BANGOR  — Maine’s top veterinarian says the state’s pet vaccination rates are far too low.

There are about 285,000 dogs in Maine, about 160,000 of which are licensed. Licensing a dog requires that the animal be current on the rabies vaccine. State veterinarian Don Hoenig estimates that only about half of dogs and cats receive the rabies vaccine.

Hoenig says he’d like it to be in the 75 to 80 percent range.

An even lower percentage get other needed vaccines.

Doug Hutchins owns Southern Maine Veterinary Care in Lyman and is president of the Maine Veterinary Medical Association. He tells the Bangor Daily News pet owners worry about the cost of vaccines and possible side effects. He says pet owners also do not understand just how crucial vaccines are.