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MVMA Recommends Against the Keeping of Wild and Exotic Animals

Since ancient times man has had a fear of being bitten by a "mad" dog. The dog and cat have been domesticated for thousands of years and their close relationship to man accounts for the continued fear of people contracting rabies from these animals. However, there are many other species that should be of greater concern to the animal lover.

With the advent of effective rabies vaccines for the immunization of dogs, cats, ferrets, sheep, cattle and horses, the number of reported rabies cases in these animals has been greatly reduced. There is no federally licensed or approved rabies vaccine for use in any other animal species.

Veterinarians or any other person who injects any species other than those listed with a rabies vaccine are acting contrary to the recommendations prepared by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc.

This brings us to the main part of our discussion: Wild and Exotic Animals As Pets. To repeat, there is no approved licensed rabies vaccine for wild and exotic animals. People, in their attempt to get next to nature, who purchase a wild animal or obtain one from the wild, do so at great risk to themselves, their family and their friends. The Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association discourages people from capturing young, wild animals and raising them as pets.

You are never truly safe from the danger of contracting rabies by being bitten by a wild or exotic animal. Euthanizing the animals an examining brain tissue for rabies is the only recognized valid method of determining if an animal has rabies. You are never sure if a wild animal is harboring the rabies virus. Biologically, every warm-blooded animal is capable of harboring the virus. Consider this strange finding: Veterinary medical researchers attempting to measure the level of rabies infections in the wildlife population accidentally tested the blood of young crows. Yes, the tests were positive for rabies. The young crows are exposed to rabies when they consume carrion contaminated with the virus brought to the nests by adults. The virus does not kill the crows. Is it so strange then to believe that a squirrel monkey, a bob-cat, a skunk, a fox, or a raccoon may be harboring the virus? Your chances of recovering from rabies once you begin to develop signs and symptoms of the disease are rare.

Despite extensive medical information, there are people who don't believe that a hazard exists; or choose to ignore the fact; or believe it (rabies) couldn't happen to them. To alert the public of the rabies hazard and that wild and exotic animals do not make desirable pets as compared to the dog and cat, the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association passed resolutions in 1970, 1974 and in 1980 urging the general public and the Legislature to prohibit the keeping of wild and exotic pets and their sale, barter or exchange. The MVMA recommends that you do not tempt nature by exposing yourself or others to a wild or exotic animal that may be harboring rabies.

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