Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health …
Welcome to Westport Health Notes, a monthly column from the Westport Board of Health (BOH). The goal is to share information with our community about local issues and projects, public health alerts, and even fun facts about the A to Z scope of responsibility that local Boards of Health manage.
In this month’s column we provide updates from the Animal Control Office, which the BOH has been overseeing since July 2019. Animal Control Officer (AACO) Nick Vidmar is on duty weekdays and provides as much on-call coverage as possible, including every other weekend. The Animal Control phone line is 774-264-5129. If your call is urgent, it is important to leave a message with your name, phone number, address and nature of the call.
As we move into spring and wildlife mating season, you may be outdoors more with your pets. Nick says to “have fun with your pets, but make sure all their vaccinations are up to date.”
Notice about Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which has recently been detected in wild birds in Massachusetts. This means that all domestic poultry in Massachusetts may be at risk of exposure. Waterbirds including shorebirds and waterfowl, especially dabbling ducks like Mallards, are most likely to carry the HPAI virus. Poultry owners should keep wild waterbirds away from their flocks. Sick or dead domestic birds (chickens, turkeys, game birds, domestic ducks, etc.) should be reported to Department of Agricultural Resources Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1795.
Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Department of Fish and Game Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) at 508-389-6300 or at Mass.Wildlife@mass.gov.
Free rabies vaccine clinic
The Animal Control Office has scheduled its next rabies clinic on Saturday, April 23, from 9 am to noon at the Hixbridge Fire Station. Westport residents can have their pets vaccinated against rabies for free, while non-residents are charged $15. There has been a recent incidence of rabies in a raccoon in town, so it is important to make sure your pets are protected. Pets that are not vaccinated and are bitten by a rabid animal must undergo a four-month quarantine. If your pet is vaccinated, the quarantine is only 45 days. When necessary, rabies quarantine orders are issued by one of the state-appointed municipal animal Inspectors.
Dog licenses for 2022 are now available at the Town Clerk’s Office at Town Hall: Annual licenses were due April 1 (or for new residents within 30 days of arrival). As of July 1, there will be a $15 late fee imposed for dogs not yet licensed this year. Requirements include:
* Valid rabies vaccination certificate and current Westport address
* $15 fee for unneutered male and unspayed female dogs
* $10 fee for neutered male and spayed female dogs
* License by mail: Send a check payable to "Town of Westport" (Or drop it in the red lock box in front of Town Hall) and include Rabies Certificate, spay or neutered certificate, and a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. Certificate will be returned.
Kennel licenses, livestock registry
Annual kennel licenses are also available through the Town Clerk, for anyone with four or more dogs.
Also, all owners of livestock, whether backyard farmer or commercial operation, need to file a one-time, one-page, no-fee confidential registration form with the Board of Health within 30 days of getting livestock. The purpose of the registry is to help animal control return any loose livestock to their owner and also for emergencies, so police and fire departments are properly prepared to respond. This registry also helps the town with state-mandated ‘barn book’ inspections of all livestock in town, which is done by the state-appointed municipal animal inspectors.
Finally, another valuable program the animal control office runs is the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program that controls the population of feral cats in Westport. Calls have been coming in about colonies of feral cats. Each spring season animal control schedules a trapping period to coincide with available low-cost veterinarian appointments, as well as arranging a location to house the cats pre-and post-op.
The animal control office welcomes your support. Donations to the Animal Gift fund are used to provide medical care for stray and abandoned animals. The Office also gratefully accepts donations of blankets, sheets, cat food and other supplies for the TNR program, or for distribution at the Food Pantry for families with pets. You can also get “I’m Animal Friendly” license plates for your vehicle. The proceeds are distributed through grants to local communities for subsidizing spay/neuter programs and other services. Westport typically gets around $6000 a year. Much more information about the programs and services of the Animal Control office can be found at: https://www.westport-ma.com/animal-control Or on its new Facebook page: Westport Ma Animal Control. Again, the ACO phone number is 774-264-5129.