Rabies Challenge Fund

$10,000 Matching Gift to The Rabies Challenge Fund
 Two anonymous dog owners are making a generous $10,000 matching gift to The Rabies Challenge Fund.  From November 1st through December 15, these dog lovers will match every dollar donated up to $10,000. Please consider taking advantage of this charitable gift to double the amount of a donation.
The concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies being funded by The Rabies Challenge Fund have just entered their 5th year.  At the end of 2012, the first rabies challenge will occur. As part of the studies, Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine intends to establish a rabies titer standard for dogs in addition to determining the long-term duration of immunity of the rabies vaccine in canines.
During the past year, The Rabies Challenge Fund has been actively involved in rabies medical exemption legislation in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and California.  On October 7, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a rabies medical exemption into law, becoming the 14th state to do so.|

Click here to donateTax-exempt donations can be made with Paypal here:

or mailed to The Rabies Challenge Fund, c/o Hemopet, 11561 Salinaz Avenue, Garden Grove, CA 92843. Credit card donations can be phoned in to Hemopet (specify they are for The Rabies Challenge Fund) by calling (714) 891-2022, ext. 13.
Thank you for your support of this important research.
The Rabies Challenge Fund is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, EIN #84-6390682.

PENNSYLVANIA Rabies Medical Exemption Bill SB 155 (January 2013)

 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2013&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0155&pn=0107 has been introduced for a 3rd time by Senator Greenleaf & has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee (link to Senator Greenleaf’s memo reintroducing this bill http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20130&cosponId=9832).  Please contact members below asking them to vote to pass this bill for dogs and cats determined by a veterinarian to be too ill to be vaccinated.

Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture Committee
Senator Elder Vogel, Chair (717) 787-3076 Evogel@pasen.gov
Senator Michael Waugh, Vice-Chair (717) 787-3817 mwaugh@pasen.gov
Senator Judith L. Schwank, Minority Chair (717) 787-8925 SenatorSchwank@pasenate.com
Senator David G. Argall (717) 787-2637 dargall@pasen.gov
Senator Joseph Scarnati (717) 787-7084 jscarnati@pasen.gov
Senator Mike Brubaker (717) 787-4420 mbrubaker@pasen.gov
Senator Robert Robbins (717) 787-1322 rrobbins@pasen.gov
Senator Gene Yaw (717) 787-3280 gyaw@pasen.gov
Senator Andrew Dinniman (717) 787-5709 andy@pasenate.com
Senator Shirley Kitchen (717) 787-6735 kitchen@pasenate.com
Senator Timothy Solobay (717) 787-1463 tsolobay@pasenate.com
The Rabies Challenge Fund Letter to Pennsylvania State Veterinarian

June 29, 2010


Dr. Craig E. Shultz

State Veterinarian

Department of Agriculture

2301 N. Cameron Street, Room 410

Harrisburg, PA 17110


RE: Medical Exemption Clause for Pennsylvania’s Rabies Prevention and Control Code


Greetings Dr. Shultz:

 On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and the Pennsylvania pet owners who have contacted us requesting assistance, we respectfully request that you, in your capacity as State Veterinarian, initiate medical exemption legislation waiving the rabies immunization requirement in Chapter 16, Subchapter C., §16.43 of the Pennsylvania Code for the small number of animals whose veterinarians have determined their medical conditions preclude vaccination.

 The states of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have medical exemption clauses for sick animals in their rabies immunization laws, and a bill is currently pending in the California legislature to include a waiver in their statutes.

 The labels on rabies vaccines state that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs…,” and there are medical conditions for which vaccination can jeopardize the life or well-being of an animal. A medical exemption clause would allow Pennsylvania veterinarians to write waivers for animals whose medical conditions (such as those with cancer, kidney/liver failure, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, grand mal seizures, and chronic autoimmune disorders) would be exacerbated by rabies vaccination. The State of Maine inserted such an exemption into their 3 year rabies protocol, 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), which became effective in April 2005 — not one rabid dog has been reported in the more than 5 years since that date. Colorado’s data reflect the same — there have been no rabid dogs reported in the state since passage of their medical exemption clause in July 2008.

 Maine’s exemption language is as follows:

 A. A letter of exemption from vaccination may be submitted for licensure, if a medical reason exists that precludes the vaccination of the dog. Qualifying letters must be in the form of a written statement, signed by a licensed veterinarian, that includes a description of the dog, and the medical reason that precludes vaccination. If the medical reason is temporary, the letter shall indicate a time of expiration of the exemption. 

