Dogs Are the Latest Victims of Anti-Vaxxers and the Vaccine-Autism Myth

That’s right. The long-debunked myth that vaccines cause autism is now threatening the lives of dogs, despite the fact that the condition has never been diagnosed in canines.

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Veterinarians in Brooklyn (NY) say locals have been influenced by the national anti-vax movement led by Jenny McCarthy and other non-scientists who regurgitate falsehoods from a retracted paper by Andrew Wakefield. While this reporting is region-specific, there is no reason to believe this phenomenon is limited to that area.

According to Dr. Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill:

We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals… This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are applying to their pets… It’s actually much more common in the hipster-y areas.”

Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care added:

“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason… We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could… I see more diseases that could be prevented by vaccination than I see reasons not to do it.

These people are not just accepting a medical myth as true — they are going a step further by applying it to a species in which autism has never been diagnosed and convincing others to do the same.

The worst part is that the diseases for which dogs are vaccinated, such as rabies, have not yet been eradicated (like polio) and can even spread to humans.

According to Slate:

Core vaccines, which are canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies, are considered “core” in large part because of the diseases’ transmissibility to humans…

The obvious repercussions of not vaccinating your pets is transmission. According to the World Health Organization, 55,000 people worldwide die every year from rabies, and “the vast majority” of those deaths are from dog bites.

Slate also points to The Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, which describes what happens to dogs and cats that aren’t vaccinated and get exposed to rabies:

Dogs and cats that have never been vaccinated and are exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should receive a rabies vaccination and be placed in strict isolation for 4 months. Isolation in this context refers to confinement in an enclosure that precludes direct contact with people and other animals.

So please, vaccinate your pets! They won’t get autism (there’s no proof they can get autism) and they will avoid being put down just because they were exposed to a rabid animal.

It’s a sad irony that these pet owners, in an effort to prevent dogs from getting a condition (that they might not get anyway), may in fact be hastening their deaths.

Their irrational, unscientific fears are fatal.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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