Working with various state offices and other regional animal welfare agencies and professionals, Berkshire Humane Society held a rabies and microchip clinic in North Adams in response to a recent outbreak of rabies in North Adams. The clinic was part of Project North Adams, a three phase comprehensive care plan to protect both area animals and people from the deadly virus.

In early June, an outdoor cat and woodchuck in the Chase Hill area of North Adams tested positive for rabies. After several planning meetings with the different stakeholders, Phase I – educating the community about the threat of rabies, providing rabies vaccinations to owned cats/dogs, and microchipping owned cats in the area – took place on Thursday, July 14th.

On an empty lot on River Street, Berkshire Humane Society as well as Animal DREAMS, the Massachusetts Animal Fund, and North Adams Animal Control set up tents and staged a RV as a mobile free rabies vaccination/microchip clinic for owned cats and dogs living within one half mile of the Chase Hill area of North Adams.

From noon to 6:00pm, slightly over 100 dogs were vaccinated against rabies while an equal number of cats were vaccinated as well as microchipped. While the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources supplied the rabies serum, and Dr. Eiszler from Greylock Animal Hospital and Dr. Cermak from North County Veterinary Hospital volunteered their time to administer the vaccinations. Besides organizing the rabies and microchip clinic, Berkshire Humane Society provided the microchip as well as staff who microchipped all the cats. Additionally, the Massachusetts Animal Fund gave out 70 free spay/neuter vouchers for dogs and cats, and Animal DREAMS handed out pet food for those in need.

“The community was so appreciative of what we are doing, and they understood the need” notes John Perreault, Executive Director of Berkshire Humane Society.

As John explains, rabies is a serious virus that is fatal if not treated immediately. All mammals can be affected by rabies, and humans can get it if they are bitten by infected animals. Prevention through vaccination of companion and farm animals is the best way to contain its spread.

Although rabies is a fairly rare occurrence in Berkshire County, there are a few cases each year in the area.

For Phase II, on Friday, July 15th, Animal Control Officer Leona Pease from Shrewsbury, MA and volunteers from Animal DREAMS began three days of trapping feral and outdoor cats in the area as another way to help prevent the spread of rabies. Phase III, which started on Monday, July 18th, included Second Chance Animal Shelter mobile veterinary vans coming to North Adams to spay/neuter 32 outdoor cats and 18 owned cats.

In the future, John would like to offer more vaccination and microchip clinics as well as low-cost spay/neuter programs in North Adams. “We believe a lot of people want to be good pet owners but may need a little help,” he states. “We hope Berkshire Humane Society can provide that help.”