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Not a shot! Anti-vax movement prompts Brooklynites to withhold inoculations from their pets

Do not vaccinate: A growing, national anti-vaccination movement that claims the inoculations can cause autism in children has led Brooklyn pet-owners to withhold vaccines against deadly and spreadable diseases from their critters, according to local veterinarians.
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Call it an outbreak of stupidity.

Brooklynites are refusing to vaccinate their pets against virulent and potentially deadly illnesses as a result of a growing crusade against the life-saving inoculations, according to borough vets.

“We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals,” said Dr. Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill. “This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are now applying to their pets.”

The increased skepticism towards inoculating pets is likely the result of a national movement that claims vaccines can cause autism in children, according to the doctor, who said she has seen an increase in clients unwilling to have their dogs vaccinated in recent years. Core vaccines for canines include distemper, hepatitis, and rabies, which is required by law.

Hip youngsters who promote a more holistic lifestyle for their pets tend to be the most vocal anti-vaxxers, Ford said, but rarely have a particular reason for leaving Fido open to infection.

“It’s actually much more common in the hipster-y areas,” she said. “I really don’t know what the reasoning is, they just feel that injecting chemicals into their pet is going to cause problems.”

A Clinton Hill–based veterinarian, however, said she has heard clients suggest the inoculations could give their pups autism, echoing the argument of those who oppose vaccinating kids. But even if pooches were susceptible to the condition, their owners probably wouldn’t notice, according to the doctor.

“I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,” said Dr. Stephanie Liff of Clinton Hill’s Pure Paws Veterinary Care. “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”

There was a recent uptick in canine vaccinations after an outbreak of the bacterial disease Leptospirosis, which infected several people in the Bronx earlier this year and is lethal to dogs, according to Liff, who said it’s not unusual for trends in human medicine to trickle down to animal health care.

“Most trends in veterinary medicine are extensions of human medicine, so I think the anti-vaccination movement extending into veterinary medicine is natural,” she said.

And while there are similarities in how diseases are treated in humans and animals, there are major differences in how they are contracted, including diet, that make pets even more susceptible to illnesses that vaccines prevent.

“It’s a little different,” Liff said. “My patients go out and are exposed to things. They eat dirt. They eat poop.”

The veterinarian encourages her patients to get their shots renewed every three years and said the benefits of inoculation far outweigh its slight risk, an allergic reaction that occurs in less than .04 percent of pooches.

“We should vaccinate our pets,” Liff said. “My dog is vaccinated, my parents’ dog is vaccinated. I see more diseases that could be prevented by vaccination than I see reasons not to do it.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Posted 12:00 am, August 1, 2017
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