That's the fear of some, including the Virginia Hunting Dog Association and the Fairfax Privacy Council who point to a new law that requires veterinarians to furnish city and county treasurers with detailed information about every animal receiving a rabies vaccination, including how many dogs a person owns, whether the animal being licensed is spayed or neutered, and the breed of the dog.
Beginning January 1, 2008, County treasurers will use this database to prepare and mail annual dog licensing bills to pet owners, just as they do now with real-estate and personal property taxes.
The purpose of the Virginia legislation appears to be to increase revenue by making sure all dogs are taxed and licensed. This money, in turn, will fund more dog catchers and spay-neuter programs within the state.
The problem is that this Virginia database can also be used for many other purposes, including helping pass and enforce breed-specific bans, mandatory pet sterilization laws, and per-house dog limits.
What is transparently clear is that the types of information being collected goes far beyond what is needed for simple tax collection purposes.
Dog vaccine databases such as this one may be the first step toward mandatory microchipping -- something both the AKC and the veterinarians will support, as both will make money on the deal; the AKC by selling microchips, and the veterinarians by implanting them.
Rest assured that this new "gotcha" dog database will NOT be kept private -- it will be sold to direct mail companies working for animal rights groups, and it will be given to animal control officers who will sort it by zip code, breed, number of dogs, and number of unspayed or unneutered dogs.
Do you have four dogs in a three-dog area? Expect a knock-knock visit from an Animal Control officer no matter how quiet and discreet you are -- and then choose which dog you will give up.
This database will also be attractive to insurance industry executives who will use it to deny coverage or raise insurance rates on folks who own certain "blacklisted" breeds such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pitbulls or even Collies.
So what can you do if you live in Virginia and this law passes? Here are five options suggested by VHDOA:
- Give your vet the wrong address. This is easy to do, and your vet doesn't need your address anyway.
- Get your dog vaccinated outside the state. If you live near Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina or Tennessee, take your dog with you on an outing to a country vet. A rabies vaccine is good for three years, so you will not have to do this very often.
- Get your dogs licensed before July 1, 2007 and make sure your vet does not send your contact information to the state. If you have to fill out a form, give your work address and your work phone number.
- Find a vet that is willing to ignore this stupid law. The penalty for ignoring the law is only $10 per dog, and there is almost no chance the State will audit a veterinarian. If a vet want to keep you as a customer, he or she should be willing to follow your instructions and preserve your privacy.
- Order your rabies vaccines by mail and give your dog the vaccine yourself. The cost of a 10-dose RabVac3 vial of serum that is good for dosing up to 10 dogs is just $12, and it's very easy to do. For more information on "vaccines for less," click here. Be sure to peal off the label on the vaccine bottle and fix it to your dog's paperwork -- it's not legal proof that a vaccine was given, but it should help if your dog ever bites someone. A rabies titer can provide further proof of vaccination if that is every required.
This stupid legislation passed the Virginia legislature by only one vote. If the blow-back from voters and veterinarians is serious enough this week, this law may yet be repealed .