Vaccination is a hotly debated topic, appearing in the news on a regular basis. Is there a link between childhood vaccines and autism? Is there going to be a mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers for H1N1? Why is it though, that the issue of companion pet vaccination also does not come up during these vaccination conversations?
Animals, like babies and young children that receive vaccinations, do not have a voice or say in the vaccine debate. Pets’ human caretakers, veterinarians and lawmakers make the vaccination decisions. People want to make sure their pets are adequately protected, that they are following the laws in place in their state, and that they are getting their pets the care they need.
But are people violating animals’ rights and physical integrity by requiring them to be vaccinated? Pets are legally considered property, which would imply that there is nothing wrong with people choosing to have their pets vaccinated. However, should people be allowed to make this choice for their animal when they are potentially subjecting the animal to an increased risk of developing cancer as a result of these vaccinations? Should there be more discussion about whether pets are susceptible to the same vaccine concerns as are children? It is unlikely pets will ever be able to let people know what their wishes are relating to vaccination. Even if this were a possibility though, it would likely be moot since pets’ legal status in society is considered property of their humans, which allows people control over the animals.
It has been proposed that perhaps a vaccine injury act should be enacted in response to some of these pet vaccination issues. But would such legislation act as a protection for the animals or would it really be for the interests of the human guardians? Is society at a place where there is a need to reevaluate if there should be limits on the choices people are allowed to make for their pets and the risks that can be properly accepted on their behalf? Are vaccines really protecting our pets?