COTTAGE COUNTRY, ON – While rabies numbers have been decreasing, a health unit is telling pet owners to remain vigilant.

According to a release from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Ontario has some of the lowest numbers of rabies cases in North America.

“It doesn’t mean we can all stop thinking about it, though,” The health unit said in the release. “Health unit staff investigated 1,434 animal exposure incidents in 2018. Many of the investigations resulted in rabies vaccine for people as a precaution.”

The organization added that responsible pet owners are to praise for the low numbers. Rabies vaccines are required for all pets by law and apparently, pet owners have been diligent in following the rules.

All dogs and cats aged three months or older have to be vaccinated against rabies, which protects them against fox, raccoon and bat strains of the disease.

Other animals that come into contact with the public, like ferrets and livestock, also need to be vaccinated. Owners are required to provide proof of vaccination upon request from a health inspector.

Owners of unvaccinated pets can take advantage of low-cost rabies clinics around the province this fall. Locations and times can be found on the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians website.