Missoula health officials urge owners to keep pets vaccinated

MISSOULA, Mont. - Last year, a puppy in Missoula County died after testing positive for parvovirus. Missoula Parks and Recreation also had to close a dog park to disinfect it from any possible viruses. Now, health officials are urging owners to make sure their pets are vaccinated.

They're focusing on the rabies and parvovirus vaccines.

City ordinance requires the rabies vaccine, and while the parvovirus vaccine isn't required, it's heavily encouraged.

Parvovirus causes an infectious gastrointestinal illness in dogs, and without treatment, it is potentially deadly. It can easily spread through contact with an infected dog or through its feces. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and loss of appetite. Dogs who exhibit these symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. 

Animal Control Director Jeff Darrah said this year, it's a double whammy between the pandemic and winter.

"Hopefully, COVID-19 is starting to leave us but with winter turning into spring, people become more active and want to get out with their animals and their dogs," Darrah said. "So, you may have walked your dog all winter and things were slow, but now it's going to get busier because as the weather gets nicer, there's going to be a lot more activity in the parks, on the trails, so there'll be a higher chance of an encounter with someone else's pet. It's important that everybody out there enjoys the trails and the parks, but make sure your animal is vaccinated in case there's a scuffle."

The Missoula City-County Health Department also urges owners to pick up their dog waste.

Additionally, Darrah emphasized the importance of getting pets licensed. Citations for not having a dog licensed can have a fine of up to $95. Licenses also help Animal Control reunite lost pets with their owners quicker.

Low-cost vaccination clinics will be held across the region starting in May. These clinics will be available Wednesday, May 5, in Seeley Lake at the county satellite office, Wednesday, June 2, in Frenchtown and Wednesday, Sept. 1, in Clinton. Clinic locations have yet to be determined for Frenchtown and Clinton.

Rabies vaccinations are $13(a dog license is required, if the dog is altered a license is $20). For additional information about the satellite clinics contact Missoula City-County Animal Control at 406-541-7387 or aminalcontrol@missoulacounty.us.

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