Long, boring but important news on vaccinations

All 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats. Some of this information will present an ethical and economic challenge to vets, and there will be skeptics. Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs. those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or the doctor's economic well being should not be a factor in medical decision.


"Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (ie: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced." Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. "There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines." Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of
vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year 4 mo) will provide lifetime immunity.


Distemper & Parvo -- "According to Dr. Schultz, AVMA, 8-15-95, when a vaccinations series given at 2, 3 & 4 months and again at 1 year with a MLV, puppies and kitten program memory cells that survive for life,
providing lifelong immunity." Dr. Carmichael at Cornell and Dr. Schultz have studies showing immunity against challenge at 2-10 years for canine distemper & 4 years for parvovirus. Studies for longer duration are pending. "There are no new strains of parvovirus as one mfg. would like to suggest. Parvovirus vaccination provides cross immunity for all types." Hepatitis (Adenovirus) is one of the agents known to be a cause of kennel cough. Only vaccines with CAV-2 should be used as CAV-1 vaccines carry the risk of "hepatitis blue-eye" reactions & kidney damage.
Bordetella Parainfluenza -- Commonly called "Kennel cough." Recommended only for those dogs boarded, groomed, taken to dog shows, or for any reason housed where exposed to a lot of dogs. The intranasal vaccine provides more complete and more rapid onset of immunity with less chance of reaction. Immunity requires 72 hours and does not protect from every cause of kennel cough. Immunity is of short duration (~ 6 months).
Rabies -- It is a killed vaccine and must be given every year.
Lyme Disease -- is a tick born disease which can cause lameness, kidney failure and heart disease in dogs. Ticks can also transmit the disease to humans. The original Ft. Dodge killed bacteria has proven to be the most
effective vaccine. Lyme disease prevention should emphasize early removal of ticks. Amitraz collars are more effective than Top Spot, as Amitraz paralyzes the tick's mouth parts preventing transmission of disease .

Multiple components in vaccines compete with each other for the immune system and result in lesser immunity for each individual disease as well as increasing the risk of a reaction.

Canine Corona Virus is only a disease of puppies. It is rare, self limiting (dogs get well in 3 days without treatment). Cornell &Texas A&M have only diagnosed one case each in the last 7 years. Corona virus does not cause disease in adult dogs.

Leptospirosis vaccine is a common cause of adverse reactions in dogs. Most of the clinical cases of lepto reported in dogs in the US are caused by serovaars (or types) grippotyphosa and bratsilvia. The vaccines contain different serovaars eanicola and ictohemorrhagica. Cross protection is not provided and protection is short lived. Lepto vaccine is immuno-supressive to puppies less than 16 weeks.


Feline vaccine related Fibrosarcoma is a type of terminal cancer related in inflammation caused by rabies & leukemia vaccines. This cancer is thought to affect 1 in 10,000 cats vaccinated. Vaccines with aluminum adjuvant, an ingredient included to stimulate the immune system, have been implicated as a higher risk. We now recommend a non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine for cats. Testing by Dr. Macy, Colorado State, has shown this vaccine to have the lowest tissue reaction and although there is no guarantee that a vaccine induced sarcoma will not develop, the risk will be much lower than with other vaccines.

Program injectable 6 mo. flea prevention for cats has been shown to be very tissue reactive & therefore has the potential of inducing an injection site fiborsarcoma. If your cats develops a lump at the site of a vaccination, we recommend that it be removed ASAP, within 3-12 weeks.

Feline Leukemia Virus Vaccine
This virus is the leading viral killer of cats. The individuals most at risk of infection are young outdoor cats, indoor/outdoor cats and cats exposed to such individuals. Indoor only cats with no exposure to potentially infected cats are unlikely to become infected. All cats should be tested prior to vaccination. Cats over one year of age are naturally immune to Fel.V whether they are vaccinated or not, so annual vaccination of adult cats is NOT necessary. The incubation period of Feline leukemia can be over 3 years, so if your cat is in the incubation state of the disease prior to vaccination, the vaccine will not prevent the disease.

Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccine
Also called feline distemper is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease of kittens. It's extremely hardy and is resistant to extremes in temperature and to most available disinfectants. Although an effective treatment protocol is available, it is expensive to treat because of the serious nature of the disease and the continued presence of virus in the environment, vaccination is highly recommended for all kittens. Cats vaccinated at 6 months or older with either killed or MLV vaccine will produce an immunity good for life. Adult cats do NOT need this vaccine.

