Clallam County (Washington) is considering dropping the requirement that pets be vaccinated against rabies in order to get a license. It’s pretty clear that this is only based on a desire to get more people to pay for licenses. Sheriff Bill Benedict is quoted as saying "My view on this is, we’re leaving money on the table by not finding a way to get more people buying licenses."
This money-driven mindset makes no sense, and raises the question "what is the purpose of licensing pet?" Is it only to provide a source of government income (in other words, a tax on pet ownership), or is it for greater purposes such as helping protect the pet and human population?
Another quote from Benedict: "You would still be required to have your pet vaccinated, but that would be more of an issue between the pet owner and the veterinarian." This isn’t an issue solely between the pet owner and the veterinarian. Rabies vaccination is still required by law. Veterinarians do not have a mandate or power to require vaccination and enforce the law. With this "You still need have your pet vaccinated (wink, wink, nod, nod)" approach, the municipal government is essentially saying, "We really just want you to pay us for a license. We don’t really care whether your pet is vaccinated against rabies or not as long as you give us money."
A local veterinarian wrote to the commission that "Licensing pets is sometimes the only reason an owner will get rabies vaccines… Rabies vaccinance is the law of the state, the law of the county. Licensing, in my view, is less important than vaccinating for rabies and may facilitate even more rabies cases."
Well said. The county may get more money because more people will get licenses, but it’s certainly possible that fewer pets will get vaccinated. Just one rabies exposure could negate the increased revenue from more licenses based on the high costs of rabies post-exposure treatment (let alone the risk of disease, stress of exposure, costs required for investigating cases…). Since all those costs would come from other peoples’ budgets, however, I doubt they’re too concerned.
Benedict also stated "Most pet owners — in fact the vast majority — if they’re responsible enough to get a license, they’re responsible enough to get a pet vaccinated."
Good thing he’s not a lawyer. It seems to me that he just shot his argument down. If the majority of pet owners that are responsible enough to get a license are also responsible enough to get a pet vaccinated, then why is this change required? An attempt to increase cashflow is not a good reason to change rules that are designed to protect the public and pets from a fatal disease.