Rabies clinics are common in some areas. They are typically one or two day events where people can get their pets vaccinated against rabies at very low cost. The good aspect of these clinics is that some animals that get vaccinated there would not otherwise be vaccinated. The downside of rabies clinics is that they are not the same thing as a normal vaccine appointment with a veterinarian. Rabies clinics are usually "assembly line" vaccination – the goal is to get as many animals vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. The animals are not given a physical examination and there is no discussion with owners about preventive medicine or other problems. Therefore, there is no opportunity to detect and address other health problems, which is (in my opinion) the most important aspect of routine vaccination appointments. There is also no opportunity for vaccination against other important diseases.
Rabies vaccine clinics can be beneficial in situations where some people are unable (or, unfortunately, unwilling) to pay for a normal veterinary examination and complete vaccination. Anything that increases the number of animals vaccinated against this devastating disease is useful. However, rabies clinics also can compromise the health of animals (and potentially their owners) if they are the only routine veterinary contact. They can also end up hurting owners financially in situations where early disease would have been detected and addressed during a regular vaccine appointment. Often, diseases are much more difficult and expensive to treat when they are identified later.
So, while it’s obviously tempting to take the cheapest option available, if you can afford a regular veterinary appointment, don’t use rabies vaccine clinics. It will be better for your pet and for you to have a regular vaccination appointment with a good physical examination and full consultation.
More information on rabies can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources page.