MEXICO — The basement of the Mexico Town Hall on Saturday echoed with a chorus of barks, yips and meows at the Rabies Clinic, sponsored by the Bethel Animal Hospital.

According to Dr. Gary Stuer of the Bethel Animal Hospital, 85 pets received their rabies vaccines in two hours.

“(It’s) very unusual to have that many,” Stuer said. “Normally for this clinic, there are about 40 to 50.”

The clinic offered rabies shots to dogs and cats for $17 cash, a significant discount compared to a vet visit and full exam. According to ConsumerReports.org, the average cost of an annual wellness exam can be between $140 and $340.

Kathy-Jo Farren, an employee of the Bethel Animal Hospital for over 22 years, said the clinics have been happening for as long as she can remember. The clinics also help out the town, since dogs cannot be registered without an up-to-date rabies vaccine.

“We want to get as many dogs registered as possible,” Farren said.

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Farren explained that when a dog or cat is brought to a veterinarian office for a vaccine, the vet is legally obligated to perform a full exam, whereas the rules are different for clinics.

Bethel Animal Hospital employee Anna Bolotovsky asked all pet owners their pet’s age and weight and date of their last rabies vaccine, which was all that was required to receive an updated shot, certificate and tag.

Stuer, who administered the vaccines on Saturday, said the clinic is a great opportunity for those who can’t necessarily afford a full vet visit and things usually go pretty smoothly.

“I’ve been doing this for over 22 years and there’s never been a dog fight,” Stuer said. “Owners are usually pretty good about gauging their pet’s behaviors. If they think there’s going to be a problem, they leave them in the car and I go out and give them the vaccine.”

He strongly advised that cat owners bring their feline friends in a carrier, due to an experience a few years ago in which an owner carried their cat into the clinic. The cat panicked, and unfortunately escaped.

“I can give the shot right in their carrier,” Stuer said.

The Bethel Animal Hospital sponsors four clinics a year, usually between October and the end of January.

The next clinic will be at the Andover Fire Station on Jan. 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. The cost will be $16 cash. Owners are asked to bring their pets on a leash or in a carrier. 

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