Summer brings pets and owners outside into backyards, parks and trails across Pennsylvania. In order to be safe, the Department of Agriculture is reminding pet owners to have their pets licensed and vaccinated for rabies.

"Vaccination is important for pets and their owners," said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. "Vaccinating your pet decreases the spread of rabies, saves your pet if it comes in contact with the disease and protects citizens from infection."

Incidents of dogs infected with rabies increases during the summer because pets and owners spend more time outside where they come in contact with infected wild animals. Annually, there are 500 cases of rabies and foxes, raccoons and skunks significant carriers of the disease.

State law requires that all dogs three months of age or older be licensed each year. It costs $6 for each spayed or neutered dog and $8 for other dogs. Senior citizens and people with disabilities may purchase a license for $4 for spayed or neutered dogs and $6 for others.

Rabies vaccinations are also required for all dogs and any house cat over three months of age. Anyone found to be in violation of either law could be cited. The maximum fine for violating rabies and licensing laws is $300, plus court costs. All dogs must also be under their owner's control and are not permitted to run at large.

Secretary Wolff also recommended these safety tips for dealing with animals:

-- Do not approach any unknown animal;

-- Ask the owner's permission before interacting with any pets;

-- Do not provoke any animal; and

-- Be sure to control your pet at all times, and know its level of comfort with strangers and children.

The Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement administers the dog license program. License applications are available at every county treasurer's office. A list of county treasurers and a downloadable license application is available online at

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

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