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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Powell

Is Rabies Vaccine Required by Law in Missouri?

Pets are a beloved part of many families. Therefore, their health is just as valuable as that of any human and should be taken care of. This involves a good diet and exercise regiment, regular vet checkups, and pet vaccinations. However, the recent controversy surrounding human vaccines has made many pet owners wonder if they should vaccinate their pets.

The widespread consensus is that vaccines help protect animals from dangerous infectious diseases such as canine parvo and rabies. Nonetheless, there are rumors that they come with significant risks as well. Consequently, some pet owners may wonder if they have legal grounds to refuse pet immunization.

The answer is that it depends. Some states like Colorado and Florida allow pet owners to refuse the rabies vaccines if the animal has a pre-existing medical condition that would make vaccination dangerous. Is the same true for other states, such as Missouri? Is the rabies vaccine required by law in Missouri?

These are some of the questions pet owners need answers to if they’re debating vaccinating their pets.

Should You Vaccinate Your Pet?

Should You Vaccinate Your Pet?

Vaccines are one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in history. Their invention stopped the spread of many dangerous viruses and helped save countless human and animal lives. Yet recent controversies have led many people to question just how safe they are.

The opposition is mostly related to the human MMR vaccine. However, the vaccine debate has recently come to include pet vaccines too. Pet owners are becoming increasingly concerned about the possible side effects mandatory immunization could have on their furry companions. Therefore, many are wondering if they should vaccinate their pets.

The answer is a resounding yes. Just like humans, pet vaccinations allow the animal’s immune system to recognize diseases and develop strategies to fight them off. They also strengthen the animal’s body and decrease the likelihood of these diseases spreading further.

Granted, some pets may experience side effects. Vaccines work by imitating an infection. Thus, once injected, they trigger an immune response. This, in turn, causes symptoms like lethargy and fever. But these symptoms aren’t nearly as bad as the reaction to the actual disease itself and should clear up in a few days.

Moreover, they are nothing compared to the risks unvaccinated animals face. While some diseases like canine parvo have a higher survival rate, the rabies virus has a 100% fatality rate. Worse still, rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can jump from animals to humans. Therefore, pet owners who don’t vaccinate their animals aren’t just putting the animal’s health at risk, but their own as well.

Is the Rabies Vaccine Required by Law in Missouri?

Besides the health benefits, there is another reason pet owners should vaccinate their pets — the law. Some states legally require animals to receive vaccinations. But, the requirement doesn’t apply to all types of vaccines.

There are two types of pet vaccines — core and non-core. Vets class core vaccines as essential because they protect against some of the most common yet lethal diseases all animals are vulnerable to. These include parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, and rabies.

Non-core vaccines are immunizations vets give depending on the animal’s exposure risk. These include vaccines for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, bordetella, giardia, and canine influenza. While these illnesses are no less severe, the risk of catching them depends on a variety of factors, like the animal’s age, where they live, if they’re an indoor or outdoor animal, etc.

For this reason, owners can refuse non-core vaccines, even if their vet recommends them. However, core vaccines, especially the rabies vaccine, are often legally required. Some states, like Oregon and Florida, grant owners medical exemptions if their pet has an underlying medical condition that would make receiving the vaccine dangerous. But other states, such as Missouri don’t offer this exemption.

In Missouri local authorities mandate owners to vaccinate dogs, cats, horses, cattle, and sheep against the rabies virus. Vaccinating cats and dogs is especially important since they have the closest contact with humans. Therefore, they can most easily transmit the virus to their owners.

The state also requires pet owners to get their pets' core vaccines and booster shots, as per the recommended protocol. As for the other vaccines, the state doesn’t legally mandate them. Owners can choose to get their pets non-core vaccines based on their vet’s recommendation. Other than providing vaccines, it is also the responsibility of the doctors to report dog bites in Missouri.

Also, another thing that owners need to look at is protecting their pets or other animals that they look after. For instance, there's the matter of preventing dogs from trespassing on farms and attacking the livestock. One of the things that would help is installing a fence at home. Find out if Missouri is a fence in or fence out state.

If you get bitten by someone's dog, especially one that is not vaccinated, you may seek the professional aid of a dog bite attorney in St Louis MO to help you out.

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