Ontario proposes simplification of rabies immunization rules for livestock at fairs

4-H Sheep show, 2018

The Ontario government is proposing changes to the previous government’s recent overhaul of the rabies immunization rules as they apply to livestock headed to agricultural fairs.

Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, says the proposed amendments to the Health Protection and Promotion Act are intended to reduce “unnecessary red tape and expenses” for livestock producers and farming families.

The proposed regulatory changes would eliminate the requirement for rabies immunizations for certain livestock at seasonal agricultural fairs.

The previous Liberal government’s new rabies immunization rules came into effect July 1 of this year. Under the new rules, fair goers and livestock owners were unsure whether or not their animals had to have up-to-date rabies shots, as the wording was unclear:

“Animals participating in 4-H events, including clubs, clinics, and shows would not be subject to the requirement for rabies vaccinations unless these animals are intended to come into direct contact (e.g. petting, feeding) with the general public. When animals are kept or held in areas which may be accessible to the general public, reasonable measures (e.g. signage, physical barriers, etc.) should be used to prevent persons not authorized to handle or interact with animals at fairs, clinics and shows from accessing animals in holding or stabling areas.

The current government is proposing clearer language that states:

The proposed changes would limit the livestock rabies vaccination requirement to only horses, cows, bulls, steers, calves and sheep, and exempt these species from rabies immunization requirements if the only time they are accessible to someone other than the person or persons who are responsible for their care and control is when they are at a seasonal agricultural fair.

In short, any animal intended for interaction with the public, i.e. a petting zoo, classroom visit, milking demonstration, will still require a current rabies immunization; however, animals attending agriculture fairs will be exempt — unless intended for public interaction.

The proposed amendments are now posted on the Regulatory Registry, with comments accepted until December 10, 2018. Read the full proposed amendments, here.

 

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