Environmental director: rabies verification program not working

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Numerous complaints from local residents regarding Shelby County&8217;s rabies vaccination program have forced officials in the Shelby County Health Department to look for other options.

Shelby County Area Environmental Director Jim Hollins said his office has received a large number of complaints regarding the door-to-door vaccination program.

&8220;We&8217;ve had people walking up onto residents&8217; back porches and invading their privacy in other ways,&8221; Hollins said. &8220;The complaints are just too numerous.&8221;

Hollins noted, however, that the rabies vaccination verification program is contracted out through the local county rabies officer &8212; in this case, Dr. Becky Senicz of Animal House Veterinarian Clinic in Harpersville.

Hollins said that he met with Senicz on Monday to discuss other options to the current rabies program.

&8220;Dr. Senicz has a goal of reducing the possibility of rabies outbreaks in our county,&8221; Hollins said. &8220;What we&8217;re doing now is trying to find a viable way of making sure animals are being vaccinated without invading peoples&8217; privacy.&8221;

The current law in Shelby County requires all household pets to be vaccinated and that owners have proof of the vaccinations.

Senicz appointed retired veterinarian James Green to head up the inspection process.

While he did not feel that Green has done anything wrong in directing the program, Hollins said the current way the verifications are taking place does not work.

&8220;We will still be working on getting the animals vaccinated,&8221; Hollins said. &8220;But not to the degree that we&8217;re invading people&8217;s privacy and alienating the public.&8221;

Hollins said he would be contacting rabies programs in other counties in Alabama to see how they were verifying rabies vaccinations.

&8220;I&8217;m going to dig and dig to see if we can&8217;t find a solution to this problem,&8221; he said