New year brings new vaccine requirement for pets



Posted on January 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 1 at 12:21 PM

SEATTLE - Eddie is a regular at the vet's office.  Dr. Cary Waterhouse has a way of keeping his patients happy.

Waterhouse makes sure they don't feel a thing when it's time for a shot.

"He might have a little irritation over the right hop where I gave the vaccine,” he says.

Now, Eddie's up-to-date on all his vaccinations, including rabies. Starting Jan.1 it's a state law that dogs and cats must be inoculated.

"It's one of the only diseases that's closely monitored and regulated by government authorities because it is something that can be transmitted to people,” says Waterhouse.

In 2010 there were 14 cases of rabies found in bats. It hasn't infected a cat since 2002, but if a pet does contract the disease there's little anyone can do.

"If there's questions as to whether it's come in contact with a  rabid animal a lot of times, euthanasia is the only option the state has,” said Waterhouse.

Still, some pet owners are reluctant, especially for kitties that don't leave the house 

"That’s what we see a lot of, which is ‘my cat never leaves the house, why do I need to bother’ and those cats show a higher likelihood because the bat flying into the house is so much fun,” said Kara Main-Hester of Seattle Animal Shelter.

Bats can get inside homes through chimneys or other openings. And that's when a kitty's playfulness can get them in trouble.

At this point, there are no plans to penalize pet owners

"I don't necessarily think they'll be knocking on doors but I think a lot of veterinarians will be having good conversations with their clients just to make sure they're fully aware of what the law is,” said Main-Hester.

Animals need to get the vaccine every two or three years, depending on the brand their vet uses.
We heard from a few people who said they've been told their animals are too old or sick for the vaccine. Veterinarians say there are not any official exceptions to this law, but since there doesn't appear to be any enforcement it's probably best for those pet owners and their veterinarian to use their own judgment in those situations.