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Kris L. Christine

Founder, Co-Trustee


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IOWA Rabies Waiver Bill HF2124 ACTION ALERT: Iowa Rep. Marti Anderson has filed a rabies medical exemption bill, HF 2124, and it has been assigned to the Agriculture Committee.. Please contact Agriculture Chair, Pat Grassley (515) 281-3221 & Agriculture committee members (below) & ask them to support HF2124. Rabies Challenge Fund letter in support below. Bill Text:

House Agriculture Committee:

Pat Grassley Chair (515) 281-3221
Jarad J. Klein Vice Chair (515) 281-3221
Helen Miller ( Ranking Member (515) 281-3221
Dwayne Alons (515) 281-3221
Clel Baudler (515) 281-3221
Bruce Bearinger (515) 281-3221
Peter Cownie (515) 281-3221
Dave Deyoe (515) 281-3221
Jack Drake (515) 281-3221
Nancy Dunkel (515) 281-3221
Curtis Hanson (515) 281-3221
Lee Hein (515) 281-3221
Bobby Kaufmann (515) 281-3221
Jerry A. Kearns (515) 281-3221
Daniel Kelley (515) 281-3221
Dave Maxwell (515) 281-3221
Brian Moore (515) 281-3221
Daniel Muhlbauer (515) 281-3221
Steven N. Olson (515) 281-3221
Scott Ourth (515) 281-3221
Todd Prichard (515) 281-3221
Patti Ruff (515) 281-3221
Tom Shaw (515) 281-3221

January 4, 2014

Representative Marti Anderson

House of Representatives HD36

RE: Rabies Medical Exemption for Iowa

Greetings Representative Anderson:

Iowa Code Title 9, Subtitle 1 Chapter 351 Section 351.33 requiring rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats does not contain a provision to exempt unhealthy animals whose veterinarians have determined their medical conditions should preclude vaccination.

The 18 states of Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have medical exemption clauses in their rabies laws, with Pennsylvania?s Governor Corbett having just signed one into law on July 9, 2013.

Labels on rabies vaccines declare that they are for ?the vaccination of healthy cats, [and] dogs,? because vaccinating an unhealthy animal may not produce the desired immunologic response. As Pfizer?s rabies vaccine labels warn: " A protective immune response may not be elicited if animals are incubating an infectious disease are malnourished or parasitized are stressed due to shipment or environmental conditions are otherwise immunocompromised?." Passage of a medical exemption clause would allow Iowa?s veterinarians to write waivers for animals whose lives would be jeopardized by or whose medical conditions would be exacerbated by vaccination, including those with past anaphylactic reactions to the rabies vaccine or those suffering from cancer, kidney/liver failure, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, lymphoma, grand mal seizures, and chronic autoimmune disorders.

The American Animal Hospital Association advises veterinarians "…to avoid administration of any vaccine to patients with a history of systemic disease suspected to be associated with previous vaccination (e.g., immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia) or known to be caused by vaccine (vaccination-site cutaneous ischemic vasculitis after administration of rabies vaccine).? (1) They further recommend that ?[d]ogs receiving immunosuppressive chemotherapy should not be vaccinated.? (2)

The State of Maine inserted the following medical exemption into their rabies protocol, Title 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), in April 2005:

?5 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.?

Without a provision for medical waivers in Iowa Code Title 9, Subtitle 1 Chapter 351 Section 351.33, Iowa?s rabies immunization requirement poses an ethical dilemma for veterinarians with seriously ill patients – they must either violate their Veterinarian?s Oath and administer a rabies vaccine conflicting with sound medical practice and contrary to manufacturer?s labeled instructions, or recommend that clients break the law by not immunizing their unhealthy pets. Additionally, veterinarians face potential liability for any adverse reactions suffered after administering a vaccine inconsistent with labeled directions when immunizing sick animals against rabies. Owners may choose not to comply with the law rather than risk their pets? lives and subsequently fail to license them to avoid detection.

On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, veterinarian Franchesca Zenitsky, and other Iowa pet owners who have contacted us for assistance, we urge you to introduce legislation to insert a medical exemption clause into Chapter 351 Section 351.33 of the Iowa Code. Please contact me if you would like any scientific data on the rabies vaccine or have any questions.


