Public Hearing Set for Connecticut Proposal on Rabies Regulation

People who handle animals not yet vaccinated in public places would have their names and contact information recorded.

Posted: August 13, 2007 5 a.m. EDT

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Rabies Regulation
Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture will hold a public hearing Aug. 22 on a proposal that would require pet stores, animal shelters and other entities to keep a log of the names and contact information of anyone who visits their location and handles an animal not yet vaccinated for rabies.
Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture will hold a public hearing Aug. 22 on a proposed set of regulations that would require pet stores, animal shelters, petting zoos, riding stables and other entities to keep a log of the names and contact information of anyone who visits their location and handles an animal not yet vaccinated for rabies, including kittens and puppies too young for the vaccination.

Under the proposal, all animals held in a public setting “for which there is a licensed rabies vaccine” would be required to receive the vaccine unless they are under the minimum age (3 months old for dogs and cats) or held in a city pound.

Approved rabies vaccinations exist for cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, cattle and sheep, in addition to oral vaccines for immunization of wildlife, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association

A public setting is defined as “any event, facility or premise at which the public is invited or allowed to have direct physical contact with animals.”

The regulation is nothing new, says Dr. Bruce Sherman, a former veterinarian and the Dept. of Agriculture’s director for the Bureau of Regulation and Inspection. It’s been on the books for a while, as recently as three years ago, as part of a state emergency order to prevent the transmission of rabies. That order, however, is no longer valid, and the state determined it needed a new regulation to enforce its rabies-prevention mandate, Sherman said.

The emergency order was prompted by a 1993 incident in which approximately 70 people were exposed to a pony with rabies in Windsor, Conn.

A background paper on the new rabies proposal cites three incidents in nearby states as evidence of preventable, expensive tragedies, including a rabid goat at a county fair in New York that 25,000 people visited.

The proposal further stipulates that if the names of people coming in contact with the unvaccinated animals cannot be recorded, the animal must be separated from the public by a barrier, such as Plexiglas or a double fence. In addition, the proprietor would be required to post a rabies advisory notice stating not to feed or touch the animals.

 “We’re talking about other species, not just dogs and cats,” Sherman said, “cattle and sheep, too.”

Cats are more likely to become infected with rabies than dogs, while horses and ferrets are less likely than both cats and dogs to incur an infection, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Connecticut’s most recent rabies data found that wildlife had much higher rates of rabies infection than domestic animals. Raccoons alone accounted for three-quarters of the almost 6,000 rabies cases the state had documented from April 1991 to Aug. 7, 2006. There also were nine dog, eight horse and 108 cat cases of rabies.

The public hearing is scheduled at 10 a.m. in room 126 of the State Office Building on Capitol Avenue in Hartford.

A full text of the proposal is available at the department’s website.

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Public Hearing Set for Connecticut Proposal on Rabies Regulation

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Reader Comments

Donna    Kenosha, WI

8/16/2007 9:46:38 AM

Wow, this law would sure put a damper on people visiting our shelter and Petco to either just look or play with the cats, or for people who wish to adopt. We would have to get plexiglass cages for Petco since people and kids just stick their fingers through the bars. It would be alot easier than having everyone sign a log that wanted to stick their fingers in.

Terri    Seattle, WA

8/14/2007 10:10:28 PM

Rabies is an acute viral infection of the central nervous system. Of all the zoonotic diseases,(1) it is one of the most feared and misunderstood even though its threat to humans in the U.S. is very small.
ref: LINK

Terri    Seattle, WA

8/14/2007 10:05:41 PM

One case of rabies 14 years ago does not constitute a reason for hundreds of thousands of animal owners to incur repetitive expenses now. Particularly when the vaccination is ultimately lethal to some domestic animal species. I had to euthanize my cat due to Spindle Cell Carcinoma caused by a rabies vaccination. It's a little late to panic now.

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