BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                 SENATE HEALTH
                               COMMITTEE ANALYSIS
                        Senator Elaine K. Alquist, Chair

          BILL NO:       AB 2000                                      
          AUTHOR:        Hagman                                       
          AMENDED:       June 2, 2010                                
          HEARING DATE:  June 23, 2010                                
                              Rabies: vaccinations


          Exempts from the rabies vaccination requirement an owner of  
          a dog that a licensed veterinarian determines, on an annual  
          basis, is immune-compromised or has a documented medical  
          record of a preexisting condition that may affect the dog's  
          ability to develop antirabies antibodies. Prohibits the  
          license period from extending beyond one year, in the event  
          that a dog is exempted from the vaccination requirement.

                             CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW  

          Existing federal regulations:
          Requires a valid rabies vaccination for dogs 12 weeks of  
          age and older imported to the United States from countries  
          where canine rabies is present, with certain exceptions. 

          Existing state law:
          Requires every dog owner, after the dog attains the age of  
          four months, to obtain a license for the dog no less than  


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF ASSEMBLY BILL 2000 (Hagman)         Page  

          once every two years, and to vaccinate the dog against  
          rabies no more than once per year.

          Requires the governing body of each city, county, or city  
          and county to maintain or provide for the maintenance of a  
          pound system and a rabies control program.  Establishes  
          that fees for dog licensure be fixed by the city, county,  
          or city and county. Authorizes the governing body to  
          impound any dogs found to be in violation of these  
          provisions and any additional provisions the governing body  
          prescribes. Declares the responsibility of the governing  
          body to provide or arrange for the provision of dog  
          vaccination clinics. 

          Authorizes the California Department of Public Health  
          (CDPH) to investigate reported cases of rabies in any  
          county or city, and declare a quarantine against designated  
          animals if the department finds that rabies exists. The  
          department may issue regulations as a substitute for a  
          quarantine order, when appropriate.

          Establishes that any person who willfully conceals  
          information about the location or ownership of an animal  
          subject to rabies, that has exposed a person to rabies with  
          the intent to prevent the quarantine or isolation of that  
          animal by the local health officer, is guilty of a  

          Defines "rabies area" to mean any area within a region  
          where the existence of rabies constitutes a public health  

          Existing regulation:
          Defines primary immunization as the initial inoculation of  
          an approved canine rabies vaccine administered to young  
          dogs between the ages of 4 and 12 months. Requires that  
          dogs be revaccinated one year after the primary  
          immunization. Dogs receiving vaccination after primary  
          immunization and any dog receiving its initial vaccination  
          over 12 months of age are required to be revaccinated at  
          least once every 3 years.

          Requires that dogs be licensed no later than 30 days after  
          the dog attains the age of 4 months, and no later than 60  
          days after the expiration of the previously issued license.  
          Prohibits a dog license from being issued for a period  


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          beyond the dog's revaccination due date, with specified  
          exceptions. Local authorities may require revaccination  
          prior to issuance of a license provided that revaccination  
          does not occur prior to specified times.

          Requires any person having knowledge of the whereabouts of  
          an animal known or suspected to have rabies, to report to  
          the local public health officer.  Establishes that the  
          local health officer is to be notified when a person is  
          bitten by an animal of a species subject to rabies within a  
          rabies area, whether or not the animal is suspected of  
          having rabies. Establishes standards for the isolation and  
          strict confinement of any rabid animal or animal that is  
          suspected to be rabid. Allows the local health officer  
          discretion to isolate any animal which bites or otherwise  
          exposes a person to rabies for a specified length of time.

          Establishes the Canine Rabies Vaccine Advisory Committee,  
          responsible for assisting the Department in evaluating the  
          effectiveness of canine rabies vaccines.

          Establishes guidelines for canine rabies vaccines to be  
          approved for use in California, including meeting specified  
          federal vaccine standards for sterility and safety. 

