September 29, 2008

Cheyenne WY considers changing rabies interval

Council mulls less frequent rabies shots

By Jodi Rogstad

CHEYENNE -- Good news for dog and cat owners: Instead of the annual
rabies shot for your furry friends, that requirement may change to as
little as once every three years.

The Cheyenne City Council is looking at changing its rabies ordinance.

Currently, it requires an annual rabies vaccination for dogs and cats.

The change allows owners to decide if they should vaccinate every
year, every two years or every three years.

Owners would still be required to obtain a current rabies tag from
their veterinarian, which serves as both the pet's proof of
immunization and its annual registration.

Council President Don Pierson and Mayor Jack Spiker are the
co-sponsors of the ordinance changes.

Since this spring, Spiker has been hearing a lot from local pet owners
and national advocates urging a more updated ordinance. After all,
several states have changed their requirements.

One of them was Bo Short, a Cheyenne resident who owns a German
named Ritter.

A few years ago, the young dog developed a very painful -- and
expensive to cure -- disease called perianal fistulas. Several nights,
Short was awakened by Ritter's moans.

"It was a miserable thing to go through," Short said.

Now the dog appears to be cured. Several Web sites say German
shepherds are prone to this disease.

As Short did his own research on the disease, he found several Web
sites that cited a connection between the rabies vaccine and the
autoimmune disease. It made Short question the city's requirements for
rabies vaccine -- it seemed too frequent, especially when some studies
say the vaccine is good for five to seven years.

Short said he feels the same about his dog as he does his three
children and nine grandchildren: "I don't want things pumped into
their bodies if it's not necessary."

Karon Volk, a breeder of Irish wolfhounds, has been pushing local
leaders to change the ordinance. She lives outside of city limits --
county residents only have to vaccinate every three years. Still, she
has several friends concerned about ill effects from over-vaccination.

She said she was "thrilled" with the ordinance change.

Pierson said after his meetings with Volk -- along with a couple of
local veterinarians -- it made sense to change the ordinance.

"My main concern was that we probably were over-vaccinating animals," Pier

son said. "That and the added expense for pet owners. If it's not
necessary, why take it on?"

Rabies vaccines come in two doses n a one-year dose and a three-year dose.

Dr. Christopher Church, a veterinarian at the Cheyenne Pet Clinic,
said he recommends the three-year strengths for house dogs and the
one-year for dogs that spend a lot of time outside "chasing skunks"
and more likely to be exposed to rabies.

He said a rabies shot costs around $12 and a new tag is $5.

The City Council will vote on the ordinance at its Oct. 13 meeting for
a second reading, and if it prevails, the third and final reading will
be on Oct. 27. It will take effect once published in legal notices.


Someone please educate Dr. Christopher Church, Cheyenne Pet Clinic. According to a 1992 study by French research scientist, Dr. Michel Aubert, a dog or cat that has had at least two rabies vaccine inoculations has a less than 1 in 8 million chance of contracting the virus if exposed. By contrast, you have a better than 1 in 600,000 chance of being struck by lightning if you stand in a thunderstorm.

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