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 animalâ€™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.
To download a copy of the 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report, visit aafponline.org.
Source: Press release
Photo courtesy of Nathan Wajsman