Feline Calicivirus/Herpesvirus Vaccine
Responsible for 80-90% of infectious feline upper respiratory tract diseases. The currently available injectable vaccines will minimize the severity of upper respiratory infections, although none will prevent disease in all situations. Intranasal vaccines are more effective at preventing the disease entirely. Don't worry about normal sneezing for a couple of days. Because intranasal vaccines produce an immunity of shorter durations, annual
vaccination is recommended.

Chlamydia or pneumonitis -- The vaccine produces on a short (2 month) duration of immunity and accounts for less than 5% of upper respiratory infections in cats. The risks outweigh the benefits.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis -- A controversial vaccine. Most kittens that contract FIP become infected during the first 3 months of life. The vaccine is labeled for use at 16 weeks. All 27 vet schools do not recommend the

Bordetella -- A new vaccine for feline bordetella has been introduced. Dr. Wolfe of Texas A&M says that bordetella is a normal flora and does not cause disease in adult cats. Dr. Lappin of Colorado State says that a review of Colorado State medical records reveals not one case diagnosed in 10 years.

Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in North America, 30% or more of all dogs & cats are infected with giardia. It has now been demonstrated that humans can transmit giardia to dogs and cats and
vice-versa. Heartworm preventative must be given year round in Houston.

New vaccines in development include: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and cat scratch fever vaccine for cats and Ehrlichia [one of the other tick diseases, much worse than Lymes] for dogs.

Most vets recommend annual boosters and most kennel operators require them. For years the pricing structure of vets has misled clients into thinking that the inherent value of an annual office visit was in the "shots" they
failed to emphasize the importance of a physical exam for early detection of treatable diseases. It is my hope that you will continue to require rabies & Kennel cough and emphasize the importance of a recent vet exam. I also hope you will accept the new protocols and honor these pets as currently vaccinated. Those in the boarding business who will honor the new vaccine protocols can gain new customers who were turned away from vet owned boarding facilities reluctant to change.

Dogs and cats no longer need to be vaccinated against distemper, parvo, & feline leukemia every year. Once the initial series of puppy or kitten vaccinations and first annual vaccinations are completed, immunity from MLV vaccines persists for life. It has been shown that cats over 1 year of age are immune to Feline Leukemia whether they have been vaccinated or not. Imagine the money you will save, not to mention fewer risks from side effects. PCR rabies vaccine, because it is not adjuvanted, will mean less risk of mediated hemolytic anemia and allergic reactions are reduced by less frequent use of vaccines as well as by avoiding unnecessary vaccines such as K-9 Corona virus and chlamydia for cats, as well as ineffective vaccines such as Leptospirosis and FIP. Intranasal vaccine for Rhiotracheitis and Calici virus, two upper respiratory viruses of cats provide more complete protection than injectable vaccines with less risk of serious reactions. The AAHA and all 27 veterinary schools of North America are our biggest endorsement for these new protocols.

Dr. Bob Rogers, DVM, Pharm.D.,
Provost, Texas A&M School of Vet. Medicine

Video: Debate over Return of Katrina Dog


Dark Water Rising: the Truth About Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues

A few nights ago I watched the newly released film called Dark Water Rising: the Truth About Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues. Those of us who have been involved with the Katrina animal disaster cannot watch this unbiased. For me, there was not much surprising in the film except the images inside one of the schools in St. Bernard Parish where animals had been murdered. That scene was difficult to watch, especially recognizing a few of the dogs. I thought the film was well-done and, for the most part, told it like it was. It is impossible for any one film or book to cover all aspects of this unprecedented disaster; this DVD has a specific focus and does not try to be the final word on the Katrina animal disaster.

The film focuses almost entirely on the rescue and sheltering efforts of HSUS/Lamar Dixon and the in-your-face dog rescues and commentary by two men from Winn Dixie. It does not mention rescue and sheltering efforts by the other groups. Whatever people's opinion of Best Friends, they were not mentioned or shown, although they played a large role in all of this. Also absent from the film was the Humane Society of Louisiana in Tylertown, Noah's Wish which ran the rescue and sheltering operation in St. Tammany Parish, Pasados, Muttshack, UAN/EARS in Monroe, LA, and Alley Cat Allies. There was no mention of the formation of ARNO when HSUS pulled out in October and the LaSPCA called off rescue operations.

