Though there are a great number of diseases to which domestic animals may be exposed and there is a relatively high number of zoonotic diseases which may be transmitted from animals to humans, perhaps none has been more widely publicized than rabies. Rabies continues as a widespread threat in wildlife, but in recent years, the number of confirmed cases of rabies in domestic pets and in humans has dwindled considerably, testimony to the effectiveness of dog and cat rabies immunization programs.

The Florida Animal Control Association believes that the success of rabies immunization programs is the most significant reason to continue and expand such programs for the welfare of both animals and humans. FL Statutes,Chapter 828.30 requires that dogs, cats and ferrets, 4 months of age or older, be vaccinated against rabies and requires a rabies certificate, coincident with the vaccination.

Consequently, FACA recommends that all dogs and cats be immunized against rabies and any other communicable diseases deemed worthy of immunization programs by national, state, and local health authorities. FACA supports practices that increase the number of dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies.

Every year,thousands of dogs and cats die from a variety of diseases that could be prevented through proper vaccination. Tragically, many pet owners are unaware of the need to vaccinate their animals, unable to afford the necessary vaccinations, or simply too busy to take their pets to independent veterinarians, veterinary hospitals, or government-sponsored clinics for vaccinations.

FACA believes that strict rabies quarantines and/or laboratory analysis of animals suspected of rabies should be mandatory.

FACA further recommends that all dogs and cats released from animal shelters be vaccinated and tagged prior to their release. Only killed virus rabies vaccines should be used, and the length of the rabies vaccination should be recognized for the full duration of the vaccine’s immunity, as recommended by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. Vaccination should be administered to healthy animals only and must be administered by a licensed veterinarian.

The sale of over-the-counter rabies vaccines should be eliminated by law, because self-administered rabies vaccinations are not recognized by the Florida Department of Health or animal control or protection agencies. Public rabies vaccination clinics may be considered a way to increase the number of animals vaccinated in each community.