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2/15/19 Position Statement of The Rabies Challenge Fund

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Ever since its founding in 2006, The Rabies Challenge Fund’s cornerstone position has been that rabies laws/regulations should be based upon scientific data – specifically data meeting the Code of Federal Regulations (9 CFR 113.209) standard for rabies vaccine licensing.

In order to protect animal and public health, we assert that animals should only be vaccinated against rabies as often as necessary to confer/maintain immunity and to avoid any unnecessary risk of vaccinal adverse reactions. It is also The Rabies Challenge Fund’s position that antibody testing by a federal or state approved lab is an important measure to assure protection against rabies. Until adequate data exists supporting a specific antibody threshold at which animals are demonstrated to be immune to rabies challenge, we believe it is premature for state rabies laws/regulations to allow for titers in lieu of vaccination.

The Rabies Challenge Fund further contends that all states should have medical exemption clauses in their rabies laws/regulations allowing veterinarians to write waivers of rabies vaccinations for animals they have determined within the framework of a current client-patient relationship to be too ill or had a documented prior serious adverse reaction to the rabies vaccine.

The current standard of care according to state laws/regulations and The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ Rabies Compendium dictates that full doses of rabies vaccine are administered to an animal per the manufacturer’s labeled instructions. The Rabies Challenge Fund does not support the practice of administering reduced rabies vaccine doses. There are no published, peer-reviewed data meeting 9 CFR 113.209 which confirm immunity to rabies in animals vaccinated with reduced dosages.

Adhering to our principle tenet that rabies laws/regulations should be based upon the same scientific standard that rabies vaccine manufacturers are held to, we will continue to support or promote legislation protecting animals from redundant/medically unsound rabies vaccination. We will actively oppose rabies legislation which does not meet the same standard.

The Rabies Challenge Fund has actively engaged in legislation to protect animals from being overvaccinated against rabies. Our efforts have resulted in substantial changes to rabies laws, and while some local municipalities continue to require annual and biennial boosters, all 50 states now recognize and allow animals to be immunized with a 3 year vaccine.

Arguing that state rabies laws/local ordinances should be based upon science, The Rabies Challenge Fund’s legislative action helped to change annual and biennial booster mandates to the 3 year national standard in Bell County, Texas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Wichita, Kansas; Killeen, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

In addition, efforts by The Rabies Challenge Fund led to passage of legislation inserting medical exemption clauses into rabies laws/regulations in the states of Alabama, California, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The Rabies Challenge Fund has actively promoted medical exemption legislation which failed to pass in the states of Missouri, New Mexico, Georgia, and Iowa.

We vigorously opposed bills in the states of California, Maine, and Michigan lowering the age at which puppies are required to be vaccinated against rabies.

In 2012, The Rabies Challenge Fund successfully advocated for passage of legislation in Delaware which prevented veterinarians from issuing 1 or 2 year rabies certificates when a 3 year vaccine is administered.

We actively worked to ensure that Minnesota veterinarians administering a 3 year rabies vaccine be required to issue a 3 year certificate. This resulted in the state issuing a Rabies Vaccination Guidance Document: .

In summary, The Rabies Challenge Fund has made significant advances in the effort to decrease risk of adverse reactions to rabies vaccination for pets across a large portion of the United States. We will continue to work for legislative changes that can be solidly supported by scientific findings, and actively oppose such proposals not supported by currently available science.

4/20/17 – Click here to read a letter written by Dr. Ron Schultz regarding rabies antibody titer.


18 U.S. States Have Medical Exemptions in Lieu of Rabies Vaccination:

Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

Click here for the full text of each state’s exemption language.

Press Releases

Press release about the Creation of the Rabies Challenge Fund

Press release about the U.S. being declared canine rabies-free

Recent News (see home page for most recent news)

October 2016: Unvaccinated dogs and cats possibly exposed to rabies will spend just four months in quarantine instead of six months as part of a sweeping effort by Gov. Charlie Baker to update Massachusetts regulations.

Dogs and cats that have proof of a prior vaccination at some point in their life are considered currently vaccinated immediately upon receiving a shot, and it will be good for the longest period recognized on the label.

330 CMR 10.00 Prevention of the Spread of Rabies, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture

10.02(3) An animal that has received at least one Rabies vaccine in its lifetime but, has not received a booster vaccination prior to the expiration date of its last Rabies vaccination, will be considered Currently Vaccinated immediately following administration of a Rabies vacccine and the vaccine will be good for the duration indicated on the product label.

10.06 (3)(c) Any [unvaccinated] dog or cat Exposed by Direct Contact to a suspected rabid animal, Exposed by Proximity to a confirmed rabid animal, as determined by State Laboratory testing, or which has received a Wound of Unknown Origin shall be vaccinated immediately and placed under Confinement for a period of four months.

Special News – March 2011

Patricia Ann Styles Bequeathes $60,000 to The Rabies Challenge Fund

The late Patricia Ann Styles of Australia has made a generous bequest of $60,000 to The Rabies Challenge Fund in “grateful acknowledgement of so much advice, generosity and wonderful support that I received from so many dog owners across the United States,” and for all the kind and touching tributes she received when she lost her beloved therapy dog, Nikki. It was Pat’s desire that this gift would “help towards freeing [dog owners] from the mandatory requirement to have their dogs repeatedly vaccinated against rabies.”

Pat’s will specified that $10,000 of her gift be set aside to ensure that each of the dogs involved in this important research “is given ‘special treats’ from time to time” in recognition of the fact that “they have more individual value than their scientific contribution to the study.”

The Rabies Challenge Fund is deeply grateful for this significant bequest and for Pat’s efforts to pass vaccine disclosure legislation in Australia and raise awareness of the risks of overvaccination globally.