Texas Cat And Dog Owners Want Discretion for Rabies Vaccinations


A grassroots effort by pet owners in Texas seeks modification of existing law to allow senior and sick pets to forego state-mandated rabies vaccinations.

A petition recently presented to the Texas Department of Health Services, Zoonosis Control Department asks the Department to give attending veterinarians discretion in assessing the risk of rabies exposure versus the risk of an adverse or potentially fatal reaction to a rabies vaccine.

Supporters of the proposed change in policy hope that companion animals will qualify for an exemption if they previously submitted to at least two rabies shots and suffered adverse reactions, or if they are prone to reactions, or are in the care of a licensed veterinarian for a chronic or acute illness. The exemption would not excuse pet owners from licensing their pets according to local ordinances, but it would allow them to protect the animal’s health and remain in compliance with state law.

The Texas Department of Public Health adopted a 3-year interval between rabies vaccinations for dogs and one year for cats in 2003, bringing state law into accord with recommendations to curb unnecessary vaccinations made by many veterinary medical schools and professional associations. However, the final decision about the interval for rabies booster shots has been left to each individual community.

Many Texas counties and cities still require annual rabies vaccinations, regardless of the condition of the animal. No provision has been made for companion animals with acute or chronic health issues being treated by a licensed veterinarian.

All rabies vaccines licensed by the USDA specify on their label, “For administration to healthy dogs and cats.”

Pamela Picard, a Texas pet owner who launched the petition declared, “To require re-vaccination when a booster shot will put the patient’s life at risk in direct contradiction to the manufacturer’s labeling is state-sanctioned malpractice. A pet owner should not have to choose between endangering an animal’s health and obeying the law.”

Many veterinary services, grooming and boarding services, trains and airlines require proof of a current rabies vaccination. This forces Texas pet owners to obey the current law or risk denial of services and/or possible seizure of their pet by animal control authorities.

Dr. Bob Rogers, D.V.M. a Houston, TX veterinarian who is providing the science to support the need for a rabies exemption, believes that granting this exemption poses little risk to any community.

By contrast, the consequences of repeated vaccinations for an animal in a compromised state of health can be serious. Veterinarians worldwide cite an epidemic of common problems that they believe are linked to vaccines, including ear or skin conditions, chronic discharges, itching and behavior problems.

The proposed rule change will be published for public comment later this year. For more information, visit Pet Wellness Update or Critter Advocacy.

To download a copy of the 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report, visit aafponline.org.

Source: Press release

Photo courtesy of Nathan Wajsman

12 Responses to “Texas Cat And Dog Owners Want Discretion for Rabies Vaccinations”

  1. Roberto P. says:

    Cats have gotten post-vaccine associated sarcoma from the rabies vaccines, and the companies themselves have studies showing the vaccines (other than the Merial PurVax) are good for three years. Why would anyone be required to vaccinate a cat more frequently is absurd. And to vaccinate sick pets? I was under the impression that a vet had the right to exempt the pet for illness. It’s a perfect example of legislating by fear, rather than by science.

  2. mittens says:

    the incidence of injection site sarcoma is quite rare. for every very helpful or even lifesaving medicine on earth there is a small group of individuals who will have bad reactions or are allergic.people should be highly encouraged to give their outside going animals particularly dogs a rabies vaccine not discouraged by throwing up the least likely reaction to likewise scare people rather than presenting ‘ science’ to compell them.

    that said last time i brought my 20 year old cats in the doctor said sort of under his breath, in an aside-” err ahh mumble mumble… maybe you should uh forget the next rabies shot. theyre getting so old …they don’t go out do they?”

    i dont think it’s right at all to insist on vaccinating a sick animal. it’s just not right. if theyre sick they probably shouldn’t be outdoors unsupervised anyway.

  3. Heidi Christensen says:

    VAS (Vaccine associated sarcoma or injection site sarcoma) IS NOT rare! It is 1 in 3000 cats. EVEN it it was rare - would you care if it were YOUR cat?

