Why Are Vets Getting Away With Murder?
by Dana Scott
How's that for a title? If it got your attention, then that's good because
this topic needs your attention. It used to be that dogs visited the vet
pretty rarely. They only needed a couple of vaccines, they weren't eating
veterinary prescription diets and they weren't continually loaded with
heartworm preventives, flea and tick meds and shampoos, dewormers,
pharmaceuticals and more. Thinking back, maybe that's why they didn't need
to go to the vet all that often.
Today, there is a very different veterinary clinic. It's true that we now
have better treatment options at our disposal, such as MRIs and more
technologically advanced surgery. I think it's great that vets - and our
pets - have access to these tools. But somewhere along the way, the
veterinary practice lost perspective. I'm not talking about individual vets
because I believe that most of them do want to do right by our pets. But
the problem is that the vets have allowed themselves to be influenced by the
pharmaceutical companies and the dog food manufacturers - and this has been
to the great detriment of our pets.
The veterinary profession is broken and it isn't about to change any time
soon. Our pets are being over-serviced and we are getting fleeced. We pay
for the unnecessary vaccinations, the overly-processed, synthetic
prescription pet foods that contain ingredients from China, and we pay for
drugs and chemicals that are damaging to the immune system. After shelling
out for these services, pet owners need to keep their wallets open because,
sooner or later, the chronic disease caused by these products will start to
kick in and require treatment. We accept health issues such as arthritis
and hip dysplasia, allergies and skin issues, gastrointestinal issues and
parasite loads as common problems that dogs suffer and this couldn't be
further from the truth. They are disease and they threaten the quality and
quantity of life of our companion animals - and many of them are caused by
the products vets tell us are safe and effective.
The sad fact is, vets are harming our dogs. They have too many drugs,
vaccines and chemicals at their disposal and they are too willing to
dispense them. The worst part is, they hold no accountability for their
actions. In short, they can and do ignore vaccine label recommendations or
prescribe harmful or unnecessary drugs and pet owners have no recourse.
I believe that the most common and most harmful veterinary practice is
over-vaccination. Not only do the vaccines cause a lot of damage in our
dogs, but nearly every vaccine vets give to our dogs is unnecessary. Pay
attention to that sentence: nearly every vaccine given to our dogs is
useless and they get all of the risk and none of the reward. How could this
happen? How can vets cause so much disease in our dogs without even knowing
Vets Do Not Understand Immunology or Vaccines
I paraphrase Dr. Ronald Schultz, the leading veterinary immunologist when I
say that vets are not prepared to make vaccine decisions. In the March 2012
issue of Dogs Naturally, we published an article where we interviewed
various vets on their thoughts and experience with vaccines. Here are some
of the responses we got:
"I was taught vaccines were safe and it was implied there had been safety
studies done on them before they were used on the general public. They are
not safe and there have not been any safety studies done on any of them. I
was taught that if something adverse happens within a few hours after
immunization it was related to the vaccines but, if it happened later than
that period of time, it had nothing to do with the vaccines. The truth of
the matter is vaccines can set up a latent condition that may show up within
a few hours or years after immunization." (Dr. Stephen Blake)
"My training in vet school was not complete with regard to the harmful
effects that vaccines have on the immune system. The scientific evidence
was not properly explored by the eighties. Vaccines were designed to help
stimulate immunity. Current research is proving just the opposite however.
Even my graduate school immunology course (attended mainly by MD students)
was incomplete. (Dr Jeff Feinman)
"Vaccination in college was skimmed over with little discussion of potential
risks involved. In practice I have seen what I believe to be vaccine
related problems of skin disease (allergic); inflammatory bowel disease; and
epilepsy which appear to have been triggered or coincided with vaccination."
(Dr. Mark Carpenter)
So here we have a substance that we now know can cause many acute and
chronic health issues - and even death - and the vets themselves admit that
they really weren't educated in their use. More importantly, because the
veterinary colleges are financially aligned with the pharmaceutical
companies, most of the curriculum is very pro-vaccine with little time spent
discussing the very real issue of harmful reactions. How could this happen?
More Is Not Better
Back in the 1970s, dogs were only vaccinated for only one or two
diseases. Today, there are vaccines for adenovirus, parainfluenza,
bordetella, lyme disease, leptospirosis, hepatitis, rabies - and there are
more and more coming down the pike. Today, dogs and puppies are often
vaccinated with 7 or more viruses at the same time. They routinely receive
rabies vaccinations at the same time as other vaccinations - even though it
clearly states on the label not to do this.
