As a practice that is proudly among the 15% of those accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association, we regularly take a look at our policies and practices to make sure that we are providing the best care in every possible way. This recently led us to review how we have addressed rabies vaccination for our patients within our practice, and we realized that we needed to develop a clearer policy that puts the safety of our patients, clients, staff, and community at the forefront.
Tennessee state law is very clear with regards to the requirements for rabies vaccination for dogs and cats, and as a veterinary practice, we take our duty to protect public health very seriously. At the same time, we recognize that there are circumstances that result in concern about vaccination for certain pets. With both of these factors in mind, we have worked together to create a policy that we believe strikes a good balance.
Starting November 1st, in order to receive care at our practice, patients must either be up to date on their rabies vaccination or they must have a blood test done once a year to determine whether they have an adequate level of antibodies against the rabies virus present in their system. As long as an adequate level is demonstrated each year, we will allow that patient to forego vaccination. If the test comes back showing an inadequate level of antibodies, we will require that patient to receive a rabies booster prior to receiving any further care.
Please note that the blood test is not a substitute for a rabies vaccination in the eyes of the state. If a pet were to bite another pet or a person or if that pet were to be exposed to a potentially rabid animal such as a skunk or bat, then animal control would still treat that pet as unvaccinated. This could result in a significant fine, a strict quarantine of 4-6 months in an animal control facility, or even euthanasia.
Our top recommendation is for all pets to be up to date on their rabies vaccine. This is best practice from both a legal and public health standpoint, and while we will be offering the blood test with absolutely no markup, vaccinating for rabies every 3 years will nonetheless be much less expensive than the annual blood test. At the same time, we do want to provide an alternative for those who have concerns about vaccines for their pets that still ensures the safety of all people and pets who come to our practice.
We appreciate you entrusting us with the care of your pets, and we hope this policy serves to further build that trust. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us.