Kris L. Christine

Founder, Co-Trustee


(1) American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2011 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, Revised p. 21

(2) American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2011 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, Revised p. 29

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I believe Benin is in West Africa. Rabies is endemic in Africa.

Yes, I thought you must live outside the U.S. We at The Rabies Challenge Fund believe that all healthy dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies.

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I absolutely vaccinate my dog (and cat) against rabies, as we currently live in an area where people still die regularly of rabies and most dogs (or any other animal) are not vaccinated….

You certainly can't be living in the United States. Over the 16 years from 1995 through 2011, there were 49 human rabies cases (averaging 3.0625 per year) in the United States. With approximately 314 million people, 3.0625 cases of human rabies per year is extremely rare, and data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that none of those cases since 1995 were contracted by a dog or cat in the United States.

Center for Disease Control Cases of Rabies in Human Beings in the United States, by Circumstances of Exposure and Rabies Virus Variant, 1995-2011

Of the 49 human cases of rabies reported from 1995 through 2011, not one case was contracted from a dog or cat in the United States. 35 bats, 1 fox, 1 racoon, 1 mongoose

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Any vet who is not aware of the guidelines and titres isn't one who stays informed enough to be my vet. Any vet who PRETENDS they don't know and tries to push unnecessary vaccine– ditto.

Thanks for the post, will share in other dog groups.

You're VERY welcome. Thank YOU for sharing with other dog groups!!

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Thanks for the resource, but Alaska tends to be underrepresented in search engines like that; I rarely come up with any results.
I typed in "holistic vet Anchorage" into the Google search engine and the vet I was talking about above popped up as the first result. But, did find one or two at the bottom of the results list that seemed maybe legitimate. So I appreciate the idea.

I hope you can manage to find a homeopathic/holistic veterinarian somewhere that seems to be a good fit for you.

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If anyone knows of a decent vet here in Anchorage, let me know.

See if you can find one near you at these links: American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy

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Definitely inform yourself re vaccines and find a Vet you can trust

I agree wholeheartedly!!

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Is Your Veterinarian Being Honest with You? ABC News 11/22/13 (Please copy & paste link into your browser if it doesn't work by clicking on it.)

"Pushing the Shots" at 4:31. Remember as you watch that the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Guidelines referenced in this news article show distemper, parvo & hepatitis vaccines have a proven MINIMUM duration of immunity of 7 years by challenge and up to 15 years serologically.

The 2003 American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Guidelines state on Page 18 that: ?We now know that booster injections are of no value in dogs already immune, and immunity from distemper infection and vaccination lasts for a minimum of 7 years based on challenge studies and up to 15 years (a lifetime) based on antibody titer.? They further state that hepatitis and parvovirus vaccines have been proven to protect for a minimum of 7 years by challenge and up to 9 and 10 years based on antibody count.

Canine parvo type 2, distemper, adeno type 1 and parainfluenza: "These results suggest that the duration of serological response induced by modified-live vaccines against CPV-2, CDV, CAV-1 and CPiV…vaccines, is beyond 18 months and may extend up to 9 years. Accordingly, these vaccines may be considered for use in extended revaccination interval protocols as recommended by current canine vaccine guidelines."

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2013 and 2014 Canine Vaccination Protocol - W. Jean Dodds, DVM

Dr. Dodds has made only slight, minor changes to the basic, core Canine Vaccination Protocol she established in previous years. Dr. Dodds bases her decisions on numerous factors such as presence of maternal immunity, prevalence of viruses or other infectious agents in the region, number of reported occurrences of the viruses and other infectious agents, how these agents are spread, and the typical environmental conditions and exposure risk activities of companion animals.

Dr. Dodds considers infectious canine hepatitis (adenovirus-1), canine adenovirus-2, bordetella, canine influenza, canine coronavirus, leptospirosis, and Lyme regional and situational. Please research the prevalence in your area, and discuss it with your veterinarian.