The film portrayed a stark contrast between HSUS/Lamar Dixon and Winn Dixie, making it look as if Wayne Pacelle was there the entire time, fully in charge of the operation. Some of the Winn Dixie rescuers came off looking like juvenile delinquents. Both of these portrayals are exaggerations of what really happened.

Larry Roberts and Aaron Minjares are the two men from Winn Dixie that the film crew followed around. They are pierced, tattooed, with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, and very vocal in their opinions that the owners do not deserve to get back their dogs. In one disturbing scene, Larry is shown removing the collar with tags from a dog just rescued from inside a house and throwing the collar back into the house, muttering something stupid about what the owner can do with the collar. There is an interesting scene where another volunteer leads the camera crew through the Winn Dixie store at night, asking what kind of liquor everyone wants. She explains that's what they do every night and apologizes that they've "already cleaned out the pharmacy." Mark, the co-founder of Winn Dixie appears in the film only briefly, drunk and slurring whatever it is he was trying to say. The Lamar Dixon volunteers, by contrast to Winn Dixie, came off looking clean-cut, professional and well-organized **

There are many shots of dead and decomposing cats and dogs in addition to the scene inside the school, but the scene that was the hardest for me to watch - and I fast forwarded through it - was a pit-bull fight (film clip was courtesy of HSUS).

I take some issue with the sub-title of the film: The Truth about Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues. I know that there are many versions of the truth and not an absolute truth to this or any other story. No single film or book or person's experience will capture and convey the truth, other than their subjective experience of it. The core of my truth is that no one expected the levees to break and the city to flood when owners left behind their beloved pets for what would / should have been 24-48 hours.

I think that it's an important film that should be seen by people who have no idea of what went on down there. I hope to organize a screening of it here in conjunction with local rescue events and encourage others to do the same. When possible the film should be followed by discussions and Q & A.

I also want audiences to know what has been happening since the rescues with pets being sent all over the county and the difficulty finding them and reuniting with owners. I want to dispel the idea that these were bad people/bad pet owners who don't deserve their pets back. Personally, I would not have given over the last ten months of my life to help these people get their pets rescued, located and reunited if I didn't believe that they absolutely deserve them back.

We - the hundreds of volunteers who have been helping with this for almost a year now - don't know, assist or work with the bad pet owners. They don't look for their pets and they don't contact us for help. Sadly, they just go out and get replacement pets (to be used as guard dogs, huntin' dogs, chained dogs). The hundreds of pet owners we have had the pleasure and privilege to know and assist are not getting replacement pets because their cats and dogs were members of their families and are irreplaceable.

** My comments are about the portrayal of people and groups, not about the people and groups themselves.

This is Maggie, my new God-Beagle

This is Maggie. Actually, at the time this picture was taken two weeks ago she wasn't yet Maggie, but just another dog dumped at a shelter, soon-to-be-euthanized. This young little beagle was terrified, shaking, withdrawn and living on a concrete floor. My friend Caroline saw her on Petfinder and within two days pulled her from Roicy, a high-kill municipal shelter in Lafayette, LA. and brought her home.

This is Maggie at home yesterday.
Run Maggie Run.... she remembers what it's like to be a dog again,
or maybe is getting to be a dog for the first time in her young life.

Road trip to Doylestown

Lest anyone think that Laura's and my day in Doylestown was all work and no play, we stopped "on the way" at the New Bolton Center of the U of Penn Vet School to see if we could have a peak at Barbaro. We both knew that we wouldn't be able to, but the security guard who is now posted at the entrance was really nice, and did get us permission to go inside the building. The fences at the entrance to the New Bolton Center were covered with Get Well cards and greetings for the beloved horse from kids from all over. Inside were many giant cards sent from Churchill Downs and other tracks. I walked around reading all the cards and notes and cried. This is one amazing horse. Continue to pray for him.


Rocket/Doylestown PA ...again

Above link is to today's story in the Philadelphia Daily News.

(Comments about and corrections to the article to be posted soon)

Here are a few of the posts from around the web about Lynne Welsh; feel free to email me links to other forums, blogs or stories that you would like to have posted here. Feel free to post your own comments as well. After all, this is a blog and this is the internet.

"Hey, Lynne? How about acting like you're a human being?"

Lynne Welsh described as "Dumbass Bitch of the Day"

Lynne Welsh described as the "Asshole of the Day"