Ohio's skunks, raccoons and bats can carry rabies. But it is one of the few states in the country with a rabies problem that does not have state-wide vaccination requirements for dogs and cats. Ohio rabies laws apply only in a few counties, but local governments have authority to impose their own vaccine requirements, and some do.
Ohio Rabies Law
Rabies is a disease that strikes almost everywhere in the world. Only a few islands are completely free of rabies. Many wild animals get rabies and are carriers, including raccoons, skunks and bats. These animals can pass rabies to each other, and they can pass it to household pets and even humans by biting. Few people are bit by these wild animals, but are often bit by dogs who were bitten by a rabid animal. Globally, virtually all human exposure to rabies comes from rabid dogs.
Raccoon strain rabies entered Ohio in 1999. The state participated in a major effort to distribute oral rabies vaccination in baits for raccoons, and this successful plan interrupted the increase of raccoon-born rabies, although it is hardly eradicated. Despite the fact that Ohio wildlife carry rabies, the state has not enacted any state-wide requirement that people get their dogs and cats vaccinated.
Ohio rabies vaccination requirements are limited to the counties Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana counties. In these areas, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies. In addition, local governments in Ohio are authorized to enact rabies vaccination regulations if they want, and many have done so. Half make dog vaccinations mandatory, some 40 percent mandate vaccinations for cats, and about one-third require that pet ferrets are vaccinated as well.
Other Ohio Rabies Vaccination Requirements
In addition to those Ohio rabies laws, Ohio mandates rabies vaccinations of pets in certain circumstances. For example, anyone bringing a dog or cat into Ohio must show proof of rabies vaccinations. And, if a dog bites someone and is quarantined, Ohio law requires that it must be currently vaccinated against rabies before being released.
Likewise, Ohio law mandates that dogs and cats staying with their owners in Division of Parks and Recreation and Division of Forestry campgrounds must have current vaccinations. They must, in fact, wear tags showing proof of a rabies vaccination. Further, if you go to a park with a dog and you want to use the dog exercise areas, you must have proof that your dog was vaccinated against rabies.
Ohio has no state-wide vaccination requirements for dogs or cats. However, a few counties in Ohio do mandate rabies vaccinations for pets, and local governments have authority to enact rabies vaccination regulations if they wish.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.