In 2008, Prairie Dog Pals submitted a proposal to the city for the rescue and relocation of prairie dogs. The RFP (Request for Proposals) contained some interesting language that gave us cause to review and update some of our procedures. The RFP required that we determine the necessary vaccinations for handling prairie dogs. While we were not aware of any requirements we researched CDC files and talked with our local health officials.
There are no vaccination requirements (please refer to the letter from the city regarding this.)
Based on the letter and our review of CDC recommendations for handling animals during rescue operations, we’ve developed our own protocol to protect our volunteers.
Personal Protection for Caretakers
• Wash hands with soap and water:
Before and after handling each animal
After coming into contact with animal urine, feces, or blood
After cleaning cages
Before eating meals, taking breaks, smoking, or leaving the shelter
Before and after using the restroom
• Use anti-bacterial cleanser after washing.
• Wear heavy protective gloves when handling prairie dogs.
• Wear surgical gloves when handling sick or wounded animals.
• Wear surgical and protective gloves when cleaning cages.
• Consider use of goggles or face protection if splashes from contaminated surfaces may occur.
• Do not allow rescued animals to bite or scratch you.
• Do not eat in animal care areas.
• Pregnant women and immuno-compromised persons should not volunteer for positions involving direct animal contact.
• Bring a change of clothes to wear home at the end of the day.
• Bag and thoroughly clean clothes worn at the shelter.
• Whenever possible, caretakers should have completed a 3-dose prophylactic vaccination series for rabies.
• Whenever possible, caretakers should have a tetanus shot to protect against infections from accidental scratches or bites.
• In the event that a person is bitten by a prairie dog that appears to be ill or acting strangely, the animal will be surrendered for rabies testing and the person be given prophylactic vaccination as a precaution. In addition, the testing should include plague/tularemia screening in case the sick animal represents the first stage of a plague epizootic.