Traveling tent clinic aims to tackle rabies in Franklin Park

The line of people and pets formed a gigantic U-shape in a portion of the parking lot at Jewel grocery, 10203 Grand Ave., Franklin Park, Aug. 19.

It was mostly dogs on leashes though there were a few cats in carrying bags and at least one ferret. All of them waited their turn under a small tent where Dr. Donna Alexander gave them a rabies vaccination.

Alexander, a veterinarian for Cook County Animal and Rabies Control, walked back and forth between a county vehicle where she loaded the syringes and the tent where people registered their dogs.

She asked the owners to hold their dogs tightly, rubbed an alcohol swab on their hindquarters and gave the injection. Most of the animals took it calmly, though a few of the smaller ones squealed or jutted their head forward like they were going to bite.

Among those waiting was Susan Cadero who had been in line for 1:05 hours with her two dogs; a tan Chihuahua named Chico and Chico’s black daughter, Lola. In spite of the wait, she planned to come back later with her third dog.

“All summer long I said I was going to take them in,” said Cadero, who lives in Chicago on the border with Elmwood Park. “I’ve been putting it off.”

Bea Gervae of River Grove waited with Ginger, an 8-year-old who is part English Spaniel and part Bijan. She’s attended the mobile clinics since the county started them in 2006.

“It makes it easier for people and it’s less expensive,” Gervae said.

It’s $7 for a one-year vaccination, $21 for a three-year vaccination and $10 to have a microchip placed in a pet.

For Julie Valentino of Stone Park, cost is a factor.

“Its affordable,” Valentino said. “Other places charge $30 (for one year vaccination).”

Valentino has brought her 9-month old ferret Lola in a carrying case. At 11 a.m. she appeared to be the only ferret in line.

“They’re quiet,” Valentino said. “She’s sleeping through all this noise. I don’t have the energy for cats and dogs. I really don’t like cats.”

Rabies is a virus that is transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. In Cook County it’s usually transmitted through an animal being bit by the small brown bat. Alexander emphasized that house cats — as compared to those let out of the house — should also be vaccinated

“(The small brown bat) is so small, it can get through a space as one-eighth of an inch,” Alexander said. “People don’t even know it’s inside.”

This year, there are 40 mobile clinics for rabies vaccinations in Cook County. Alexander personally gives all the shots, 2,578 since May 24. She estimates it will be about 5,000 injections by the last clinic on Oct. 8.

Maria Agosto is a big fan. She’s brought her 9-year-old silky terrier, Max, for his three-year vaccination all the way from the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.

“It’s the best thing (Cook County) does,” Agosto said.

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