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Understanding Rabies

Rabies is caused by a virus that animals and people can get through certain exposures to the saliva or nervous tissue from a rabid animal and is nearly always fatal without proper post exposure prophylaxis treatment. It is a  zoonotic virus, which means it can be spread from animals to people. Rabies is 100% preventable. In most cases, preventing rabies is as simple as ensuring adequate animal vaccination and control, avoiding contact with wild animals, and educating those at risk.

Free Rabies Vaccination Clinics - 2018 Schedule

Sunday, April 15th
Sunday, May 20th
Sunday, June 24th
Sunday, July 15th
Sunday, August, 26th
Sunday, September 16th

Clinics begin at 8:00 a.m. and conclude at 10:30 a.m.
All clinics are conducted at the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Rd., Derwood, MD.  Parking is limited.


  • Rabies vaccinations are FREE for dogs and cats with the purchase of a pet license.
  • Pet licenses for residents of Montgomery County, City of Rockville, and City of Gaithersburg also sold at the clinics.
  • Microchipping services are also offered at clinics.
  • All pets must be brought to the clinic by a responsible adult.
  • Dogs must be secured on a leash. Cats and ferrets must be secured in a carrier.
  • $4 fee for ferrets and out of county residents.
  • Make checks or money orders payable to “Montgomery County.”
  • Dog/cat under one year of age – FREE but you still must obtain a license for your pet. The rabies certificate must indicate the pet is under one year old.
  • Altered dog/cat over one year of age – $12 1 yr. / $24 2yr. / $32 3yr.
  • Unaltered dog/cat over one year of age – $25 1 yr. / $50 2yr. / $75 3yr.**
  • Replacement license tag (not a duplicate tag) - 50 cents
**Note for Unaltered Pet Owners:
  • If your unaltered pet received a 1-year rabies vaccination, you must purchase a 1-year pet license.
  • If your unaltered pet received a 3-year rabies vaccination, you must purchase a 3-year pet license. Sending in a 1-year license fee with a 3-year rabies vaccination will result in your application being returned for correct payment.

Rabies in Montgomery County

Every year in Montgomery County, an average of 40 animals are confirmed to be rabid by laboratory analysis. While most of these animals are wild animals such as raccoons, foxes, and bats, there have been several rabid cats in Montgomery County over the last 5 years.

The fact that rabies has been found in cats in Montgomery County is of great concern because it shows the disease migrating from the wild animal population into domestic animals. Once the domestic animal population is affected by rabies, it becomes far more likely that a human will be exposed. The best way to protect our community and our children is to ensure that all dogs and cats have a current rabies shot and are licensed with the County. Keeping domestic animals continuously vaccinated erects a barrier to keep rabies away from humans. Online pet licensing is also available.

Indicators of Rabies

Changes in an animal’s normal behavior may indicate rabies

  • Wild animals may act friendly
  • Domestic animal may act aggressive

Rabid animals may appear sick and may stagger when walking, drool heavily or suffer from paralysis

A nocturnal animal, seen outdoors acting normally during the daytime, is NOT an indicator of rabies

Bats and Rabies

The bat strain of rabies is present in our area and is often identified as the source of many human rabies cases nationwide. Bats have small teeth which may leave marks that are not easily seen. It is possible for a human to be bitten by a bat and not even know it. Certainly, if the bat is present in a room where a person was sleeping, a small child or elderly person was present, a person with disabilities was present or an intoxicated person was present, the bat should be tested for rabies due to the potential exposure. Any time a bat enters your homes living space you should call the Emergency Communication Section at 301-279-8000 so that an Animal Services Officer may respond to your home to assess the situation and capture the bat for rabies testing if necessary. If it was possible that a bite may have occurred, the bat will be tested for rabies.

Steps to Prevent Rabies

  • Only approach domestic animals that are known to you.
  • Avoid all contact with wild animals. It is unlawful to keep a wild animal as a pet.
  • Make sure that your dogs and cats have a current rabies vaccination and County license.
  • Keep dogs under control or on a leash. Keep cats safely indoors.
  • Don’t feed or water your pets outside. Even empty bowls will attract wild and stray animals.
  • Do not treat raccoons or other wild animals as if they were pets. Do not leave food out for raccoons, including leftover dog food, table scraps and large bird seeds.
  • Close off all entrances to chimneys, attics, garages or sheds which can provide a nesting site for raccoons. Install a chimney cap or heavy 26-guage wire screen on chimney openings and flues.
  • Bat proof your home in the fall and winter.
  • Use metal garbage cans that have secure lids. Plastic cans should have snap covers, but are not as secure. Ammonia can be sprayed or poured into plastic garbage bags to discourage raccoons from feeding.
  • Most human exposures to rabies occur when people attempt to rescue sick or hurt wild animals that, upon testing, are rabid.
  • Another frequent indirect exposure occurs when people handle their pets without gloves after the pet has had an encounter with a wild animal. It is considered possible for the rabies virus in saliva on the pet’s fur to be transmitted through a break in the person’s skin for up to 2 hours after the saliva has been deposited on the fur.
  • If you see a wild animal exhibiting abnormal behavior, call the police non-emergency number at 301.279.8000

Reporting Animal Bites

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, report it immediately to the Animal Services Division by calling 9-1-1 (if in-progress) or 301-279-8000 (if not in-progress).  Prompt reporting allows for proper investigation and quarantine to prevent the possibility that the victim will contract rabies.  Under state and county health laws, any person with knowledge that an animal has bitten or scratched a person must report the bite promptly to the Division of Animal Control and Humane Treatment.  Medical personnel also have a duty to report to the Division anytime they treat a patient for animal bites.

How many animal bites are reported each year?

Every year in Montgomery County, there are approximately 800-900 reported cases in which an animal bites a human. The Animal Services Division investigates each of these bites as part of its rabies-control responsibilities and to protect the community from dangerous animals.

Preventing Dog Biteswhite terrier

For Dog Owners

Unfortunately, too many times the victims of dog bites are children.  These children are often members of the dog’s own household or children who are visitors to the household. Studies have identified several risk factors that are associated with dogs who bite.  Dogs that have one or more of these risk factors are more likely to bite than dogs with no risk factors.

  • Dogs that are unaltered (both male and female dogs)
  • Dogs that are maintained outside all or most of the time
  • Dogs that are chained outside
  • Dogs that have never undergone any formal obedience training
  • Dogs whose owners play roughly with them, or play aggressive “mouth” games with the dog

You can reduce the chances of your dog being involved in a biting incident by avoiding these risk factors. Make your dog a family pet and have him live inside your home with the rest of your family. Avoid chaining your dog – take him for walks instead. Alter your pet as soon as possible. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club, and local and national humane groups have all endorsed spaying and neutering of animals as young as 8 weeks. Neutering can be done at a lower fee through the Division’s low-cost neutering program. And take your dog to an obedience course. It’s good exercise and a lot of fun for both you and your pet. It’s also a great way to meet other pet owners and get advice from an expert on animal behavior.

For those who may be confronted by a strange dog

  • Do not run away. Stand quietly, your hands at your side. Face the dog, but do not look him directly in the eyes. Remain still until the dog loses interest, or back away slowly and calmly, until you reach safety. Never turn your back on the dog.
  • If the dog tries to bite, “feed” him your purse, jacket, backpack or anything else in an effort to protect yourself.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears.  Remain as still as possible, and do not scream or yell.

Contact Us: Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center
Department of Police · Animal Services Division
7315 Muncaster Mill Road · Derwood, MD 20855 · Telephone: 240.773.5900 · Fax: 301.279.1063
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