AVMA Warns Veterinarians: Clients May be Forging Rabies Certificates

The AVMA issued a general warning to practitioners that pet owners across the country may be forging rabies documents in an attempt to sidestep vaccinations, said Lyle Vogel, DVM, director of the scientific activities division at the AVMA. The warning was published in the AVMA’s Oct. 22 “News Bulletin.”

“There are groups out there that don’t like vaccinations for themselves or their animals,” Vogel explained. After learning about the issue at an Oct. 11 meeting of the Council on Public Health, the AVMA notified the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, and the topic was scheduled for discussion at the Rabies Compendium Committee meeting on Oct. 26-27.

An AVMA committee member read about the forgeries on a Yahoo chat-room discussion that gave instructions on how to forge rabies certificates, Vogel said. The AVMA does not have proof that forgeries have been filed, but Vogel said it was clear “[from the online chat] that people had done it.”

He added that it will be difficult to identify forged documents because veterinary license numbers can be obtained online at health departments and agencies that oversee licensing. AVMA professionals hope that veterinarians will counsel their clients about the importance of rabies vaccines and the public risks associated with confusion surrounding vaccines. If health officials believe that an animal has not been vaccinated, they would handle treatment differently than for vaccinated animals, instituting intense quarantines and observation periods. “This has serious public health implications,” Vogel said.