Harvey Fogel of East Penn Township attended a meeting of the Mahoning Township Lions Club and told about the frightening incident involving his dog.
It happened back in 1989. Fogel said his dog got after a raccoon. It was daylight so Fogel knew things weren't right; raccoons are nocturnal.
He shot the raccoon, took it to Dr. Mary Lombardo at the Mahoning Valley Animal Hospital, and had it tested for rabies. It proved positive.
Dr. Lombardo also attended the Lions meeting. A member of the club, she also told stories of local incidents of rabid animals.
On Sunday, April 21, from noon to 2 p.m., the Mahoning Lions will be hosting their 25th annual rabies clinic at McCall's Farm along Route 443 in Mahoning Township. Dr. Lombardo has participated in all of them.
Dr. Lombardo said it was because of Fogel that the rabies clinics got started.
"It was because of his dog attacked by a rabid raccoon," she said. "It morphed into the idea for a rabies clinic.
She said the first clinic, held at the Normal Square Chapel, resulted in over 500 dogs being vaccinated. "We ran out of vaccine," she said.
Other organizations have begun holding such clinics and as a result, the number of pets being vaccinated by the Lions has dropped. The figure is still well over 300 a year.
Fogel said the rabies incident happened in his back yard. Fortunately, his dog didn't get bit and wasn't injured. Fogel was forced to take a series of three vaccinations, which cost $150 each at the time.
Dr. Lombardo said there have been numerous other rabies incidents in Carbon County.
In the first three months of 2013, there were 67 incidents of rabies reported to the Pa. Department of Health. None, so far, have been detected in Carbon County, but there were cases in Schuylkill, Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Northampton counties.
:"So they're all around us," the veterinarian said.
She said that in 2012, Pennsylvania ranked second behind Texas in rabies cases, and ranked first in rabies among feral cats.
Rabies vaccines are given not only to protect the pets, but also to protect people, she stressed.
"People don't realize the significance of rabies," she added.
Club member Jim Koons noted that last year the Lions vaccinated 331 animals. The year before, 333 vaccinations were given to pets.
He said proceeds from the clinic benefit various organizations.
In the span of 25 years, there were over 7,500 vaccinations given at the Lions held clinics.
He noted that initially, the clinic attracted many farm dogs and larger breeds. Today, there are more "little, spoiled house dogs," Koons said. "Some people bring five and six and seven dogs.
The Lions member stressed that anyone coming to Sunday's clinic should make sure their dogs are on a leash and their cats are in cages in which they can't escape.