This week marks the beginning of Yucatán’s rabies vaccination program for cats and dogs.
Health authorities say the vaccines will be available at 355 sites throughout the state and hope to administer nearly 270,000 doses.
“It is our responsibility as pet owners to vaccinate our animals,” said Yucatán’s health and prevention director, Carlos Isaac Hernández Fuentes.
The vaccination program is free and will run statewide until Sept. 25, but doses will be available in Mérida year-round.
For more information about the vaccination program, pet owners are encouraged to make an appointment at 999-168-1751 or visit the Módulo Veterinario website.
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the free veterinary clinics will not be accepting walk-ins at any of their locations.
“The vaccines are for pets who are at least one month old and the inoculation offers protection for an entire year,” said vaccination program coordinator, Daly Gabino Martínez Ortiz.
According to government statistics, there has not been a single case of animal to human rabies transmission for over 23 years.
But animal rights activists note that vaccinating pets only addresses part of the problem.
Of the 28 million dogs in Mexico, only 30% have an owner, according to statistics by the INEGI.
According to the state Ministry of Health (SSY), more than 50,000 dogs and cats roam the streets in Yucatán. Annually, 2,000 dogs die in the streets of Mérida, an average of five a day.
“We firmly believe that the culture in Mérida is changing and there are more and more responsible owners,” said Fernando Gutiérrez, manager of Follow My Dog, which sells pet tracking devices for 2,000 pesos, a price out of reach for many pet owners in Yucatán.