Rabies shot law changes
I am writing this in hopes of clearing up some confusion about the new rabies vaccination law for dogs and cats.
Last month the West Virginia law concerning vaccination of dogs and cats against rabies was changed. Previously, the law required vaccination every two years. As veterinarians we were required to use vaccine that provided protection for at least two years for all cats and dogs that we vaccinated.
Nobody makes a two-year vaccine, so to comply with the law we were all using three-year vaccine. A vaccine product labeled to protect for one year would not suffice.
The new law, not in effect, requires that the animal’s first rabies vaccination is only good legally for one year. In other words, it must be boosted with another vaccination one year after the first shot. The second shot and all subsequent shots must protect for three years, and the shots are required to be repeated every three years. This new law matches those of Maryland and Virginia.
In a conversation I had with the WV Board of Veterinary Medicine’s administrator, I specifically asked, and she assured me, that the new law is retroactive. That means that the shots given in 2009, for example, at the time were legal for two years, but now that the new law is in effect you can wait a third year and get the booster in 2012.
Of course, is it best to have your pets seen by a veterinarian annually for check-ups.
Jane Laura Doyle, DVM
Animalia Veterinary Care