It has been largely acknowledged for the last thirty or forty years that the
core vaccines most likely last for the life of the animal. Not only are
vets delivering more and more vaccines to our pets, they are continuing to
do so on a schedule that has clearly and consistently been proven to be both
ineffective and dangerous.
In the 1970s, all vaccines, with the exception of rabies vaccines,
were licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) based on
challenge studies performed from only a few weeks to a few months after
vaccination. All the vaccine labels included the statement ``Annual
Revaccination Recommended'' without the knowledge of whether the true
duration of immunity (DOI) was a year or a life time. So vets vaccinated
yearly, even though field observation suggested that immunity after both
natural infection and vaccination was long lived.
"The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an
unnecessary vaccine is given." Says Dr. Schultz. "Few or no scientific
studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated."
Yet vets continue to send us postcards telling us we need to bring our pets
in for even more vaccinations, either every year or every three years.
Whichever schedule the vet chooses is a moot point because revaccination is
not necessary. Immunity is like being a virgin - you either are or you
aren't and once you change, there is no changing back again. Dogs are
either immune or they are not, and once immune, there is every indication
that this lasts a lifetime. Distemper, for example, has been shown to last
for 15 years. In fact, all of the core vaccines have shown this kind of
So why do vets continue to vaccinate unnecessarily?
"Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession's
resistance to update its protocols. Without the lure of vaccines, clients
might be less inclined to make yearly veterinary visits. Vaccines add up to
14 percent of the average practice's income, AAHA reports, and veterinarians
stand to lose big. I suspect some are ignoring my work," says Schultz, who
claims some distemper vaccines last as long as 15 years. "Tying vaccinations
into the annual visit became prominent in the 1980s and a way of practicing
in the 1990s. Now veterinarians don't want to give it up."
Even those vets who want to do the right thing are vaccinating our pets too
often and with too much. As stated above, they are not prepared to make
balanced vaccine decisions because the veterinary colleges rely on the
vaccine manufacturers to prepare their immunology curriculum. Clearly, no
matter how much pet owners trust their vets, they can't rely on them to
protect their animals from unnecessary vaccination and the damage it causes.
But what about the veterinary associations - aren't they looking out for our
The Fox Is Watching The Hen House
In 1978, when vets were vaccinating annually, Schultz et al published ``An
Ideal (But Not Proven) Immunization Schedule for Dogs and Cats''. They
recommended a series of puppy/kitten vaccinations followed by revaccination
at 1 year, then revaccination every 3 years.
Research was initiated at that time to prove his suspicions and dogs where
challenged with exposure to Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus, anywhere
from 1 to 11 years after vaccination. Every single dog was protected when
exposed to the virus. "The results from this limited group of dogs clearly
demonstrated the Norden modified live vaccines provided immunity for at
least 11 years against CDV and CPV-2″ says Dr. Schultz. Based on this
research, Drs Schultz and Scott recommended triennial revaccination instead
of annual revaccination.
These early recommendations prompted the AAHA to assemble a task force. In
2003, the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force
evaluated the data from these challenge and serological studies and, while
noting that the core vaccines had a minimum duration of immunity of at least
seven years, compromised in 2003 with the statement that "revaccination
every 3 years is considered protective."
Task force member Dr. Richard Ford, Professor of Medicine, North Carolina
State University, said that the decision to recommend a 3 year revaccination
schedule for core vaccines was a compromise. "It's completely arbitrary.,"
he said. "I will say there is no science behind the three-year
Today, eight years later, despite more and more research showing long
lasting immunity for core vaccines and the deleterious effects of
vaccination, the AAHA hasn't changed it's position all that much. The 2011
revaccination guidelines state: "every 3 years or more" with the following
comment: "Among healthy dogs, all commercially available [core] vaccines are
expected to induce a sustained protective immune response lasting at least 5
Why do they state that the immune response lasts at least 5 years (and even
this is a serious underestimation) yet stick to that magically arbitrary
schedule of 3 years?
"Both the AAHA and the AVMA must do more to "step up to the plate" says
noted immunologist, Dr. Richard Ford. But the reality is, the vets do not
have to listen to the AAHA or the AVMA and it appears the state veterinary
medical boards are not interested in enforcing vaccine schedules, opting to
leave it up to the individual vet.
