Straight Talk: Avoiding Baseless Vaccination Requirements

Woman handing demands to man

Sure, I’ll board here, but here’s how it’s got to be.

You’re way ahead of the curve, having learned from studying the immunologists’ take on immunity here, here and elsewhere, that repeated vaccinations through your animals’ life are not healthy nor do they create stronger immunity. Way back in early puppyhood or kittenhood or foalhood (or childhood), immunity was established if you vaccinated. And odds are, you did. If you visited a conventional vet for your youngster, a slew of vaccinations was either recommended strongly or “required.”

Chances are, you also got regular “helpful reminders” to come in for more vaccinations at some intervals. Some of the most heinous of these came from the twice a year craziness of a Banfield “Wellness” program (It’s free! C’mon in!). Others from private clinics were only slightly less crazy, like annual vaccination postcards, or the latest iteration, every three year vaccinations.

Having had your eyes open and reading all you can, you’ve learned that even the three year repetition is based on exactly this much sound immunological sense:

Nada. Zip. Zero.

So, who is your apartment complex management to tell you that you need records of “current” vaccination? Or your groomer? Or even the boarding kennel or doggie day care you’d like to use on occasion?

Do they really have a greater understanding of immunity than the experts in this field? Short answer:


Not even close, right? Of course not. They are acting purely out of habit and probably more importantly out of C.Y.A. That stands for Cover Your, erm, Backside. Protect thyself from fears of lawsuit. That kind of nonsense.

What’s a Mother to Do?

My goal today is to arm you with practical language to traverse this mine field of ignorance that threatens to make your vital animal seriously ill if you stumble.

Preceding straight talk is your attitude. You need to be confident that you KNOW this stuff, and odds are very great that your perps in their rules and regs do not. You’ve studied it, and own it in your heart of hearts. They’re merely  blindly “following rules.”

Attitude: I Got This

I had an older brother influencing me growing up, and for all the hero worship I gave him before I saw his dark side, I gleaned something of use for you today. It is sometimes called copping an attitude. Pete called it:

Walking in like you own the place.

Even before you approach the poor rule follower who’s ruining multiple animals’ health by blindly following some rules based on self preservation, you stride in like the long lost owner of the joint, the wise one, who knew those rules before they were even written down.

This is extremely important. You’re not hoping for an exception to what the gal behind the desk sees as a stone tablet handed down from the mount. No, quite the opposite.

You are here to award your business, your hard earned dollars, on this establishment. And you’ll only, only entrust your beloved vital animal to these rubes if they meet your standards.

You’re polite, don’t get me wrong. But you’re firm. “If this place wants my business, they don’t get to demand foolish rules that have no basis in reality and that could, if followed, damage my loved ones.”

Let the Words Rain Down

“Good morning! I’m here to look at your facility and see if I might board (or groom) my animals with you.”

or, “Yes, I’ll be signing your lease provided we are clear on responsible animal guardianship. I’d like you to meet Clancy,  whom I’m responsible for.”

See what I just did there? Who’s in charge now? That’s right: you are. This is 90% of it.

You’re not approaching them with your begging bowl, hoping to garner some sympathy for your odd beliefs about repeated vaccinations. Oh no. You know this stuff. Your vital animals are immune in ways titers can’t even begin to measure! And they have been immune and will continue to be immune without getting another jab of viruses from Dr. WhiteCoat, thank you very much!

Wait for It…

Dog with treat on nose, waitingBefore you play the V Card, it’s good to let the rule follower know that you approve of their facility (at least tentatively; it appears to be adequate).

But then, before you’re even asked and before his pathetic CYA requirements are stated, you drop something like this, right on the poor guy’s desk:

“My animals are current on all their shots and in impeccable health.”

You own this, remember? The bastions of veterinary immunology are right there with you, standing tall. Dr. Ron Schultz’s words from Current Veterinary Therapy (1992!) are shining over your forehead in gold letters:

“Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal.”

If he can’t see those words, hanging there, well, that’s his problem. The fire in your eyes let’s him know that YOU know they are there. Hovering. Speaking their truth. The truth is, your animals ARE immune from those early life vaccinations, and will stay that way till the grave.

Current. Damn right.

If you play your cards right (and you are dealing with someone with some degree of intelligence and flexibility), you should be in at this point. Some lower life forms may still look at you, dumbfounded, and not budge.

To add frosting on the guy’s cake, you can also bring in a letter you’ll sign in his presence, stating that, should your dog get sick while using his premises, you’ll not hold him or anyone else there liable. Fair enough?

If that still doesn’t get the block head’s mind to shift, rather than argue at this point, it’s better to assure them your veterinarian is behind you on this, and can provide you with a letter of waiver “if you wish.”

