UPDATE: Pet owners in Hamilton County have a great opportunity to get the rabies vaccination for their pets at a low cost.

Special clinics started Friday night.

You may think of the vaccine as protection for your pet, but our animal experts say you are protecting yourself and your family as well.

"Rabies is almost always fatal in animals and in people, so it is one of those things you do not want to mess with it," Marisa Shulman, an associate vet at Riverview Animal Hospital, said.

Dogs and their people waited patiently in line on the first day of Hamilton County's annual vaccination clinics.

"First of all, all dogs and cats should be rabies vaccinated because they are really at risk. Especially, cats are exposed to bats all the time, even inside a house if they're inside cats. So we definitely tell people to get your cats vaccinated even if they are indoor cats." Jamie McAloon, McKamey's executive director said.

One of the biggest rabies threats to our pets is wildlife, especially bats and raccoons.

"So, if your animal is attacked by wildlife and that animal gets away, your animal is definitely at risk of contracting rabies. And this year, we've already had two raccoon cases of rabies in Hamilton County alone," McAloon said.

If the wild animal gets away, it can't be tested. But the rabies vaccine will save your pet.

"For your protection, because the animals are going to be required quarantine. If the animal has never been vaccinated, it's possible that animal might have to be euthanized to test it for rabies," McAloon explained.

"So making sure we continue to vaccinate as many animals as we can will help protect not only our pet population but will also help protect our people of Hamilton County," Shulman added. "And we have a really good vaccine, a very effective vaccine. It is absolutely worth vaccinating as many pets as we can."

The cost is only $12 per pet. The clinics are being held all around the area through next Saturday, April 13 between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

You can find a complete list of clinics and a schedule of when each one will be open below:

Wednesday, April 10

  • Ooltewah Middle School, 5100 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road

Friday, April 12

  • Allen Elementary 
  • Alpine Crest Elementary
  • Old Birchwood Elementary
  • Flat Top Independent Church
  • East Ridge City Hall
  • Summit Headstart
  • Westview Elementary
  • Daisy Church of God

Saturday, April 13

  • Brown Middle
  • Warner Park Field house
  • Rivermont Elementary
  • Lakesite City Park
  • Sale Creek Volunteer Fire Department
  • Snow Hill Elementary
  • Red Bank Middle 
  • Signal Mountain Playground
  • Hixson High 
  • Ooltewah Health Center 

Pet license will also be available at each clinic. Prices vary depending on location and whether the animal has been spayed/neuter. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Pet owners needing to get their furry friends their annual rabies vaccinations will be able to get them at a low-cost beginning Friday.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department will host low-cost vaccination clinics at 35 locations around Hamilton County from April 5-13.

The vaccinations will cost $12 per pet, and they are required by law for dogs and cats. The health department asks that pet owners bring cash or separate checks for each pet.

“Vaccinating our pets is the most important buffer between humans and the wild animal population where the rabies virus mostly lives,” says Health Department Director of Environmental Health Services Bonnie Deakins, “The rabies vaccine is not just protecting your pet, it’s protecting public health.”

The health department said four raccoons and three bats in Hamilton County have tested positive for rabies since 2017.

"This indicates how close the virus is to our human population," a health department spokesperson said. "It is crucial that residents vaccinate their pets and take preventive measures..."

The health department said preventive measures include:

  • Never approach wild animals or attempt to feed them
  • Do not leave pet food or water accessible to wild animals
  • Seal up any access points into attics where bats may roost
  • Report stray animals
  • Report all bites to the health department, even if from pets

Rabies usually spreads by the introduction of saliva containing the virus into a bite wound, a spokesperson added.

In Hamilton County last year, the Health Department investigated over 740 cases of humans being bitten by animals.

The health department explained that if someone is bitten by an animal, it is required that it be reported to the health department.

Close to 2,000 vaccines were given to pets at local low-cost rabies vaccination clinics last year.