Jubilee is on camera today to demonstrate a very important point.
First, notice how pretty she is.
Now that you’ve taken in her beauty, notice her jewelry. She has a lot of it, which doesn’t mean she is a Hollywood celebrity, it simply means that she has lived a long time and has had a lot of rabies vaccinations.
The important point here, though, is that all of those tags can be confusing in an emergency situation.
Picture a scenario in which a child has been bitten fitting Jubilee’s description. The rabies vaccination status of the biter is undetermined. Animal Control Officers and uniformed patrolmen are searching the city for the offending dog.
Meanwhile, Jubilee has escaped from her fenced yard and is frantically roaming the neighborhood trying to find her way back home. Police round the corner of the street where Jubilee is. They spot her and the green bell rabies vaccination tag shows itself to an officer.
To any official in any part of the world the international color and shape system instantly conveys that her last rabies vaccination was in 2007.
A child’s life, health and welfare are at stake.
The officer pulls his sidearm.
A tear rolls down his face.
He pulls the trigger and Jubilee is felled in a heartbeat.
Quickly he scoops her up, oblivious to the blood that stains his crisply-starched uniform.
As he gently lays her into the trunk of his car, he sees the 2007 rabies tag, but the item next to it pierces his heart yet again.
An orange oval tag appears, indicating this dog was vaccinated against rabies in 2010.
If only he could take back that bullet.
If only the owner had removed the old tags when adding the new one.
You see, even if Jubilee had been the biter, which she wasn’t, if the officer had known that her rabies vaccination was current, he could have waited on a tranquilizer gun, a net, or some other non-fatal means of capturing her for a rabies observation period. Instead, on the information fed to him by the old, outdated rabies tag, he was forced to do as he had been trained. The alleged biter had to go down so that the brain could be removed, sent to a special laboratory and evaluated for signs of rabies virus infection.
Fortunately for Jubilee and her owners, this is just a story.
Sadly, though, in real life, it happens all too often. Just because pet owners want a little extra jingle on their pets’ collars.
Please learn from this lesson and let your pet carry only one, current rabies tag at a time.
No more. No less.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.