Baker, chihuahua

The New Faces of the Anti-Vaccination Movement: Pet Owners

Baker, chihuahua
“Please vaccinate me,” says Baker the Chihuahua.

It takes just one person to crash a party, and that’s exactly what happened in December at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., when a measles outbreak began. Since then, the cat has gotten (very far) out of the bag in terms of vaccination and what parents aren’t doing to protect their children.

But what about pet parents?
The Jenny McCarthy way of thinking has not only influenced human parents to reconsider vaccinating their kids, but animal parents as well. An article recently published in New York Magazine has shed light on the growing number of veterinarians who have seen their patients choose not to vaccinate their pets. Although there hasn’t been a major outbreak in serious animal diseases, Christopher Brockett of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society says that the potential is there.
The math is easy to do — less animals being vaccinated equals more potential for disease epidemics. But exactly how many people are guilty of not vaccinating their dogs and cats?
Probably just about as many human parents, who prefer to keep it hush-hush. Brennen McKenzie, past president of the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association, told the magazine that there aren’t hard numbers on pet vaccination rates. That being said, there’s no telling when an animal-related disease outbreak may occur. However, it would seem that it’s only a matter of time.

The Strange Denial of Vaccination

Although there are a slew of parents who seem to be on board with not vaccinating their children, it seems that many of them are still reluctant to own up to their decision — but why? The most obvious reason is due to the fact that claims against general vaccination are overwhelmingly unsupported by raw science.

But as noted in the beginning of this article, it only takes one to ruin a party.

In this case, that one may be the 1998 paper published in The Lancet that pointed to a supposed link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Although the findings of the paper were ultimately dismissed about 15 years later, no one is talking about this reveal. Instead, the initial findings are still burning in their minds, rendering doubt over the safety of vaccines.

As humans strive to look out for themselves, it’s only natural for them to do the same for their beloved pets. Is it any wonder that they are now applying the same mentality to their animals, regardless of the lack of science behind the move?

Before you answer that question, take a walk over to your local pet store. Examine the food, prepared to model the perfect picture of health (and in some cases, refrigerated to exhibit its freshness). Look at the pet beds composed of microfiber and stain-resistant material. Take a peek at the dog clothing, arranged in hangers for optimal viewing.

So is it any wonder?



  • Khamsi, Roxanne. “Is the Anti-Vaccination Movement Spreading to Pet Owners?,” Feb 4, 2015. New York Magazine.
  • Montague, Jules. “We Should Listen to Roald Rahl, not Jenny McCarthy, on Vaccinating Our Children.” Feb. 10, 2015. The Guardian.
  • Whitcomb, Dan. “California Warns Against Intentional Measles Exposures,” Feb. 10, 2015. Reuters.

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