Sunday, January 9, 2011

About the Pet Health Action Network

Recently we got involved in a California campaign to formally legalize vaccination exemptions for dogs whose veterinarians determine they are too sick to be vaccinated.  Because Louie is one of those dogs, the legislation which was proposed has the potential to directly impact his life, and mine too.

Currently, California law leaves it to the local public health officer to decide whether or not letters of exemption written by veterinarians will excuse pets from being vaccinated.  The bill that was introduced, AB-2000 (also known as Molly's Law), would have required all counties to accept these recommendations from veterinarians.

My initial involvement in this bill came about due to a troublesome clause which was inserted into the language as an amendment, stipulating in essence that any dog in California with a medical exemption from rabies vaccination would have to be quarantined.  I, and others, objected to that language while agreeing with the overall spirit of the bill itself, and so, with the help of my friend Cynthia Jeremica (whose dog is also immuno-compromised due to rabies vaccine), the wonderful Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopet, Jan Rasmusen of, and Kris L. Christine of the Rabies Challenge Fund, I crafted a press release highlighting the problem with the proposed amendment.  Cynthia, Louie and I, along with Cynthia's dog, Ruby, all ended up on the Sacramento news to talk about the problem.  We were successful in getting the quarantine language struck from the bill and then worked hard to get the bill passed, but ultimately the whole bill was voted down in committee due to some political wrangling behind the scenes.

Though we tried very hard to get the word out about the bill to pet owners in California, urging them to call their congressional representatives, in hindsight it became clear that what we lacked was a network of concerned citizens willing to pick up the phone and make those calls.  When AB 2000 was voted down, I realized that it might be important to the health of pets everywhere if we could put information about issues that affect the health of our companion animals directly into the hands of those people most interested and most willing to take action.  And so the Pet Health Action Network (PHAN) was born.

But PHAN needs your help if it is to grow into what we need it to be in order to be an effective force for our pets.  There are several ways you can receive information from PHAN.  You can follow us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, bookmark our blog, or follow us on NetworkedBlogs.   We ask you also to please share PHAN with your pet-oriented friends.   We've just begun this journey, and we may be small now, but we don't intend to remain that way for long.

Finally, leave us a comment and give us your own ideas about how PHAN can grow.  Let's work together to make this world a better place for those who don't have a voice of their own-- our beloved companion animals.

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