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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alabama pet owners not wanting their state to be the only one in the country with an annual rabies booster requirement for dogs and cats have begun requesting their Legislators to change the law to conform to the national 3 year standard. Below is a copy of my letter to the Alabama Public Health Veterinarian and State Health Officer on behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and the Alabama pet owners who have contacted us. The move to change Alabama's rabies law was covered in a story on ABC 33/40 NEWS 2/26/09 by Ebony Hall Yearly Rabies Shots Necessary? http://cfc.abc3340.com/videoondemand.cfm?id=34561

Alabama Rabies Law

Senate Bill #469 sponsored by Senator Larry Dixon http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/ViewBillsStatusACASLogin.asp?BillNumber=sb469 was introduced on March 5, 2009 to amend Alabama Code Title 3 Section 7A-2 to conform to the 3 year rabies protocol and include a medical exemption clause for animals whose well-being would be jeopardized by rabies vaccination.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health Committee.

What You Can Do to Help

Contact the Senate Health Committee members [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] and ask them to pass SB #469

Montgomery Advertiser March 10, 2009 Bill May Save Pet Owners Cash by Markeshia Ricks http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009903100335

"State Sen. Larry Dixon, R-Montgomery, is sponsoring a bill that would change a law that requires dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies each year. Instead, most pet owners will only have to round up their animals and pay for the shots once every three years.

Dr. Charles Frantz, executive director of the Alabama Veterinarian Medical Association, said vaccines for dogs and cats that immunize an animal against rabies for three years have been around for at least 20 years."

Do Pets Need Annual Rabies Vaccination? Alabama is Last State Left to Require Them 3/26/09 by Kent Faulk Birmingham News

A proposed change in Alabama law would allow dogs and cats to be vaccinated every three years, rather than once a year. .....

The AVMA and the Alabama Department of Public Health are among the groups pushing the bill.


February 25, 2009

Dr. Dee Jones Dr. Donald E. Williamson
State Public Health Veterinarian State Health Officer
Department of Health Department of Health
201 Monroe Street, P.O. Box 303017 201 Monroe Street, P.O. Box 303017
Montgomery, AL 36104 Montgomery, AL 36104

RE: Alabama Code Title 3 Chapter 7A-2--Dogs and Cats to be Immunized

With the recent passage of Act 159 paving the way for Arkansas to conform to the national 3 year rabies immunization standard, Alabama has become the only state in the country to adhere to a now outdated annual rabies vaccination requirement for dogs and cats.

Title 3 Chapter 7A-2 of the Alabama Code mandating annual rabies vaccinations is counter to the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association [1] and the Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian’s Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control 2008 which states that, “Vaccines used in state and local rabies control programs should have at least a 3-year duration of immunity. This constitutes the most effective method of increasing the proportion of immunized dogs and cats in any population (50).” They specifically warn that, “no laboratory or epidemiologic data exist to support the annual or biennial administration of 3- or 4-year vaccines following the initial series.”

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 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]

Alabama’s code requiring annual rabies boosters may have been intended to achieve enhanced immunity to the rabies virus by giving the vaccine more often than the federal 3-year licensing 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 current rabies immunization code may violate Title 8 Section 8-19-5 of Alabama’s Consumer Protection Law by requiring pet owners to pay for a yearly veterinary medical procedure from which their animals derive no benefit and may be harmed.

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)." [9]

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 Title 3 Chapter 7A-2 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.

continued below

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
continued from above

On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and the many Alabama pet owners who have contacted us with concerns about the state’s annual rabies booster requirement for dogs and cats, we strongly urge you to change Title 3 Chapter 7A-2 of the Alabama Code to conform to the 3-year national standard recommended by the Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. We also respectfully request that medical exemption language be inserted into the code.


Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee

cc: Governor Bob Riley
Attorney General Troy King
Alabama Legislature
Dr. Tony Frazier, State Veterinarian
Dr. Terry Slaten, Associate State Veterinarian
Dr. W. Jean Dodds
Dr. Ronald D. Schultz


[1] American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinary Biologics, June 2007, “Rabies Vaccination Procedures”

[2] Schultz, Ronald D.; What Everyone Needs to Know about Canine Vaccines, October 2007, http://www.puliclub.org/CHF/AKC2007Conf/What Everyone Needs to Know About Canine Vaccines.htm

[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] 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.

[9] 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.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rabies Vaccination Bill Passes in Alabama Senate Committee -- Birmingham News 3/27/09

Rabies Vaccination Bill Passes in Alabama Senate Committee by Kent Faulk Birmingham News 3/27/09 http://www.al.com/birminghamnews/stories/index.ssf?/base/news/1238141769185070.xml&coll=2

A bill that would allow dogs and cats to be vaccinated every three years, instead of once a year, got the unanimous approval of the Alabama Senate's Health Committee on Thursday.

"If they just keep contacting their legislators, it would be very helpful," he said.
[Senator Larry Dixon, the bill sponsor]

This bill still needs to pass the full Senate and House, so concerned pet owners should contact their legislators and ask them to pass SB 469.
Alabama Legislature: You can find contact information for your Senator and Representative at the following link: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
AL Rabies Law SB 469 --Contact Rules Committee Now

AL Rabies Law SB 469 --Contact Rules Committee Now

Urgent -- there are only 7 session days left for the Legislature and SB 469 schedule for a 3rd reading in the House of Representatives after receiving an "ought to pass" vote from the Alabama Agriculture & Forestry Committee. To make sure SB 469 gets put on the "consent calendar," please contact the House Rules Committee members below and ask all the pet owners you know to do the same. The e-mail addresses for the committee members are below.

A 3 year protocol is almost there -- one more reading and vote, this is the final push.

Alabama House Rules Committee

Ken Guin, Chair; James Buskey, Vice Chair; Ron Johnson, Ranking Minority Member; Barbara Boyd, Craig Ford, Blaine Galliher, Todd Greeson, Randy Hinshaw, Richard Laird, Jack Page, Arthur Payne, John Robinson, Rod Scott, Pebblin Warren, Cam Ward

[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected];

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alabama Passes 3 Year Rabies Law 5/14/09

Alabama Legislature OKs 3-Year Rabies Vaccinations Birmingham News 5/15/09 http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnews/metro.ssf?/base/news/124237531679290.xml&coll=2

Dogs and cats around Alabama could be howling a sigh of relief soon.

The Alabama House of Representatives gave final approval Thursday to a proposed law that allows dog and cat rabies vaccinations once every three years. The bill goes to Gov. Bob Riley for his consideration to sign into law.

The bill passed both houses of the Alabama Legislature without a vote against it. "It's something everybody understands," Dixon said.
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