Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Virginia's New "Gotcha" Vaccine Database

Is Virginia in the process of creating a new "Gotcha" dog licensing database?

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:

  1. Give your vet the wrong address. This is easy to do, and your vet doesn't need your address anyway.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 .


Anonymous said...

HB 339 is a terrible idea that will be bad for all dog owners -- but there's an important error in this. This bill passed (and was signed by the governor) LAST year -- that is, spring 2006. (Look at the date on the VHDOA web page you cite.)

The effective date is 1 July 2007.

While there's no Virginia law saying an owner can't give a rabies vaccination, what the law does say is this:

§ 3.1-796.97:1 The owner or custodian of all dogs and domesticated cats four months of age and older shall have them currently vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian or licensed veterinary technician who is under the immediate and direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian on the premises.

So yes, you can vaccinate your own, (if you can get the vaccine -- most suppliers won't ship to VA) but no, you are NOT in compliance with Virginia law if you do so. For your own protection and that of your dogs, please find a vet to do this.

HB 339 is indeed a stupid law that will reduce rabies vaccinations AND licensing, in persuit of the animal rights anti-dog ownership agenda.

BorderWars said...

It's laws like this one that remind me that we're not saved so much by the Bill of Rights and guaranteed freedoms so much as we are spared by bureaucratic incompetence.

It's not that they don't want to interfere, it's that they don't have the means or the skill to interfere with a lot of us at once.

PBurns said...

Thanks for the correction Walt -- I changed the post back to the way I originally had it. I put it up late at night, came back very early in the morning to look for typos (I always have 'em) and then did a bit more research which made me think the law was still caught between the legislature and the Governor. Alas, I was confused, and this thing actually passed a year ago though it does not become operational until July of this year. Good catch!


Anonymous said...

The problem is that the Rabies Comependium says the titer is not acceptible form of proof of prior rabies vaccination.

Rabies Compendium 2005 (says the same in later years, too)

"Titers do not directly correlate with protection because other immunologic factors also play a role in preventing rabies, and our abilities to measure and interpret those other factors are not well developed. Therefore, evidence of circulating rabies virus antibodies should not be used as a substitute for current vaccination in managing rabies exposures or determining the need for booster vaccinations in animals."

Kansas State is the only place you can have a rabies titer done and they say this as well:
A detectable RVNA titer means that there is evidence of a humoral immune response to the rabies virus. The test does not differentiate whether the immune response is to rabies virus exposure or to rabies vaccination. Nor is there an established level of protection. Though titer levels are evidence of an immune response to the rabies virus, they are not directly correlated with the degree of protection. This is because there are other immunological factors which are involved in the protection from rabies infection. An overview of rabies challenge studies indicates RVNA levels predict survival on more a qualitative rather than quantitative basis [1]. Whether an animal requires a rabies booster vaccination is not determined by the level of RVNA in the serum, but by local regulations. As stated in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control report by the CDC, RVNA levels are not to be used in place of current vaccination for either management of rabies exposure or for determination of booster vaccinations for animals [2].

Many vets are going to go by this because it's safe. So recommending someone count on a titer isn't likely to work.

From now on I am likely to get rabies vaccines from a place that recognizes a 3 year rabies vaccine is good for 3 years and not 2 as my city does. They aren't willing to change as long as one vet has his say.

PBurns said...

The CDC's rabies compendium basically says something very simple: They would prefer folks get a vaccine.

They are not saying titers don't tell you anything at all. In fact, titers tell you quite a lot, but are not the end of the story by any means, as a dog with very LOW titers who has been vaccinated for ANYTHING (rabies, distemper, parvo, etc.) probably has lifetime immunity due to T-lymphocytes (memory) cells. In short, low-titers do not mean you are not vaccinated, but high titers DO suggest that you are.

Rember, in humans vaccination after age 4 generally gives you lifetime immunity. In dogs, vaccination after age 6 months generally does the same, and is believed this is true for rabies too, though the folks who make the vaccine will not pay for the studies for fear it will reduce vaccine sales.

One thing is known due to a challenge study in France: rabies vaccines are good for at least FIVE years. Unforutately, to pass the legal requirements in the US, a U.S.-based challenge study has to be completed. Money for that is being raised right now See >> http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/page4.html and consider donating.

In the interim stop in at any animal shelter and get a 3-year vaccine and be done with it. And if you live in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Hampshire, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, Michigan, or Colorado, you can simply order the vaccine, peel off the label for your records, and give the shot yourself. Rab-vac (http://www.revivalanimal.com/store/p/2054-Rabvac-3.aspx ) is good for three years and for $15 you can treat 10 dogs.


Anonymous said...

While I agree with many aspects of your arguments,the plain and simple black & white truth remains that it's the law. Personally I feel that if you can find a vet that is willing to conspire against the state and or US government they are not trustworthy. If they are willing to lie to them they are willing to lie to you about your pets health & what is best for your pet. I can't have children,so my dogs are my children and would never jeopardize them in any way,shape or form. Would you take risks with your child's life? Probably not. So why risk your pet's?

PBurns said...

LaLa, you are primed and ready for Nazi Germany. You argument is that if the state tells you to do something, you just do it and check your brains and common sense at the door? You should use no common sense and have no free will? You should be blindly obedient to whatever the state wants for whatever reason, whether you voted on it or not, whether it is rational or not?

Yes, Hilter would have LOVED you.

Also Ceausescu, Pol Pot, and Kim Jong Il.

You do realize that this registration stuff has NOTHING to do with vaccine efficacy, don't you? It has to do with tax collection and creating registries to use at any time for any purpose. And this in a state which winks at Loudon County violating state law on a daily basis by killing every Pit Bull that comes through its door. Here in Virginia, we'll start listening to the state when the state listen to itself. One thing is for sure; you ain't from Virginia!