@2017 The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust.  The Rabies Challenge Fund is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization studying the duration of immunity conveyed by rabies vaccines.

ACTION ALERT:  GEORGIA RABIES MEDICAL EXEMPTION BILL HB742, Ruby's Law, which would insert a medical exemption clause into Georgia's rabies laws has been filed and assigned to the Agriculture Com.  Please contact the following legislators and ask them to pass the bill, e-mails should have "PASS HB742 Ruby's Law" in the subject line.  The Rabies Challenge Fund's letter of support follows the contact info.

Rep. Tom McCall (chair of Ag. Com) 404-656-5099 fax: 404-656-6897 tom.mccall@house.ga.gov
Rep. Susan Holmes (vice-chair Ag. Com.) 404-656-0178 sdholmes@bellsouth.net
Rep. Robert Dickey (secr. Ag. Com.) 404-463-2246 robert.dickey@house.ga.gov
Rep. Patty Bentley 404-656-0287 patty.bentley@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jon Burns 404-656-5052 jon.burns@house.ga.gov
Rep. Kevin Cooke 404-656-0188 kevin.cooke@house.ga.gov
Rep. Winfred Dukes 404-656-0126 wdukes_2000@yahoo.com
Rep. Emory Dunahoo 404-656-0152 emory.dunahoo@house.ga.gov
Rep. Terry England 404-463-2247 englandhomeport2@windstream.net
Rep. Bubber Epps 404-656-7855 bubber.epps@house.ga.gov
Rep. Buddy Harden 404-656-7855 bharden@planttel.net
Rep. Rick Jasperse 404-656-7857 rick.jasperse@house.ga.gov
Rep. Tom Kirby 404-656-0177 fax:  404-651-8086 tom.kirby@house.ga.gov
Rep. Dominic LaRiccia 404-656-0213 dominic.lariccia@house.ga.gov
Rep. Clay Pirkle 404-656-0188 clay.pirkle@house.ga.gov
Rep. Regina Quick 404-656-0220 regina.quick@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jan Tankersley 404-656-7855 jan.tankersley@house.ga.gov
Rep. Darlene Taylor 404-656-7857 darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov
Rep. Scot Turner 404-656-0152 scot.turner@house.ga.gov
Rep. Sam Watson 404-656-0213 sam.watson@house.ga.gov
Rep. Matt Curtler (sponsor & Ag. Com.) 404-656-0188 matt.gurtler@house.ga.gov
Rep. Bill McGowan (sponsor) 404-656-6372 bill.mcgowan@house.ga.gov
Rep. John Pezold (sponsor) 404-656-0188john.pezold@house.ga.gov
Rep. David Stover (sponsor) 404-656-0177 david.stover@house.ga.gov
Rep. Michael Smith (sponsor) 404-656-0265 michael.smith@house.ga.gov
Rep. Jason Spencer (sponsor) 404-656-0177 fax:  404-463-2976 jason.spencer@house.ga.gov



January 28, 2018


Representative Tom McCall, Chairman                Representative Matt Gurtler, Sponsor

House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Com.      House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Com.

228 State Capitol                                                       504-D Coverdell Legislative Office Building

Atlanta, GA  30334                                                   Atlanta, GA  30334

Fax:  (404) 656-6897

e-mail:  tom.mccall@house.ga.gov                            e-mail:  matt.gurtler@house.ga.gov


RE:     Georgia Rabies Medical Exemption Bill HB742


Greetings Representatives McCall and Gurtler:


            The Rabies Challenge Fund strongly supports and endorses passage of Ruby’s Law, HB742, which would create a medical exemption option for Georgia’s animals determined by a licensed veterinarian to be too ill to be vaccinated against rabies.


            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 have medical exemption clauses in their rabies laws, and the veterinary medical associations setting the national standard of professional veterinary care have officially recognized the need for rabies immunization exemptions in medically warranted cases.


            Posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) website is the following policy statement on rabies medical exemptions: “…[the] AVMA recognizes some animals might require a waiver from rabies vaccination because the vaccination poses an unacceptably high risk to the health of the individual animal….[and] recommends that such animals be granted a waiver from mandatory rabies vaccination, upon recommendation of a licensed veterinarian.”[1][1]


            In addition, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPH) asserts in their Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control 2016 that:  “…ill animals may not have a full immunologic response to vaccination.”[2][2]


            The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) cautioned in their Canine Vaccine Guidelines that:  "It is reasonable 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),”[3][3] and that “…veterinary medicine has advised against vaccination during illness, due to concerns about suboptimal protection, or worse, vaccine-induced illness.”[4][4]  They further advise 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),” [5][5] and that “[d]ogs receiving immunosuppressive chemotherapy should not be vaccinated.” [6][6]


            Rabies vaccine labels affirm that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, [and] dogs.” Zoetis Defensor 1 and Defensor 3 rabies vaccine labels warn that: "[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…."[7][7]  Passage of HB742 would enable Georgia’s veterinarians to write medical exemptions for animals whose lives would be jeopardized by or whose medical conditions would be exacerbated by rabies vaccination, including those with past anaphylactic reactions to the vaccine or those suffering from cancer, kidney/liver failure, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, lymphoma, grand mal seizures, and chronic autoimmune disorders.


            Without a provision for medical exemptions in Chapter 19, Title 31, Section 2 of the Official Code of Georgia, the state’s rabies immunization requirement poses an ethical dilemma for veterinarians with seriously ill patients.  They must either violate their Veterinarian’s Oath by administering a rabies vaccine contrary to the manufacturer’s labeled instructions and contrary to the principles of sound medical care established by the national veterinary medical associations noted above, or recommend that clients not comply with the law to vaccinate their sick animals.  Veterinarians also face potential liability for adverse reactions suffered when immunizing against rabies in a manner inconsistent with the vaccine’s labeled instructions.  Pet owners may choose not to comply with the law rather than risk pets’ lives and subsequently fail to license them to avoid detection.


            The Rabies Challenge Fund urges you to pass HB742, Ruby’s Law, to include a medical exemption clause in Georgia’s rabies law. 


Please contact us if you have any questions.





Kris L. Christine                                                                                



                                                            W. Jean Dodds, DVM, Co-Trustee




cc:       Maureen Harper

            HB742 Sponsors

House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee



[1][1] American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Annual Rabies Vaccination Waiver.  Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Annual-Rabies-Vaccination-Waiver.aspx

[2][2] National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) Brown, C., et al., Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAMA) 2016, March 1.  Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016.  Retrieved from http://www.nasphv.org/Documents/NASPHVRabiesCompendium.pdf

[3][3] American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccination Task Force:  Welborn, L.V. et al., 2011 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines p. 21

[4][4] AAHA 2011 Vaccine Guidelines p. 28

[5][5] AAHA 2011 Vaccine Guidelines p. 21

[6][6] AAHA 2011 Vaccine Guidelines p. 29

[7][7] Zoetis Defensor 1 and Defensor 3 rabies vaccine labels.  Retrieved from https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/defensor1.aspx and https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/defensor3.aspx