Alter the state rabies law

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rover and Tigger will be delighted –– and just as safe –– if the Legislature gets behind Sen. Larry Dixon’s bill to require rabies vaccinations only every three years.

Other states have accepted the three-year rotation (abandoning the requirement that dogs and cats receive the vaccination every year), and for good reason.

The expense and risks of annual vaccinations can be avoided.

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Indeed, Alabama law on rabies vaccinations hasn’t kept up with veterinary science, which has shown that the vaccine protects a pet for at least three years.

Moreover, research indicates that the vaccine can injure some pets or cause dogs and cats to engage in destructive behavior such as chewing on their tails and ripping up their beds.

In addition, rabies vaccinations are suspected of sometimes causing a form of feline cancer, autoimmune diseases, digestive problems, muscular weakness, seizures and other health problems.

Because of the seriousness of rabies, the risks from the vaccine are deemed acceptable.

But according to veterinary science there’s no reason to bear these risks every year.

In fact, the Rabies Challenge Fund, a national organization, is conducting research to determine whether the vaccine actually provides protection for up to seven years.

Alabama is the last state to still require annual rabies vaccinations.

A Senate committee has already approved Sen. Dixon’s bill.

Its next stop is the full Senate, where lawmakers should OK it and send it to the House.

– The Press-Register