January 13, 2012

Missouri Rabies Laws: A Solution Without a Problem?

It's hard to fathom why a Missouri state senator has introduced new legislation to require rural residents to vaccinate all dogs and cats with rabies vaccine.  Currently rural areas are bereft of rabies control and prevention ordinances. 

They are also devoid of rabies.

In the last few decades, only a few cases of rabies have been confirmed A rabid bat has caused one human death in 2008.
Although many cities and towns in Missouri have long since adopted ordinances requiring pet vaccinations, there is no such law at the state level, meaning that many rural parts of the state are not covered by any regulation.

Brown’s bill would require that all dogs, cats and other potential rabies transmitting pets be vaccinated regularly against the disease. Failure to meet this requirement would be considered a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $300 fine or up to 15 days in jail.

Competing forces are arguing for and against this legislation.

On the plus side, vaccination of family pets has long been used to create a buffer between humans and wildlife on the theory that herd immunity prevents the spread of rabies. More, this bill will give a county sheriff's office the authority to detain a pet dog that bites for observation.

Opponents argue that the law would subject any kindly soul who feeds a stray dog or cat for more than three days to fines and jail time if the animal is not vaccinated.  

Personally, I find it highly ironic that the lawmaker pushing this bill considers an antiquated policy to be the height of modernity.

“It kind of brings Missouri into the 20th century, even though this is the 21st century,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, as he testified before the Senate agriculture committee on Wednesday. “We’re way behind on what our statute states in regard to rabies.”
Is the Missouri lawmaker proposing a solution without a problem? 

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