Heard on All Things Considered – Cindy Marabito runs a pit bull rescue out of her house in Austin, Texas.
“We’re the only raw-feeding, holistic, completely no-kill pit bull refuge and rescue in the United States,” she says. She currently has nine dogs that roam her big, mulched backyard by the banks of the Colorado River.
The philosophy of her rescue is to give “low to no vaccines.”
In most states – including Texas – dog owners are required to give their pets a rabies shot every three years. Health officials say the shots keep rabies – a disease with a 99% fatality rate for humans and animals – at bay.
But Marabito considers the current vaccination guidelines “excessive.”
“The rabies vaccine has been around for decades and it is incredibly safe, especially when you consider the risk of death.”
She’s one of many pet owners with “canine vaccine hesitancy,” a phrase coined in a recent study led by the Boston University School of Public Health and published in the journal Vaccine.
The study found that 53% of U.S. dog owners surveyed question whether the rabies vaccine is safe, whether it works, or whether it’s useful.
The researchers sought to quantify a sentiment they were seeing in their work as veterinarians.
“It’s something I deal with on a day-to-day basis,” says Gabriella Motta, a veterinarian at an animal hospital in Glenolden, Pa., and a co-author on the paper. “We’re [often] dealing with an aggressive animal that’s not vaccinated where the staff is taking extra precautions, really making sure not to get bit.”
That around half of all dog owners are skeptical about the rabies vaccine is “very disturbing” to Lori Teller, a veterinarian at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association …