          This bill:
          Provides an exception to the rabies vaccination requirement  
          if a licensed veterinarian determines on an annual basis  
          that a dog is immune compromised or has a preexisting  
          medical condition that could affect the dog's ability to  
          develop antirabies antibodies, including an immune mediated  
          disease or a serious adverse reaction to prior canine  
          antirabies vaccine. 

          Requires the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)  
          to develop a form for exemption applications. Stipulates  
          that the form must include a signed statement from the  
          dog's owner affirming the owner understands the  
          consequences of the exemption and accepts all liability  
          associated with owning a dog that has not received the  
          canine rabies vaccine. The form must be returned to the  
          responsible local jurisdiction, which shall report  
          exemptions to the CDPH.

          Prohibits the license period from extending beyond one  
          year, in the event that a dog is exempted from the  


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          vaccination requirement.

                                  FISCAL IMPACT  

          According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, this  
          bill would result in costs of approximately $40,000 to CDPH  
          for one half of 2010-11 and $80,000 for 2011-12 for a  
          veterinary research scientist to amend the regulations and  
          develop the exemption form. 

                            BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION  

          Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous  
          system and causes acute inflammation of the brain.  Rabies  
          is almost invariably fatal if post-exposure prophylaxis is  
          not administered prior to the onset of severe symptoms. In  
          California, most cases of rabies occur in skunks and bats,  
          however, any mammal can contract rabies. Domestic animals  
          account for three percent of animal rabies, and the rest  
          occurs in a variety of wild animals, including foxes.   
          Rabies can be prevented by vaccination.  

          Human rabies is rare in the United States. The virus is  
          generally passed to humans via the bite of a rabid animal.   
          The majority of human cases in the U.S. are caused by rabid  
          bats. Although uncommon, human rabies retains its public  
          health significance because of the lethality of human  

          CDPH received reports of 1,747 animal rabies cases from  
          2001 through 2008. During that time, reported animal cases  
          decreased in California by 44.5 percent. Among animal  
          rabies cases, the most frequently reported species were  
          bats (73.0 percent), skunks (23.5 percent), foxes (2.3  
          percent), and cats (0.6 percent). According to the  
          "Epidemiologic Summary of Animal and Human Rabies in  
          California, 2001 - 2008, Key Findings and Public Health  
          Messages" CDPH found that appropriate domestic and wild  
          animal management, animal vaccination programs, public  
          health and medical management of persons exposed to  
          potentially rabid animals, public education about animal  
          risk reduction strategies, and avoiding wild animal contact  
          apparently provide the best opportunities for reducing  


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF ASSEMBLY BILL 2000 (Hagman)         Page  

          rabies in humans and animals. 

          Federal regulations currently require proof of valid rabies  
          vaccination for imported dogs, but allow the importation of  
          some unvaccinated dogs, including dogs less than 3 months  
          of age, provided certain requirements for confinement are  
          met until the dog is vaccinated. The regulation does not  
          require a health screen for these dogs prior to arrival in  
          the U.S., nor does it require treatment for ticks or  
          evaluation for specific zoonoses of concern. Importers are  
          expected to appropriately confine and vaccinate imported  
          dogs that lack valid rabies vaccination.  Enforcement of  
          this regulation is problematic because there is no federal  
          requirement, mechanism, or capacity for documenting  

          Rabies control in California 
          The primary components of the California Rabies Control  
          Program include companion animal immunization and  
          licensing; stray animal control; animal bite reporting,  
          investigation, and animal isolation; and public education.  
          The program works to control stray domestic animals and  
          follow up on potential human exposures. The program also  
          keeps track of animal rabies throughout the state. Existing  
          statutes require vaccination and licensing of all dogs, but  
          because cats are the most frequently reported rabid  
          domestic animal in the U.S., vaccination of all cats is  
          also strongly advised. There are vaccines for other  
          domestic animals as well.