B. A dog exempted under the provisions of paragraph 5 A, above, shall be considered unvaccinated, for the purposes of 10-144 C.M.R. Ch.251, Section 7(B)(1), (Rules Governing Rabies Management) in the case of said dog’s exposure to a confirmed or suspect rabid animal. 

The Rabies Challenge Fund strongly urges you to request legislation be submitted on behalf of the Department of Agriculture amending Chapter 16, Subchapter C., §16.43 of the Pennsylvania Code to include medical exemption language for unhealthy animals for which rabies vaccination would compromise their well-being.

 Kris L. Christine

Founder, Co-Trustee




cc: Dr. W. Jean Dodds

Dr. Ronald Schultz

Pennsylvania General Assembly


One thought on “Rabies Challenge Fund

  1. Tuesday, April 13, 2010
    Veterinarian’s letter Re bill to require annual rabies shots
    The follwing letter from Dr. George McKay of Watsonville, very clearly explains the wrong-headedness fo the proposal to require annual rabies shots.
    Dear Sir/Madame,

    I was recently made aware of 2 bills that are coming up for consideration, AB2689 and AB2000. I am a practicing Veterinarian here in California, and I would like to voice my wholehearted opposition to AB2689 in its entirety.

    I am including a link to the CDC surveillance for Rabieshttp://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf/10.2460/javma.235.6.676?cookieSet=1 for 2008 which is the most recent data I could locate.

    The CDC concluded in its study that there were 2 cases of rabies in humans in 2008, and they were both from exposure to bats, not domestic animals. Of the 6841 reported cases of rabies in animals, only 7% (479) were in domestic animals. In California, of the 179 cases of rabies in animals, only 1 was a domestic animal, a cat.

    In the years 2000-2008, 27 people died from exposure to Rabies virus. Only 6 of those humans have died in the US and Puerto Rico from exposure to Dog Rabies and NONE of these people were bitten by a dog in the US (one was bitten in Puerto Rico, one in Haiti, two in the Philippines, one in El Salvador, one in Ghana).

    In the US, the incidence of Rabies in domestic animals has steadily declined since 1958, particularly in dogs.

    As to decreasing the age at which a dog is first vaccinated, we must examine the science behind it. Every pregnant dog who is current on vaccination (which we will assume is every dog being bred, since it is legally required) will provide a passive immunity to her pups. This is due to maternal antibodies against rabies passing through the placenta, in the colostrum (first milk) and in smaller amounts in the mother’s milk. It was originally postulated that the maternal antibodies were gone at 6 weeks of age because our tests could not measure them after this time. This is what we based our vaccine protocols on. If you look at the springerlink article (http://www.springerlink.com/content/q7254227771u67w7/ ), you can see that the pups did not respond until 10 weeks of age. Therefore, we must conclude that on average, a puppy with a vaccinated mom can not respond to Rabies Vaccine until 10 weeks of age. If one looks at statistics and draws
    a standard bell curve around 10 weeks, one standard deviation from the mean incorporates 84 % of the puppies, but 2 standard deviations include 97.7 % of the puppies, and by 3 standard deviations, we will cover 99.9% of puppies. That is to say, by vaccinating at or after 16 weeks we will cover 99.9% of puppies, and by vaccinating at 12 weeks of age, we potentially leave a larger number of puppies unvaccinated for all intents and purposes, because they were unable to respond to the vaccine. This is self defeating.

    The conclusions that I draw from this information are as follows:
    1) The incidence of Rabies in dogs has been declining year over year using our current vaccination strategy.
    2) The danger of zoonotic exposure to humans by dogs in the US has been 0 in the past 10 years using the current vaccination strategy.
    3) The most likely exposure to Rabies by humans in the US is by wildlife, particularly by bats, raccoons and skunks, which is not addressed in the current bill.
    4)The mandating of vaccine for younger dogs will increase the number of vaccine failures due to latent maternal immunity.

    This does not make sense.

    Further, I want to pledge my full support to AB2000.

    As a practicing Veterinarian, I have experienced firsthand the heartbreak of a pet who died as a result of a Vaccine reaction. I have seen numerous instances of non-lethal vaccine reactions that could have turned fatal if not for timely intervention on our part.

    The ability to provide an exemption for a life threatening reaction is only common sense, and it is criminal that I can not legally do so at this time. For more information on Rabies Vaccine duration, follow the link tohttp://www.rabieschallengefund.org/

    George McKay, DVM CA 12547
    Mt. Madonna Vet
    1961 Main St #232
    Watsonville, CA 95076


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