Peaches, Judy Schor’s champion agility dog, retired when she developed Ischemic Dermatopathy after a rabies shot. In March, Judy raised $30,000 with her benefit for the Rabies Challenge Fund, a nonprofit trying to prove that the vaccine gives immunity for at least seven years. Fund researcher Dr. Ron Schultz , and co-Founder Dr. Jean Dodds, spoke about the dangers of the rabies vaccine at the benefit.
Here is how a shot changed Peaches’s life as told by Judy:
As a well intentioned and responsible pet owner, I take my pups in for their annual Well checks and Dental’s. And like clockwork, every 3 years, as required by law, my dogs would get their 3 year Rabies vaccine.
In early April of 2007, I took my beloved Rat-Terrier Peaches in for her 7 year Rabies booster. We returned home and nothing unusual noted, however in retrospect, maybe I was remiss in noticing any lethargy or changes as I really never thought that a legally required vaccine could/would cause any harm.
So that day, no immediate changes noted, however nearly two months later, in early June 2007, I took Peaches back to the DVM where she had received the Rabies vaccination because she had developed bi-lateral (one on both ears) wedge shaped ear (pinnae) sores. The doctor dismissed me with an antifungal, antibacterial, antibiotic cream.
Peaches competed successfully in Agility through the summer of 2007. She appeared to feel well but the ear lesions remained. During this period, Peaches developed a strange round yellowish skin/fur color change on her right rear haunch. Even the texture of the fur over that area became changed…Silkier feeling, but with a yellowish cast in her otherwise white fur.
I had her back again to her regular vet during the summer, but still they could not explain the pinnae sores, neither could they now explain the hair color change…and so we continued competing thru the summer. I used the cream which seemed to help a little. I began attributing the color change to all of her swimming in the pool, much like blondes whose hair color would change due to the chemicals in swimming pools. Little did I know what journey we were in for.
In October of 2007, Peaches entire right rear leg (and gradually her belly) became very edematous (swollen). She was taken to many specialists. Peaches had blood-work, ultrasounds, x-rays, MRI’s, lymph node aspirates, lymph node biopsies, skin biopsies, etc. Then after all this, the DVM’s stated they could find nothing wrong with her. They decided to manage her symptoms with high doses of steroids. My poor little girl, it was heartbreaking to see her suffering from the ill effects of both the drugs and the disease.
I spent many late winter nights crying filled with the sadness that I was going to lose my Peach, and the frustration of KNOWING there was something wrong and I had to get to the bottom of it.
Then sometime in early February, at one of her Vet visits, I put the symptoms together when one specialty DVM said to me; “When was Peaches last vaccination?”
As I got back into the car with Peaches I called the local vet who had given her Rabies booster, and asked that question. I received the name of the vaccine manufacturer, lot number of the vaccine, date it was given, and where it was given..it was given in the right rear haunch where the color change had occurred!
That night I went home and began my research on “Google U”, putting in all the symptoms along with the term “vaccination”. My husband, an M.D. was shocked and amazed at the Clinical Studies I pulled up on the net that pointed to exactly the symptoms and disease process that Peaches was experiencing.
What I found was a disease written about by well known academic Veterinary DVM’s and labeled “Rabies Vaccine associated Ischemic Dermatopathy”.
(I called the vaccine manufacturer and gave them all the details and they asked me to send them all reports which I dutifully did for months until the diagnosis was finally made).