          The California Health and Safety Code mandates that the  
          governing body of each city, city and county, or county  
          maintain or provide a rabies control shelter system and a  
          local rabies control program. Rabies control programs must  
          be implemented to include an animal shelter system, animal  
          bite reporting and investigations, stray animal control,  
          animal rabies case investigation, quarantine of biting dogs  
          and cats, quarantine of domestic animals potentially  
          exposed to rabies, and other activities for the purpose of  
          carrying out and enforcing the provisions of the California  
          Rabies Control Program. The county and/or city shall also  
          provide or arrange for canine rabies vaccination clinics.  
          All counties in the state are declared "rabies areas" due  
          to the ongoing cycles of rabies in California's wildlife,  
          and the resulting threat of exposure to domestic animals,  
          livestock and humans. 


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF ASSEMBLY BILL 2000 (Hagman)         Page  


          According to CDPH's California's Compendium of Rabies  
          Control and Prevention, 2004, a local health officer may,  
          upon a written recommendation of a veterinarian, issue a  
          rabies immunization exemption where illness or veterinary  
          medical condition in a dog warrants.  The exempted animal  
          must be in strict rabies isolation conditions, which are at  
          the discretion of the local health officer, until such time  
          as the medical condition is resolved and the animal can  
          obtain a canine rabies vaccine.

          Rabies vaccine
          Vaccines are designed to enhance the specific immune  
          response to a particular pathogen in order to prevent  
          disease upon exposure and natural infection. This is  
          accomplished through inoculation with all or part of an  
          organism. Vaccine types can be noninfectious and  
          infectious. Noninfectious vaccines include killed whole  
          virus and are generally stable, and safe; thus they can  
          often be used in debilitated or pregnant animals with  
          minimal risk. However, the duration of immunity tends to be  
          shorter than that of infectious vaccines, and multiple  
          boosters are often required. Most rabies vaccines are  

          Any vaccine has the potential to cause a reaction, however,  
          killed vaccines (e.g. killed rabies vaccine) are possibly  
          more likely to induce an allergic vaccine reaction than the  
          live vaccines. The killed vaccines often contain large  
          amounts of viral material (they don't replicate in the body  
          so more has to be injected initially) as well as additives  
          that stimulate a better immune reaction, which are both  
          very immunoreactive. It is possible for a dog or cat to  
          develop a vaccine-induced form of rabies 10 to 21 days  
          after receiving a live virus rabies vaccine. These  
          rabies-vaccinated animals, if cared for well, for up to 3  
          months (e.g. nutritional support, possible ventilatory  
          support) may get better. Rabies vaccinated dogs can also  
          get a severe infection of the brain and spinal cord (called  
          encephalomyelitis) which mimics the rabies disease itself.  
          This condition will progress and there is no cure. The  
          vaccine-associated rabies does not seem to occur with the  
          killed/inactivated vaccine, only the live vaccines, so  
          prevention is possible by using killed vaccines.

          Related bills


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF ASSEMBLY BILL 2000 (Hagman)         Page  

          AB 2411 (Jones) defines "pet insurance" as a separate line  
          of insurance, and establishes new regulatory requirements  
          for the sale of pet insurance products. Pending in the  

          AB 2689 (Smyth) authorizes cities and counties to specify  
          the means by which a dog owner is required to provide proof  
          of his or her dog's rabies vaccination, including but not  
          limited to electronic transmission or facsimile. Pending in  
          the Senate.

          Prior legislation
          AB 1634 (Levine) of 2007 would have enacted the California  
          Responsible Pet Ownership Act and provided that a person  
          who owns a dog or cat that is not licensed (or is  
          improperly licensed) and that has not been spayed or  
          neutered may be cited and, if cited, must pay civil  
          penalties.  It also increases existing fines for nonspayed  
          or unneutered dogs and cats. Requires microchipping of the  
          animal for a second occurrence for which the owner will  
          have to pay the cost of the microchip procedure, as  
          specified. Failed passage on the Senate Floor.