That assumes you’ve got  a holistic vet who’s got your back,  and you may not. Yet.  Seek one out. Ask around, try the AHVMA or the AVH, and don’t be shy about asking for a long distance letter. I’ve written many of these over the years for my clients, and well worded, they’ve met with 98% success.

 Share your success stories in the comments. We all need to stick together on this one, and keep numbskulls from running our lives and ruining those of our vital animals.

Top Photo by VagueryDog treat photo by  wikiHow

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  1. Helene Berger on January 10, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Could you write a form-letter for us to print out?

  2. Ashley on July 18, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Was wondering if there is a way to get my kitten spayed without a vaccine being required? I want her spayed but I don’t want her to have to get any vaccines. Thanks

  3. Marina Gates Fleming on April 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I live in Belgium with 6 dogs – they eat organic raw we have no chemicals in garden or house and they are not vaccinated.. i am lucky enough to have someone who can come and look after them at home when i go to the Uk to visit family .. as all kennels require parvo, distemper lepto and kennel cough (rabies if in southern Belgium) ….. if your dog is not up to date (and some vets still vaccinate yearly here in Belgium ..) they will bring in their own vet to vaccinate your dog as they risk closure by the authorities if there is an inspection and the passports are not in order ! I have been planning to write a brochure on this but have not got very far yet… it is so shocking … my vet with whom i have open discussions about the whole thing left me dumbfounded a few weeks ago as she said: “ah yes but some clients will get very stressed if i do not vaccinate their dog yearly (parvo and distemper VALID 3 years) …” certainly here in Belgium we have a very long way to go …

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 15, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Oh goodness, Marina, it sounds like much to be done there, yes. But, it all starts with a shiny, vital dog who attracts people like a magnet. Conversation begins. Word spreads.
      I wish you and your pack all the best. I’m glad at least you don’t have to use the system for them when you leave.

  4. Bonnie Yagiela on December 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I have my first Holistic Vetenarian appointment next Thursday. I’m so excited! Blaze ( a beagle mix) is our first dog ever. No one could have ever convinced us that we were going to ever own a dog. We have parakeets and turtles! My son and his wife got him on Craig’s List as a companion for their dog, Ella. The two of them played so excitedly they had to get rid of now he’s ours. We’ve had him to Banfield and still have 5 months left on the “Wellness Plan”. Forget that racket! He’s on a Raw diet and I wanted a vet who was on the same page! She’s local, too! What a plus! By the way, he gets walked so much each day we’ve never had to cut his nails! We’re all healthier now!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Nice, Bonnie. How cool that Blaze is blazing the trail for everyone to make healthier decisions! Vital animals do that for us and vice versa. We’re all in this together.
      All the best to you all!

  5. Debra on November 30, 2013 at 8:55 am

    If I lived in TX, I would be making a beeline to your practice so fast…
    I’m in CO, and we’ve just adopted an unspayed dog (who fortunately had had only one set of vaccines when she was a pup). I cannot find anyone who will spay her without “current vaccines,” and I’m afraid there is too much ego (and their clinic’s bottom line) involved to use the findings on lifetime immunity as a persuasion. The two holistic vets in the area don’t do surgery. Anyone had any luck in this area?

  6. Will Falconer, DVM on October 23, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Oh my. When is holistic not really holistic? I blogged about that a month or so ago. Probably want to keep moving, nothing to see there, Rebecca.

  7. Rebecca Schrantz-Lilly on October 22, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    I appreciate the AHVMA site she gives in the article to find a holistic vet. I went to the site and found a animal hospital who portrays themselves as holistic. Unfortunately what I find on their website is that they want current vaccination records. Ok I am very confused. What is up with that? Has anyone found this too? I am contacting the animal ranch to see why they are asking for current records on vaccinations but still advertise that they are into western herbs etc.

  8. Maria on October 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Dr. Falconer,
    But If I understand correctly a letter can be sent to a kennel, veterinary practice, training facility, breed club, breeder, local authorities, rescue/shelter or our behalf?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

      When I said, “there are currently no letters…” above, I was speaking about the link you provided. There were no boilerplate letters for those entities.
      And sure, holistic vets (or any open minded vet) will be able to write a waiver letter for more vaccines that should fly with all but the most stubborn of kennels, groomers, etc. I’ve been doing that for years for my clients.

  9. Maria on October 21, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Dr. Falconer,
    If I may add. For those pet owners that need more resources, head to this link: You will find letters you can download for you to hand to kennels, doggy day care and your vet. Remember you are not alone in this fight.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on October 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      There are currently no letters for kennels, catteries, training or dog clubs, Maria. Useful info, but not letters a guardian could copy and use.
      May be time to update the site. The vet’s letter also is outdated (VacciCheck available for feline early 2013).

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