UPDATE-Rabies Laws AR, TN & WY, Rabies Challenge Fund

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UPDATE-Rabies Laws AR, TN & WY, Rabies Challenge Fund


The Rabies Challenge Fund has earned the endorsement of canine celebrities, Rin Tin Tin and Benji http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/, and Jan Rasmusen author of the national-award-winning health care book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care, will send an autographed copy of her book for donations to The Rabies Challenge Fund above $500 http://www.truthfordogs.com/.

November marks the one year anniversary since the concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies began at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, and the fund has raised $120,700 of the $209,000 needed to fund the studies’ 2nd year budget.


Tennessee dog owners have launched an effort requesting the state to consistently enforce the 3 year rabies immunization requirement set forth in Tennessee law Title 68 Chapter 8 tennessee.gov/sos/acts/103/pub/pc0765.pdf .  The RabiesVaccinationChallengeinTN  Yahoo Group they formed can be found at http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/RabiesVaccinationChallengeinTN/?v=1&t=search&ch=web&pub=groups&sec=group&slk=3 .


Cheyenne’s Public Services Committee is scheduled to meet on October 13th to make a recommendation to the City Council on the proposed adoption of a 3 year rabies protocol. An article in the September 27, 2008 issue of the Wyoming Eagle Tribune entitled Council Mulls Less Frequent Rabies Shots http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2008/09/27/local_news_updates/20local_092708.txt  by Jodi Rogstad states:

“Good news for dog and cat owners: Instead of the annual rabies shot for your furry friends, that requirement may change to as little as once every three years.”

ARKANSAS Considers Adopting 3 Year Rabies Protocol

The State of Arkansas is considering adoption of a 3-year rabies protocol.  Below is a copy of my letter on behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund to the Arkansas Governor and Attorney General.

What You Can Do to Help:

Contact the Arkansas Legislature http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/
(full e-mail list at the bottom of this message) and ask them to pass the 3 year rabies legislation when it is introduced and request that a medical exemption clause for sick animals be included.

October 5, 2008

Governor Mike Beebe                                               Attorney General Dustin McDaniel
Governor’s Office                                                     Office of the Attorney General
State Capitol Room 250                                           323 Center Street, Suite 200
Little Rock, AR 72201                                              Little Rock, AR 72201


The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust has been made aware that the State of Arkansas is considering adoption of the 3-year rabies immunization protocol recommended by the Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association[1] to replace the State’s current annual requirement.  Not only does The Rabies Challenge Fund endorse adoption of the national 3-year standard, but we strongly encourage Arkansas to include a medical exemption clause for sick animals, for which vaccination is medically contraindicated.

It is recognized that most, if not all, currently licensed annual rabies vaccines given annually are actually the 3-year vaccine relabeled for annual use — Colorado State University’s Small Animal Vaccination Protocol for its veterinary teaching hospital states: “Even with rabies vaccines, the label may be misleading in that a three year duration of immunity product may also be labeled and sold as a one year duration of immunity product.”  According to Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, whose canine vaccine studies form a large part of the scientific base for the 2003 and 2006 American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Guidelines as well as the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) 2007 Vaccine Guidelines, “There is no benefit from annual rabies vaccination and most one year rabies products are similar or identical to the 3-year products with regard to duration of immunity and effectiveness.”[2]

Section 20-19-202 of Arkansas’ Rabies Law requiring annual rabies boosters may have been intended to achieve enhanced immunity to rabies virus by giving the vaccine more often than the federal 3-year licensening standard. But, more frequent vaccination than is required to fully immunize an animal will not achieve further disease protection.  Redundant annual rabies shots needlessly expose dogs and cats to the risk of adverse effects while obligating residents to pay unnecessary veterinary medical fees.  The American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2001 Principles of Vaccination state that “Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events.”  The law, as it currently reads, may violate Arkansas Consumer Protection Laws 4-88-107 and 4-88-108 by requiring pet owners to pay for a yearly veterinary medical procedure from which their animals derive no benefit and may be harmed.  The fact that the rabies vaccine confers a minimum duration of immunity of 3 years is “concealed” or “omitted” from consumers (pet owners).  Compliance with Section 20-19-202 of the Rabies Law places veterinarians in the uneasy position of “Over-treating patients” — an apparent violation of Section 17-101-305 (a)(17) of the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Practice Act.

