Caring for critters

TORRINGTON – A steady line of people and their pets streamed through the Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter on Saturday for the latest in a string of Vaccination Clinics offered by the city, local veterinarians and veterinary technology students at Eastern Wyoming College.

The clinics provide lower-cost vaccinations for a host of canine and feline diseases, including rabies, said Dr. Edwin Bitner, an EWC vet tech instructor who routinely helps out with the clinics. The rabies vaccine is particularly important in Goshen County, due to the presence of the disease in the area since an outbreak in 2014, Bitner said.

“Keeping animals vaccinated is the best aspect of preventative health,” he said. “It’s important to keep dogs, cats and even livestock vaccinated. It’s a public health concern.”

All total, 118 dogs and 46 cats were vaccinated on Saturday, with 39 city pet licenses sold during the clinic. 

It was the low-cost factor in the vaccinations which drew many residents and their four-legged friends to the clinic. Grace Valentine brought Chloe, her 7-year-old Chihuahua, to the clinic as she’s done in the past. The clinics also provide easier access than trying to arrange schedules and appointments with Chloe’s regular veterinarian.

“And I think it’s good for people especially who have several dogs,” Valentine said. “It gets pretty expensive if you have a lot” of animals.

Price was also a consideration for Tess Redenbaugh, who brought her three dogs in for their shots.

“And I know we’re helping out with the experience for the college students,” she said.

The clinics have been offered, a cooperative effort between the city and the college, for at least the past 10 years, said Torrington Animal Control Officer Teri Shinost. A big advantage of the clinics is the building of partnerships between her department and the shelter with the college and the doctors at Goshen Veterinary Clinic in Torrington.

To be legal in the city limits of Torrington, dogs are required to have current rabies vaccinations and a city license. Shinost believes some people wouldn’t vaccinate their dogs without the clinics, purely based on the expense.

Dr. Avery Gray, one of the volunteer veterinarians from Goshen Veterinary Clinic who was doing vaccinations for the first time on Saturday, agreed. With rabies in a variety of wild animals in the county, including skunks, raccoons and bats, it will never be eradicated. Having pets and livestock vaccinated is the best way to slow the spread of the disease.

“And the vaccination clinics are a great way to get community involvement,” Gray said. “To support the local programs in a local school. I think it’s wonderful.”

Another service provided at the clinic was microchipping – the insertion of a small electronic chip with a registration number which can be read by a hand-held scanner. The number is tied directly to a nation-wide database with owner information and can be used to trace a lost animal’s people.

“A lot of people don’t have collars on their dogs these days,” Shinost said. Microchipping “is a permanent form of identification. It provides a connection to the owners.”

Tim Hurd, Torrington Police Chief, agreed. He stopped down during the clinic Saturday to show his support for the program.

“Everybody knows their pets are important to most people,” Hurd said. “Chipping helps us return a lost loved one to the owner. Nothing is better than seeing that.”

The vaccination and microchipping programs were funded by donations to Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter. To make a monetary donation, or donations of pet food, blankets or other pet supplies, call the shelter at (307) 532-5373.

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