          AB 647 (Koretz) of 2005 would have removed domestic ferrets  
          from the list of wild animals that are unlawful to import,  
          transport, possess, or release into this state 
          if the owner of the ferret produced and maintained  
          documentation that the ferret has been vaccinated against  
          rabies and that the ferret, if over the age of six months,  
          is spayed or neutered. The bill specified that any ferret  
          that is sold or offered for sale is required to be spayed  
          or neutered before the sale, and permitted local animal  
          control agencies to enforce these provisions. Held in the  
          Senate Appropriations Committee. 

          SB 861 (Speier), Chapter 668, Statutes of 2005,  authorizes  
          local governments to enact dog breed-specific ordinances  
          pertaining only to mandatory spay or neuter programs and  
          breeding requirements, provided that no specific dog breed,  
          or mixed dog breed, shall be declared potentially dangerous  
          or vicious under those ordinances. This bill requires those  
          jurisdictions that do implement such programs to provide  
          quarterly statistical reports relating to dog bites to the  
          State Public Health Veterinarian, as specified.

          Arguments in support


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          Concerned Dog Owners of California supports this measure  
          and claims that there is currently no legal way that an  
          animal control agency can allow an exemption for rabies  
          vaccination, even if the rabies vaccination could kill the  
          dog. Passage of this bill will allow for this small pool of  
          dogs to obtain licenses without having to endure  
          vaccinations that could end their lives.  The Basenji Club  
          of Northern California supports efforts to save the lives  
          of dogs which are at risk from the rabies vaccination, and  
          asserts that this bill will protect the life of any dog  
          which has had a severe reaction to a previous injection or  
          which has a compromised immune system. 

          Arguments in opposition
          The California Department of Public Health believes this  
          bill could increase the risk to public health by allowing  
          dogs to be exempted from current rabies vaccination  
          requirements. They claim that modern canine rabies vaccines  
          are safe and effective for dogs, and that there is no  
          scientific evidence that these vaccines are associated with  
          severe or high rates of vaccination reactions. They cite a  
          recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture  
          that showed that rabies vaccines do not result in a high  
          frequency or unexpected pattern of adverse events. They  
          also point out that there are no listed contraindications  
          for the vaccines. 

                                 PRIOR ACTIONS

           Assembly Agriculture & Water:7-0
          Assembly Appropriations:            15-0
          Assembly Floor:               74-0


          1.  Public health implications.  Rabies is a relatively  
          rare, but debilitating disease for both animals and humans  
          once it is contracted. Canine rabies vaccines have been  
          effective at curbing the spread of rabies in the domestic  
          dog population, but are reported to have side effects  
          ranging from vomiting, swelling in the face or at the  
          injection site, diarrhea, and even death. As drafted, this  
          bill allows any veterinarian to apply to exempt a dog from  
          a vaccination requirement if they are immune-compromised or  
          have a preexisting condition that may affect their ability  


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          to develop rabies antibodies, including a history of a  
          serious adverse reaction to the vaccine. If dogs are  
          allowed to be exempt from the canine rabies vaccine, they  
          will not only be at risk for contracting the rabies virus  
          themselves, but they could potentially spread it to other  
          dogs, and potentially infect humans. Does this bill strike  
          the right balance of protecting the relatively few animals  
          that are at risk of severe complications from the vaccine  
          with the need to ensure the human and pet populations are  
          protected from a potentially lethal disease?

          Aside from this basic question, several provisions in this  
          bill are unclear:
           It is not clear who specifically is allowed to approve or  
            disapprove of an exemption request. 
           The conditions that could lead to an exemption appear to  
            extend to dogs with less serious conditions.
                 No restrictions are placed on an exempted dog to  
               protect the community at large.

          Support: Bay Area Rhodesian Ridgeback Club
                 Basenji Club of Northern California, Inc. 
                 California Federation of Dog Clubs
                 Concerned Dog Owners of California
                 English Shepherd Club
                          Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los  
                          Irish Terrier Club of America
                          Irish Terrier Club of Southern California
                   Miniature Schnauzer Club of Northern California

                 Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust
                   Save Our Dogs
                          Several individuals

          Oppose:  California Department of Public Health


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