My husband and I brought in all the documents from vets across the country on this autoimmune disease caused by the Rabies Vaccine, but our Specialty DVM’s would not label her with this diagnosis. Why? Why? Why wouldn’t they help us? We just wanted to get it diagnosed and treated properly. I heard about the Rabies Challenge Fund and Dr. Jean Dodds. I called her. She got right back to me and she gave me hope and support. Dr. Dodds’ support reinforced us in knowing that I was on the right path and gave me the strength to continue fighting to get a proper diagnosis. And so we continued…
We asked the Board Certified Internist and the Board Certified Dermatologist to please make an appointment with Dr. Daniel Morris DVM ACVD at the University of Pennsylvania, as he was one of the authors of one of the many case studies on this autoimmune disease I had pulled up on Google. We waited 2 weeks without our Specialty DVM calling Dr. Morris. It felt like an eternity with Peaches so sick. I kept calling and asking our Internist to please call and make an appointment for Peaches with Dr. Morris. Nothing.
Again, Why? Why was this so hard when we had the clinical studies and documents in our hands that directly pointed to what was wrong with Peaches and the name of the right Doctor to go and see? Why wouldn’t they make the appointment for us? I needed to make Peaches better. I needed someone on my side and that would help her. I was so frustrated and sad.
Then sensing where I was at emotionally, enter my husband and hero, Marty Schor, M.D. Marty got on the phone, and less than one week later we were in Dr. Morris’s office at the Matthew J. Ryan Small Animal Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania.
We met with Dr. Daniel O. Morris at University of Pennsylvania, and within minutes after checking over Peaches; he at all the months of photo documentation, at all of the medical reports, studies, biopsies, and said to us, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it’s a duck!”
Oh my, how simple! And what a relief to have been finally validated!
Peaches “official” diagnosis by Dr. Morris finally occurred in early March of 2008 and by that time had cost us approximately $12K to obtain once we added all the tests and DVM visits up.
Finally Peaches was put on the proper meds. She went into complete remission fairly quickly, and was able to compete for 2 trials in October, one year after she became critically ill. I treasured every moment of running with her again. As my friends who are here know, I cried with happiness at the end of each run.
Peaches was off all her meds for 3 and a half weeks when symptoms began to reappear with a vengeance.
And now she is on meds again and we are trying to keep this awful disease at bay.
I am hopeful Peaches will stabilize once again and remain healthy. I treasure every moment with her and her “fur-sisters”!
I hope you will, and do, treasure your time with your pet, as you can NEVER believe this will happen to you. [And please donate to the Rabies Challenge Fund.]
Very Truly Yours,
PS People reading this article have asked me about Peaches’ treatment regimen. I am not a veterinarian but this seems to working well for her:
Peaches is fed a home cooked diet now, sautéed meats and I add Honest Kitchen Force (grain free formula). I make up a 3 day food supply at a time and put it into a Pyrex dish in the fridge. She gets only healthy whole protein sources mixed in, no kibble or processed food, and I think it has made a huge difference.
I also add into her weekly diet hard boiled eggs, salmon, tuna. She eats well!
Supplements Peaches receives daily or twice daily:
1 Tbsp of a premium refrigerated fish oil twice a day
400 mg’s of NATURAL Vit. E twice a day
1 Tbsp of “Biotin Plus” once a day
1 capsule of acidophilus in each meal. (I open it and add it to warm water in her dish and then add all the other supplements, then her food..)
Peaches is also on 200 mgs of Pentoxyphylline (prescribed med) twice a day. She is now in remission and doing very well. I am very hopeful we will be discontinuing the above med in the next few months!
Peaches’ Career: ADCh Southern Sands Peaches TM-B, JCH-B, *2007 USDAA Regional GP Finalist, AX, AXJ, Clean Run’s Ultimate 60 Weave Pole Breed Champion, CGC (Retired at 7 yr’s, due to Rabies Vaccine induced Ischemic Dermatopathy ~ Diagnosed by Dr. Daniel O. Morris DVM ACVD Matthew J. Ryan Small Animal Hospital, University of Pennsylvania)
Learn more about rabies vaccine adverse reactions including tips for vaccinating more safely at What You Must Know About the Rabies Vaccine Also see readers’ rabies vaccination stories (or post your own) my Truth4Dogs.com blog: The Rabies Vaccine and Your Dog: Side Effects
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