BRISTOL, Tenn. - It's a vaccine that some think isn't needed, but when critters in your backyard could be carrying the disease, you may want to think again.
For some people, their pets are practically a part of the family. "He's a part of the family, so he doesn't get any short end of the stick. He's very well taken care of," said Angela Broome, a local pet owner.
For Broome, protecting her dog Tigger from rabies is her number one priority. "He's up-to-date on every single shot, from rabies to parvo to distemper," said Broome.
We spoke with local veterinarian Andy Cherry who tells us it is state law in both Virginia and Tennessee to have pets vaccinated. "It's important to do that to prevent them from getting it. They are more likely to have contact with wild animals than us," said Cherry.
He says by protecting your pets, you're also protecting your family. "It does protect the animal from getting it. How it protects us is our animal doesn't contract it and give it to us," said Cherry.
We learned an animal gets it from fluid contact. "Typically saliva to blood, so through a bite wound," said Cherry.
Cherry says the most common carriers of rabies are raccoons, bats, and foxes.
He tells us aside from vaccinating your pets, you should also avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Don't feed the wild or stay animals. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home and securely seal your garbage can lids. All of these tips will help protect you and your pet.
Cherry tells News 5 if your pet is bitten, there is no way to test the animal to see if it has contracted the disease while it is alive.
He also said there is no cure for rabies. While no medicine works 100 percent, it's in the best interest of your pet to vaccinate.