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Senate Passes Stack Bill to Improve Transparency of Rabies Testing Procedures for Domestic Animals

Trenton – In an effort to increase the transparency of rabies testing procedures and protocols, the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Brian Stack, which would prohibit veterinarians from testing domestic companion animals for rabies without notifying the owner of what the procedure entails.

“We want to ensure that animal owners understand the testing being performed on their pets,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “There have been too many reported incidents of animal owners who were not informed of the invasiveness of rabies testing and thus suffered from psychological trauma. This is why I introduced the bill, to prevent others from having to suffer the same trauma.”

The bill, S-1054, would establish protocols a health official or veterinarian would have to follow before rabies testing may be performed on a domestic animal.

Under the bill, the animal’s owner would have to be notified of the necessity of the rabies testing, what the testing entails, and how the animal’s body would be handled prior to the testing procedure.

The only definitive way to determine if an animal has rabies is to examine its brain, which requires that the animal be euthanized and decapitated.  Its head is treated as medical waste and is not returned to the pet owner. Other less invasive procedures, such as blood tests, are often unreliable and insufficient for determining definitively whether an animal is a carrier of the rabies virus. Uncertainty in rabies assurances can be dangerous in cases of a potential human infection.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 35-0 and was sent to the Governor for final approval.