Spare Bowser a few of his shots |

Spare Bowser a few of his shots

Pitkin County residents have a great opportunity this new year to pay Bowser back for being man’s (and woman’s) best friend.

Pitkin County Animal Control is no longer requiring annual rabies vaccinations for pets. New regulations allow a three-year rabies vaccination for dogs and cats, according to director Re Re Baker.

The switch was made after the Colorado Veterinary Association endorsed the three-year program last fall.

Baker stressed that pet owners must check with their veterinarians to see if the three-year vaccination is available and advisable.

Eagle County has been accepting three-year rabies vaccinations for the last two years, according to Debbie Brown, a supervisor with the Department of Animal Control.

“There’s no reason for us to force someone to get a vaccination annually,” she said.

Pet owners must show proof from a veterinarian that their animal received the three-year vaccination. That proof is kept on record and doesn’t become an issue during annual pet registration, said Brown.

Both Brown and Baker stressed that animals must be registered annually even if they receive a three-year vaccination.

Annual rabies vaccinations remain an option for pet owners who prefer that route. However, three-year vaccinations are widely available, according to a spokeswoman for the Colorado Veterinary Association. She said many vets choose to play it safe and advise clients to get annual shots for their pets in case the owners forget for a year or two. That way, their pets are still protected.

The veterinary association advises pet owners to consult with their veterinarian before choosing whether to stick to a one-year or switch to a three-year regimen.

“You need to go with what your vet thinks,” the spokeswoman said. “Your vet’s going to know what’s best for your pet.”

The one-year cycle has come under fire from researchers at the Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine in Fort Collins. Researchers have claimed in published reports that there is a high incidence of tumors in cats at the point where the rabies inoculation is given.

There is also speculation that dogs develop auto-immune diseases due to overvaccination.

As the issue has received more publicity, local governments have endorsed the three-year program. Denver began accepting three-year vaccinations Jan. 1.

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