The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has released information regarding new rabies vaccination laws for the state.
The State Board of Health updated the Rabies Control Act so pets have a longer interval between rabies vaccinations. This rule will be in effect Jan. 1, 2010.
According to the ADH, "The updated Rabies Control Act was passed by the Arkansas State Legislature in 2009 (ACT 159). Under the new rules, all dogs and cats, four months of age or older will be required to have a rabies vaccination given by a licensed veterinarian. Currently, no age limit is specified for initial vaccinations. Regardless of the age of the animal at initial vaccination, a booster vaccination should be administered one year later (as recommended by every licensed vaccine currently available). Following the booster, dogs and cats should be placed on a vaccination schedule according to the labeled duration of the vaccine used. Both one- and three-year duration vaccines are available. There is also a four-year vaccine for cats."
Dogs and cats will need to be vaccinated according to the duration of the vaccine they are given. Pet owners should talk to their pets' veterinarians to find out which duration of the rabies vaccine is best for their pets.
According to the ADH, "Rabies primarily exists in wildlife. In Arkansas, the host animals are skunks and bats, but any mammal can become infected if bitten by a rabid skunk or bat. According to Dr. Susan Weinstein, State Public Health veterinarian, the biggest issue for the state is that many pet owners do not get their dogs or cats vaccinated at all. Rural dogs and cats, especially those that live outdoors, are most commonly exposed to rabid animals in the wild. These same outdoor dogs and cats are also the least likely to be vaccinated. All dogs and cats should be taken to a licensed veterinarian to be vaccinated for rabies. Due to the routine physical contact between people and domestic pets, it is especially important to get these pets vaccinated in order to reduce rabies exposure to humans."