    Merial makes shots that last at least 3 and possibly 7 years to life BUT they have the adjuvents in them that cause VAS in cats.

    Purevex makes shots without adjuvents but are only guarenteed for 1 year.

    STILL MOSt Vets are only useing merial for cats.

    Also did you notice on the picture with this article - that vet is giving the shot in the shoulder!!!!!!! Shoulder and scruff VAS is almost if not impossible to cure. At least if they get it low in the leg you can amputate the leg and save the cat!

  4. Katie says:

    It vaccine sarcoma also occurs in dogs. There can be other problems too. I had a golden who developed fibrosing panniculitis at the site of his rabies shot when he was 5 yrs old. A female golden who at age 15, developed a vasculitis at the rabies injection site. She was very sick and it took 4 weeks of Baytril to get her infection under control. The Rabies Challenge is doing studies now. It appears that the rabies vaccine maybe good for 5 yrs instead of 3 yrs. My vet. told me he has titers done on himself and the titer is still high after 7yrs.


  5. Sharon says:

    The State of Texas needs to stay out of people’s private business. It also mandates HPV vaccinations for female children. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Rick Perry wants to be the next George Bush. God help us if he succeeds.

  6. Betty says:

    I agree on the vaccine issues, also pets do not need most of the shots given by Vet’s seeking money not the welfare of your pet. To many shots actuall have an adverse effect and also cancell out the benifits of the first set of shots.
    Please view my web site, and contact me through the site if you have had or expect to have issues with the TBVME, and the manner they handle complanints of The Public concerning medical practice of your Vet.

  7. Dave says:

    As people have learned not to trust the bad (kibble) dry big pet foods, the ususal next transition for pet owners is to examine why dogs need those annual “booster” shots and rabies shots every year. To this (vet) recommended mixture or professional advice, add some heartworm or flea medications and the picture then starts to become clear why so many dogs and cats are struggling with day to day living and/or are getting all kinds of other diseases, failures, sickness, etc.

  8. Pamela Picard says:

    Thanks for picking up on this. We are now opening the petition to a national constituency to advocate for endorsement by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians who write the guidelines for rabies laws nationwide.

  9. angelina says:

    My 7 yr old shepard mix had her rabies shot last november she had a very bad reaction to it. She layed around for 2 days did not want to eat or go outside. Now her puppy which is about 6 had her rabies shot today and she is having a similiar reaction to it. Like a baby has to its shots. Sleepy, droggy, walking funny, eyes look weak. I am woundering what can be done to stop Tennessee from having rabies shots required every year for dogs that stay in the house 90% of the time. If they last 3-5 yrs would it be unlawful not to give them another shot? I think its bad but can i get my 6 and 7 year old exempt from these shots when they are 7 and 8? Since they both have had a reaction to them. My shepard mix has a tumor like mass that has come up about a year ago on her body where her back leg conects on to her body, do you think this may have come from the rabies shot? Please let me know if theres anything i can do???

  10. Charlene Stewart says:

    My beloved feline, Hercules, has a horrible, rapidly growing vaccination site cancer. It started at the site and now expanded up to the spine. I have reported this to some Organizations asking for help, Banfield who gave him his Fort Dodge (known for causing this cancer)vaccination, and two Vets have confirmed but cannot offer help financially, etc. to treat.

    I am on social security only and economically strapped. I cringe to think that as one Vet stated, they will burst open.


    Charlene Stewart

  11. Christine says:

    My little dog, yorkie cross, had a mandatory rabies shot last wednesday, and died this morning. Got sick yesterday vomiting and died this morning. He was only 7 pounds, unfortunately he was with my son who tried to get him to the vets yesterday, but couldnt get an appointment until today, too late.

  12. Wendy says:

    Next time Christine take a sick animal like that to an emergency vet. They’re open all the time and take spur-of-the-moment cases like that. It might cost more, but it could have saved the animal’s life.

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