Immunologically, the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions such as polyneuropathy “resulting in muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, incoordination, and weakness,”[3] auto-immune hemolytic anemia,[4] autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are all linked to the rabies vaccine.[5] [6] It is medically unsound for this vaccine to be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity.

A “killed” vaccine, the rabies vaccine contains adjuvants to enhance the immunological response.  In 1999, the World Health Organization ” classified veterinary vaccine adjuvants as Class III/IV carcinogens with Class IV being the highest risk,” [7] and the results of a study published in the August 2003 Journal of Veterinary Medicine documenting fibrosarcomas at the presumed injection sites of rabies vaccines stated, “In both dogs and cats, the development of necrotizing panniculitis at sites of rabies vaccine administration was first observed by Hendrick & Dunagan (1992).” [8]  According to the 2003 AAHA Guidelines, “…killed vaccines are much more likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., immune-mediated disease).”

The labels on rabies vaccines state that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs…,” and there are medical conditions for which vaccination can jeopardize the life or well-being of an animal.  A medical exemption clause inserted into the new 3 year Rabies Law being considered would allow veterinarians to write waivers for animals for whom medical conditions preclude vaccination.  The State of Maine inserted such an exemption into the 3 year rabies protocol, 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), it adopted in 2004 as follows:

A.   A letter of exemption from vaccination may be submitted for licensure, if a medical reason exists that precludes the vaccination of the dog.   Qualifying letters must be in the form of a written statement, signed by a licensed veterinarian, that includes a description of the dog, and the medical reason that precludes vaccination.  If the medical reason is temporary, the letter shall indicate a time of expiration of the exemption.

B.     A dog exempted under the provisions of paragraph 5 A, above, shall be considered unvaccinated, for the purposes of 10-144 C.M.R. Ch.251, Section 7(B)(1), (Rules Governing Rabies Management) in the case of said dog’s exposure to a confirmed or suspect rabid animal.

The Rabies Challenge Fund strongly supports a change in the Arkansas Rabies Law to conform to the 3-year national standard and respectfully requests that medical exemption language be inserted into the law.


Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee

cc:       Arkansas State Legislature
Richard Bell, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Agriculture
Dr. Susan Weinstein, Arkansas Public Health Veterinarian
Dr. W. Jean Dodds, Co-Trustee of The Rabies Challenge Fund
Dr. Ronald Schultz, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine

[1] National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian’s 2008 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, pp. 3, 6-7
[2] What Everyone Needs to Know about Canine Vaccines, Dr. Ronald Schultz http://www.puliclub.org/CHF/AKC2007Conf/What%20Everyone%20Needs%20to%20Know%20About%20Canine%20Vaccines.htm
Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and Don’t Know, Dr. Ronald Schultz http://www.cedarbayvet.com/duration_of_immunity.htm
World Small Animal Veterinary Association 2007 Vaccine Guidelines http://www.wsava.org/SAC.htm Scroll down to Vaccine Guidelines 2007 (PDF)
[3] Dodds, W. Jean Vaccination Protocols for Dogs Predisposed to Vaccine Reactions, The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, May/June 2001, Vol. 37, pp. 211-214
[4] Duval D., Giger U.Vaccine-Associated Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in the Dog, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 1996; 10:290-295
[5] American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Executive Board, April 2001, Principles of Vaccination, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 219, No. 5, September 1, 2001.
[6]Vascelleri, M. Fibrosarcomas at Presumed Sites of Injection in Dogs: Characteristics and Comparison with Non-vaccination Site Fibrosarcomas and Feline Post-vaccinal Fibrosarcomas; Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Series A August 2003, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 286-291.
[7] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans: Volume 74, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Feb. 23-Mar. 2, 1999, p. 24, 305, 310.
[8]American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature , 28pp.; and ibid. 2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised, 28 pp.

