By Gary Truitt
The anti-vaccination movement is the most science denying, irresponsible, and sometime immoral, movement in existence today. Believing in false science and a false syllogism, these anti-vaxxers refuse to vaccinate themselves and their children against deadly, contagious, and preventable diseases. Most popular in developed countries where wealth and privilege give people the resources to be arrogant, resurgence of diseases, long under control, are being reported. Now this kind of senselessness has entered the animal rights movement.
Dogs cannot get autism; and, even if they could, vaccines could not and never did cause it. However, some anti-vaxxers are increasingly making the same unfounded claims about pets and vaccines. In some states in the U.S., anti-vax activists have recently advocated to make state laws about mandatory pet vaccinations more lax.
The problem is acute in the United Kingdom. In its most recent annual report, Britain’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) surveyed more than 4,600 pet owners and found that, in 2018, about 25% of dogs—2.2 million of them—had not had their necessary vaccinations when they were young. This trend is consistent with what is happening in the U.S.
The most dangerous of all of the canine diseases is rabies which is, effectively, a death sentence for a dog that contracts it. “Rabies kills, period,” says Amy Nichols, vice president of the Companion Animals Division of the Humane Society. “It’s incredibly contagious, and a pet that gets it has to be euthanized.” One of the reasons the anti-animal vaxxers are gaining momentum is that most pet owners have not experienced just how horrendous these animal diseases are.
The increasing popularity of “doggie daycare” and “bark parks” are breeding grounds for the spread of these diseases into the community. It is kind of like taking your unvaccinated child to day-care — oh wait, that is what many anti-vaxxers do. Just as that spreads diseases into the general population, the increase of unprotected animals poses problems for all of animal agriculture. All of this is happening at a time when farmers are being restricted in their use of drugs and antibiotics in livestock production.
Nicholas Dodman, professor emeritus of veterinary medicine at Tufts University, summed it up nicely in a Time interview. “Not to vaccinate against these diseases is crazy,” he stated. “Our pets count on us to be smarter than that.” Animal rights groups should be all over this trend and advocating for animals; but folks like HSUS and PETA are noticeably missing from the debate.
Isn’t it about time some mature adults with a modicum of common sense, a willingness to look at the facts, and the ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children and pets enter the room? This “I want to do my own thing and choose what I want to believe” is fine when it comes the amount of subdermal ink and transdermal hardware you put on your body but not when it comes to the health and well-being of your children and pets.