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday, May 1 at the Lansing Central Fire Station, 80 Ridge Rd., Lansing
  • Thursday, May 2 at the Danby Fire Station, 1780 Danby Rd., Ithaca
  • Wednesday, May 8 at the Tompkins County SPCA, 1640 Hanshaw Rd., Ithaca
  • Thursday, May 9 at the Highway Garage in Enfield, 475 Enfield Main Rd.
  • Wednesday, May 15 at the Ithaca Town Highway Garage, 106 Seven Mile Drive, Ithaca

You can pre-register online for the clinics here. Walk-ins are accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

If attending a clinic, bring your pet’s most recent vaccination certificate as proof of prior vaccination. The proof of vaccination is required to receive a three-year certificate for cats and dogs. If you do not have proof of prior vaccination, a one-year certificate will be issued. Ferrets must be vaccinated every year, the health department said in a news release.

To protect yourself from rabies exposure, the health department offers the following reminders:

  • Report the following incidents to the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6688:
    • All animal bites.
    • Any human or pet contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue, spinal tissue, or cerebrospinal fluid) of wild animals or any animal suspected of having rabies.
    • All bat bites, scratches, or any mere skin contact with a bat, or a bat in a room with a child, sleeping or impaired person.
  • Call the Health Department prior to releasing a captured bat to determine if rabies testing is necessary.
  • Avoid contact with any unfamiliar cats, dogs, and wild animals.
  • Avoid handling pets or objects that may be contaminated with saliva from a potentially rabid animal without wearing protective gloves. If you have been exposed to saliva, wash your hands immediately with soap and water.
  • Obtain the name, address and telephone number of the owner when bitten by a cat, dog or ferret.
  • Keep pet vaccinations up-to-date.

Featured image: Flickr Photo courtesy of Ted Murphy.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.