K-9 Corner: Statute changes vaccination rules

June 23, 2004|HELEN PALMER

The American Kennel Club alerted me to a new, revised statute that Governor Ernie Fletcher signed on April 22. The new law revises procedures governing the humane treatment of animals, rabies vaccination requirements, and the licensing of veterinarians. The law also provides for the creation of the "Animal Control and Care Fund" to support animal programs across the state.

The copy of this statute that I received is 34 pages long, so I will include only those portions that pertain to pet owners. "Owner" is defined as anyone having a right of property in the dog and every person who keeps or harbors the dog, or has it in his care, or permits it to remain on or about premises owned or occupied by him."

The first thing I noticed was that cats and ferrets have joined dogs as animals that need to be vaccinated against rabies. The amended portion of the statute reads: "Every owner shall have his dog, cat or ferret initially vaccinated against rabies by the age of four (4) months and revaccinated at the expiration of the immunization period as certified by the veterinarian." (I have noticed that some counties insist on yearly vaccinations even when the veterinarians use the three-year vaccine.)


That section stipulates that the owner must receive a vaccination certificate on an approved form and a tag which shall be "affixed to a collar or harness furnished by the owner and shall be worn by the dog for which the tag was issued. No one except the owner or his duly authorized agent shall remove the tag." Owners of pet cats and ferrets must show proof of a valid rabies vaccination upon request. In addition, "any person with feral cats on his premises shall make a reasonable effort to capture or vaccinate the cats." (To comply, people with feral cats on their property may want to request the use of live traps from the animal shelter and make use of the less expensive rabies clinics.)

Vaccinated animals imported from other states must have proof of vaccination and will not need re-vaccination until the following year. This re-vaccination is required even if the certificate states it is a three year shot.

Although most local health departments hold annual mass rabies immunization clinics, they are not required to do so. No owner is required to take their pets to a public clinic as long as the pet is vaccinated by a veterinarian or a person qualified to sign the approved forms. In cases of a rabies outbreak, the local health department may quarantine the animals in that area and require that pets that have not been vaccinated within the past six (6) months be re-vaccinated.

A dog that attempts to bite or bites a person who has illegally entered or is trespassing on the dog owner's property in violation of KRS 511.060, 511.070, 511.080, or 511.090 shall not be considered vicious or the attempt deemed an "attack."

A new addition to the statute is that "The governing body of each county may establish an animal licensing program by ordinance. It shall be the responsibility of each county to administer and enforce it licensing program." On checking with the Boyle County courthouse, the new ordinance and tags will not be available until July 1. Mercer County has already passed an ordinance regarding their licensing program.

There are provisions for confinement of female dogs in heat, for people harboring dogs for the purpose of fighting, and for dogs that are abandoned, neglected, mistreated or tortured.

Hounds or other hunting dogs which have been released from confinement for hunting purposes shall be deemed to be under reasonable control of its owner or handler while engaged in or returning from hunting. If a hunting dog becomes temporarily lost from its pack or wanders from actual control or sight of its owner or handler, it shall not be in violation of the law. (However, microchipping the dog will assist in its return.)

This new statute has a whole page on the privileges of assistance dogs for people with disabilities.

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