Recently a client asked me about a Rabies Clinic coming up in our area. She asked why the cost of the vaccine was only $25 and whether she should take her dog to get vaccinated. She also asked why do these rabies clinics exist? All good questions.
About seventy years ago rabies emerged as a significant disease in Ontario, and still is. To protect the public from rabies, the government organized rabies clinics across the province. At first, they were free but then became low-cost clinics. These low-cost clinics still exist today to eliminate any possible financial barriers for pet owners getting their pet vaccinated for rabies. Rabies vaccination at these clinics are also low cost because the College of Veterinarians of Ontario allows veterinarians to give the rabies vaccine without a veterinary client patient relationship and without informed consent. Very simply, all the veterinarian does is give the needle without the need for a complete history or general physical examination.
However, most veterinarians believe every pet needs a thorough history and complete physical examination to determine that their pet is healthy and not sick prior to giving a vaccine. An exam can also uncover health issues that need to be dealt with. I then started to explain some other concerns I had about these rabies clinics. Some people will go to these clinics without consulting their veterinarian and the rabies clinic will often give the vaccine whether your pet is due for vaccines or not because there is no requirement to bring your pet’s vaccination history with you. Most rabies vaccines will last three years so in fact, your pet may not even need a rabies shot. Another area of concern is that cats are at a greater risk of developing a soft tissue sarcoma from the cheaper inactivated rabies vaccine that are most commonly used at these clinics. These rabies clinics are not using the safer canarypox rabies vaccines designed for cats as they are considerably more expensive. Finally, once your pet is vaccinated at a rabies clinic, there is no requirement to inform your regular veterinarian that your pet had a rabies shot. It is up to you to tell your vet to ensure your pet does not get over vaccinated.
I think it is unfair that people in financial need have their pets miss out on a complete history and general physical exam at a rabies clinic. Therefore, after our phone call, I decided that our clinic will start offering means-tested rabies and micro-chipping clinics all year long. I am glad this client called and asked those great questions.
Our new rabies clinic policy:
Wilmot Veterinary Clinic is offering ongoing $25 rabies vaccines with a complete physical exam and $25 micro-chipping to low-income individuals and families, and those on social assistance.
The requirements are listed below; you must provide evidence to be eligible.
- Seniors receiving the Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
- Persons with disabilities who receive the Ontario Disability Support Payment (ODSP) or the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Disability Benefit
- Persons receiving Ontario Works Benefit (OW)
- Household income that is below the amount listed below
On your Notice Of Assessment, your total household income must be below the following amounts:
- One income earner household: $40,131
- Two income earner household: $49,956
- Three income earner household: $61,413
IMPORTANT NOTE: Proof of government assistance or a copy of CRA Notice of Assessment or Re-Assessment for each adult household must be presented to be eligible.
If you do not have your Notice of Assessment, please contact Revenue Canada at 1-800-959-8281