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Study Reveals Dog Owners’ Hesitancy Toward Rabies Vaccine

According to Massachusetts law, all dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies. However, many dog owners are expressing hesitancy toward getting a rabies vaccine for their dogs, reports Boston 25 News. According to a poll conducted by the journal “Vaccine,” 53% of dog parents worry whether the rabies vaccine is necessary, safe, and effective.

Eradication of rabies hailed a great success in the United States

Dr. Meera Gatlin, assistant teaching professor of public health at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, stated, “We have actually done a remarkable job in the 20th century of basically eradicating the dog as host for rabies affecting people.”

Globally, around 60,000 people succumb to rabies infections annually. Whereas, in the United States, the current number stands at zero.

Matt Motta, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Boston University of Public Health, wants to keep it that way. He states, “We worry that the consequences of non-vaccination could impact both our four-legged friends as well as all of us.”

Dr. Motta, a leading researcher overseeing the study behind the poll, emphasizes the increased likelihood of pets encountering wildlife. Instances of coyotes, notably spotted in more urban areas, have escalated. These animals can potentially transmit illnesses like rabies to household pets, thereby heightening the risk of contagion to humans.

Dr. Gatlin underscores the threat of disease resurgence, particularly rabies, which poses a fatal risk to both animals and people. Vaccine hesitancy has amplified as a result of recent backlash against COVID-19 vaccines, leading to the widespread circulation of misinformation.

In Massachusetts, state laws mandate dog licensing and require proof of a rabies vaccine. Fines for unlicensed dogs range from $50 in Boston and Worcester to $75 in Barnstable. Dr. Gatlin suggests seeking guidance from veterinarians to combat misinformation, as well as advocating for informed decisions based on scientific knowledge. Additionally, she mentions the availability of free or low-cost rabies clinics in the spring if pet owners are experiencing financial difficulties or are hoping to pursue cheaper alternatives to vet visits in order to vaccinate their pets.


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