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Is a tetnus shot a good idea when working around strays?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is something I'm not sure on, and neither my doctor nor the people at the animal shelter where I volunteer can answer this.

Can a tetnus shot protect you from catching something from a stray cat's scratch/bite? I know it's for lock-jaw and other blood infections, but not for bartonella. So would it do any good?

They hurt like all heck, and I really don't want to get another one unless I have to. I haven't had one in six and half years, and I really don't need one unless I'm exposed to situations where it could be needed. However, I do volunteer in a cat shelter, and am exposed to countless animals per month, not to mention the untreated strays and ferrals when I'm on drop-box duty.

So do you think it's a good idea to get a tetnus booster?
post #2 of 10
It is a good idea for everyone, not just those working with strays. It won't stop cat scratch fever if you are prone to getting that, but it will help otherwise.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
It's just that I was told that under normal circumstances a person only needed one shot every ten years. Those who work in higher risk jobs should get one every six years. I wasn't sure where working around cats falls.
post #4 of 10
Wodesorel, I'm almost afraid to ask this, but here goes anyway: what is "dropbox duty"?

I had read about shelters that years ago used to actually have chutes that people could drop animals into during off hours! Because this was so cruel, and so many animals were getting injured, it was my understanding that the chutes were done away with.
I couldn't believe something like this existed. Please tell me this isn't what you're talking about...
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
No, a "drop box" is a heated area inside the shelter where four 3x3x3 foot cages are located. It's left unlocked 24 hours a day, and people can go there to dump cats anytime they want, with no volunteers around to ask questions.

It was the only way to get the families who live around where the shelter is located to not fight the building of the shelter in the first place. They were worried people would just toss animals out of their cars in the parking lot and they would be roaming the neighborhood. The drop box was the compromise.

It's a horrible thing to have. Since it was put in we stopped getting ferrals and now almost exclusively deal with dumped house cats. In the summer months it can get to over 60 cats per day. And people will still just stop their cars and toss cats out. It's sickening. We let people know what will happen though - there's a large sign that tells people the cat will most likely be put to sleep, and we request a 10$ donation to cover it. It was put there to change people's minds, and it never does. We also keep a white board with running totals of how many cats were dumped per day from the past week, but again, it doesn't have much of an effect on people.

Unfortunately, when working the night crew (which I always do), you end up handling a lot of cats that have come in during the day and had no place to stay but in carriers. We have these things called "6-packs", which are 6 cages together on wheels. All of them are used in the public spay/nuetering program we run, and when those cats are picked up they have to be cleaned, and then the dumped cats are placed in them to await their fate - either being put down or put through our program and fostered.

I like winter the most. More people adopt and less cats are dropped, so very few have to be put to sleep due to overcrowding.
post #6 of 10
Tetanus is an anerobic bacteria, which means that it can't multiply in the presence of oxygen. Therefore it is associated with deep wounds that put bacteria into the tissue beyond the reach of the air. If you are subject to deep wounds then you should probably get the extra shot, its cheap insurance, because tetanus is usually fatal and always horrible. The best source to know if you need it for working with animals is the public health department. Becky
post #7 of 10
PS, You can get the shot up to three days after exposure, though, so you could wait until you get bitten or scratched and then go get it. As long as that doesn't happen over a long weekend. Becky
post #8 of 10
Wodesorel - Thanks for the explanation about the "drop box". Though I'm relieved to hear it's not what I though it was, it doesn't actually sound much better. I give you so much credit for being able to deal with that - I could never do it. I don't know if I'd be more heartbroken for those poor cats, or more enraged at those callous people who simply discard them, but it would make me crazy.

Bless you for being able to handle that situation - those kitties need all the friends and TLC they can get.

60 cats per day is an enormous amount of cats - is there any way to team up with other local shelters/organizations/vets to expand your S/N program? Sounds like your area is in dire need of some humane education, too. The adults may be a lost cause, but there's always hope with the kids.
post #9 of 10
wodesorel..your example is the whole reason why the "no Kill" movement came to be...the point was that if people felt like their cat had a chance to be adopted..they would take it to the shelter instead of simply dumping it in a field. KTLynn is right..this sounds like a community issue and one that needs to be addressed. I would suggest contacting Nathan Winograd's new group:


see if they have any ideas on what can be done. Nathan Winograd was the director of the Tompkins SPCA that was the first open admission Animal Shelter to become no kill. He has a lot of really good ideas.

Can't hurt to at least write him.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
They've tried everything. The people who run the shelter (entirely privately funded, by the way) go to schools, businesses, and religious meetings in the four neighboring counties on a regular basis. They have a spot on the local news once a week. They put ads in the local papers...

We even work with the county-funded shelters and the few small groups in the area that are running their own shelters through fostering. The problem is that none of them have the funding to operate a s/n clinic, and our shelter pays the entire bill. It's not that big of an issue, we have great people who back us financially.

We do s/n clinics every Tuesday. An average of 30 to 50 cats A WEEK are fixed. Some weeks we get more. In addition to cheap s/n, they can also get vaccinations at reduced costs.

The problem is that we have people driving farther than 150 miles to use our clinic and to drop off cats. There really isn't an established private shelter in my area of Ohio, and almost all of the local pounds have either been shut down, or have been featured in the news due to horrible conditions. The other small rescue groups around here are no kill, and they haven't had openings in over three years.

So during kitten season, we'll have anywhere from 5 to 20 litters of kittens dropped off at our shelter, on top of the average of 7 adults per day. I think part of the problem is that people have this belief that we're a no kill shelter. I actually though it was this way until I started volunteering. They've never advertised or said they were no kill, they even say on the news that they are full and that almost all of droped animals are put to sleep, but for some reason the community still thinks they are no kill. Plus, the local pounds do put down dropped animals without even thinking twice. At the shelter, dropped cats do have a very slim chance of finding a new home, and I think that's why people choose to drive the distance. It's not like the shelter is in the middle of the city, it's out in the middle of no-where, and it's about a half-hour drive from the rather large cities around.

Edit: I forgot to add that due to funding problems, about 90% of our staff is volunteer only. Only the shelter owners and managers, and the vet staff get paid.

We don't have many volunteers, and it's been harder and harder to find new people as our old volunteers move out of the area.

And as for fostering, we do. But there's only about 200 people who are willing or able to foster, and the average number of cats per foster is about 5 or 6. Some people have 10 or more, one guy even fosters 30 cats because he's built his own cat room for them. Once the spots at the shelter, the annex, the barn, and the fosters are filled - close to 600 or more cats on a good day, animals start being put to sleep. We only manage to adopt out about 30 cats everage per month, and about 5 of those will be returned in the following months.

People around here think it's a better idea to get those free kittens and not spend the money to fix them or get them their shots, or vet care. Our area is the poorest in the state. We're located by where the all the steel mills used to be, and the area never recovered from when they shut down 30 years ago. People around here don't have enough money to buy their food or take their children to the doctors. Why would they spend 90 dollars on a cat? Or even 40 dollars to fix it? I know education is the answer - but you can pound it into their head as much as you want, and they don't have to listen
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