We’ve written quite a few articles over the past few months about the rise in prominence of the anti-vaccine movement, or ‘anti-vax’ for short. It’s basically an umbrella of grassroots movements full of people who believe, for one reason or another, that they should be able to opt out of getting their kids vaccinated.
It’s obviously a hugely controversial topic, and even caught the attention of the World Health Organisation, who described the movement as one of the biggest threats to human health worldwide.
Well, apparently, the anti-vaccine sentiment isn’t exclusive to humans, as a growing number of pet owners around the country are refusing to have their pets vaccinated, some of them out of fear that they will develop autism.
The fear is completely unfounded, as there have been no recorded cases of autism in dogs or cats, but even as professionals come out and make statements to this effect, the movement continues to grow.
Veterinarians in Brooklyn, New York have reported an increasing number of anti-vaxxer pet owners who say they are worried the vaccinations will harm their dogs.
“We do see a higher number of clients who don’t want to vaccinate their animals,” Dr Amy Ford of the Veterinarian Wellness Center of Boerum Hill told the Brooklyn Paper.
“This may be stemming from the anti-vaccine movement, which people are now applying to their pets.”
Of course, there are many valid reasons for getting your dog or cat vaccinated. Vaccines can safeguard against the health of your pet and your family members, and their use has pretty much wiped out diseases that are dangerous to animal and man, such as rabies.
On that subject, Dr Ford said more people from hip areas within Brooklyn are refusing to vaccinate against distemper, hepatitis and rabies – which are required by law.
“It’s actually much more common in the hipster-y areas,” she said.
Dr Stephanie Liff of Pure Paws Veterinary Care in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood said clients have suggested to her that vaccinations were likely to give their pets autism.
‘I had a client concerned about an autistic child who didn’t want to vaccinate the dog for the same reason,’ she said. She went on to clarify: “We’ve never diagnosed autism in a dog. I don’t think you could.”
The skepticism towards vaccinating dogs appears to stem from arguments from anti-vaxxers who claim vaccines can cause autism in children.
As the story broke online, many expressed their disbelief that this movement had come to be. One person said “I have ASD. Dogs cannot be on the autism spectrum. They are simply not intelligent or socially complex enough,” which seems to echo the opinion of Dr Liff.
People are entitled to their views, and probably only have their pet’s best interests at heart. But please folks, try to make sure your fears are based on something real!