Pet Wellness Update article
Welcome to Pet Wellness Update, a website dedicated to reform rabies laws nationwide to exempt sick and senior dogs and cats from mandatory rabies booster shots when they are in the care of a licensed veterinarian.
In 2005, I took a healthy 12 year old calico house cat for a rabies booster shot.
Within six months, she began to show signs of ill health - dramatic weight loss, great thirst, poor coat, bad breath, eye discharge, ear mites, frequent urination and frequent vomiting. A year later, after a roller coaster of treatment, progress and regression, in the midst of an ice storm unprecedented in Texas history, Aimee was in kidney failure and dying.
I wanted her passing to be painless and peaceful.
Only one local vet was available in that moment; all the others in our area were ice-bound. She didn't know us and because my cat's ''shots were not current,'' i.e., within the last year - and she could not risk a bite by an ''unvaccinated animal'' - she would gas down my cat. I could not be present.
My animal was in pain. She had no hope to live. I would not prolong her suffering. So I gave my sweet, warm kitty to the veterinarian who disappeared. When she returned, she handed Aimee to me as a corpse.
While kidney failure was the cause of her demise, it was almost certainly triggered by the rabies shot she received - but did not need - in 2005.
It rocked my world to be prevented from holding Aimee for the euthanasia because her rabies shot was not current. I do not want to repeat this scene or see any other pet owner have to go through it.
Sadly, they do.
In a new report published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, despite the extreme under-reporting of vaccinal adverse reactions, between April 1, 2004 and March 31, 2007, the Center for Veterinary Biologics stated that, ''nearly 10,000 adverse event reports (all animal species) were received by manufacturers of rabies vaccines...Approximately 65% of the manufacturer's reports involved dogs.'' ''Postmarketing Surveillance of Rabies Vaccines for Dogs to Evaluate Safety and Efficacy''JAVMA April 1, 2008 issue, Vol. 232, No. 7
Read hundreds of personal accounts on our petition to exempt sick and senior pets from rabies vaccine. These are a fraction of the tens of thousands of dog and cat lovers who have experienced the negative effects of rabies control and prevention laws based on precedent, not science.
This website is for Aimee, all those dogs and cats as well as their families.
With the birth of modern veterinary vaccinology 30 years ago, rabies prevention and control laws were enacted to protect the public. As a result, the Center for Disease Control announced in 2007 that canine rabies has been eradicated in the United States.
But the unintended consequences of mandatory, redundant and medically unnecessary rabies vaccinations are now epidemic.
A recent report by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association states that ''rabies vaccines are the most common group of biological products identified in adverse event reports received by the Center for Veterinary Biologics between April 1,2004 and 2007.'' Dogs represented 65% of the affected animals.
Rabies vaccinations are implicated in many acute and chronic health conditions that affect the health and quality of life of dogs and cats.
Dogs and cats with mild dispositions become excessively fearful or aggressive almost overnight. Dogs and cats suffer anaphylactic shock, seizures and other disorders of the central nervous system. Some effects are short-term. Others manifest over time as chronic dysfunction previously unknown in pets - allergies, asthma, arthritis, ear infections, thyroid disease, heart disease, kidney failure and cancer.
In the most extreme cases, dogs develop deadly autoimmune diseases, cats develop fibrosarcomas at injection sites. Even with extensive - and expensive treatment - their death rate is high.
Primum non nocere: First do no harm
For safety and efficacy, rabies vaccine manufacturers' labels state that this potent biologic agent is ''for healthy animals only.''
The potential for adverse reaction in healthy animals is amplified in dogs and cats with other existing factors, such as when a dog or cat is stressed, under a general anesthetic, recovering from surgery, has a chronic illness, has allergies, is on treatment for an infection, or has a history of immune system disorder, etc.
Also even a slight elevation in temperature can thwart the vaccine leaving the animal - and by extension its human - vulnerable to the rabies virus if exposed.
Yet current rabies control and prevention laws in all but seven United States make no allowance for health status, age or proximity of exposure; they mandate repeat rabies shots annually or triennually regardless of the risks.
No loss of immunity
Since 1990, veterinary research studies by challenge and serology demonstrate that a single rabies vaccination administered properly confers immunity for up to seven years, possibly for the life of the dog or cat.
In 1992, Michel Aubert, a French research scientist, noted that a dog or cat that has been vaccinated once against rabies has a less than one in eight million chance of contracting the virus if exposed.
By contrast, you have a better than one in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning if you stand in a thunderstorm.
No medical necessity
Yet the practice of re-vaccination at one or three-year intervals persists. This is purely on the basis of precedent, not science.
According to a landmark report on dogs and cat vaccines published in 2002 by the AVMA Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents (COBTA), there is no scientific basis for annual revaccination. Re-administering rabies vaccine does not enhance disease resistance and may expose animals to unnecessary risk.
To be perfectly clear: the duration of a dog license may expire; a drug with a shelf life may expire; a dog or cat's immunity to rabies does not expire in one or three years.
So why do these outdated rabies laws exist? And why is no allowance made for family pets that are especially vulnerable to adverse reactions - the pregnant, aged, ailing, allergic animals in the care of licensed veterinarians?