According to a follow up report in the Killeen Daily Herald, Bell County, TX Commissioners are set to reject any change in the annual rabies vaccine protocol.
"I talked with the commissioners about it, and I don't think it's something they are going to change, not as long as we have a vet who (is opposed to it)." stated county attorney, Rick Miller. "Absent that, they are not inclined to change the ordinance. I'll have to look at the state law, but right now, we're going to keep it as is."
Commissioner John Fisher concurred with Miller, largely due to the opinion of local veterinarian Dr. Warren Dunn of the Belton Veterinary Clinic, who strongly disagrees with the assertion that annual rabies shots are unnecessary.
"Right now, the policy is annual rabies shots," Fisher said. "Dr. Dunn has discussed this. That's our policy right now, and unless someone can give us a better argument, we're going to keep this policy as is."
What's the point of argument? The science has been done.
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.
Furthermore, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians advise public health officials that requiring inoculation more frequently than every three years is counterproductive.
"Vaccines used in state and local rabies control programs should have at least a 3-year duration of immunity. This constitutes the most effective method of increasing the proportion of immunized dogs and cats in any population (50).” ~Jenkins, S. R., Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2003 Vet Med Today: Public Vet Med, JAVMA, Vol. 222, No 2, Jan 15, 2003
So who benefits from maintaining the status quo?
The effects of over-vaccinating beloved companion animals is a financial bonanza for the veterinarians who resist a medically sound rabies vaccine protocol.
A study published in 2004 by Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, reported that 21 million Texans owned pets. In 2003 alone, the financial outpouring of their love and devotion amounted to $2.8 billion for food and veterinary medical services in addition to medicine and supplies.
Surgical removal and post-operative care for cats with injection site cancer is around $6,000. VAS treatment expenses that reach $10,000 are becoming more common. When post-op care includes radiation and chemotherapy, veterinary medical expense easily double those costs to $20,000. Morbidity in VAS cats if high.
Dog owners who try to save their dogs from deadly IMHA spend $5,000 just for emergency treatment-- blood transfusions, drug therapy and close monitoring for a week or longer. Continuing veterinary care adds $7,000 to this. Prognosis for survival is guarded.
Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT), hypothyroidism, chronic hepatitis, renal failure, cystitis or lower urinary tract disease (particularly in cats), neurological diseases such as confusion and inability to be "present", asthma, and so on are all associated with vaccine reaction. There are few cures. Managed care goes on – and costs accrue - for the life of the animal.
These costs are just the tip of the iceberg.
Ear and skin conditions are the most common problems veterinarians deal with day to day.
Often pet owners report that these begin shortly after re-vaccination and are exacerbated with every subsequent vaccine. Regardless how and when they emerge, chronic, incurable sickness is detrimental to a dog or cat’s quality of life and longevity. Treatment is financially draining to its family.
It's high time vets who reject science at the expense of our pets' health understand that giving annual rabies shots to family pets is not only bad medicine but bad business.
Dr. Warren Dunn of the Belton Veterinary Clinic is the chief opponent to three-year rabies shots in Bell County.
I urge dog and cat owners in Bell County to vote with your feet and on the way out the door, tell Dr. Dunn that you're taking your pets to a veterinary practice that cares more about the wellbeing of their health than the bottom line.
Dr. Laura Szeremi, a member of the Killeen animal advisory board and a practicing veterinarian at two hospitals in the Killeen area, has promoted the change in Killeen rabies laws. In her estimation, annual rabies vaccine is unneeded and potentially harmful.