Madison, Wis. - About half of all dogs that enter shelter facilities have not been vaccinated or built natural immunity to at least two common canine ailments, according to an ongoing shelter-medicine study.
Madison, Wis. — About half of all dogs that enter shelter facilities have not been vaccinated or built natural immunity to at least two common canine ailments, according to an ongoing shelter-medicine study.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, in cooperation with the Dane County Humane Society and several other shelter facilities across the country, continues to study vaccination compliance after almost four years of research, says study leader Dr. Ron Schultz, UW-Madison professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences.
"The number of (shelter) puppies being vaccinated with core vaccines is about 50 percent," he says, noting about a 15 percent variation based on the individual shelter.
"So basically, somewhere between 35 percent and 65 percent are not being vaccinated" with core canine vaccines — specifically for parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus-2 and rabies, Schultz says.
He estimated less than one-fourth of kittens entering shelters receive core vaccines.
"It demonstrates that somehow we've got to reach the puppies and kittens that never get veterinary care with at least one dose of core vaccines when they are over the age of 16 weeks.
"If we are successful in reaching them with just one dose of vaccine, they would have lifelong immunity," Schultz says.
A single core vaccine dose would create a profound improvement in disease immunity, not only in dogs and cats owned or housed in shelters, but also in the wild population.
The key to improving compliance numbers is regular emphasis on vaccine importance, Schultz says.
"Many owners don't understand the need, realize the benefit of the single vaccine or want to go to a veterinarian because of cost. They don't realize one dose will provide a lifetime immunity for most animals," Schultz says. "Another reason is 'the disposable philosophy.' Owners don't really care if a dog or cat gets sick and dies because they can get another one or many."
Shelters also need to show better compliance with administering vaccines, Schultz says. "We strongly urge shelters to vaccinate on intake, and even then we have problems with certain shelters in certain areas."
Progress has been noted in the past decade, but room for improvement remains.
"We need to get to these animals in any way that we can to get them vaccinated," Schultz says.