February 17, 2013

Dr. Jean Dodds On Legislation Proposed to Lower the Age of Rabies for Puppies

Still a bad idea.

Dr. Dodds has received several requests about her position on Assemblyman Gomez’s California Assembly Bill AB272 that would lower the required age for rabies vaccinations.  Dr. Dodds wrote a strongly worded letter in opposition to this bill, on behalf of the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust and concerned pet owners in California.

  • California Assembly Bill AB 272 seeks to lower the age at which dogs are first vaccinated against rabies from 4 months to 3 months. We believe that this is ill-advised, scientifically unfounded, and counterproductive.  The bill seeks to address a problem in the canine community that does not exist, as the California Department of Public Health’s statistics in Reported Animal Rabies Data make abundantly clear:  bats and other wildlife pose the major threat of rabies transmission to the public, not dogs under the age of 4 months. As it currently stands, the law requiring puppies to be vaccinated at 4 months of age is and has been effective at controlling rabies in California’s canine population.

  • Michigan Senate Bill SB 118 - which would lower the age at which puppies in large-scale breeding facilities must be vaccinated against rabies from 4 months to 3 months - will result in an increase the number of puppies who will fail to elicit a proper immune response to rabies as well as increase the likelihood of adverse reactions to the vaccine.  This portion of the bill appears to address a non-existent problem in the canine community, as the data reported in the government summary maps of all rabies positive cases in Michigan illustrate:  bats and skunks pose the major public health threat, not puppies under the age of 4 months. 

  • Puppies are in the midst of receiving other vaccinations (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and more) at 12 weeks (3 months) of age, and adding a rabies vaccine into the mix will not only increase the likelihood of adverse reactions, some of which permanently debilitating or fatal. Vaccinating puppies at too young an age can be ineffective. The 2003 American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Guidelines reports on Page 16 that:  ”When vaccinating an animal, the age of the animal, the animal’s immune status, and interference by maternal antibodies in the development of immunity must be considered.  Research has demonstrated that the presence of passively acquired maternal antibodies interferes with the immune response to many canine vaccines, including CPV, CDV, CAV-2 and rabies vaccines.”

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