This is extremely problematic because, as the vets themselves have revealed,
they are not prepared to make a decision on how often they should vaccinate
and what vaccines they should give. In the end, the vets are
over-vaccinating either out of ignorance or greed, and the governing bodies
only seem interest in protecting the financial interests of their veterinary
members. Speaking of that, it is noteworthy that the major sponsors of the
AAHA guidelines are the major pharmaceutical companies that manufacture
Why are most pet owners unaware of vaccine dangers? Because vets are led to
believe that vaccines are safe, they lead us to believe they are safe. That
is not an excuse. If vets are to take our money for the delivery of medical
procedures, they had darn well better know the safety and efficacy of that
procedure. Every day, I communicate with vets who defend their vaccine
practices and demand the research behind our claims. I give it to them but,
at the same time, I question why they are relying on blogs and magazines for
their information? It is the vet's responsibility to fully understand the
risks and benefits of every medical procedure they perform on our pets and
to research it thoroughly. Here is the most important part: it is also
their responsibility to inform pet owners of the risks and benefits of that
How many pet owners are given full disclosure when their animals are
vaccinated? How many vets warn them that the vaccine may cause injection
site sarcomas, other forms of cancer, severe allergic reactions or even
anaphylactic shock and death? Here is the list of adverse events known to
be induced via vaccine administration (Schultz, 2007):
Hair Loss, hair color change at injection Site
Refusal to eat
Weight loss (Cachexia)
Reduced milk production
Allergic uveitis (Blue Eye)
Severe Reactions triggered by Vaccines:
Vaccine injection site sarcomas
HOD hypertrophy osteodystrophy
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMTP)
Hemolytic disease of the newborn (Neonatal Isoerythrolysis)
Disease or enhanced disease which with the vaccine was designed to
Post vaccinal Encephalitis or polyneuritis
Abortion, congenital anomalies, embryonic/fetal death, failure to
Why is it that we aren't informed of this before our pets are vaccinated?
Why are we not provided with informed consent? Every day, dogs are
permanently damaged from vaccines and vets continue to urge us to vaccinate
without any regard to the potential risks. There are thousands of pet
owners with pets dying of cancer or suffering from severe allergies who wish
they could turn back the clock and be given a second chance to consent to
that vaccination - with their eyes wide open and fully aware of both the
risks and the benefits of that seemingly innocuous needle.
In human medicine, performing a medical procedure without full disclosure
and informed consent would be called malpractice and there would most
definitely be a lawsuit. In veterinary practice, this doesn't happen.
Which leads us to the final point.
Why Veterinary Malpractice Is An Illusion
Until the mid-part of the last century, the term "malpractice" didn't even
apply to veterinarians (and still may not in some states where this
profession is not listed under the malpractice statute). Recently, however,
veterinarians have become subject to state malpractice actions. Despite
this trend, veterinarian malpractice lawsuits still aren't that common
because the measure of damages for the loss of a pet in most states is the
market value of the pet. In other words, what someone else would pay for an
identical pet of the same age, breed and condition.
In nearly all cases, lawyer's fees would be more than pet owners would be
able to recover in court. Also, pet owners have to prove the same things you
would have proven in a medical malpractice case, which isn't always easy or
inexpensive. A few states allow money damages for emotional distress and
loss of companionship. However, awards for an owner's mental suffering are
the exception rather than the rule.
So it seems that the veterinary colleges can continue to allow the vaccine
manufacturers to teach their students about immunology, the vets can
continue to deliver unnecessary and dangerous vaccines to our animals
without full disclosure of their risks, the veterinary associations will
continue to make vague statements regarding vaccine duration of immunity and
refuse to monitor the activities of their members, and our pets will
continue to suffer because nobody cares enough to do anything about it.
Well, that's not entirely true. We care. We care a lot. And we know that
because you are reading this article, that you care too.
What Can Pet Owners Do?
Just because we can't sue vets doesn't meant we can't sock it to them
financially. If we demand informed consent and refuse any and all
unnecessary vaccinations, we will force vets to look into different revenue
sources. Look your vet in the eye and tell him that the vaccines he is
advocating are not only unnecessary but dangerous - and have the paperwork
to back it up (just email us and we'll give you all you need). Then kindly
decline the vaccinations.
There are other ways you can influence vets financially. Stop buying their
crappy prescription diets. They are full of synthetic and processed
ingredients that cause cancer and toxic build up in your pet. Better yet,
find a vet who does not push needless vaccinations, overly-processed foods
or other harmful pharmaceuticals.
Finally, demand that any and all vaccine and drug reactions are reported to
the right agencies. Remember, it can take months or years for vaccine
damage to rear its ugly head.
She also breeds Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix.
Her dogs are specialty winners, obedience and field competitors
and are all naturally reared. She is an advocate for natural health
care for dogs and people and is on the Board of Directors for the
in behavior and has given classes and seminars throughout
North America on clicker training. We thank Dana for giving us
permission to reprint this article on the Chekia web site.