I am going to take a brief break in my “So You Think You Want a Rescue?” series to implore Pennsylvania residents to take up their pens (or keyboards) to inform their representatives of their support for Senate Bill 155.
Senate Bill 155 amends the act of December 15, 1986 (P.L. 1610, No.181) which requires that Pennsylvania residents vaccinate any domestic dog or cat over three months of age for rabies. It also requires that that vaccine be re-administered every three years for the duration of the animal’s life. SB 155 (formerly SB 90), provides for a medical exemption for the rabies vaccine. The exemption can be obtained by getting a certification from a licensed veterinarian that has “examined the animal and determines that it would be medically contraindicated to vaccinate the animal due to an infirmity, other physical condition or regimen of therapy”. The exemption would be good for one year and could be gained afterward year to year if the veterinarian still finds the dog to be eligible for the exemption.
For those of you who may be new here, I won’t rehash my old wounds with the rabies vaccine; you can read about them here. (You can also read my old letter in support of SB90 which I modified and mailed out today to support SB155 here). I will keep this short and sweet – this bill needs to be passed. It has been reintroduced three times and has yet to make it out of the Senate Agriculture Committee (where it is hanging out again now).
This exemption could change the lives of so many dogs and cats in Pennsylvania. Dogs like Smokey, who died because of the vaccine, would not have died in vain. His story could be used to spare Panzer or Shelby’s life, if they become ill down the road and could benefit from the exemption. It takes the decision of whether or not to vaccinate out of the hands of lawmakers who have never met your animals and puts it into the hands of your veterinarian, where it should have been in the first place.
This bill is not for pet owners who are looking to save a few bucks and endanger the human population by skimping on a trip to the vet for that rabies vaccine, those people are still going to exist, sure, but they will still exist outside the law, as they do today. This bill allows for the responsible pet owners with sick dogs and cats to be able to make an informed decision with their veterinarian about the health of their pets versus the risk to the public. I read recently that there has not been a single case of an animal with a rabies exemption contracting rabies in all of the states that currently have exemptions. The rabies law was enacted to protect humans, it has served its purpose valiantly, now it’s time to amend it to protect the pet population like it protected the human one.
Do the right thing Pennsylvania, pass the bill.
For a list of member of Pennsylvania’s Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs committee, please visit: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/cteeInfo.cfm?cde=27&body=S