2013 and 2014 Vaccination Protocol
Note: The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one Dr. Dodds recommends and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It?s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

9-10 Weeks Old:
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (e.g. Merck Nobivac [Intervet Progard] Puppy DPV)

14-16 Weeks:
Same as above

20 Weeks or Older (if allowable by law):

1 Year:
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV

1 Year:
Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. See The Rabies Challenge Fund website.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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Frequently Asked Questions about Titers and Vaccination Protocol by Dr. Dodds

We frequently receive questions regarding Dr. Dodds? Canine Vaccination Protocol and thought we would put together a short FAQ to help your dog. We also invite you to explore the section tagged "Vaccines" ?on our blog as we have several posts about specific vaccines, viruses, and titers.

Question: The breeder vaccinated before nine weeks of age. How do I start your vaccination protocol now?
Answer: Just continue with the regular minimum vaccine protocol of Distemper and Parvovirus at 9 and 14 weeks.

Question: It is difficult to find a veterinarian who gives only the DPV (Nobivac Puppy-DPv) per your vaccination protocol. Can you recommend a vet?
Answer: You or your veterinarian can purchase it online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply. Your vet can then administer the shot.

Question: We purchased a puppy from a breeder who only vaccinates for Parvovirus. Should my dog also have Distemper?
Answer: Your dog does need a distemper virus shot ? in fact two doses are needed 3-4 weeks apart. You can purchase it yourself. The only monovalent, single distemper shot on the market today is NeoVacc-D by NeoTech ? available online from such places as Revival Animal Health or KV Vet Supply. (Note: you can also purchase a single shot of Parvovirus from the same places.)

Question: What kind of rabies vaccine should I get?
Answer: The rabies vaccine should be thimerosal (mercury) ? free ? i.e. Merial IMRAB TF.

Question: Are there any methods to stop the potential side effects of vaccine reactions?
Answer: You can pre-treat dogs with the oral homeopathics, Thuja and Lyssin, to help blunt any adverse effects of the rabies vaccine. For other vaccines, just Thuja is needed. These homeopathics can be given the day before, the day of, and the day after the vaccine. Some product protocols suggest a different regimen for them.

Question: Why won?t my state take my dog?s rabies titer test so he can avoid the vaccine?
Answer: At this time, no state will accept a rabies titer in lieu of the shot. Additionally, a rabies titer does not satisfy any state?s medical exemption clause. For a list of states with medical exemptions, please visit The Rabies Challenge Fund There are currently 18 states that officially recognize exemptions from rabies booster, but only on a justified case-by-case basis and following the specific requirements of that state.

Question: What is the point of a rabies titer test if my state won?t accept it as a medical exemption?
Answer: There are two reasons:

  1. Rabies titer results are required by many rabies-free countries or regions in order for dogs and cats to qualify for a reduced quarantine period prior to entry. Some of these regions are Hawaii, Guam, Japan, St. Kitts and Nevis, Australia, New Zealand, France, and the United Kingdom. Always check with the destination authority to verify the pet importation.
  2. The CDC states that a rabies titer of 0.1 IU/mL or higher is acceptable to protect a person from rabies. Further, the results of the 5-year Rabies Challenge Fund Study showed that immunologic memory for rabies vaccination remains at or above that level of immunity. This information is helpful for pet guardian peace-of-mind in areas where clinical rabies cases occur, and the dog or cat is medically exempt from further rabies boosters.

Question: Every year, the titer shows them as low on their distemper antibodies. What should I do?
Answer: I do suggest titer testing your dog every three years for both distemper and parvovirus.

Additionally, any measurable titer to either distemper & parvovirus means that the dog has specific committed immune memory cells to respond and afford protection upon exposure. If your dogs consistently have no measurable titer to canine distemper virus, it means mean that they are distemper ?non-or low-responders?, an heritable trait where they will never mount immunity to distemper and will always be susceptible. These dogs should not be used for breeding.

As non-or low-responders to distemper are rare (1:5000 cases), my suggestion is that you retest at least one of them at Hemopet.

Question: My veterinarian believes anytime dogs are in contact with water that they are at HIGH risk for contracting leptospirosis.
Answer: Not so. Most Leptospirosis strains (there are about 200) do not cause disease, and of the seven clinically important strains, only four ? L. icterohaemorrhagiae, L. canicola, L. grippotyphosa, and L. pomona serovars ? are found in today?s vaccines. So, exposure risk depends upon which serovars of Lepto have been documented to cause clinical leptospirosis in the area where you live. You can call the county health department or local animal control and ask.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

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