About 3 years, Ricochet was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia. His immune system began to destroy his red blood cells. Why this was happening, we had no clue. He hadn’t received any vaccines or injections. He wasn’t on medication. For whatever reason his immune system decided to go on the attack targeting his red blood cells.
It took 6 months for his red blood cell count to get back to a normal number using immunosuppressive drugs. Fortunately, he never got the the point of needing a transfusion. But the worry isn’t over. Now I worry that anything he is given could set his immune system off again. I worry most about vaccines since they work by stimulating the immune system.
Fifteen states have medical exemptions for the rabies vaccine- Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. A medical exemption means that a pet would be exempt if the pet has a condition that could be make worse or fatal by receiving the rabies vaccine that is required by law in that state. The specifics of the exemption varies in each of the 15 states.
In December, Senator Greenleaf reintroduced a bill that would allow this exemption for dogs in Pennsylvania. SB 155 goes before the state Senate on Monday, February 11th for consideration. The bill requires a veterinarian to examine the dog or cat and complete a form stating the pet is exempt. This must be repeated each year for the pet to remain exempt. You can help dogs like Ricochet by contacting our state senators and asking them to support the passing of this bill.
Pennsylvania is one of the top states for rabies cases so it is important to to maintain your pet’s rabies vaccine according to the state law if they are not exempt. Owners who don’t comply can receive a citation.
Trust me I’m not a fan of too many vaccines either having lost a cat to vaccine-associated sarcoma, but I also know what a scare it can be to be exposed to rabies. The Rabies Challenge Fund is working to have the time between rabies vaccines extended to 5-7 years. Visit their site to learn more about the fund including how you can help plus stay updated on legislature in your state.