Arkansas Legislators:  http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/

Dog Laws-The Landlords and Dogs

Elderly or Disabled Tenants

The special place pets occupy in the lives of older people or people living with disabilities is well recognized. Finally, at least in some places, the law is taking that special bond into account.

Subsidized Housing

Older or disabled people, living in government-subsidized housing, being forced to give up pets that are their cherished companions – it doesn’t make for good press for the bureaucrats responsible. Pressure on those government officials has yielded results.

Tenants in “federally assisted” housing for the elderly or handicapped are allowed by law to own pets.4 This rule applies even if the federal government does not own the rental housing – it’s enough that a federal agency (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example) subsidizes it. Owners and managers may place reasonable regulations on pets, after consulting with tenants.5 Contact a local HUD office or your county Housing Authority to find out if a particular rental is covered.

Several states have also taken action. In California, residents of public housing developments (those owned and operated by a state, county, city or district agency) who are over the age of 60 or disabled may keep up to two small pets per apartment.6 Arizona, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire have similar rules, allowing tenants in state-owned housing developments for the elderly or disabled to have pets.7 (In Connecticut, a tenant may have a pet if the housing project allowed pets when the person applied for admission.)

The laws allow the public agencies to make reasonable regulations about pets. In Massachusetts, for example, policy guidelines issued by the state limit tenants to one pet; a dog must not weigh more than 40 pounds,and it must be spayed or neutered. The Arizona statute forbids requiring a tenant to pay a deposit of more than one month’s rent.

But regardless of standard lease terms, landlords who receive federal money must also make “reasonable accommodations” for disabled tenants, as long as the accommodations don’t impose undue hardship on the operation of the property.8 For example, a New Jersey court ruled that a man with paraplegia might be allowed to have a dog that was bigger than the 20-pound limit imposed by the standard lease. The man had trained the dog to retrieve objects for him, and two doctors stated that keeping the dog was important to his emotional well-being. The landlord could not automatically exclude the dog, the court said, without an inquiry into whether allowing the dog to stay was a reasonable accommodation for the disabled tenant.9

Similarly, a Massachusetts woman with a psychiatric disability was allowed to keep her cat, despite a no pets rule in her subsidized apartment complex. At her eviction trial, experts testified that she was emotionally attached to her pet and had “perhaps even psychological dependence” on it. A state appeals court ruled that accommodating the tenant was required under the law; the animal had caused no problems or complaints, and allowing her to keep it would not pose a hardship for the management of the apartments.10

If the management makes reasonable accommodations and the pet still creates problems, the tenant may be evicted. For example, a Connecticut housing complex for the elderly and disabled had trouble with a tenant whose dog frightened and bothered other residents. The dog’s owner, a chronic schizophrenic, did not walk his dog in the designated areas or clean up after it, and left it in his apartment for long periods of time. Despite the efforts of a social worker and the dog trainer whom she enlisted to help, problems persisted. A court reluctantly concluded that the management had made the reasonable accommodations required by law, and could proceed with an eviction.11

Private Housing

In most states, only government-subsidized housing is subject to special rules allowing pets. But in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and New Jersey, elderly or disabled tenants have rights to keep pets in either public or private housing. New Jersey, for example, guarantees the right of senior citizens in any “senior citizen housing project” to have pets. Any building with three or more units, intended for and solely occupied by persons 62 or older, is covered by the law. (Owner-occupied buildings with less than three units are exempted.)

Residents can have a dog, cat or any other animal that doesn’t constitute a health or safety hazard. A landlord who unreasonably refuses to renew a tenant’s lease because of a pet that is properly cared for and not a nuisance can be fined up to $500.12


Many elderly people wouldn’t move to better housing if it meant giving up their pets, according to a new study. Researchers talked to 2,300 older people in Evanston, Illinois, nearly one-third of whom owned pets. Of the pet owners, 86% said pet ownership dictated where they lived.13

Federal law allows tenants in public housing to keep companion animals, subject to reasonable regulations established by the public housing agency.14 The agency can charge pet deposits or fees, and can, for example, restrict the size, weight, or number of pets. It can make other restrictions based on the particular property – for example, a high-rise building could reasonably have rules quite different from a smaller building with backyards.