October 21, 2021

Furry friends get help, too

IRT event provides no-cost care to pets and people

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Veterinarian assistant Army Reserve Spc. Alexis York holds Kiki, a pitbull who is a little over 12 weeks old, while veterinarian Army Maj. DeAnna Howell listens to her heartbeat. Vet services for vaccinations are one of the many no-cost medical services being provided at the Innovative Readiness Training event at Homer Intermediate High School. Spaying and neutering were also available, but appointment times have been filled.

Mariya Linderberry rubbed her 15-year-old pitbull Batista while holding his head toward her chest as the vet injected him with the rabies vaccine.

Batista was one of three dogs Linderberry brought to the Healthy Cortland No Cost Medical Event Innovative Readiness Training — otherwise known as IRT or Healthy Cortland.

Around 200 military medical providers began treating people Thursday at Homer Intermediate School from Cortland and surrounding counties, providing optometry, dental and medical care, including physicals, at no cost to patients.

They also provided veterinarian services like rabies vaccinations or deworming. People also made appointments for their cats or dogs to get spayed or neutered. IRT will be around through Saturday.

“It’s very nice,” Linderberry said. “It’s a relief on the vet bills because they’re very expensive.”

While speaking to veterinarian Army Maj. DeAnna Howell, Linderberry noted that she had previously taken her two puppies to the vet, who told her to get a distemper and rabies shot it would be $180.

Having it done at no cost is a huge deal, she said.

Not only is it state law that animals get their rabies shots every year, but it keeps humans safe, too, Howell said.

“Rabies can be very dangerous to humans,” she said.

If someone gets rabies from a dog or cat, it can cause a number of symptoms from a fever and headache to partial paralysis, according to Mayo Clinic.

But rabies isn’t the only thing that can be passed from furry friends to people — some worms can be too, causing diseases in people. That’s why it’s important to deworm your animals as well, Howell said.

It’s all about making sure pets are happy and healthy.

“There’s the animal-human bond,” she said. “They’re part of the family.”

The military personnel are likely to provide services to at least as many people as they did in 2016, when they provided 7,613 services to 1,807 patients, including making and distributing 725 eyeglasses, vaccinating 727 pets for rabies and spaying or neutering 168 pets at no cost to participants, Cortland County planners said. That was more than $850,000 in health care.

Patients can come from anywhere. The 2016 event saw patients from Onondaga County and farther away, too.

This year’s event is the second largest IRT hosted event in 2019, behind IRT Puerto Rico with its 517 medical providers.

IRT services for pets

• Military veterinarians will provide rabies shots, other vaccinations and deworming at no cost on a walk-in basis. Appointments for spaying and neutering needed to be made in advance.
• The Innovative Readiness Training exercise is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Homer Intermediate School at 58 Clinton St.


When to get them vaccinated

• Rabies shot between 12 to 16 weeks, then once a year.
• FVRCP from eight to 16 weeks — this protects against feline rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia.

• Rabies shot between 12 to 16 weeks and then once a year.
• Distemper begin at six weeks and then every two to four weeks until they are 16 weeks old.
Spaying and neutering:
• General rule is 6 months and older, but timing can depend on breed.

SOURCE: Maj. DeAnna Howell, a veterinarian, and PetMD